Too Sweet A Craft to Be Defiled (Warning: Profanities Ahoy!)

I came across your blog & decided to follow it. I cannot remember why.
BUT, after seeing today’s headline, I’ll never forget why I stopped following. Embroidery is too sweet a craft to be defiled.

{Edit: I just wanted to make it absolutely clear that this is not an attack on the commenter, they just became the catalyst for me finally writing about something I’ve been thinking about for a while.}

Sooo…This comment was left on my post about the Everything Feels A Bit Sh*t embroidery pattern. The first bit is HILARIOUS. “I cannot remember why.” Then why are you here, love?

BUT. The second part needs addressing. “Embroidery is too sweet a craft to be defiled.”

Huh. 

If you know me in person, you will know that generally I don’t swear a lot. But when I do, I really mean it, I use it for emphasis. I also appreciate swearing for comedic effect if it is used appropriately. Swears can sometimes be the only way to express a feeling.

Like when a global pandemic has been ravaging the planet for a year and in some countries the politicians are not doing a very good job at stopping it. Or maybe even see it as a convenient way to get rid of some of the weaker members of the society. Yes, unbelievably, there are people out there who look at it what way!!

So, there are days when the only way I can describe how things are going, as “everything feels a bit shit” right now. 

100K+ have died from the corona virus in the UK, 500K+ in the US, 240K+ in Brazil. {source

By the time you are reading this, the total death toll across the world has probably reached 2.5 million. MILLION!! And quite a lot of those deaths of mothers, sisters, sons, best friends, great-uncles etc could have been avoided if politicians had acted faster. 

2.5 MILLION deaths! And counting! Not to mention the people who have lost their jobs and homes and businesses as a follow-on effect. 

But SURE. The word shit in an embroidery pattern is super offensive! So offensive that you must take time out of your day to let me know about it.

It must be nice to have time for that kind of outrage. 

What a privilege.

Actually, I am glad that she had the time to comment. It gives me a chance to talk about something I have been thinking about a lot for a while but it felt like a bit of a non-sequitur to talk about it on this here craft blog. I dunno.

But now I shall talk about it. I follow a lot of knitters and sewers and quilters. And in those communities discussions frequently occur about what can and cannot be a subject of either the craft itself or the writings/opinions of a crafter. I haven’t seen a lot of these discussions in embroidery (maybe I just haven’t come across them) so maybe it’s time to talk about it.

Often these discussions start when a knitter, say, blogs about her outrage about the state of politics. Or maybe they sell a pattern with proceeds going to a trans charity. Or a Black knitter talks about her experience in a sphere that is very White. Then, inevitably, someone will try to make those people stop talking about those topics, saying something like “why do you have to talk about race, this is a quiltalong?!” or “why do you have to bring politics into knitting?!” 

I can’t even imagine telling someone to not share their experience just because it is different from mine. Even if it (in)directly pointed a finger at my privilege. But that is what some people feel perfectly entitled to do. 

“I like to quilt because it is my happy place where I can shut out the world and there are no nasty things like politics or swear words or people who point out that the world isn’t perfect.” It must be nice to be able to retreat like that. I’d love to be able to pick up my embroidery and magically all my worries and troubles would just melt away from my mind.

But that’s not possible. For a lot of people that’s not possible. For a lot of people even trying to get into a craft is fraught with emotional or verbal peril. I have lost count of the number of Black people I’ve read talking about how when they enter their local fabric or yarn shop they are treated like they don’t belong there. Followed around the shop because surely Black people will definitely steal something. Ignored when they ask questions because they can’t have a legitimate interest in the craft.

It must be nice to not have to worry about that when you are working on your quilt. It must be nice to be able to ignore that everything in life is politics. What makes sure you have clean water? Politics. What makes sure that your food isn’t full of pesticides? Politics. Who decides what your children learn in school? Politics. 

People who don’t want to talk about politics usually are the beneficiaries of unfair politics. But because they are not harmed by the laws or policies they don’t care. And they don’t want to have to face the fact that they have protections and privileges that others are excluded from, whether by the way they look or how much money they have or where they live.

I am a White middle-aged cisgender woman and I recognise the privileges in that. I can’t know what it’s like to be Black or gay or disabled or a trans woman. But telling people to shut up about their experiences wouldn’t even occur to me. Even if what they were talking about  made me uncomfortable. Because it should make you uncomfortable to hear about how people of minorities get treated in some situations. If you have privilege you should listen to those who don’t. And then you should get off your ass and use your privilege to try and change things. Not try and shut down the people who are already being treated in a way that you wouldn’t want to be.

I don’t know what this person is hoping to achieve by telling me that she’s unfollowing the blog? I mean, really? That I would learn some kind of lesson? Stop using the word SHIT in an embroidery pattern? I wasn’t planning on making a bunch of patterns with profanities, but maybe I should? She certainly didn’t stop me from using the word shit. There it was again!

