Embroidery Kit Makeover: Aro Monstera Plant

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

When K-Mart releases a set of $5 AUD embroidery kits, what’s a green-blooded aromantic with a thread collection to do but make them more aro?

The real truth: I kind of suck at freehand embroidery. Years of sewing dolls’ clothes shortened my stitches, narrowed my hems, extended my patience and failed to correct my crookedness. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a real-life stitch witch who never met a piece of cotton or linen onto which she wouldn’t embroider flowers! She passed before I was old enough to learn such magic from her, but I yearn to possess this myself. So when I saw K-Mart’s kits, I thought them a good opportunity for practice.

These kits feature simple designs in a minimal colour palette, making it easy to swap in pride flag colours:

A bamboo embroidery hoop sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The hoop is filled with cream cloth featuring an embroidered monstera plant growing in a grey and white striped pot, with script text reading "keep growing" in black backstitch. The pot and the leaves of the monstera plant--sewn in light and medium green-are filled with satin stitch, while the black stems are sewn in repeated chains of very fine split stitch. All colours used in the piece are from the aromantic flag.

My finished piece is nice but not fabulous. I struggled to maintain even tension for the widest sections of satin stitch. My fabric had a few misprinted sections where the stems didn’t align, forcing me to widen them in places so they’d match up (but, alas, leaving the tallest stem cursed with crooked). I’m not sure if my slanted pot happened from further misprinting or my ineptitude. My backstitched lettering looks good, though … and I again have hoop art that’s wonderfully (but subtly) aromantic.

Random tips and observations:

Continue reading “Embroidery Kit Makeover: Aro Monstera Plant”

Pride Patch Patterns: Inset Rhombus

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.

This patch isn’t new: folks who have read my second tutorial post may remember my using a patch with this design to demonstrate sewing a patch onto a bag. A year has passed since … one in which I kept forgetting to make a pattern.

I shouldn’t have, for this design does something new: combining two pride flags in one patch. As long as both flags have five horizontal stripes and share a same-coloured third/centre stripe, you can set a rhombus in the stripes of one flag against a background in the stripes of another. This small pattern is also easy to stitch up: no quarter stitches, lettering or zigzagging!

A square cross stich patch sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The patch depicts the aro pride flag (green/light green/white/grey/black horizontal stripes) with a centre rhombus depicting the greysexual pride flag (purple/grey/white/grey/purple horizontal stripes) set so that both flags share the middle white stripe. The patch is edged with a thick buttonhole stitch in dark green.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses) to make raw-edged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the closed-edged patch above. The first instalment of my patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch; it should be read by beginners as an introduction to materials and processes.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: Inset Rhombus”

Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part Two

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

A coven of gentlewoman witches seems like the perfect place for Luck Vaunted to hide from hir powerful brother, father and husband. Even better, the upcoming Guildmeet ball offers the new Luck the perfect chance to experiment with genderlessness, magic and sex, if only ze can avoid more sorcery-revealing accidents. Sure, the witches welcome hir with open arms, but after hir twin’s betrayal, how can ze risk trusting anyone but hirself?

When hir brother attends the Guildmeet, a lover expects romantic intimacy and a quest of boots threatens to reveal hir deceit, Luck can no longer outrun hir monsters. Hir only chance of escape: the Westhold coven. But how does ze ask, when ze has lied to them, too?

Some fairy-tale families are formed by blood or marriage. Others are formed by aromantic witches defending each other against respectability, amatonormativity … and the sorcerer potentate’s heir.

One must possess a sense of self to flee entrapment by expectation.

Continue reading “Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part Two”

Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part One

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

A coven of gentlewoman witches seems like the perfect place for Luck Vaunted to hide from hir powerful brother, father and husband. Even better, the upcoming Guildmeet ball offers the new Luck the perfect chance to experiment with genderlessness, magic and sex, if only ze can avoid more sorcery-revealing accidents. Sure, the witches welcome hir with open arms, but after hir twin’s betrayal, how can ze risk trusting anyone but hirself?

When hir brother attends the Guildmeet, a lover expects romantic intimacy and a quest of boots threatens to reveal hir deceit, Luck can no longer outrun hir monsters. Hir only chance of escape: the Westhold coven. But how does ze ask, when ze has lied to them, too?

