Sew Profane
August 22, 2018 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Meet the Profanity Embroidery Group: How a sweary stitching group is helping women through loss, loneliness, and rage ( But is it safe for work? NOPE.

How did the group come about? "About 25 years ago, I sent a Rina Piccolo cartoon to my mother. 18 months or so ago, it fell out of one of her embroidery books, and she returned it to me. It made me laugh so hard when I saw it, that I promptly shared it to my Facebook page. It struck a chord with so many friends that within a matter of hours, our first Profanity Embroidery Group meeting. The cartoon is of a sweet old lady embroidering hearts and flowers and 'fuck the world': the title was 'Mrs Winchester finds a positive outlet for frustrated negative energy.'" This is from one of its founders, the embroiderer Annie Taylor; link contains more art. Additional images are available at PEG's Facebook page.

Podcast--Stitchery Stories, Ep. 023: "Today on the Stitchery Stories textile art podcast, Annie Taylor & Bridget Carpenter share their hilarious stories around their ‘rather different’ embroidery group – yes, it’s the Profanity Embroidery Group. Formed by accident in 2014, and meeting in the local pub, this group has huge fun. They create and exhibit beautiful textile art and embroidery based around profanity, as well as some feminist issues. Their current project however, features anonymous Stitched Secrets that have been sent in from around the world. Some funny, some shocking, some very moving."

All glory to Rumple for providing the inspiration for this post.
posted by MonkeyToes (12 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I love this! The whole "subversive cross-stitch" trend of a couple years ago was fun (and got me into embroidery) but it felt more "sassy" and satirical than the art in the Metro article linked on top. Those works seem more naked and rageful (is this a word?). Now I'm thinking of what kind of anger-embroidery I could create...
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 7:18 PM on August 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Also, I just now found Mrs. Winchester and her creations.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:30 PM on August 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

I love this.

I need to start stitching again, I used to always have something I was working on, but somewhere along the line I replaced sewing and watching TV with dicking about on my phone and watching TV. A recent weekend away with friends, helping them make wedding decorations and watching a lot of box sets, made me realise it's nothing more than something to do with my hands. And there are a lot of creative things I could be doing with my hands than just dicking about on my phone.
posted by Helga-woo at 1:25 AM on August 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

One day I will finish designing and sewing my 'Lay thine eye upon the field where I grow my fucks and see that it is barren' project. It's on the big project list for post- house move.
posted by halcyonday at 1:56 AM on August 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

I've done that "field of fucks" one too. I also want to do something about "there it goes, my last fuck" and "I don't give a flying fox," (maybe incorporate stuff here?) stuff like that sometime.

I just did a writeup for a mailing list on this! Lemme see what else I found on this topic to share here.

Other websites of theirs: Instagram, Etsy, blog.
A project they are doing is the “Secrets Quilt,” (which appears to be a fabric version of the PostSecret website. They’ve finished collecting secrets and are presumably working on putting the quilt together now, I think.

When I’m in that kind of mood, I go online and start looking for ah, subversive cross stitch along these lines.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:15 AM on August 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm in the process of designing an embroidery piece around "They tried to bury us but they didn't know we were seeds."
posted by workerant at 7:00 AM on August 23, 2018 [10 favorites]

The whole "subversive cross-stitch" trend of a couple years ago was fun

I like the subversive cross-stitch idea - but some of the designs seem to be predicated on the idea that subversive doesn't also need to involve interesting design. Subversive cross-stitch and embroidery can also be imaginative design.

I was involved in a project a couple of years ago to make textile art to honour queer women, non-binary and trans people - and we had some great work including embroidered Alison Bechdel, a cross-stitched fist for Storme DeLarverie, justice statue for Phyllis Frye. I don't have a good photo of my rainbow-fied St Basil's in Red Square (for Masha Gessen), but I like my aggressive knitting needles (one of my first embroideries).

Picture of some of the textile art together, along with my cat (lower left). * Picture links are all to Twitter

On preview: the Secrets quilt blows me away. One day, maybe I could stitch like that. (I need to get my embroidery fingers back on - I've been working mostly in cross-stitch which is easier, but less flexible.
posted by jb at 9:07 AM on August 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Workerant: Permission requested to copy your idea. I have been looking for my next subversive embroidery project.
My last was a cross-stitch of the first verse of "The law locks up the man or woman..." with Jacobean style borders to protest the modern day theft of the commons. I like your quote for being affirmative.
posted by Botanizer at 11:24 AM on August 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

A few days I rage-designed a cable shawl that has a variation of the "Behold my field..." saying in Nordic runes. But now I'm holding off on knitting it because it'm not sure if using the runes is appropriation (I've got more Scots/English heritage than Nordic), or if it will call back to white supremacy scum. I do like the idea of incorporating the saying into the shawl, but I'm not sure if this is the best way.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

i'm not sure if using the runes is appropriation (I've got more Scots/English heritage than Nordic), or if it will call back to white supremacy scum

- it's not appropriation: the Norse heavily settled (colonized, even) both Scotland and eastern England, there are rune-stones all over both countries, and half of the English language is descended from Old Norse. Anyone complaining would be like a Scot complaining about Nova Scotians wearing tartans.

- a cable shawl with runes would scream 'wiccan'/'pagan', not white supremacist (shawls are coded female; white supremacy is really misogynist) . if you're cool with being read as pagan, you'll be fine.
posted by jb at 2:33 PM on August 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society T-shirt, ca. 1977.

Bit of a school-of-Lloyd Reynolds air to the calligraphy?
posted by clew at 3:00 PM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Much love to you folks. I am so looking forward to the online exhibition of MeFites' angry needle arts!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:31 PM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

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