Embroidery with political messages and profanities have been around for years. It is embroidery’s very association with something gentle and harmless that makes it a very powerful means of expression. Whether you include swear words or not. But maybe especially if you use swear words. The contrast between gentle, dainty embroidery and profanities is really powerful. And sometimes you need something powerful. To get someone’s attention. Or to express an emotion that can’t be expressed any other way.

Am I going to make patterns with profanities a regular thing? Probably not. But am I going to use swear words if that is what the situation/pattern requires? You bet. 

I haven’t approved her comment on that post because she says she’s outta here anyway, so presumably she won’t see it even if I did. And I don’t want anyone to pile on to her comment in a nasty way if they disagreed with her. I am not trying to silence her or censor her. Although, this is my blog, I pay the bills here so it’s perfectly within my rights to publish, or not, whatever comments I see fit. :-)

I wonder if she’s just as offended by children in cages, or people going bankrupt because they can’t afford their hospital bills or Black people being murdered by the police as is by my use of the word shit? I hope so. 

And since I guess I am being political (or, you know, just a human being living in this world) I just wanted to make it completely clear who Carina is: I believe that everyone should have access to free health care, free education, affordable housing, a job with decent pay and right to paid holiday. Everyone should have access to clean water, electricity and food at a reasonable price. I believe that Black Lives Matter, because until Black lives matter then all lives don’t matter. Trans women are women. Animals are not there for human use or consumption. You shouldn’t be discriminated against because of your religion or disabilities or the colour of your skin. 

Now, if you think that makes me a lily-livered, bleeding-heart, liberal, egghead communist,  or you get offended by a very rare use of the word shit, you are perfectly entitled to that opinion. You don’t have to stay. Just quietly unsubscribe or delete the bookmark.

You are welcome to disagree with me but keep it to yourself if you can’t put it in a calm and considered manner. Nasty comments go straight in the bin.

Ok. I think it’s time for a walk with Blake.

Wear a mask! Get the vaccine as soon as you have the opportunity.

xx Carina

PS In case anyone is curious: I have used the word shit seven times in this post and that’s probably about a doubling of the amount of profanities on this whole blog in its almost 15 years of existence.

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34 Comments

  1. Sheila Williams
    February 24, 2021 / 11:34 am

    OMG!!!! if that offended them then I sincerely hope they never come across PEG (profanity embroidery group) or take a look at the Tiny Pricks project …. and why comment on this particular pattern? why not comment on your free pattern for NHS workers and say how fantastic that is? I love social media a lot but this is one thing which grinds my gears the way folks think it is ok to spew out their outrage and publicly declare they are flouncing off (am I contributing to the public outrage by being publicly outraged at public outrage!!!) too sweet a craft to be defiled my a**e.
    Apologies but this has obviously touched a nerve :-) but i am not flouncing off, I am definitely staying for all the fab patterns with or without swear words

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:28 am

      I am grateful that you won’t flounce off! ;-) xx

  2. February 24, 2021 / 12:15 pm

    Yay to this. I think my favourite expression of the day is “it’s okay not to like, just don’t be a dick about it” ;-) I feel for this person and her discomfort, and it really is okay not to like something, we’re all entitled to our opinion, but it’s so important to stop to think about the point someone is trying to make – it’s good to be challenged to think outside our bubble. Why not try respectful dialogue? If you can’t bring yourself to do that why not just move on along! Too often people with a legitimate point to make get asked to modify their tone because it offends someone who doesn’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone and be asked to consider someone else’s perspective.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:30 am

      Yeah, I don’t mind that she doesn’t agree with me. But like you said “don’t be a dick about it”. ;-) The whole comment seems a bit pointless. What exactly is she hoping to achieve? *shakes head*

  3. February 24, 2021 / 2:07 pm

    I respect how well you stated your thoughts here, and who knows what that person was thinking. It is your blog and you can do what you want – but more importantly, I feel that this idea that it isn’t polite to talk about certain things is what ultimately has led us here.

    Also, if we can’t acknowledge our feelings and flaws in our textile art, is it because it isn’t (as a recent tradition of female art) “feminine” to speak up and speak out? Screw that; it is 2021!

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:33 am

      Yeah, maybe their problem with it is that they think using embroidery to speak out isn’t feminine? Who knows. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  4. Jeanne Englebrecht
    February 24, 2021 / 2:12 pm

    I appreciate your words and agree with them. :) I read your blog and follow your IG and I have only ever found a lovely human doing her best to get through the day and putting pretty and positivity out into the world. I have now gotten the pattern and plan on stitching it soon. (as soon as I finish my mandalas from the stitchalong!) And I say BAH! to this lady. One of my favorite memes says something like “this isn’t the airport. you don’t have to announce your departure.”