Some fairy-tale families are formed by blood or marriage. Others are formed by aromantic witches defending each other against respectability, amatonormativity … and the sorcerer potentate’s heir.

Luck tries to cultivate a persona of general obliviousness and genial curiosity, but ze awaits the day hir questions result in four intelligent witches wondering why ze doesn’t know the obvious.

Continue reading “Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part One”

Aro Week: Pixel Art Aro Slogans

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.

A chronic pain flare in January (extending into February) seriously disrupted my Aro Week content plans. In my scramble to change direction, I decided to replace one of my ideas with something fun: an image series of oft-spoken comments using my pixel-art alphabet. This post includes an absurd mix of positivity, identity labels and passive-aggressive expressions of aro frustration, because why not?

(Also, frogs!)

It should be noted that not all slogans will represent all aros. I’ve simply collected a list of common aro-community feelings and expressions, both as statements of pride and responses to aro microaggressions.

So if you want to The text "fuck amatonormativity" on a black background bordered with white. The letters are pixelated block-style lower-case letters horizontally striped in the green/light green/white/grey/black colours of the aromantic pride flag.

and celebrate some The text "aro awesome" on a black background bordered with white. The letters are pixelated block-style lower-case letters horizontally striped in the green/light green/white/grey/black colours of the aromantic pride flag.this week, you’ll find a variety of options below:

Continue reading “Aro Week: Pixel Art Aro Slogans”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Ace of Spades

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.

Because I find it easiest to sew my heart patches upside down, I’ve long thought that I should use these patterns to create an ace of spades design. Aro Week feels like the perfect time to take a cross-stitch pattern that isn’t particularly aromantic and transform it into the best-known symbol of aro-ace identity!

Four cross stitch patches, shaped like the ace of spades from a deck of cards, sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Three of them have a thick buttonhole stitched edge, sewn on white aida; the fourth has a raw edge surrounded by decorative backstitching, sewn on purple aida. Flags featured: orange/yellow/white/blue/navy aro-ace flag (blue border), navy/blue/white/aqua oriented aro-ace flag (teal border), green/light green/white/purple (on purple aida). The last patch is a solid black with a white border.

This tutorial showcases the steps for making an ace of spades patch, with patterns available for flags with three, four, five and seven evenly-spaced horizontal stripes.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full and quarter crosses) and backstitch to make the raw-edged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the closed-edged patch. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch.

One shouldn’t attempt this patch without first reading through my heart patch tutorial, which covers techniques for cutting, treating and colouring aida for making unedged patches. It also includes detailed photos showing how I sew a buttonhole stitch around curves, corners and indents, for those wishing a more finished-looking patch.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Ace of Spades”

Aro Week: My (Personal) Aromantic Manifesto

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the 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.

Over the last few years, the aromantic community has seen a comparative outpouring of recognition. It’s less common to see multi-identity art posts that remember asexuals but forget aromantics; it’s more common to see LGBTQIA+ blogs, spaces and communities referencing aromanticism. On Tumblr, I can find a wealth of positivity posts affirming many aromantic-spectrum experiences and even resources that reference aromanticism. Our existence, individually and collectively, is no longer solely the province of obscure art and essays … or presumed to be encompassed by asexuality.

We have a long way to go in acknowledging, including, supporting and protecting non-asexual aros, grey-umbrella aros, loveless aros, fluid and flux aros, aros of colour, non-English-speaking aros and disabled aros. Many of our gains have not yet reached or served all aromantics. The online aromantic world of 2021, however, bears little resemblance to that of 2011.

Past Aro Week content centres on demonstrating our existence: what we are, experience, feel, need, deserve. Now, though, such explanation feels repetitive; in 2021, I yearn to look inward, to face the questions underpinning my essays and storytelling. What does my aromanticism look like? What understandings, beliefs and obligations do I consider an inherent part of my aromantic identity? What do I owe other aromantics? What do other aromantics owe me?

