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You kids get off my lawn. 

Holidays in Cross-Stitch, 1988

Holidays in Cross-Stitch, 1988 - I went on a little road trip this weekend, which gave me the opportunity to hack away at the overly ambitious pattern I've been working on as a Christmas gift. (I'm beginning to realize I mean next Christmas.) At some point, I was sitting at the kitchen table of the friends we were staying with, and I picked up this little metal nubbin. This looks really familiar, I thought, and we all discussed what it could possibly be. We get in the car to go home, drive an hour, and then, when I go to shift the cloth so I can work on the next section, it dawns on me: it's the fastener for the hoop. Arg!

To the Sally Army! Away! I'm always looking for a reason to go to the thrift store, and the boy wanted to get some buttons for reasons too weird to explain, so off we went. I found not just one but two hoops, a bunch of Aida cloth, and more books than I will ever bother to review.

This one stands out though, because it is so completely whack. So whack! Did you know that there's a National Pie Day? (Jan 23) Of course you did! How about National Pet Week? (First week of May) National Aviation Day? (Aug 19) Or - oo oo - Bachelor's Day? (Feb 29) There's nothing that turns Bachelor's Day into "Bachelor's" Day like giving your unmarried male friends an embroidered picture of a bunch of woodland creatures. I have to type out the corresponding text, because it's so crazy it took my breath away:

"Ladies, it's Leap Year, and your turn to do the asking. Tradition has it that, during this year, women have the upper hand when it comes to asking for a date, or even proposing marriage. But there is one day during Leap Year when men are not fair game - Bachelor's Day. So put your ammunition away for the day and wait until tomorrow to go hunting."

Gong! Omfg! There is a class of books my husband and I refer to as "in the usual manner" books: books that were written long enough ago that they allude constantly to things that used to be common knowledge, but now that knowledge is specialized or refers to industries or concepts that have ceased to exist. Cookbooks are guilty of this more often than most, as I think food production in America has changed drastically since even the 80s. (My favorite cookbook is the 1984 edition of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, and it has its fair share of "in the usual manner"; my favorite section is on making hamburgers. Sure, I'll just bust out my meat grinder.)

I find it hard to believe that this Leap Year Sadie Hawkins thing was ever common knowledge, but I am completely in love with how unknowingly hostile this otherwise cutesy section is. War of the sexes indeed! I can just see some woman stabbing the needle in and out of the cloth, smiling an evil smile when she thinks of the look on her lover's face when he opens the package and realizes he's going to have to hang this thing on the wall or never get laid again.

I'm a big fan of the idea of Subversive Cross Stitch, partially because I think that the subversiveness of women's work is coded in its DNA, a sort of voiceless protest. Look at what I've made for you! The vast majority of crafts are gendered, and "in the usual manner" sometimes refers to a cultural consensus on what activities are right and normative, and for whom. It's fascinating to see how quickly the usual manner can shift.