embroidery patriarchy

Do you hide your craft stash?

Ok, Kraken lovers, it’s time to talk. It’s about those memes you see in online craft groups, the ones women share about hiding fabric and yarn stashes from husbands. Do you think the women who post them actually believe that horseshit? I ask because either these women don’t exist and the patriarchy is gaslighting us or they do exist and, bugger me, we really need to talk.

Hang on though. Perhaps it IS the patriarchy gaslighting us by convincing these women that men are in charge. I mean why else would any woman feel the need to hide their hobby from their husband? At what point does the purchasing of craft items become such a source of shame that self-flagellation becomes as de rigeur as taking a shit?

Now, I agree that the hobbies of some wives should be kept secret. Grave-robbing with forks made from squirrels’ teeth springs to mind as does orally pleasuring the inhabitants of the local monastery. I mean, that’s just common sense. No woman wants to admit to her husband that she’s illicitly rooting about under a chapel-load of cassocks when she should be in work.

However, owning fabric and yarn isn’t quite up there with wrenching coffins from their moorings is it? So why lie about it? Why happily shop for bright prints or balls of mohair (we’re back to the monks again) only to turn furtive when you reach your front door? It’s not fun, coy or cutesy. It’s that scene from The Handmaid’s Tale where the enslaved Offred has to hide letters under the bath because the Commander won’t approve if he finds them.

Look, I know these memes are supposed to be fun and funny (I get that, I really do) but they still perpetuate the idea that we women are too silly to be trusted, that we rely on men for discretionary funds, that we need our husbands’ approval, that we don’t have our own agency and that we’re only allowed to live in our own homes if we behave. Hardly the stuff of the 21st century is it?

Now, I have never hidden even a swatch of fabric from Conjugal Kraken. The poor bastard gets a guided tour of every one of my purchases whether he’s busy in the shower or not. And that’s not because we are all loved up after 14 years. It’s because we are reasoned adults with a respect for each other’s hobbies (even when they bore us stupid). He shows me his cricketing season ticket, I show him my new zips. That’s just how it works.

And no, I don’t buy the argument that by being secretive what you are really doing is outwitting da menz. You’re not the Mata Hari of Hobbycraft, for Christ’s sake. You’re not outwitting anyone but yourself because your happiness is in the same dark corner as your latest purchase. If you want a game of cat and mouse get a cat. And a mouse. Don’t take up bloody embroidering.

And nor is this about economics. So OK, you may have bought that metre of fabric because you’ve dragged your carcass to work every day. Equally, you may have bought that angora yarn because you’ve provided three hot meals a day. Either way, YOU HAVE EARNED IT. And if that’s not enough for your stash-stalking husband you don’t need a better hiding place. You just need a divorce lawyer.

So the next time you buy fabric or yarn gird yourself for when you get home.  Not because you need to shove it a cupboard before your husband sees it but because you’re going to strip off your clothes, drape yourself in said purchase and perform Hey, Big Spender while lolloping across the sofa. And when your husband asks you what you think you’re doing? You’re going to say, “Taking fucking ownership,”.

In other words, don’t be a woman who indulges the notion that it’s cool to hide her hobby. It’s not funny and it as sure as sure as shit isn’t clever. Instead, buy your fabric and your yarn but don’t use it to fashion blankets or hats. Use it to fashion your voice. You don’t need permission. You just need to stop sharing those bloody memes.