Not Quite Aro: A K-Mart Stitching Stuff Post

Handdrawn illustration of a mountain road scene with trees in the foreground and bushes in the background. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Resources sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I began to make my cross-stitch pride patches because I couldn’t afford to buy aromantic pride merch. (I want to support other queer creators, but shipping to and within Australia was absurdly prohibitive before a pandemic, months of shutdowns and inflation.) I now write tutorials and share patterns because I’m not the only queer needing to go DIY when it comes to displaying pride. Given these origins, affordability and accessibility are important to me in when considering my sewing materials. (Not to mention avoiding those dread postage costs!) Since K-Mart now offers budget-friendly cross-stitch supplies, I wanted to write up a review.

Two sets of floss, a packet of white aida fabric for cross stitch and gold-coloured crane embroidery sicssors arranged on a blue microfibre blanket. Floss set one: light lavender, lavender, pastel blue, light green, dark green, olive, brown, black. Floss set two: maroon, tan, red, coral, light pink, peach, lemon, white. These K-Mart flosses are wrapped with two white paper bands and have a matte texture. The aida is also quite matte. All items are shown inside clear packaging with K-Mart's "Anko" branding.

This post covers materials that can be used for creating cross stitch patches or making-over embroidery kits in pride colours, including 14-count aida, floss packs and crane scissors. Please note that all prices are in Australian dollars (AUD) and may not be available in other countries.

(Spoiler: I really recommend the aida!)

Continue reading “Not Quite Aro: A K-Mart Stitching Stuff Post”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Aromantic Alphabet, Part Three

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

Are you an aromantic or otherwise queer person wanting more text patch designs for five or ten-stripe pride flags? Do you crave patches depicting longer words like “aromantic asexual”? I now have a complete alphabet, with narrow letters ideal for stitching non-abbreviated terms, to accompany my many five-stripe block text patterns. Plus patterns for the words “aromantic”, “allosexual”, “asexual”, “non sam aro” and “arospec” … and adaptations for my 8 x 10 block A is for Aro letter frame designs!

Seven cross stitch text patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. From top to bottom: "aroace" in angled aro-ace colours on an olive background; "aro" in aromantic colours on a pink background; "aromantic" in aromantic colours on a yellow background; "pride" in allo-aro colours on a purple-grey background; "allosexual" in allo-aro colours on a pink background; "pride" in apothiromantic colours on a gold-tan background; and "flux" in aroflux colours on a light purple background. All letters are capitals in a blockish style of text with rounded corners. Each letter is outlined in backstitch. Every patch is finished with a buttonhole stitch edging in colours similar to (lighter or darker than) their background colour.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses and fractional stitches) and backstitch to make unedged patches, along with buttonhole stitch to make the edged patches shown above. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch. While these patterns use fractional stitches to round off most letters, they can be omitted for a more pixellated look.

Folks after patterns suitable for three, four, six and twelve-stripe pride flags should check out my 10 x 12 Aro Alphabet and Letter Patch tutorials.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Aromantic Alphabet, Part Three”

Story Collection: Spirits Most Singular

Banner for Spirits Most Singular: Stories For Non-Partnering Aros. Image features dark black handwritten type on a mottled light purple/lilac background. Diagonal rows of arrows with bands, heads and fletching in the colours of the green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic pride flag cross the image above and below the text.
Cover image for Spirits Most Singular: Stories For Non-Partnering Aros by K. A. Cook. Cover features black handwritten type on a mottled light purple/lilac background. Cartoon images of arrows--in four different styles--sit in diagonal rows across the cover, the fletching and shafts coloured in the stripes of the green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic pride flag.

Princess Constance of Blackvale hopes a witch’s entrapment proves less onerous than a royal betrothal. A ring weighs heavy upon a gay trans man who knows no acceptable reason to avoid marrying the man he loves. Suki faces condemnation for scorning her lover’s courtly intentions. Esher Hill’s dogs make his days worth living, but his cousin believes marriage the cure to his depression. Priesthood offers Moll community and purpose in a life eschewing love until their usefulness–and their humanity–comes under question. A baker risks unknowable powers rather than submit to the relationships his mother deems necessary.

When society celebrates partnership as obligate duty, unquestionable necessity and saving grace, what must these aromantics sacrifice to build a world without it?

Spirits Most Singular collects sixteen fantasy and contemporary aromantic stories that don’t centre on a wish for or possession of a partner.

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How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part Two

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Yesterday, I began a two-part series on writing allo-aro characters as an ally. To conclude Aro Week, I’m going to examine fictional tropes in want of considerate handling, explain how to contextualise your work without contributing to allo-aro erasure, and discuss the vital role of ally in “writing allo-aro characters as an ally”.

