Friday, July 09, 2010

Only the Lonely

This month, Lee asks us:

Sometimes I wonder if we choose stitching because we are more comfortable with pursuits that we do alone, or does our stitching cause us to be loners? So what do you think?

Since we’re stitching alone most of the time, it seems to me that we get great joy from coming together with other stitchers. It can be such a good feeling when we find a group of people who speak our language and understand our stitching excitement and passion. But since not all stitchers are perfect, not all groups can be perfect either. So…if you could create your own perfect stitching group, what characteristics would make it perfect? For instance, would you all be near the same age, or would you like your group to span a generation or two? Would you enjoy political or religious discussions while you stitch or would that make you shy away? Would you like a big group or a small group?

This question reminds me of one we used to ask in graduate school: does the PhD process make you an asshole, or is it that only the assholes can survive the process? (If you think your favorite prof wasn't an asshole, you either 1) went to a liberal arts college or 2) didn't really know your professor.) I was talking about this with a faculty/staff therapist once and he preferred the term "narcissist" but the upshot was the same. There's just so much self-promotion involved with being a professor, it's not funny. Most people came down on the side of both. In fact, the whole process is such a mind f*ck, the Germans have a word for "damaged goods due to obtaining the PhD," promotionsbedchaedigt.

Nor sure if they have one for "being alone because I stitch." I actually think I'm not a loner, much as I pretend to be a misanthrope. Stitching is one of those things I happen to do when I'm alone like read or talk to the dog. But sometimes I read or talk to the dog or stitch in public. And I'd happily stitch in groups all of the time if I could find more of them. I mean, let's face it, the ancient ladies of my working class neighborhood who eat all the cake aren't my ideal group of women.

I'm not sure what my ideal group of stitchers is. Women who think. Who are interested in thinking about stitching beyond "this is what I stitched today," but who are also interested in the world beyond stitching. They should agree with Madeleine Albright that "there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." They don't have to share all my beliefs, but they shouldn't watch Fox News.


Kristen said...

They don't have to share all my beliefs, but they shouldn't watch Fox News.

Amen, sister!

Laura said...

I was flipping past Fox last night and noticed that John Stossel is now on there. I've always liked his style of journalism but he so doesn't strike me as a Fox guy.

My one pet peeve about stitching groups based on my short personal experience with one is this: it's not all about bringing and eating the Entenmann's. I realize it's moist and delicious, and yes it's fun to fight over those big crazy crumbs, but come on.

Laura Elizabeth said...

I tend to leave stitching or knitting/crochet groups because of lack of conversation. Every group I've been in tends to devolve into a bitchfest about men, children, parents, jobs. When it's not a bitchfest it's about movies and celebrity gossip. I don't mind either group of topics once in a while, but weekly? It just gets boring. I have tried introducing discussions on current events or local politics or charities and get blank stares. I'm not saying those women are boring or wrong, they're just not for me.

I think for many the group thing is about relaxing and enjoying their craft in a group setting. They're not there for thoughts and coversation. For me, I'd like to engage more than just my hands. I would like to think about and discuss what is going on in the world with others while also pursuing my favorite hobbies. So far that hasn't worked for me.

riona said...

Since there are no stitching groups in my area to be offended by my elitist standards ... I feel free to "invent" an ideal group:
1. All members should have moderate to advanced skills
2. All members should be unafraid of high count linen, silk, specialty stitches and other esoterica of the craft
3. All members should have some sense of how textile arts have always been a means of artistic expression for women, especially when such means were few
4. Conversation when in session should range beyond last night's trash TV though it need not be so high-minded that only the above-mentioned PhDs can follow the discussion ... a happy medium is all one could desire
5. Politics and religion might be discussed but only if the conversation remains rational and civil ... people should be able to agree to disagree intelligently and graciously ... and no one should be allowed to reference the political gurus of talk radio, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.
6. Food should be served only if the group is meeting for three or more hours and then only in a different room/area.
7. All discussion of ailments, grandchildren, in-laws, husbands/lovers, etc should be severely limited. However, discussion of books, movies, local restaurants, travel, food/recipes, other hobbies would be encouraged.
8. An interest in new designers, new materials, new techniques would be a plus ... as would any interest in the unusual, the witty, the whimsical ... no prudes need apply
9. People so immersed in the craft that they have attempted to do a bit of designing themselves would also be most welcome

Jeanne said...

Well I don't have a group of stitchers in my area that I am friends with but wish I did. Sometimes it can be lonely so I say 'amen' for the internet! Groups have their own challenges... you've got to avoid the person who wants to be "in charge" of everything....and the constant complainers of course. I have been in a low-key informal group of 10 quilters now for a few years and we love our group - no obligations....we are similar in age but a mix of working and non-working women and of different political and religions views. We support each other emotionally when needed...and most of us have other craft interests like stitching, punch-needle, paper arts, journaling, etc so we get exposure to other things.

