Sword-swinging mercenaries who admire the hell out of their sister-in-law’s delicate, painstaking embroidery. Mages who find their experience with running a household helps them organize and control their magic. Desperate rebels who know they are absolutely dependent on the women who cook and mend and care for the wounded.
I am so bored of heroines who sneer at ‘womanly’ things and complain of the uselessness of embroidery. Your average medieval kingdom wouldn’t last a week without people doing women’s work.
How often is embroidery sneered at?
Surprisingly often. A lot of authors – even otherwise good authors – use embroidery as a textual shorthand for ‘useless & fussy female responsibilities’ in fantasy novels.
Ok to be fair embroidery can be extremely repetitive and tedious, especially if you’re making a large piece of work. And it’s purely decorative, so it doesn’t help anyone stay clothed or anything.
It does, actually! Embroidery along seams, hems, collars, cuffs, etcetera, help reinforce high-wear areas of a garment, lengthening its useful life. Plus it’s a way to subtly conceal small holes or other damage. It could also add value to otherwise cheap clothing – not everyone could buy yards of silks or velvet. Embroidery thread, on the other hand, was much more accessible.
people love looking at embroidery but scoff at the idea someone could do it for work or that its art
Not to mention that was something that could be sold to keep the castle going and to buy anything they couldn’t make. Beautiful things are highly valued, even today. And crafts people were a lot more valued before the industrial revolution. Your embroidery skills were super important to doing your part to keep your home going. It was a fucking job.
And you can unpick embroidery from an old piece to make something new.
I would like it if none of these tasks were gender coded at all. That would be lovely, thank you.