Many tropes regarding romance, relationships, intimacy and love cause aromantics harm. Others erase our aromanticism when treated as universal to all. Some are obviously problematic, like settings in which all characters possess destined soulmates; others require analysing the ways fiction shapes amatonormativity and amatonormativity shapes fiction. Tropes like “friends to lovers” may be loathed by some aromantics but tolerated or even appreciated by other aros! To discuss the use and pitfalls of all these requires more words and time than I possess, so I’m (today) focusing on tropes that either specifically impact allo-aros or are overlooked in our conversations about representation.

Please, especially when writing aromantic-spectrum characters in intimate relationships, examine your story with an eye for the ways amatonormativity and antagonism may shape your character arcs and plot. Many of the tropes we take for granted in the fictional journey towards a happily-ever-after ignore aromantics’ existence at best–and aren’t covered in this already-long post.

As this is an exercise in continued verbosity, you may want to grab a drink before strapping in for another long read!

Continue reading “How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part Two”

How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part One

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I have a problem with most how-to-write-character-of-X-identity posts: representation loses complexity when we reduce it to a list of must-avoid tropes and stereotypes. While this simplification makes it easier to steer clear of accidental antagonism, rarely do such posts acknowledge how avoiding stereotype enables the erasure of those allo-aros–and people of other marginalised identities–whose lives happen to resemble them. Too often we end up praising and valuing representation that regards loveless, neurodiverse, low-empathy, aplatonic, non-partnering and non-monogamous aromantics as too “problematic” for depiction.

For some time, I’ve answered the question of “how to write allo-aro characters” in one sentence: write many allo-aro characters of differing experiences, intersectional identities and roles within their story.

Allies, however, keep asking me for resources. Pithy sentences may be honest, but they’re inherently flawed: they aren’t actionable. A list at least offers safety’s illusion by explaining what not to write! If you don’t know where to start, or so fear causing harm that you can’t, how can you write more than one allo-aro character?

For Aro Week, I’m expanding upon this with a two-part guide explaining the work allies should undertake in creating allo-aro characters and the stories containing them. I outline steps for educating yourself, discuss how to contextualise your work in the field that is “intentional allo-aro representation” and explain concerns I have as a potential allo-aro reader. Please keep in mind that I don’t provide concise answers! I’m only hammering guideposts along the path of your research and reflection when it comes to depicting allosexual aromanticism.

So let’s strap in for a discussion about language, sex negativity, and, most importantly of all, the role and duties of an ally to allo-aros.

Continue reading “How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part One”

Fiction: The Cage and the Road

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Prudence Revered revels in her work as witch-hunter. (Well, census-taker.) What’s not to appreciate in travelling new roads, meeting new people and experiencing new freedoms–ones impossible as the demure once-wife to the Sorcerer Potentate? If she prefers to bed and befriend the witches she tracks down, well, she doubts the Citadel cares (much) about a minor official’s lack of interest in investigation and interrogation. The only clouds on her endless horizon are those ignorant souls who preach the rules that once caged her–the rules witches taught her to break.

She thought herself content wearing the Citadel’s uniform, but when a chance-met companion expects Prue to wage a moral war against unwed witches and provocatively-shaped trees, she fears that her new life isn’t different enough from what she thought to leave behind.

Mother told such stories. Their silken filaments clung to everything Prue knew herself to be, until she was less a person than an actor upon the stage, reciting the lines of a play so old that the audience mouthed the words along with her.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Cage and the Road”

Pride Patch Patterns: Aro Arrows, Part Two

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

My second Aro Week arrow pattern post features patterns for aromantic-spectrum flags with uneven stripe counts or non-stripe elements like crosses, spikes and triangles. Most of these patterns aren’t exact representations of their respective flags, as I am constrained by cross stitch’s pixellated nature as well as the width and angled slope of the arrow fletching. I hope, however, that these patterns come close enough that aegoromantic, apothiromantic and demiromantic folks feel included in this series.

Four cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Two of them are arrows stitched on a single-colour rectangular background, edged with buttonhole stitch; two of them are arrows with the buttonhole edging shaped around the arrow itself. All arrows have a tan and light tan shaft, grey arrowhead and fletching in the colours of various horizontal-striped pride flags. From top to bottom: rectangle allo-aro arrow on light green background with green edging, shaped allo-aro arrow with white edging, loveless aromantic arrow on dark green background with yellow/green multicoloured edging, and shaped quoiromantic arrow with mint edging.

Folks who need help with materials, stitching, finishing or attaching patches should check out my tutorial master page.

Previous patterns are available at part one and my pattern gallery.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: Aro Arrows, Part Two”