Back in 2018 and the manager of a florist shop, at the age of 62, I took the decision to do something with my life before it was to late and embarked on a three-year BA (hons) Fine Art and Crafts degree at Doncaster collage. Having stitched, knitted, painted, and tried different crafts over the years and having no other degree I took on the challenge with great enthusiasm. Loving the craft side of the course came naturally but struggled yet persevered with the written word I got through the first two years.
Then Covid 19 struck and although I had many projects on the go the loss of studio time for ceramics and the printing room, my work centred more on my textile projects as this could be done at home. Joining social media sites, I became aware on just how much stitching was helping people during the isolation we all found ourselves in.
With thoughts on the decision, I needed to make on what my final major project should be I looked further into the how slow stitching was helping the wellbeing, and mental health for so many people. Community projects had to manage online classes and sewing media sites grew in numbers.
Having to spend months away from my home and family to look after unwell in-laws I found the time sitting still and quite hand stitching a great comfort and cleared my mind from the things I should have been doing back home.
Repurpose wool blanket, botanical printing, cut shapes, hand stitched together.
Being mindful of the environment repurposing fabric, and botanical printing is the starting point of my work. I’m fortunate to have access to teabag waste fabric and can use it in its single state or layer it up to form a type of fabric, taking stitches easily.
Apart from ongoing projects, I have started a daily stitch practice using individual, handmade, teabag waste fabric tiles, stitching for the exact time it has taken me to walk with my dogs every morning. The time spent walking is different every day for a variety of reasons and thus, the time spent on each tile will differ accordingly. The tiles are then stitched together to form one large body of work.
Many hours stitching the beautiful landscape hills of Derbyshire, on botanical printing teabag waste fabric. 120 cm in length.
Repurpose wool blanket botanical printing hand stitch.
A section of a repurpose old cotton pillowcase, rust dyed and hand stitched.
Cotton botanical print, hand stitched.
Handmade teabag fabric hand stitched. The cover for my dissertation
Slow stitching is the practice of sewing by hand, a mindful needlework process of taking the time to pause from our chaotic everyday life. It is a conversation about process and practice, sustainability and skill, beauty, and expression. It can be a mission statement and a set of values for making, with meaning. It is an ethic of working with textile and cloth, needing no experience or expense, just a needle, thread, and fabric scraps. There are no instructions or techniques, or time limitations. It is not a project, but simple mark making with fabric one stitch at a time. It is about intuitively allowing the mindful, creative process to flow, and does not have to be perfect or in need of a pattern, and raw edges are accepted.
No time to waste, the rhythmic sewing with repetitive stitches begins, recording time and effort, sitting comfortably with my memories. Hoping to achieve something of beauty, not just to me but for the viewer. Something that matters and to hold one’s gaze and ask questions. My work is rhythmically stitched in the present, practicing mindfulness, helping with anxiety, and promoting a positive state of mental wellbeing.
I found Vicki on a slow stitching group on Facebook and her work and her research spoke to me and our festival completely. I am thrilled she agreed to be featured. Thank you Vicki. x