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:34 am

      That meme quote made me laugh out loud, Jeanne! “This isn’t the airport!” !! Thank you!

  5. Marie
    February 24, 2021 / 2:28 pm

    I am thankful for your views — for the way you share your skills, your creative vision AND the wholeness of your humanity. Bless her heart is all there is to say.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:35 am

      Thank you, Marie. xx

  6. Elsa
    February 24, 2021 / 2:42 pm

    Fabulous post! I’ve been looking for these words and you put it perfectly. I’m for all the things you stated here, I’m tired of apologizing for them or trying to explain them to my privileged “friends”. Thank you.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:37 am

      Thank you, Elsa. I’m glad it resonated. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. So many people unwilling to acknowledge the privilege they have. :-/

  7. Kerry
    February 24, 2021 / 3:04 pm

    YES CARINA!!!!!! I’ve noticed the demographic of people who like to bleat about their free speech and how people are so offended these days really get offended when other people equally use their speech too. It’s almost like they want to hold on to some kind of…. Supremacy….

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:39 am

      Bleating so they won’t have to listen to anybody else… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  8. February 24, 2021 / 9:30 pm

    I’m a quilter, and we are clearly cut from the same cloth. Except I say “shit” a lot more than you do! Thank you for expressing your thoughts so eloquently. I’ve had the same types of experiences throughout my blog career, and the flounce always leaves me baffled. I usually end up saying something more akin to GTFO! Keep disrupting the delicacy of craft!

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:41 am

      I’m too nice to tell people to GTFO! :-D But I’ll happily put shit in my embroidery pattern! :-D

  9. Barbara Hughes
    February 24, 2021 / 11:08 pm

    As soon as I read the comment at the beginning of your post, I started composing my reply in the back of my mind. But I needn’t have bothered. You covered all my points and more, and you did it better than I could have. All I can say is thank you for giving voice to those of us who believe in equality, dignity, open minds, humor and well-timed profanity. (Also, thanks for another West Wing reference.)

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:42 am

      YES! Well-timed profanity! Thank you, Barbara. West Wing FTW! :-)

  10. Cindy G
    February 25, 2021 / 3:08 am

    This- 100%:

    “Because it should make you uncomfortable to hear about how people of minorities get treated in some situations. If you have privilege you should listen to those who don’t. And then you should get off your ass and use your privilege to try and change things. Not try and shut down the people who are already being treated in a way that you wouldn’t want to be.”

    And, I hadn’t intended to stitch the pattern, not because it offended me in any way, but because life IS a bit shit right now and it’s hard to squeeze in the time. But, now I feel as though I simply MUST stitch it. And, apparently, I’ve been saying that particular word since I could talk (I used to walk around the house stomping my feet saying, “Shit, shit, shit!” as a toddler). I taught my mom the proper use of the F word when I was of college age. I also am soon to start a crochet square with the F word in Morse code… but I think it just got bumped down the list in favor of your pattern.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:46 am

      The thought of a sweary little toddler made me laugh out loud, Cindy! I haven’t started my own version of the pattern yet (life and stuff) but then, I suspect that this year is going to keep being a bit shit too, so I reckon I’ve got time. ;-)

  11. Kym Murphy
    February 25, 2021 / 3:57 am

    I’ve been trying to watch my spending on crafty things, but that pill of a human being just persuaded me to buy the pattern. Keep doing what you do, Carina! If we can’t express ourselves through arts and crafts, then what’s the point of them, anyway?

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:50 am

      Thank you, Kym. You are so right. Arts and crafts should be used to express ourselves, that is their very essence. xx

  12. Lyndle
    February 25, 2021 / 5:15 am

    Well said. Politics matters. Embroider the shit out of it.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:51 am

      Damn straight! :-)

  13. NYCgirl
    February 25, 2021 / 4:09 pm

    Your blog is always awesome. It is your blog, and you can post what you post. Period. People who aren’t into something have a right not to follow it. Duh. I would venture to take your PS analogy one huge step further, as in, there is an exponential proportion of posts you have written with incredible art, easy-to-follow links, fun information, etc etc…well before this one (and I have only followed your blog for maybe a couple of years, or whenever I accidentally and happily discovered it). Your work is consistently wonderful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:52 am

      Thank you so much, I’m happy you enjoy the blog. :-)

  14. February 25, 2021 / 4:56 pm

    Blimey, it’s hard to reply without swearing! I am not a big swearer generally but sometimes a well placed curse is just what the doctor ordered and really helps to focus the mind and place the emphasis where it should be.
    Things really are pretty crappy right now for A LOT of people, and embroidery is exactly the place to express that if that is where you choose to express it.

