I promise this blog isn't going to just be Facebook memes, but I couldn't resist this one. Courtesy of my friend Kyndra, who always posts the most insightful and beautiful things. She moved back to LA last year and I miss her so badly! I'm not sure if Audre Lorde had ladynails in mind when she said this, but that's certainly how I'm going to interpret it. Now you go off and preserve yourself, I'm going to enjoy my lazy Sunday by working on a project which Pepper will be modeling here on Sews Before Bros very soon!
Saw this on Facebook courtesy of my friend Becca. It's the Fashion Club from Daria! How I loved that show. I have good memories of watching it in my college dorm room with my roommate and us snickering about how the Fashion Club girls were just like all our classmates in fashion college. I used to feel mildly embarrassed for having a cartoon-crush on Trent, but I realize now that was a fairly common experience among women of my age, and I embrace it wholeheartedly. DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME.
Anyhoo, if you like this pattern and want to make this cross stitch yourself, it's only $5 on Etsy! And what's more, it also comes with another pattern for a cross stitch featuring Trent, Jane, and Daria, and some wisdom about pizza making everything better! So get on it!
Although I sometimes plan a manicure in advance based on some sort of inspiration, as I did with my Female Trouble nails, I usually let the creative spirit take hold of me and decide on a name based on how the end product inspires me. This week's look is a perfect example:
Although I like the ripening-persimmon shades this photo gives, it's difficult to give this color true justice. Especially through crappy Instagram. In reality, this shade is a screaming orange-peach command to STOP AND LOOK AT MY FABULOUS HANDS RIGHT NOW. Each nail I painted with two coats of Bikini Coral and then layered a half-nail of Stun. Both shades are vegan and toxic-crap-free, from Floss Gloss (and no, this is not a product placement. I paid full price for my nail polish and I am only too happy to support and give bigs up to a locally-owned, vegan-friendly Bay Area company!).
When I finished this manicure, the gold reminded me of Mike Myers as Linda Richman, wearing gaudy gem sweaters, giving us topics to discuss, and getting verklempt over how Barbara Streisand's voice is "like buttah." The Bikini Coral, however, gave it a decidedly Caribbean feel. So there you go: Linda Richman decided she could use a vacation, hopped on a plane, and is now in Palm Beach. She's had one Hurricane too many and the ocean is reminding her of The Prince of Tides and... you know what...? I need a moment. Talk amongst yourselves-- I'll give you a topic: Do you remember a time when Mike Myers used to be funny? Discuss.
Find the rest of my ladynails here.
In what I hope is the start of a long tradition, I'm happy to offer my first free cross stitch pattern: the immortal phrase "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparklemotion" from the movie Donnie Darko. Have you seen it? It's on imdb.com's top 250, so get on it.
To download or print this cross stitch pattern in either color or greyscale, click through the the Cross Stitch Patterns section of Sews Before Bros (files are in PDF format; Adobe Reader required. Download it here for free).
Here's the boring but necessary stuff: this is my own original design which I am happy to share for free as part of the creative commons. Please do not abuse this free pattern by using it for profit or personal gain in any way (unless it's personal gain in the form of the sweet lovin' and undying affection you will get from someone if you make a gift out of this, in which case I totally approve). If you would like to re-post it, please link back to Sews Before Bros or credit me, Erika Larson, IN THE YEAR TWO THOU-SAAAAAND (and twelve). Thanks, dudes!
Oh, and finally: I would love to see your interpretation of this project! As the site progresses and more patterns and projects are available, I'd love to start cultivating a Reader Gallery. Please feel free to send me any photos or links to your finished version of the Sparklemotion pattern! Go to the About page to find my email address.
A few days ago this cross-stitch popped up in my Instagram feed. What's not to love!? The best part was that she made two of these, so side by side, it was like THE SONG WAS PLAYING IN MY HEAD whaaaat?
