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CRAFTIVISM AND CROSS STITCH


Textiles convey meaning in a strong and enduring way that can impact us in a silent, subtle way. So much in our work as handwork teachers is not explicitly verbalized. Yet the word textile has the same root as text, perhaps reaching to a deeper level of feeling than a spoken or printed word. The skills, techniques, and the leisure time to craft delicate works of textile art can sometimes be an insidious signal or reminder of oppression, albeit in an unintentional or unimagined way. Below is a link to an interesting article about cross-stitch, calling us out to be more aware of the implicit messaging we share with our students.

However, in the context of Waldorf handwork education, there is one very important thing to remember. The Waldorf approach to cross-stitch is to move with color and form. This article refers to the conventional understanding of cross stitch, which depicts houses, flowers, alphabets, animals – or pumpkins and cats at Halloween. The Waldorf school context is closer to what Netherlands-based textile artist Kiki Van Eijk says about cross-stitching. “It’s approachable, inexpensive, expressive, emotional—it has so many layers.”

Once again, Waldorf education may be at the forefront of contemporary relevance. As the author of the article states: “Cross-stitching . . . is officially entering a new and improved iteration—one that both subverts traditional patterns and accounts for those who have historically been excluded from the trade”.


Here is the article I found on Architectural Digest this morning. Comment and let us know what you think!


Cross stitch and craftivism article
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elizabeth
elizabeth
29 oct 2021

Here is link to the traditional, conventional, samplers mentioned in the AD article. This book, published in 1913, is available as a free download, interesting descriptions and pictures!

https://archive.org/details/samplerstapestry00huisrich/page/170/mode/2up

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Knowing that cross stitch predates our Colonial era (and aida cloth, too), I have never thought of it as an all white past time. People have been decorating their clothing with cross stitch designs for centuries, all over the world. It may have begun in China, and spread from there. Think of all the beautiful blouses, aprons and skirts from eastern Europe. Wafa Ghnaim, founder of Tatreez and Tea, teaches us modern stitchers all about Tatreez embroidery from Palestine, beautiful motifs with history and meaning.

From the Colonial era on, it is true that white women have had the luxury of time for crafts of pleasure, and choose designs that have cultural meaning for their own life circumstances. So, hopefully,…

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elizabeth
elizabeth
25 oct 2021
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Thank you Barb!

I agree absolutely, and also have to think of cross stitch traditions in Balkan regions, Scandinavia, and more as you mentioned.

I think the prevailing picture, however, in the US and possibly in the UK, is of cross stitch samplers to celebrate the birth of a baby, or to make seasonal decorations, stemming from samplers from colonial days, which were quite an elitist luxury. The author of the article seems to be thinking of those, and I agree we need to widen our perspective. Thanks for pointing that out so clearly.

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