Every now and again, when I have 15-20 minutes of time to pass, I will pull out an old needlepoint magazine and read some of the articles I passed over when the magazine first arrived in my mailbox. I like reading the humorous articles or ones that have some interesting stitching information. This morning I had a few such moments.
I read an article by a very well known, well respected designer/teacher, who will remain nameless. The point of the article was to explain that needlepoint "rules" are important, they have reasons and that they should be followed. In attempting to explain this, the designer slammed a few people along the way, generalizing segments of the stitching population and on the whole being quite smug. For instance, there was a generalization about stitchers under the age of thirty, how most of them did not learn needlepoint at their mother's knee, and being that they learned as adults, they had a tendency to skip certain lessons as well as be impatient when working on a piece. They also, as the article explains, look down on advice from those that came before them. I am not exaggerating, I am almost quoting word for word.
Next came the example of a stitcher, a customer, no less, who brought in an "atrocious" piece of needlepoint with patches of Continental going every which way. Great detail went into describing just how bad this piece was. The customer apparently was silly enough not to know the name of the stitches she used and stubborn enough to be proud of her work.
I found this article to be infuriating. What is it about needlepoint that brings this type of attitude about? My immediate reaction to any negative generalization about the young is to disregard. I think to myself, "Really? What are you attempting to accomplish by these remarks? What good are you trying to bring about?" You know, that attitude of lamenting how the younger generation is not up to our standards, it's the oldest trick in the book. It's been going on since forever. We heard it from our parents, they heard it from theirs, etc, etc. Again, it's a generalization and it really doesn't do anybody any good.
When I started to needlepoint and design I was in my early 40s. I was one of the youngest stitchers in any setting that I stepped into. I had never felt so young, a spring chicken, as I did in any needlepoint gathering. Can you imagine the same situation had I decided to start learning how to paint, or how to sew, or how to make pottery? In all of these situations people would have asked, "what made you decide to start doing this at your (late) age?" I would have been among the older crowd. But not in needlepoint! No, no! So what do we do to encourage a younger stitcher to join in? We generalize, we put them down for being less serious, less knowledgable, less patient, just less! When I began my journey in needlepoint, I was definitely looked down upon by the old guard! I had not "paid my dues", ( I swear I heard this comment), I was, (OMG), self taught, and I was designing? Who did I think I was? (I heard that one as well).
Let's go a step further. Embroidery is having a golden era of popularity in the past few years. A young crowd, teens to people in their 30's and 40's, are into embroidery. The new designers of embroidery have become rock stars, (Sublime Stitching is a good example). I challenge you to find one article about how things "must" be done when doing "good" embroidery. I challenge you to find the "holier than thou" attitude in that world. What is going on? Embroidery is as much an art form, as intricate and detailed a fine craft as needlepoint. So why? WHY?
SO listen to me, you needlepoint geniuses, you dogmatic elders, you "putters downers", you need to lay off. We need young people, we won't be here forever, not you, not me. We need to appeal to a younger crowd, and I don't care if they know which path to take when doing basketweave! I don't care if they lick the ends of their threads when they thread their needles! I don't care what they call the stitches they are stitching! I want them to try this wonderful art and I want them to get hooked. I want them to love it and to keep it alive. You guys are keeping them away, and I won't take it! Lay off!!
Whew. I feel better now.
PS - the designer I mention in the above rant is not to be singled out. I've never met her and she may be a wonderful person. But her article the part of our needlepoint world that is unhealthy and unappealing.