Monday, February 23, 2009

Is my face red?

Does anyone else struggle with the "legitimacy" of sewing and quilting? It may be that I'm of an age when it was considered "women's work" and therefore not valued. Actually, I'm of an age when, for awhile, crafting was considered cool (as in hippies making macramé plant hangers and patchwork granny skirts: this image is from thankyouforyoursubmission.com, originally from a 1972 book, Macramé Accessories: Patterns and Ideas for Knotting by Dona Z. Meilach). But soon after that phase came the 80s, when women en masse had their first real opportunities to don dark suits and sneakers and, briefcase in hand, march to the office every day. At that point, we knew that other women had struggled to make it possible to work in the "real" world and that we should be taking advantage of the opportunities to climb the work-world ladder. And spending time on the "womanly arts" was deemed unimportant, if not downright anti-feminist.

While I didn't follow that path exactly, I have spent the past 12 years in the working world, and much of it in an upward mode. That's changed in the last couple of years as I've discovered my true passion and pleasure—writing about textiles, textile artists, quilters, designers—and I've had the chance to do that writing, at least part time. But there's still a little corner of me that struggles with the fact that if I tell someone at a cocktail party that I write for quilt magazines I can almost see their eyes glaze over and then search the room for someone who spends their days saving lives, designing wind turbines, or juggling vast quantities of money.


All of this is to say that I somehow feel especially sheepish about a class I just took (and thoroughly enjoyed) at Home Ec. It was doll making, which might seem about as anti-feminist an activity as they come. The doll on the left above is one I've had since childhood. The doll on the right is as far as I've gotten making Louise, a pattern from Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls. She has this incredibly sensible system for delivering her patterns. After I paid online, she sent me a pdf with the complete pattern, which I then could print. So clever, and it's a great pattern, to boot.

I don't have a baby (like the other women in the class) or a grandchild. I just seem to have a fondness for handmade, cloth dolls. The few I've saved from childhood all fit that description. Perhaps this is a life-long textile mania coming full circle. (I've made Paul promise to stop me if I show any signs of becoming one of those spooky adults with dolls propped on shelves and dressers in my bedroom.)

This musing was precipitated by a New Yorker cartoon about embarrassing hobbies. I can't find it online, but it's on page 27 of the Feb. 23 issue (which just arrived today and which is already old news on the New Yorker web site)!

4 comments:

AnneR said...

A college friend had a roommate who collected--and unfortunately displayed in their living room--a Cupie Doll collection. Wherever you went, they were staring at you. As long as your dolls aren't that creepy, you're OK.

lkm said...

Maybe I should just make dolls without faces...no eyes, no staring...

happy zombie said...

A few times in certain situations, I've struggled with the word "quilting", and embarrassed of myself for doing so... I've squeezed out the word "textile industry". But more and more, thanks to great fabric and pattern designers and the GREAT writers who write about them... the real is us is finally being discovered!

lkm said...

Aww...Monica. You are too sweet! I will remember these brave words at my next cocktail party!