I'm reminiscing a wool embroidery from Skåne, I want to say from 1889, that I saw in an old collection once. You know those thick stitches embroidered on wool, going anywhere and everywhere, that are allowed to contain unlimited patterns, colours and characters. And that expresses exactly what the embroiderer decides. Most of the time it's spotless stitching with colours that are well thought through, but this was not the case. This one was skew and sloppy, maybe not made in a hurry, but with some kind of resistance. I got a feeling that the embroiderer was bored or basically not interested, maybe it was a lack of patience. That wool embroidery stuck with me more than the perfect one right next to it. I felt like it wanted to communicate with me in some way.
I'd love for it to stay like that – let the embroidery be personal, expressive and with some attitude. We don't make wool pillow the same way now as they did back then, but the sense of resistance lives on in other ways. Maybe you have an activist living inside of you that needs to come out using needle and floss?
The British activist Sarah Corbett used stitching as a way of communication a few years back when she was exhausted as a political lobbyist, and felt like she had a hard time making a difference. Today, she is a successful craftivist (craft+activism=craftivism) and states that it's possible to make yourself heard, and be a part of political decisions through hand craft. She talks about a friendly protest and states that the stitches could be just that. The craftivism has been around since 2003 and the concept is made up by Betsy Greer. Sarah Corbett founded the network Craftivist Collective a few years after that, and is an exciting movement to follow.
Using embroidery to communicate is a healthy and smart thing to do. By stitching your opinions you might end up being more secure in where you stand, and figure out along the way how your resistance will come out in the end.
A lot of the activists, like Sarah Corbett, uses social media to spread the word. Public spaces are a good place to share your embroidery – let your inner activist shine! Pick up your needle and express yourself through words, poems or thoughts. Do you want to be hardcore, decorate your city with your creations. The only bad thing is that you have to separate yourself from what you created, the good thing is that you can post it on Instagram, so it won't be gone for good.
/Frida Arnqvist Engström, journalist running the blog Kurbits.nu, and an hobby embroiderista with a few too many projects going on at the same time. Also an advocate for the possibility to change the world using your hands.
Best thing right now: The hesitant spring weather is knocking on our door and is getting the craft activists going – can you see them? Look closely and you will see the embroidery tags that are all in for making a difference.
Worst thing right now: The spring cleaning in public spaces. They take down the embroidery tags before we have a chance to enjoy them. (Long live social media!)
Don't forget to follow The Folklore Company on Pinterest, where I have a separate board with inspiration from previous the blog posts I've written.