A few days ago I got caught watching the news. I consciously avoid doing that as much as possible, getting information from a few places but not spending a lot of time reading and watching because I know how negatively I get affected. I was watching a program on TV and when it ended, I wasn’t paying attention and on came the news. The war in Ukraine was at the top so I watched and listened, in horror and disbelief and sadness that in this day and age, we still have not found a way to live and coexist in peace. I know that part of my sadness was because images were being shown of the city of Odessa, on the Black Sea. My grandmother was born in Odessa, when it was part of the Soviet empire. Odessa was founded by Catherine the Great in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress on territory annexed from Turkey in 1792. By the early 19th century, the Russian settlement had become an important grain port. Part of my sadness is because the chances are high that Russia will invade and take the port, and I fear there will be little left of this amazing port.
After the news changed to something more local, I turned the TV off. Not watching the news doesn’t mean I don’t care, it’s more about finding balance and listening to my inner voice to find some inner peace. If you’ve been following, you’ll know that I joined, once again, the 100 day project. I am working with rocks, appliqueing them to a background and adding stitches. I do this mostly at night, when the time comes for me to have dinner, relax and watch a program on TV: something mindless this time around that does not require much thinking – or paying attention. and it’s then, when I turn my thoughts to slow stitching.
The Slow Stitching Movement
Do you remember the world before the Internet? What did we do before screens, tablets and phones?
I remember growing up with books instead of TVs and tablets; walking to the bookstore to get the latest Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book (which the bookstore owner would put away for me as soon as she got a new one in) and stopping at the bakery to buy a pastry as it was next door (what a great combination!); taking the train to go downtown which gave me time to daydream or read a book or knit a scarf; it was the same for a lot of other people travelling at the same time. We got to know each other after a while, and shared conversations. And became friends. Not a single screen in sight.
The world seemed to move at a slower pace then, and although I use technology every day – it seems we cannot escape it – not even during our creative moments, I wonder sometimes at our need to do everything faster. This is where the slow movement comes in. Its origin can be traced to the mid-1980s and the beginnings of the Slow Food Movement in Italy started by Carlo Petrini who became haunted by what he considered fast food companies eroding Italy’s ancient culinary culture. Closer to home, one man set out to change the way we create, stitch and quilt. Mark Lipinski created the Slow Stitching Movement as a mission to tell quilters and stitchers to stop and slow down, to prepare people for a higher form of creativity and important work in the needle and fibre arts. The slow movement is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It can be summed up in one single word: BALANCE.
Slow stitching is about being present, about slowing down and taking your time working on that piece of art instead of rushing to have it finished because we need to fulfill that quota that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. Slow stitching is about enjoying the moment you take to create.
My slow stitching moments take form with hand-stitching. I love everything about it: the fact that it is highly portable, that I don’t need a lot of materials to achieve lovely results and that it allows me to think and go into a zen mode while stitching. Every night, my zen moments come when I take a few stitches into one of my rocks, or on one of the few pieces I’m working on at the time. It doesn’t matter if I spend 10 minutes at it, or an hour; what matters is that I sat down, closed my eyes, took a few breaths and centred myself. It matters that for a moment, the world revolves around the rhythmic ins and outs of needle and thread. For those few moments, the sadness goes away.
And if you are looking for a book on the subject matter, I have a few recommendations for you:
- Slow Stitching by Claire Wellesley-Smith and it’s sequel Resilient Stitch: Wellbeing and Connection in Textile Art
- Stitch, Fabric and Thread: An Inspirational Guide for Creative Stitchers by Elizabeth Healey
- Embroidering the Everyday by Cas Holmes
- The Intentional Thread: A guide to Drawing, Gesture and Colour in Stitch by Susan Brandeis
I wish everyone a week of slow stitching and reflection. Stay safe and keep creating,