Welcome to the first ever Slow Stitching Blog entry.
You know, when I became ill in the final stages of kidney disease a couple of years ago, the experience took me out of a very busy and lucrative career in patchwork. I wasn’t able to fly, my energy was not up to snuff, I had chronic mouth sores and digestive issues, fevers and hemoglobin drops took over my life… I was a hot mess.
When you’re in the middle of an experience like that, it is very difficult to be able to find the silver lining.
I’m not Mother Teresa. She always found the good in something.
Nor am I St. Teresa of Avila. Life might be easier with apparitions and personalized divine guidance.
I’m not a mystic, or a psychic. WWJES? What Would John Edward Suggest?
I’m not even all that bright. Do I even need to justify that?
All I knew is that I was sick, without a job, had no prospects for when or if I would ever go back to work, living off my savings, and staring bankruptcy in the face. It would take me almost 4 years to finally find an answer and lessons in ” being on the outside, looking in,” on an industry that I had become so immersed in and was such a huge part of my life, both professionally and personally.
History Repeating Itself
I produced network television shows for about 30 years. As a television producer, many of my colleagues (if not all), would produce television shows daily for the never ending consumption of the American daytime audience.
“We nailed that show!”
“That was a really good piece of television…”
The truth of the matter is that we never actually watched the shows we produced. It was only after someone left the business or moved onto a new show, when they would turn on a television for pleasure, that they would realize that most of the programming is just crap!
Distance from a situation can be a wonderful learning experience. You get the gift of being able to see things in new ways, without the filter of any bias or emotion. Being away from a situation changes your reality! Such was my experience with being out of the quilting and patchwork world.
Where All This All Began
While flailing around, trying to figure out what to do next with my life, I met up with my longtime quilting friends, Liza Prior Lucy and Meg Cox. The three of us have met for regular lunches in Stockton, New Jersey. We had been meeting for lunch about every 4 to 6 weeks for years.
It was over one particular lunch that Liza chatted about her concept of ‘slow’ and how it might relate to the quilting world. The three of us talked about it for the rest of our time together that day. We talked about it the next time we met for lunch, and the next time. We had phone calls about it, and talked and discussed our ideas about it again.
Since I was the only one of the three of us who didn’t really have a job, had no passion for anything, was facing life-threatening surgery, and was just sitting around the house, Liza decided I should explore, then take the reins of whatever ‘slow’ opportunities there might be in the quilting industry (actually, she pushed, emailed, strong armed, cajoled, encouraged, telephoned, inspired, and finally wore me down). It was my job to research, discuss, and develop – not only a name, a logo, content and the marketing concepts as well. This blog is one of those concepts.
Why I Embraced the Idea of Slow Stitching
After the dozens and dozens and dozens of quilts I have designed and had published over the years, I have yet to design an actual important legacy quilt. A quilt for the ages, if you will. A quilt that in the future might explain who I was, what I did, and what life might have been like during 2014. That was really troubling me.
After 17 years in the business of patchwork inspiration and the designer of at least 100 quilts, quilting patterns, and several fabric lines, creating and editing stitch-related magazines, etc., I had to ask myself one question: Don’t I deserve one, just one, amazing quilt or fiber art project that I create that is full of soul, reaping the benefits of slowing down, learning new techniques and demanding excellence in my work that only focused and ‘slow’ application can give me? Don’t you?
Shouldn’t I be taking advantage of the health benefits of the slow movement? Shouldn’t I be the beneficiary of the financial benefits of intentional quilting, knitting, crochet or rug hooking? You know, shouldn’t I be taking advantage of the emotional payoffs of deliberate and conscious cross stitch, embroidery, or weaving? Why shouldn’t I be learning how to practice all of the spiritual benefits that the Slow Stitching Movement might offer me? Is there a reason why I shouldn’t be engaging with my community, and supporting ethical buying from my local shops? Am I not responsible for my rooms full of ‘stash’ that will eventually end up in a landfill, unused and unwanted?
All of these questions nagged at me, and their answers appealed to me.
