1 Sleeve X 1000

(Annotated by Sarah Lawrance)

All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point – a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.
– Virginia Woolf, 1929, pp. 7-8

Woolf, Virginia (1929). A room of one’s own. London: Hogarth Press.

Re-cited by Canadian popular educator Kathryn Church, 2003, p. 156

Church, Kathryn, & Church, Lorraine (2003). Needles and pins: Dialogue on a mother/daughter journey. Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, 5(1), 148-156.

An entry on this blog’s Hand me downs page cites a hand-me-down of Virginia Woolf by Kathryn Church, and I’d like to contribute a link to an article that refers to one of Church’s projects, as well as comment on a theme in this article.

The article, “1 Sleeve X 1000” by Nikko Snyder (published in good girl magazine, no.1, 2001, and also available at http://www.goodgirl.ca/1sleeve.html), is a reflection by a young woman on the significance of sewing as a valuable part of women’s art and women’s history. She was moved by “Fabrications: Stitching Ourselves Together,” Church’s exhibit of the homemade wedding dresses that her mother sewed for family and friends over the course of 45 years.

After having taken sewing for granted for most of her life, Snyder notes, ‘”What I suddenly clearly saw was this: sewing is a complicated part of my history and a profound symbol, not just for the women that sew, but for women’s history.” She adds, “I want to understand how the erasure of creativity from this symbol has come to pass, and I want to challenge the idea that the rejection of this aspect of women’s history has gone largely unnoticed and unquestioned. In fact, many women are starting to reassess sewing as a potentially creative practice, redefine our own assumptions, and reclaim it on our own terms.”

This reference to women’s reclamation of such stigmatized arts and crafts is evident in the international popularity of such projects as Stitch’n Bitch (http://stitchnbitch.org/). Speaking from personal experience, I’d say sewing is also being reclaimed and redefined in more radical ways, where young women are encouraged to play an active role in their menstrual health by sewing their own reusable menstrual pads. Not only this, but some women make them for friends and family and sell or trade them at local feminist-friendly and grassroots shops and crafts sales, thereby also playing an important role in the re-circulation of resources within a community at the local level.

I only recently came to the realization, myself, that this tactical reclamation, this DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic, has long and strong roots in the mundane activities of our foremothers and -sisters, in the social reproduction of labour. We have and likely will continue to often take these activities for granted in the face of marketing efforts to “facilitate” our lives, unless we actively seek out their voices and publicly recognize the value of their work.

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~ by artpoped on January 7, 2009.

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