Billie said...

I totally agree with your opinion of what a perfect group would be. I am a "lone stitcher" because here in Germany there are hardly any other stitchers around. I am in a grouip called "International Womens Club Stuttgart" and we will have a Stitch 'n Bitch (our first) next Wednesday. We will see how it goes. The ladies attending are pretty crazy (just like me), but I have no experience with them craftwise.

Anonymous said...

I have no stitching group in my current location except for a knitting group once every other month. They mostly gossip about people I know nothing about. This turns me off. I too want intellectual stimulation while stitching, but don't mind being by myself.

Barf on Fox News.

Mary in TN

Kristen said...

Oooh Riona, I like your list of criteria. I'd join that group. ;)

I've always liked his style of journalism but he so doesn't strike me as a Fox guy.

Laura, the old John Stossel from 20/20 is gone. The new Stossel fits right in over at Fox. Sad.

MelissaD said...

Do I get any points if I tell you that I listen to NPR daily?

I will agree that I like Riona's list - it sounds just about perfect to me.

I have worked from home for several years which has its advantages but I did find I was lonely. I'm lucky to have a large EGA chapter nearby which I belong to and have joined the Sampler interest group as well. I have also started going to the bimonthly stitching get togethers which also include members of the ANG. I really look forward to getting out of the house and going to the various meetings to stitch.
Each of these groups are slightly different with different personalities. Everyone has different interests, tastes and talents as well as more than one hobby. I enjoy them all because I get exposed to things I might not normally think to look at and I always pick up some new information and ideas.
My favorite group however is my "Wild Women" - a group of 5 of us all about the same age - some married, some not, some kids, some not. We met in EGA 20 years ago and have become best friends. Many of us have moved away (a few hours or the next state) but we still get together once or twice a year for a long weekend of stitching, drinking, stitching, eating, shopping, visiting, etc. It's like a slumber party with cocktails and fiber! I really look forward to these visits as it allows me to be wholly myself and not someone's Mom, wife or employee.

mainely stitching said...

I've happily stitched with some great women of different ages (from a little younger to me, to a generation older) and I like the differences in age among my friends. We like to talk - about family, great books we've read, places we've travelled to, and so on. We've also simply enjoyed being quiet (though that may occur less often, LOL!). I think the best groups have been the ones in which the women all want to simply enjoy themselves without an agenda.

Siobhan said...

You had me at "shouldn't watch Fox News". Bwah ha ha!! That's the only US news channel that we get live from the US 24/7. I can watch a little bit of it until it is so obviously biased that I have to turn it off. Hate mongers Karl Rove and Ann Coulter as analysts?! That says it all.

I am a loner in terms of stitching because I haven't found anybody here who stitches. I was when I lived in the US, too. I briefly went to a stitch group but there was one woman there that did NOT like me. I joined the group late so I was a newbie amongst an established group of friends & she made an effort to show me that I was not welcome. I wanted to be with other stitchers more than I was uncomfortable with being the newbie. The other stitcher, though, resented my intrusion and would get up and move if I sat next to her (I checked--I didn't smell), stand directly in front of me--with her back to me--when we were standing around talking, etc. It finally got to be too much and I stopped going. I also called the local EGA chapter to find out about meeting with them and the old bat that took my call was very unfriendly. I've been lucky in quilting groups and scrapbooking groups but never stitching.

Giovanna said...

Ewww, Siobhan, what a horrible oerson!

I admit to being a bit of a loner, but if I stitch it's because I like stitching, not because of lonerism. I was glad to find a group a few years ago, and I love going to it every week. We're very diverse in age, education, background, and stiching interests, and that's what makes us a great bunch. We chat about anything, and we learn from each other. And there's always somebody with a strand of DMC 310 to spare if you run out :-)

Miriam said...

Boo on Fox News.

I'm probably a loner, but I'd craft in company if I could find a group I agreed with. Mostly I try yarn groups, and then quit when people start spending their time trying to convince me I ought to knit instead of crochet. I don't think there's a group around that does the sort of hand sewing work I do.

So I think my first qualification for a group would be one whose members don't try to convince me out of my choice of craft in the first meeting.

Meadows08 said...

Here, here!

Riona and Jeanne made great points too!

JenFW said...

"Women who think. Who are interested in thinking about stitching beyond 'this is what I stitched today,' but who are also interested in the world beyond stitching."

May I join this group, please?