The “slow” concepts aren’t new or unique, the Slow Food Movement, was started by Carlo Pertrini in Rome in the mid 1980’s.
Carl Honore’ wrote his internationally best selling book, “In Praise of Slow,” in 2005.
The Slow Stitching Movement embraces many of the universally practiced slow tenets. I have applied many of these ideas and concepts to the needle arts and patchwork, along with has, and has not, worked for me on my personal slow journey.
In Search of Slow Stitching
What the Slow Stitching Movement IS NOT:
- Slow Stitching is not about hand stitching if you don’t want to do hand stitching
- Slow Stitching is not only about complicated projects.
- Slow Stitching is not about creating and only working on your own designs.
- Slow Stitching is not about never buying new fabric, notions, or fabulous sewing machines again.
- Slow Stitching is not about being duped into buying things you don’t need or being dumbed down
- Slow Stitching is not about never creating or making easy and quick projects
The Slow Stitching Movement IS :
- Slow Stitching is about learning new techniques
- Slow Stitching is making time to immerse yourself in your creative process
- Slow Stitching is about developing excellent technique and soulful projects
- Slow Stitching is about not being duped by commercialism
- Slow Stitching is not being dumbed down by an industry whose only concern is your buying and not your creating
- Slow Stitching is about supporting your local shops, fellow artists, and the history of fiber art and the fiber artists in your community
- Slow Stitching is about creating that one important piece of fiber or needle art in your lifetime
- Slow Stitching is about practicing the process and reaping the health, emotional, financial, spiritual and creative benefits from intentional creativity
- Slow Stitching is about remembering why we began working with fiber in the first place
- Slow Stitching is about connecting with your work on a deeper level than shop to machine to closet.
- Slow Stitching is about knowing ourselves better and learning about who were are though our art and craft.
- Slow Stitching is about using the best fabrics, tools, threads, etc., that we can afford
- Slow Stitching is about developing and celebrating excellence in your work
- Slow Stitching is about enjoying the process, rather than anticipating a deadline or project completion
The Slow Stitching Movement Is Born
It has been several years since that ‘slow-dominated’ lunch with Liza and Meg. Finally, The Slow Stitching Movement, is a reality.
I have given lectures about The Slow Stitching Movement at guilds and in lecture halls (which I really used the audience as a focus group…) to pretty impressive reviews! Quilters and stitchers were interested in this concept! Fiber artists and those creatives who work with fiber, thread, and fabric supported what I had to say from my very first PowerPoint presentation. I was on the right track. While seems that the industry may want to dumb us down, entice us to buy products we don’t need, and try to convince us that ‘faster’ is better, we consumers — we artists — know better.
Using the Media to Spread the Slow Stitching Mission
It had been three years since I attended International Quilt Market. This past May, I packed up my car at the urging of my friend, Linda Lum DeBono, and drove across the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
I presented the Slow Stitching concept to the powers that be at F & W Media, who thought it was a perfect balance to the rest of their programming catalog. Another friend, Cate Coulacos Prato, the Online Editorial Manager for F & W Media, heard my pitch and championed it through the powers that be.
PLEASE REGISTER TODAY . . .
On June 19, 2014 I will present a live interactive webinar highlighting The Slow Stitching Movement!
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS AND/OR TO BE A PART OF THIS WEBINAR
Even if you won’t be available for the live webinar, sign up anyway!
You’ll receive the recording of the webinar a couple of days later and get all the benefits–including the Q&A–plus watch it over and over again, any time you like.
How I’m Using This Blog
I plan to use this blog as a vehicle to share my own process working through The Slow Stitching Movement. I plan to share my creative work here on what I call, ‘ my important quilt.’ In fairness, I plan to only show you bits and pieces as I move along so that I can reveal the quilt in its totality in the year or two it may take me to complete it.
I also plan to share my day-to-day struggles in my creative process, as well as my triumphs.
Keep your eye out for new artists, for ‘slow’ resources like books and workshops, for ‘slow’ podcasts, and interview with ‘slow’ artists.
