The needle arts trace women’s path to empowerment.

Cross-stitching and other needlework arts were largely the domain of women in the early ages. Tapestries adorned cold castle walls, while delicate embroidery on garments and furnishings were desired by the lord and lady of the manor. The first fashion houses in the 19th century employed legions of talented and often overworked women to decorate haute couture for the more economically advantaged.

Today, women are still employed in this manner in Third World nations and emerging economies, working for minimal wages while producing detailed works for women and men in Western societies. If they are lucky they are able to sell their work through Fair Trade organizations, and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Most of us in the developed world, though, are fortunate enough to indulge ourselves in cross stitch and embroidery at our leisure rather than as a source of income. So, it is my hope, that these patterns will be crafted in order to make a modest impact on those around us, allowing subversive women, and men, to show “what a feminist looks like.”