A Boy Named Sue


Back in second grade CCD class, we had a “mock” mass as practice for our First Holy Communion. The sermon was about Jesus being our shepherd and that we were all sheep. (At the time, the image of sheep made us all think of adorable cotton balls with heads; while years later, a different priest would equate sheep with dumb, stinky, dirty animals. Oh well.)

To emphasize the sermon, and to keep our interest, each of our names were called to put a small sheep up on a bulletin board to show us all being shepherded by Jesus. Each and every little boy and girl’s name was called. Except mine.

I was heartbroken! I looked back at my CCD teacher with tears in my eyes! How could Jesus forget me?

Well, Jesus didn’t forget me. It turns out that the lady that cut out and named all of the sheep looked at the role book, saw the name “Pat Donohue,” and thought “Pat” was short for “Patricia” and not “Patrick.” The lone sheep that was left on the table to be attached to the board was named “Patricia.”

Now why does this story come to mind? Was I scarred forever by this event? I don’t think so (though it might make you wonder being that I remember it so clearly.) No, this all came to mind because I have had a lot of communication with fiber people lately, and it occurred to me that everyone involved in fibers and textiles calls me “Patrick,” while most everyone else calls me “Pat.” (For those of you that thought my name was Tex, sorry to disappoint.)

When asked what do I want to go by: Pat or Patrick? I usually respond, “Whichever. I have been called worse.” Strangely, if I am not in a fiber related group, like at work, I am called Pat. Everyone that knows me through fiber? Patrick. And I think I may have brought this on myself.

I want people to know that, when they see my work, it was done by a man. People just assume when they see hand knitting, hand spun, or hand woven, that it was done by a woman. The novelty of my doing this stuff is not as big as it was years ago, when I was in high school or college, but I am still considered a bit of a novelty. Back in those days, when I would first walk into a yarn shop, I was treated like a lost little boy looking for his mother. (My babyface and inability to grow facial hair didn’t help matters any.) This could actually work to my advantage, sometimes, as I could take a female friend as a decoy, and the shop owners would chat up my friend while I was foraging around in the clearance yarns looking for the bargain of the century.

But I have also come to realize that this plays into the things that I make and the colors that I choose, no matter whom I am making the item for. I rarely every do lace. I almost never pick pink, nor a pastel. Big fluffy, fuzzy yarns? Not for my work. Nope.

Jitterbug Slate sock 1 Cross stitch sock 1

It’s all a strange realization for me, as it didn’t occur to me exactly how much of me is really reflected in my craft.

I will get up off the couch now. How much do I owe you for this session?