The cruelty of crewel work

At the Royal School of Needlework, London campus, Dianne has been working on her certification in Jacobean crewel work. The level of excellence required at RSN seems to involve as much sewing as it does unpicking. In this way, embroidery is a lot like writing. Writing, after all, is really rewriting.

When we ‘sew’ an embroidery stitch on canvas we do not ‘un-sew’ it. When we ‘write’ a word on a page we do not ‘un-write’. The words for these actions, ‘unpick’, ‘unravel’, ‘erase’, ‘edit out’ and so forth, are their own creative act. To remove an act of creation does not undo the creation. Our words of undoing reflect the new creation of erasure.

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