“Stitch N’ Bitch” Creates Community in New, Virtual Way

By Kaleigh Cortez, Staff Writer-

The weekly Stitch N’ Bitch, which teaches students how to cross stitch while discussing women’s issues, returned this fall with the same emphasis on community in a new virtual format.

The Center for Women and Gender Equity has hosted Cross-Stitch N’ Bitch for three years for students to gather, learn a new skill and discuss relevant feminist issues. Due to restrictions caused by the ongoing pandemic, the event is now hosted virtually on Zoom.

Assistant Director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity, Lauren Ouwerkerk started the event to teach students about the importance of textile work and the history of women’s identities in textiles.

“For women, this would be their only opportunity to tell their stories of what their experiences were like,” Ouwerkerk said.

This program takes the traditional cross-stitching methods and allows students to reclaim the art form to define a new generation.

Additionally, cross-stitching also provides students with a new hobby and the opportunity to learn a new skill which can help pass time.

“A lot of people right now, especially in isolation, are trying to find things to keep them busy.”  Ouwerkerk said. “It’s a very good therapy hobby when you’re just like, ‘I need something mindless to do with my hands.”

Beyond discovering a new pastime, a vital aspect of the event is creating a sense of community. Students are encouraged to engage in conversation with one another about recent feminist news, worries about their classes or the shows they are watching.

According to Ouwerkerk, these conversations help “establish some level of camaraderie around a shared enjoyment of one thing.”

With the events now being conducted entirely online, a few logistical changes have been made.

Students now should contact Ouwerkerk to have a supplies kit prepared. These kits include all the necessary materials such as a wooden hoop, needles, thread and any of the four patterns available.

The patterns range in difficulty from beginner to advanced cross-stitching skills and features a UTC Welcome Week design, as well as popular feminist sayings such as “less catcalls, more cats,” “you are enough” and “ask me about my feminist agenda.”

Once kits are ready for pick-up, students can stop by the Center for Women and Gender Equity on the first floor of Lupton Hall prior to attending their first meeting. Ouwerkerk will teach students the basics of cross-stitching and help students who may run into some issues.

Interested students should email Lauren Ouwerkerk to request a kit and they should attend the meetings held every Monday from noon to 1 p.m. via Zoom.

Links to join the Zoom meetings, as well as a schedule of other events hosted by the Center for Women and Gender Equity, can be found here.

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