Lorum ipsum cross stitch sampler

Unpacking Subversive Cross Stitch

  • November 5, 2016
  • Life

Subversive Cross Stitch is the art of cross stitching the unexpected. The tension between a traditional, feminine art form, and the witty and surprising sayings is really funny, and undermines our expectations of the artform.

That’s “unpacking” subversive cross stitch in the fine arts sense. I also unpacked subversive cross stitch in the very literal sense this week, as the last of our things arrived from New Zealand!

I cross stitched around the same time I learned to crochet, and while I haven’t kept it up, boy oh boy did I have a lot of fun with it. The original Subversive Cross Stitch book was my guide, and stitched up all sorts of things. Some of which has now come to live with me again!

Lorum ipsum cross stitch sampler

My favourite of the pieces is Lorum Ipsum. I designed this piece (you can probably tell from the way the boarders are a little wonky!) and was thinking of samplers as I did so. What’s a sampler? “A (needlework) sampler is a piece of embroidery produced as a demonstration or test of skill in needlework. It often includes the alphabet, figures, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered it and the date. The word sampler is derived from the Latin ‘exemplum’ – an example.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

For centuries, young ladies of a certain social class were forced to create samplers to show off their skills as needlewomen/marriageability. Of course, many of them rankled at this, which makes Lorum Ipsum even more appropriate: the phrase it derives from translates as “pain itself.”

I updated the sampler by dropping in Lorum Ipsum instead of the alphabet. Plus “motifs and decorative boarders” for good measure.

subversive cross stitch

Also in the box was the Triple Rainbow piece I designed – the video was trending when I worked this – and my F U C K piece from the original Subversive Cross Stitch book. On top of those are two pieces I didn’t work. Fuck the dumb shit is also from the original Subversive Cross Stitch book, and was worked by Jesse’s friend Kim. The crewel work deer I picked up at an op shop.

I used to have a lot more cross stitch pieces, but I’m not sure where they’ve got to: they weren’t in the box. Perhaps they’re still in someone’s wardrobe in New Zealand, or maybe they wound up in an op shop, making them as happy as the deer makes me.

It hardly matters that they’re gone. Nothing in this world lasts forever, and I can always make more. I see there’s a new book – I am very tempted to take up my needle again!

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