Please Subscribe to this Blog
A FREE online magazine full of slow stitchers, slow stitching support and topics, patterns, and the movers and shakers in the fiber industry. I would love to show off your work, your opinions and discuss your creative process in the magazine. Ongoing podcasts and recordings of fiber arts — knitters, quilters, tatters, lacemakers, and stitchers like you, who talk about their journey into the Slow Stitching Movement
A calendar of events and classes and shops that support the Slow Stitching Movement (and you’re invited to post your events!)
Videos of Slow Stitching Salons, groups of slow stitchers who meet to work on their projects or discuss their creative process and ideas.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in promoting your shop, group, or art.
PLEASE JOIN THE SLOW STITCHING MOVEMENT FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/TheSlowStitchingMovement
PLEASE VISIT JOIN OUR WEBSITE AT www.slowstitching.com
How We Can Involve You!
I am offering space here, on my blog, for you to guest blog. I’d like you to share your own process as you slow down and commit to excellence in your work and craft. I will also be inviting other fiber artists to guest blog here, too. If you’re interested in adding a blog post or two here, if only to show us what’s on your design wall, or on your needles or crochet hook, rug hooking stand or tatting pillow, just drop me a line. Also, please contact me to list your upcoming shows, events, and meetings and I’ll be happy to share those.
My daughters have been ill this year and my therapy has been finishing off lots of UFOs – not particularly slow but definitely immersed! Fortunately they are getting better and I am now lacking that focus to finish off the others as we start looking outside to the rest of the world. But I will get them finished!
I just returned home from a trip to visit my niece in Florida. It was hard to take myself away from my home, my husband AND my sewing room. I knew I would miss that daily charge I experience when I go into my “space” and sit down and create something so I took a large handbag full of snippets of fabrics, my smallest pair of scissors (airplane acceptable), my small Ball jar that serves as a pin holder and needle tote, a few dozen spools of 12 wt. threads and a lap sized piece of black batik fabric. I had three plane changes coming and going so I had a lot of time spent waiting in airports and in the air stuck in a seat. This quilting project made the traveling so much more pleasurable for me. My niece was so enthralled with my work she purchased a sewing machine and supplies for making appliqued pillows for her living room and enough fabrics to make aprons for gifts for her daughters.
What I gleaned from all this was the satisfaction of making something completely by hand and I improved my not so perfect hand stitching skills. Did I “connect” with my quilt, my fabrics and my threads while doing this work? Oh yes!
Our grandson was hit by a car on January 21st. Since that time he has had a cast on his leg, and lately bored out of his mind. He wanted to learn to crochet, but I have to learn first, so I suggested sewing/quilting. He jumped at the chance. He was coming once a week, this week it was two days. I have never laughed as much as I have the times he comes over to sew with me. I’m am teaching, he is learning a new skill. We sit together and do hand stitching or we sit at the machines and work on our own projects. I have never felt this good about my quilting……never. I am absolutely loving every minute of my new slow stitching.
Hey mark—congrats! The slow stitching movement, and you’re involvement is a fabulous combination! We’ve shared and spoke about our passion for slow stitching, the importance of your work being heartfelt, the importance of enjoying the process! As a fiber artist —and former health care provider —-I well recognize the benefits of “digging deep” to create works of art as opposed to knocking out quick meaningless work. Would love to continue my involvement with you on this concept—as I often say —creating my fiber art is my journey –at times I have no particular direction —the process becomes the joy and seems to lead me to exciting and happy places! All the best in this new venture Mark! I’m on board with ya! Hugs Renee
Congratulations of this new venture, Mark. I’m sorry (for myself) that I didn’t take the opportunity to sign up and listen in your podcast last night, some times life pulls us in so many directions. Hoping to regroup and catch the next one. I love this concept, our goal should not be to zoom through life, but to enjoy the entire journey. Looking forward to slowing down!
