It’s been a busy week or so, doing a lot of talking about sewing. I’ve been lucky enough to be featured in this month’s Sew magazine, highlighted as Blog of the month. When asked why I started a blog I replied, ‘Because I wanted to engage more actively in the conversation.’ I had the opportunity to do just that when I joined a bunch of sewing friends at Tilly Towers.
Being a contrary soul, I sat there knitting. Ooobop and I had a very entertaining conversation about how we were both taught you should never, on pain of death, abandon knitting mid-row. I then promptly abandoned knitting mid-row in order to open some champagne.
This week, I also ordered a copy of the now out-of-print The Gentle Art of Domesticity from Jane Brocket. Published in 2007, it still sells for quite a lot second hand, even though at the time of publication I believe there was some stir about it being anti-feminist. I certainly paused at the photos of aproned Jane pinning out a man’s office shirts on a washing line. Still, Jane is eloquent and clever and makes a valid point that being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t knit, sew or embroider. I see her book as a landmark in the trajectory of craft publishing, and a very thought-provoking one at that.
This all led me to think about the words we choose to use. Some people throw their hands up in horror at the term Sewist. I quite like it. It has a sparkiness to it. Other people would die rather than call themselves Seamstress, but I like that word too. There’s an echo of elegant timelessness. Though some people would only hear the ring of ‘old fashioned’ or ‘downtrodden’. Words are such very powerful tools, especially in this digital age. We should use them with care and kindness.
What do you call yourself? Would you rather die than be a Seamstress? And why does it matter?