San Antonio knitting instructor cooks up X-rated patterns

It all started with the woman’s sock surrounded by penises.

In the mid-2000s, San Antonio knitting instructor Wendy Moreland joked online with knitter friends about creating a sock pattern that reflected their group’s personality. So the sassy Gen-Xer concocted this X-rated design: a subtle yet subversive “girly sock” with a red waffle-knit pattern that looked innocent enough – that is, until you you approach the back spot the row of phalluses not quite hidden.

The racy pattern was such a hit with her fellow knitters that Moreland concocted an anklet version. Next, she designed a companion “masculine” sock, a monochromatic design that looked like tree bark with knots that, on closer inspection, were random vulvae.

The two NSFW patterns remain Moreland’s most popular on the crochet and knitting patterns site. ravelry.com, where it markets the free “Penis Cakewaffle Anklet” and the $6 “Naughty Pine” as well as its more family-friendly yarn patterns for berets, mitts and ponchos.

“I like things that twist something a little to the side, (with) an edge,” said Moreland, whose knitting classes at Yarnivorous the needlework near Castle Hills is far more docile than the risque creations she makes at home.

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Many of these provocative pieces blast convention with a well-sewn F-bomb and middle-finger attitude, whether speaking truth to power, speaking up for emotional and mental well-being, or simply, well, talking dirty.

“It’s fun to do something beautiful and then have something slightly secular,” said Haley Pierson-Cox, the Vermont seamstress behind books like “Improper Cross-Stitch,” ” Feminist Stitches” and “Bob Ross Cross Stitch”. “It’s kind of a mood lifter, but it also has a message that can spread in a visual medium, that can reach a lot more people than if I wrote, say, a college essay about why I think patriarchy needs to be re-examined.”

Floral embroidery with an edgy twist by embroidery artist Emily Evans. The former San Antonio resident creates various designs, both traditional and NSFW, and sells them through her Etsy store, EmilyEvansEmbroidery.

Courtesy of Emily Evans

Pierson-Cox said subversive needlework has been around since angry little girls created grumpy stitch samplers, though she traces more modern cheeky embroidery back to the feminist ‘riot grrrl’ punk movement of the early 1990s. 1990.

“At that point, DIY started to intersect strongly with feminism,” she said. “When that happened, some of the most fun and playful things you can do with very traditional crafts started to come out. Some of them are unexpected things and some of them have very strong messages. .

These unexpected designs often give the traditional a risky edge. Take some examples on Etsy. The Global Designer Market offers hundreds of subversive mottos, patterns and sexually graphic products that break the mold of the everyday embroidery hoop.

Wendy Moreland holds a pillow with a cheeky twist on the home decor motto, "Live love laugh." The San Antonio knitting instructor also does her share of NSFW cross stitch and knitting designs.

Wendy Moreland holds a pillow with a cheeky twist on the home decor motto, “Live, Love, Laugh”. The San Antonio knitting instructor also does her share of NSFW cross stitch and knitting designs.

Robin Jerstad / Contributor

Here are some examples we can share: a sarcastic version of “Home Sweet Home” that reads: “This is not a brothel. This is a whore house;” a most profane WWJD model that reads: “Whenever I get in trouble, I just think, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Then I pretend to be dead and disappear for three days,” and one of Moreland’s favorites, the home decor staple “Live, Laugh, Love” redone on a small bedside pillow that tells the place “Live, Love, Lube”.

“People think these are ‘feminine’ crafts,” Moreland said. “And the whole ‘feminine’ thing has been the culture pretending we don’t have anything that isn’t clean and perfect and sleek and civilized, like people thinking women don’t know about swearing.

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“You can talk like a sailor and be nice,” she said, “but you can (also come across) super polite and nice and be a Karen.”

Then there are those quick-witted seams in the wake of the #MeToo movement, feminist creations that tear apart patriarchy and toxic masculinity, and long-held stereotypes that women who knit are shy or submissive.

Case in point: Pierson-Cox’s “Feminist Stitches” patterns, which include “Don’t Tell Me to Smile” and “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.”

“You can do so many things without causing problems,” she said. “Or I guess you can cause good trouble without causing drama.”

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Pierson-Cox noted that many women do naughty needlework as a creative outlet for anger, anxiety, and depression. (“I’m autistic and also anxious and depressed,” she said.)

Craft artist and mental health advocate Emily Evans fell in love with embroidery about three years ago in San Antonio after undergoing rehabilitation for a suicide attempt and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Some of his early pieces reflect his personal battles with anxiety and depression, while much of his later work features faceless portraits of friends and families, abstract landscapes, and even artistic homages to Scooby- Doo.

Wendy Moreland shows off a pair of socks she designed that feature male and female genitalia subtly woven into the pattern.  The San Antonio knitting instructor also does her share of NSFW cross stitch and knitting designs.

Wendy Moreland shows off a pair of socks she designed that feature male and female genitalia subtly woven into the pattern. The San Antonio knitting instructor also does her share of NSFW cross stitch and knitting designs.

Robin Jerstad / Contributor

“I think that’s a lot of healing for people who want to do something with their hands that isn’t destructive,” said Evans, who currently lives in California.

But Pierson-Cox pointed out that most of this sewing is about having fun making a traditionally clean and healthy craft a little (or a lot) dirty.

It would explain why Moreland’s next NSFW project will be a cross-stitch piece with the closest equivalents of the F-word in every language, or why Evans’ favorite embroidery work juxtaposes classic floral designs with swear words. Because nothing brings a smile in the sewing community like a hoop of flowers that says, “Shut it (expletive).”

“(The) kind of ‘wine hour’ stuff? I don’t resonate with that,” Evans said. “I’m very rude, so I wanted that to come out in my art. We’re not all Betsy Ross sewing the American flag.

rguzman@express-news.net | Twitter: @reneguz