Thursday, December 2, 2010

A manly Craftsman

Not so much back to tatting (I wish) but still lace / needlecraft related.

I had a Beds class with Hilary Davies here in Austin Saturday and Sunday November 20 and 21, 2010.

I had to move my current project to an old pillow I both loathe and have great memories of. Styrofoam breaks down and makes a nasty squeaking noise when the pins go in. I want to go back to this project so I needed to spangle some bobbins. I needed 30 to 40 pairs for the workshop (yes that’s 60 to 80 bobbins). So I had to spangle 14 pairs beyond what I had readily available.

I started my lace making supplies with six dozen Lacis bobbins. I then added a dozen from Holly (like SMP) and then for my last anniversary (August 21) I received 100 Middlands and 100 Honitons acquired from SMP. Tonight I spangled the last Middland bobbin in my collection of 184 Middlands. And just when I was starting to really enjoy spangling.

What I really am dwelling on though is how little the people I know understand what it is I do. Someday I need to do a demonstration at my younger son's elementary school.

I spend a lot of time on a playground waiting for after school programs to end or the older child’s school to let out (5 minutes away). So I am part of the picnic table crowd, most of whom, including myself, are active on the PTA board. I am the music liaison, mainly I type things for the music teacher and update her website.

So I am talking about spangling and a woman asks me. “What is a bobbin?” So I explain bobbins and bobbin lace. I also explain that I do not want to be caught again with too few bobbins for a workshop. So I explained that I needed 30 to 40 pairs for the workshop, to which a person who I have talked to before about bobbin lace exclaims “For the group or just yourself?”

When I said for myself she got this shocked look on her face and said “I had no idea.”

Ok fine we expect this, but being a male lace maker I did not expect the next day to get into one of those one-ups-man-ship macho conversations about needlework.

This is another father of a first grader; mine are first fourth and eighth. The first time I noticed this man the school was in lockdown and I was staring out the window at a man I did not recognize sitting on top of one of the play structures.

We have talked a few times so when I saw him on the top of the slide I said “you really like being elevated” forgetting that he is a rock climber.

He is originally from Essex so listening to his accent I thought of Hilary and told him about my workshop. He then started asking me about bobbin lace. But his questions were not like others’. He was focusing in on the needlecraft distinctions; stitches, loops, knots, weaving. I had to ask

“What needlework do you do?” and that’s when the manliness took over.
“Counted or printed”

Turned out he does these copies of masterwork painting using single and double strands so of course I had to mention my experience with mixed colors, half-stitches, 22 count Aida.

So now for my challenge:
“I was one of those that put the knot on the front and stitches over the thread underneath so there are no knots in my work.”

‘Yeah, people look at my back and say, it looks like the front. But why shouldn’t it?”

“Yes, I took a needlepoint in to be blocked and the woman turned it over and asked if I had made it." She then said "Men are always so much neater on the back.”

“That’s because we get more into the technical aspects of the craft.”

Just before his son asked if they could finally leave we went on. He asked if I know what goes on with needles. He used gold plated tapestry needles, very small ones.

“I end up squeezing the eye pushing it through and eventually the eye distorts and then breaks.”

“I have not had that problem but mine always develop a curve to them”

“Yes from squeezing as you pull them out.”

We then discussed our methods of needle disposal; tape, card, etc. Don't want the wife rummaging through the garbage and getting stuck now do we.

It was a nice conversation, but it was strange realizing afterward that I had just gone through traditional male bonding over the topic of cross stitch. Cool.


Tatman said...

I like moments like that male bonding via the needlearts. I don't get too many opportunities. I feel sometimes a lonely male in a woman's world. So nice to have comoradery when I read stories like yours. :)

deanna7trees said...

loved reading about your experience. hope you will continue to inform us of your adventures with needlearts.