This manifesto–my manifesto–details my belief in the creation of aromantic identity and community that refuses repackaged amatonormativity, rejects sex negativity and celebrates our radical, queer divergence from normal. Built from the bones of my intersection of identities and experiences, this list is limited at best and blinkered by my privileges at worst. Nor have I lived up to all its goals, because I am as flawed and hypocritical as any other human.

It is the start of an attempt to answer one question: what do I believe, as an aromantic seeking to understand and conceptualise aromanticism?

Continue reading “Aro Week: My (Personal) Aromantic Manifesto”

Discussing Allo-Aro Identity (And Why Fluid Folks Need Better Definitions)

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic 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 began my Allo-Aro 101 page by defining the words “allosexual” and “aromantic”. If “allosexual” is uncommon terminology outside a-spec spaces, “allo-aro” (in all its grammatical and stylistic permutations) is even less accepted. “Aromantic” itself voyages into arcane language, often understood by outsiders as only a relationship to or a form of asexuality. Visitors to this website may not know what “allo-aro” means, so–limited by current terminology and conceptualisations of the split attraction model–I follow the well-trodden educator’s path of first mimicking a dictionary.

I consider my following explanation more important, as an allo-aro whose relationship to this identity cannot exist untouched by fluidity:

Any allosexual aromantic who isn’t also, solely and permanently, asexual; or any aromantic who wishes to centre their experience of sexual attraction alongside their aromanticism. Heterosexual aros, bisexual aros, pansexual aros, gay aros, lesbian aros and aros with fluid or shifting attractions inclusive of allosexuality can identify as allo-aro.

Some allo-aros identify as both asexual and allosexual or shift between them. Abrosexual aros may be entirely allosexual or experience both asexual and allosexual identities. Aceflux aros may experience allosexual identities along with their asexual ones. Being solely and permanently allosexual should never be a requirement for allo-aro identity and community participation.

I can count on one hand (with spare fingers!) how often I’ve seen fellow a-specs acknowledge attraction’s potential fluidity in their defining of “allo-aro”. In stressing adverbs like “permanently”, I am an outlier in the genre of explaining allo-aro identity and community membership.

Most allo-aros explain our identity by the words comprising this term: allosexual and aromantic. What more need one say on this subject after coming to agreed-upon meanings for the words “allosexual” and “aromantic”? What more need one say than to explain that allo-aros are aromantic and not-asexual?

Such an explanation erases a non-zero number of fluid allo-aros (not to mention forcing aromantics who are neither asexual nor allosexual, or reject identifying with this binary construct, under the allo-aro umbrella).

It erases me.

Continue reading “Discussing Allo-Aro Identity (And Why Fluid Folks Need Better Definitions)”

Hallo, Aro: Question – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: Reflections on the aromantic desire to avoid family members’ amatonormative questions about dating–and the ways attaining this freedom can speak less about aromantic inclusion and more about heterosexist erasure and queer antagonism.

How can this be the aromantic dream when your queerness quiets the room?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Question – K. A. Cook”

Pride Patch Tutorial: The Patch Jacket, Part One

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.

If you’ve been following my tutorials, you may have spent the best part of a year cross stitching your own pride patches. I’ve been sewing to occupy my hands while streaming TV during Victoria’s covid-19 lockdowns, so I’ve ended up with a lot of patches. What better thing to make with them than the ultimate in pride clothing–a one-of-a-kind pride jacket?

A light wash, blue, cropped denim jacket sitting on a blue, white, yellow, green, navy and cyan striped quilt cover. The front of the jacket is covered in an assortment of handsewn cross stitch patches, including the letters "A" in pride flag stripes, two arrow designs, hearts in various flag stripes, a frog, two dragons, a hot air balloon, the word "abro" and the words "aro" in upper and lower case type.

I used a cropped denim jacket from K-Mart that I got on clearance, as I had no access to op/thrift shops or other retail clothing shops during lockdown. Whatever jacket or coat you have on hand should work, although it is easier to work with thinner denim.

This tutorial describes tips and techniques for hand sewing patches onto a jacket, which is the cheapest but most difficult and time-consuming (or occupying!) method of attachment. If you use a heat and bond or iron-on adhesive product, much of this tutorial won’t apply, but you may still find useful the sections on layout and temporary adhesion.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: The Patch Jacket, Part One”