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sexual divisions of labour within craft


I felt to explore design from a feminist perspective, it would be important to examine ‘craft’ in relation to my project in order explore it’s gender based divisions or expectations. Craft – particularly needlework or knitting – has historically been delegated as ‘women’s work,’ which was often undertaken within the home environment, whilst men practiced other areas of design beyond this limited sphere. I am curious to examine my own relationship with these types of craft, and to explore my potential motivations behind said practice. 


One particular textile craft I have been the most drawn to in recent years is darning to fix the holes in my clothes. Rather than attempting to disguise the damage they have suffered, I celebrate it, which I feel actually makes them far more interesting and renews my love for them. One such piece is an orange cashmere scarf my mum gave to me that had 21 holes in it that I fixed with multi-coloured threads pictured on the previous page. 


I have also been fixing my boyfriend Robbie’s clothes, and in particular his favourite old t-shirts that had a lot of holes in from age and wear. This feels very much like a labour of love, as despite him being capable and enjoying textile based work, I have assumed the never ending and time consuming role of the fixer for him. This practice of spending hours patching up clothes for the person you love  also for me has a definite feeling of care and tenderness.


In our relationship I feel we have a very healthy attitude towards gender roles and expectations with each other. I think this is helped by our shared interests like climbing and making things for which we both have our areas of skill or particular interest, but stand fairly equal in certain respects. It is also helped by Robbie being a conscientious, kind, and intelligent man rather than sexist pig. 


I think however the act of fixing his t-shirts is one we perhaps differ on. The fact that this feels like a stereotypically ‘feminine’ task makes me consider that we are unusually adhering to more gender specific roles, which has prompted me both reflect on my motivations,  but also has spurred me to question why this feels like a specifically feminine practice