Open Source Embroidery Project

In my perpetual quest to explore new avenues in embroidery—techniques, uses, events, groups, business—I’ve thrown my hat in with the Mr. X Stitch team for the Embroidered Digital Commons project, initiated by Ele Carpenter, as part of the Open Source Embroidery project.

What does this mean? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Ele has drawn a parallel between embroidery and computing. She’s making connections between two seemingly unconnected things, which is one thing that attracted me to the project.

Here’s what I have come to understand: Embroidery is made of hundreds and thousands of tiny stitches; software is made of hundreds and thousands of tiny pieces of code. Embroidery patterns and finished products are shared amongst friends, through social needlework circles and the Web. Software code and finished products are shared amongst friends and through the Web.

The arguments about Open Source vs Free Software can be applied to embroidery: How do we apply free and openly available products within our culture and capitalist economy? I’ve been wondering this for years. I don’t have the answer.

To open and facilitate discussion of this, the Embroidered Digital Commons project seeks to embroider terms and their definitions from the Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons (Sarai, 2003) written by the Raqs Media Collective. Twenty-six terms (A-Z) and their definitions, stitched by hundreds of different people, will be photographed and compiled into a video.

All kinds of groups are getting together to stitch a term. For instance, in London, on May 22, 29, and June 5, anyone interested is invited to Cafe Crema to stitch the term “Ensemble” and its definition while discussing the idea behind it.

I contemplated getting a Stitching for Literacy group together to stitch a term, but instead did something I almost never do: practiced restraint. You’ve seen how quiet this blog has been, right? There’s a reason for that!

Funk & Weber Designs, "Dance floor" fractal

I call this my dance floor fractal. We have a software program that makes fractals. When we bought it, we thought we might make cross stitch patterns from them. Someone else does that, so we don't need to. It's awfully fun to play with, though.

Instead, I’ve joined the Mr. X Stitch team to stitch the term “Fractal.” Oh yeah, that was another strong selling point—I love fractals! I will be stitching “and dispersal within.” That’s it! That’s my task in this extensive project.

I know quite a few folks in the embroidery world, but I don’t personally know Mr. X Stitch. That, too, was a selling point. It’s a new embroidery group, and I’m making new connections. Cool, eh? The guy has dubbed himself the “manbroiderer.” Anyone who makes up original, clever, effectively descriptive words is a winner in my book.

I need to have my three words stitched by the end of July. My goal is the end of June because my July is packed to the gills already. In the spirit of Open Source and Embroidered Digital Commons, I plan to share the experience here.

There are other terms to be stitched. If this project interests you, or if you think Stitching for Literacy should do this and you’re willing to help, say the word. You know how easily my arm twists.

Isn’t this fun? What new embroidery things are you trying—or thinking of trying?

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