I knew my innernette buddy Kelly made cute pins under the moniker Teeny Tiny Tantrums, but I didn't know she was a wicked cross stitching sassmouth, too. Naturally I had to poke around her Etsy shop and see what else she had been up to lately. A whole lot of awesome, 'tuderiffic* needleworks (some of which are pictured below). Hey, she does commissions, too! You could be a patron of the arts, just like the Medicis, but without all the open sewers of the Renaissance and the syphilitic fun that ensues!
Kelly, for pouring all of your sassy heart into your crafts, Sews Before Bros salutes you!
*yeah, you like that? Just made it up. You can have it, just credit me.
...and they call that bitch Biggie Smalls!
I don't know Morse Code, and therefore it's easy for me to suspend my disbelief and hope that this is part of the message that was painstakingly stitched into the inner border of this WWII-era cross stitch:
Actually, the truth is not that far off. This cross stitch, crafted by Major Alexis Casdagli, a British military officer kept prisoner by Nazis during the Second World War, contains secret messages in Morse Code. That's right, sprinkled liberally in between those swastikas and sickle & hammers are the phrases "Fuck Hitler" and "God Save the King." Casdagli also stitched a number of other samplers during his four years in captivity; among them, an entire letter to his 11 year-old son Tony back in England. It was the first word the boy and his mother had heard of his father since his capture more than six months earlier in Crete:
“It is 1,581 days since I saw you last but it will not be long now. Do you remember when I fell down the well? Look after Mummy till I get home again.”
Today, Tony is a celebrated needleworker in his own right who has exhibited at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
I'd be hard pressed to find a single piece more emblematic of subversive mischief. There is, of course, the obvious message of resistance against the artist's Nazi captors, weighted heavily by the enormous audacity it required. Hidden though they were in code, expressing such sentiments was still a significant risk to take. Morse Code didn't exactly require the Enigma Machine to figure out. Casdagli was essentially taking the gamble that at no point during his work on the piece, or at any time after it was finished, would a German officer notice the little dots and dashes forming the border and realize the middle finger hidden therein. Far more than a casual utterance or even a hastily scrawled note, Casdagli's sentiment was built slowly and patiently, and far more irascibly, then the other paths of expressive resistance he could have chosen to take.
But delving below the surface of such a cut-and-dry totem, we also find an artist who challenges and blends traditional gender roles in an era when such roles were strictly enforced. With the further complication of war, gender differences were hyper-extended: men went out in the mud to grapple and kill, while women tended the hearth and children while waiting innocently and patiently for their weary husbands and sons to return from the horrors of the battlefield. The transportation of one man from the large, noisy chaos of combat to the minute and studious concentration of quietly stitching away on what his peers would likely call "women's work" is an evocative one indeed.
Like a proverbial flower shoot growing slowly but determinedly from a scarred and barren landscape, Casdagli's art can also appreciated far more poetically as the epitome of beauty thriving amidst destruction, rebirth amongst death. As German soldiers were perpetuating atrocities against Casdagli's fellow Prisoners of War, as well as millions of Jewish, LGBTQ, & Roma people and political prisoners, art and resistance stayed alive. It only stands to reason that hope did, too.
Casdagli, who had undoubtedly been instructed by the British military in how to be resourceful and creative in order to ensure his survival, pulled different-colored threads from pyjamas and other articles of his fellow prisoners' clothing to create the vibrant contrasts seen in many of his prison-era pieces. Some might find it odd that this would be how a military man applied his resourcefulness, but I would beg the question of how one defines 'survival.' Beyond the physical needs of food, water, shelter, and sleep, what other amenities must humans go to extraordinary lengths to attain in order to be seen as 'surviving?' We already know that humans need mental and emotional stimulation in order to live and thrive; do we not also need the beauty of art and the release of creation in order to exist? Major Casdagli definitely did:
"He would say after the war that the Red Cross saved his life but his embroidery saved his sanity," says [his son] Tony. "If you sit down and stitch you can forget about other things, and it's very calming." [The Guardian]
It's not even that cold, you know. When I was your age I walked uphill both ways in waist-high snow to get to the coal mines and back, and we didn't even get coal to burn, we had to burn horse manure. Anyways, have a Werther's Original and this afghan I crocheted just for you. Gramma loves you, boopie.