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 10:54 am

      Hehe, yes. And research shows that it helps with pain management so a doctor may well suggest some well placed curses! :-D

  15. February 26, 2021 / 10:02 am

    Such a great, heartfelt and actually very funny post Carina!! I agree with every word! And funnily enough I have always been a bit squeamish about stitching profanities even though I’m someone who swears a lot! Maybe I don’t want to admit to that and actually committing a swear word to posterity through stitches would be doing that! But now you have made me want to stitch your pattern just to show that embroidery can be anything you want it to be and yes a powerful means of expression!

    • Carina
      Author
      February 26, 2021 / 11:03 am

      Thank you, Jo! Well, I don’t think I’ve ever stitched any profanities before, but these are unprecedented times and it feels like a few swear words are appropriate! :-D Can’t wait to see a ‘Jo’ version of the pattern! xx

  16. Tracey
    February 26, 2021 / 1:29 pm

    Very well written post. I love how you included your personal views and how you described them, even though I don’t agree with all of them. I do not think you are a lily livered communist. :-o

    The one I respectfully disagree with (and am only commenting for the purpose of asking for thought about it) is animals for human use or consumption. I am an animal lover and owner. I feel they should be treated with the utmost respect. I have no issue with an animal being put to work as long as it is within the animals comfortable physical limits and they are trained and treated well. I also have no issue with eating an animal that has had a happy life, and killed humanely and with respect for what it is providing. That is why I only buy meat when I know where it has come from. I know the farmer and where and how the animal has lived. I myself only have chickens for food and I thank them for their eggs each day.

    I feel it is not about letting all the animals roam free without purpose, which may also lead to lack of medical care and possibly not enough food for them. But to go back to a more mindful way of coexistence with them.

    PS. It would also give more of us farm chores to do during this pandemic as we give good care to these animals instead of having them live in commercial warehouses ( ok here I’m sure we agree and could go on about how most animals in big food production companies are treated horribly and it needs to stop).

    Just my thoughts :)

    • Carina
      Author
      March 16, 2021 / 11:33 am

      Yes, we agree that animals should be treated with utmost respect.

      But apart from that, we disagree fundamentally. To me that respect for fellow animals extends beyond them being “treated well” for as long as humans see fit to let them live. To me they have as much right to live their lives to its natural length as you and I have.

      I guess it’s a bit like in The Matrix, once you’ve taken the red pill and fully realised the disturbing way that animals are treated, you can never go back.

      Being an ethical vegan is life altering.

      Once you have seen how male baby chicks are ground up or burned alive because they are of no use in the egg industry, you can never eat an egg again. Piglets rotting on the floor or cows crying for their babies that are stolen from them within hours of birth.
      I’m sure there are people, farmers, who care about the animals they own but to me it seems completely contradictory to care about someone, feed them, see them grow up but then kill them and eat them.

      A cow can live for about 15-20 years but a milk cow lives a much shorter life than this. When she is no longer producing enough milk to cover the cost of feeding her or the vet bills get to big she is killed. It’s just business. To me that is a heart breaking, evil business.

      Vast herds of cows wouldn’t roam the streets if there were no dairy farms. Because then those cows would not have been produced. There are many many more cows alive than there would naturally be, because humans produce them to eat and for other uses.

      I very much doubt that any dairy cow is happy to be alive, kept in a cycle of pregnancy, giving birth, having baby stolen, being hooked up to a milking machine, after approximately three weeks being impregnated again and then it starts over.

      Animals are not things, they are not machines. They have family ties and friendships just as strong as any that humans have. A pig is just as intelligent as a dog but somehow it is fine to kill and eat one but not the other (in some cultures, anyway).

      Animals were not put on this planet to be subject to humans. We are equals. Animals are not on this planet as food for humans, or to be killed for their furs or hides, or, worse, for sport.

      If one wants a mindful coexistence with animals, let the animals live their lives, naturally. There is no peace in being responsible, whether directly or indirectly, for the death and suffering of fellow animals.

  17. February 28, 2021 / 2:55 pm

    Oh my! Seems that the world has too many people ready to judge for free. Isn’t it easier to “be and let others be”? . There is a bunch of stuff I don’t like, political views I don’t agree with, clothing I would never fit in, food I won’t eat, places I will not move in….you name it. What do I do? I make my choices and let others make theirs. I don’t think MY way is the one and only.

    That being said, thanks for being YOU! I respect and admire your art. Better yet? I am thankful for the inspiration you put out there…exposing yourself to some people who should get in line for a second chance. There, my two cents. I said it :-)

    • Carina
      Author
      March 16, 2021 / 11:36 am

      Thank you, Monica! Yes, there are plenty of things I disagree with but…then I just close the browser and move on with my life. Usually, anyway. I did write a whole blog post about something I disagree with! :-D

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