I will post when you can log into the webinar on http://www.fonsandporter.com once it becomes available. xooxm
Already started my slow stitching project, but have been calling it my “therapy quilt”. It’s a mixture of odd-sized Log Cabin squares with photo transfer centers, not yet joined, with a huge box of embellishments waiting to find just the right place to go. The photos are parodies and the embellishments are heavy into symbolism. There’s even a small completed quilt that with go on top of the background quilt, setting the theme.
Because I deal with emotional pain by taking it out, processing it a bit, and then burying it again until I can go another round, my therapy quilt is truly “slow stitching”. My healing process has been very slow, too. Oddly, I started this before an enlightening event that triggered a cataclysmic life change for me, but the quilt is about so many issues that I hadn’t been able to deal with before then.
I do so agree with your thoughts on this. Sometimes even our quilting life can become such a treadmill of group and (in my case voluntary) teaching deadlines that I cannot slow down or keep up. However with three friends I work on a major piece (we all do our own version and take turns in choosing what it will be); currently we gather round and table and cut out card templates just as I first learnt in a calm and quiet setting, discuss fabric choices, draw round our templates (rememmber the little brass quilters’ wheel to add the quarter inch) and cut our pieces qith scissors. We then machine sew at home. It’s lovely to compare the finished pieces. I truly believe in taking the time to savour the zen of stitching. Wishing you all the best on the health front and success with this project.
Thank you for this blog and all the responses, I’ve been in a quilting funk for several months and need something to kick start me back into the creative world. This has done it!!! I got out my “orange peel” project that I started 2 yrs. ago and cut more pieces. It’s hand sewn and about the size of a table runner right now, so I’ll be happily stitching away on it.
The first of the year I realized I was spending too much time with mindless activities like video games, web surfing, etc. so I made the decision to give up the games and search the web with intention. This has created time for me to spend time with my first passion dyeing fabric and second passion creating quilts. To me slow stitching is creating with intention. I have created more in the last 7 months than I have in the last 10 years. I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life Now if I could only sew a perfect 1/4 seam and my blocks all came out the same size life would be perfect but then perfection is highly over rated:)
When, I got si, I decided to only knit what I wanted to knit. I took classes. I enjoy knitting while watching the Discovery ID channel on television. So that’ what I do. I pick yarn that feels good to my hands. And only that yarn. I knit with only those colors of yarn that I like. I make scarves, hats, and socks because I can take my time and still have nearly instant gratification. I can use new-to-me techniques and patterns. If I want. And not if I don’t want. Funny that it took getting seriously sick to figure out what “I” want to knit and knit with. Luxury fiber and luxury needles are now my necessities. 🙂
Mark.. the therapy inherent in the concept of Slow Stitching and your account of the illness that led you to embrace this program is pretty interesting… at nearly 90 years of age I have come to enjoy being ‘in the moment’… almost savoring the slowness and immersion in enjoying my afternoon hours plying my needle… little troubles seem to retreat from my awareness…. and now, in my grief over the election, I am realizing the solace of hand work… embellishing a gift apron with appliqued birds or embroidery .. ‘slow and easy… does it every time..’ Glad to know you are still filling your respected niche in the quilting world.
I’m so glad I found this. I’m restricted in knitting & sewing because of painful arthritis. Impatient because it takes so long. In despair. Now I have permission to take as long as it takes. Inspirational advice.
The FREEDOM to go slow, enjoy and relish! Pondering this has literally taken me back to the little girl who COULD darn her dad’s socks, fix the hems, reattach buttons……and LOVE IT !!!! My grandma was the amazing seamstress in out family. I still have some of her buttons, snap cards, threads.to old to use, but not too old to hold and fly back in time…….She and I would sit with “the mending” together…….
I knit slowly, I sew and piece slowly, I quilt ……not nearly fast enough to EVER make a living at it…in fact sometimes it takes a lot of time for a quilt to “visit ” with me about how I need to proceed……and yet, my heart is happy at the speed of light with a needle and thread. Maybe I have been a slow “stitch-er “before it was “cool”………I might be home !!!!!
