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?

4 thoughts on “A Boy Named Sue

  1. Great looking socks, Patrick (though I may have called you Pat a few times). I like how the slate colors peek through and the pretty fall colors make me think of raking leaves.

    I remember when Martha asked you what name you put on your fair entries and you replied that you always put “Patrick”.

    I do have some Cabin Cove Cosmic yarn left (little bit of pink in it), if you are interested, there might be enough for some fingerless gloves.

  2. I think it’s wonderful that you do mirror so much of yourself in your craft. It’s made me wonder how much I mirror myself in my craft.

    Also, I think it’s important to shake off the stereotype that knitting is just for women these days. That’s so over.

  3. Julia Sweeney gave her character the name Pat for a very good reason, and in the fiber arts world, Patrick is a much better choice for avoiding confusion. Being a Mel, people who don’t know me often assume that because I knit I must be Melanie or Melissa or something, but since I’m an Emuel and not a Melvin, going by my given name likely wouldn’t help much (Though considering people seem compelled to stick a “man” in the middle of my name, it might. I’m not sure that having one’s name consistently butchered is an improvement, though.).

    With David, only the straight people seem to want to shorten his name to Dave. Early on this caused some confusion at work, since I have a straight coworker named Dave. I think I’ve gotten everyone pretty well trained at this point (“It’s David. Dave is a straight guy’s name.”).

  4. Mel took my thoughts on the Pat character. damn! But, I prefer to be called dave and not David. David is for professional purposes; or, personally, when I am being scolded for something. (Yes, even at “this” age…)
    And the whole CCD makes me shudder. I was REMOVED from the class because I insisted on knowing WHY the dinosaurs aren’t in the Bible. “They’re not real,” the sister told us. “But, I saw them in the museum today…” “No, you did not. Those are toys, evil effigies made by man, and not real.” After a few go-arounds like this, I was dismissed and asked not to return. No wonder the Catholic church is suffering. (In more ways than one.)
    Sorry to go on so, but YOU brought it up…

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