I have become frustrated by the almost competitive atmosphere in quilt guilds as we rush to finish another fast and easy method top and have it machine quilted by someone for a deadline. I did a lot of that kind of sewing last year, and now find myself sorting through the piles in my sewing space asking what I really want to be working on. In the past I hand quilted even large quilts, and am thinking about doing more hand quilting ,even if it’s on smaller projects that at physically less taxing. I have issues with my neck since a surgery a few years ago so I must accommodate limitations. I think quilting, sewing, and knitting have been, and should be, pleasures in my life, not assignments that create stress and pain as I hurry on to the next project.
I started slow stitching a couple of years ago….I always felt less of a quilter because I didn’t produce as many quilts as some in my guild did. Even when I was faster I didn’t enjoy the process as much or feel any real satisfaction as I did when I started hand quilting. Once I started slow stitching I found I thoroughly enjoy the process and actually do get more accomplished in the long run. I used to think I had to have every new gadget…now my motto is: SIMPLIFY SIMPLIFY SIMPLIFY. What great therapy! Thanx for bringing attention to this.
Hi Mark, I just learned of this post through Pam Buda’s blog,and I think it is brilliant, and very inspiring. Much to think about. Like you were, I am now facing a serious illness (an aggressive cancer) which is making life a little unpredictable and financially precarious, and slow stitching definitely goes a long way to soothing the soul. Thank you so much
Love your concept. I love to take time to enjoy my quilt making only setting small achievable goals to keep myself on track and working to the beat of my own drum without added pressure by commercial companies or quilt guilds etc. I love to share my progress by blogging making invaluable friendships with like minded souls. I look forward to reading and sharing your journey ☺️
I see that more and more quilters are embracing slow stitching these days. With my day guild, I’ve taken on the responsibility of starting up an applique and EPP group after the guild meeting ends. There are a number of talented ladies that do wonderful applique and amongst us, we show all the different methods of applique. We don’t encourage just one method, but all methods and encourage members to try out them and see which one works for them.
Then, a few EPP projects were shown and lo and behold, didn’t a number of members want the template for the apple core. They were hooked. What a thrill it is to see their works coming along so nicely after a few meetings. Then, they asked for more templates of other projects that were shown to them.
For me, I have always done applique but never wanted to attempt EPP until one day….. and I’ve been hooked ever since. It was the hexagon. How many EPP have I done? It wasn’t until this post: http://www.appliqueandpatches.blogspot.ca/2015/01/epp-english-paper-piecing.html did I realize just how many EPP projects have been accomplished. There has been a lot of stitching over the course of a few years. A lot of slow stitching.
Yes, it is nice to have a quilt done quickly and the thrill to start another soon afterwards, but, I will be quite content with my slow stitching and I will savour each stitch that is done.
Quilting keeps me sane. While my son was in Afghanistan in 2010 with the U.S. Marine Corps, I hand appliqued all the blocks for a Baltimore Album quilt. Designing the blocks and then stitching them kept me from spinning out completely.
I didn’t know there was a name for what I do! Slow stitching! I’m taking this web address and the latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine to my quilt group this afternoon. Thanks for putting a name to it.
I have been looking for Slow Quilting for a long time!! It is a great pleasure to have discovered your blog today. I have loved, read about, and researched quilts for decades, but am actually quilting only recently. The whole quick and easy thing just isn’t my cup of tea. I grew up in a creative, hand made home with a mom who knit, sewed, painted with love of the process. I have one friend who quilts and sews by hand and does beautiful work. Otherwise it seems like a world of kits, precuts, speedy, easy, and—-of course—lots of cash! I completely respect the quilters who choose that path, it just isn’t my path. I recently spent a day meditatively mending (of all things) and felt so good at the end of the day, not just with the accomplishment but with the deep satisfaction of putting a decent patch on a sheet instead of sending the sheet to the landfill. And this is the gift of slowly, even shyly, revealing our creativity: meditative, meaningful, satisfying, productive, conscious, engaged, in the moment. As I read your words, Mark, I kept reflecting on the film, How to Make an American Quilt, and the process/reflection/growth that became as much an outcome as the quilt itself.