Speeding up… slowing down
This time of year is almost schizophrenic. We are all speeding up—overloaded with extra tasks to prepare for the holidays. Will Aunt Mary like the gift we selected? What plate to bring to Jane’s party? Are the accommodation reservations confirmed? How awful will the traffic heading out of Sydney be? Oh My GOSH… how could I have forgotten cousin Margaret’s gift? Ooops! Those parcels heading overseas will never get there in time! How many house-guests for how many days???? Who is going to look after the cats/fish/dog/chickens?
For many of us, our anxiety levels are through the roof.
We were talking about this very same thing at Textile Therapy last week. Textile Therapy. Yes. What a great moniker. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t even get the blog done. Well, my anxiety is down and I can finally get this, the last blog of the year out the door, so to speak.
Anyway, back to my session with my beautiful therapists: Annette, Karen, Sandy, Megan, Cherise, and Sue. We got to talking about how stitching by hand, or “slow stitching” can be so calming and help get us through those times when our minds are racing with lists of things to do or worrying about our lack of control over, well, life the universe and everything. Well, this is the end of a long road for me.
I have many very fortunate, I might say, friends who do yoga. Apparently, they can bend themselves in marvelous ways in a calm and serene environment either at home or in a class. Well, I have to say, I’ve tried that. When I’ve tried that at home, I’ve pulled out my mat and started by downward dogs or warrior pose, or what ever. Last time I taped the poses chart to my lovely, rather large, window over looking my beautiful bush setting on Scotland Island. As I worked through my routine (say, got to pose #2), I started noticing the tiny cobwebs in the corner of the window, a smudge here and there, the dust on the window sill. I bent my head to the floor and turned it to look UNDER THE BED!!! That was it! I was done. Why on earth was I doing yoga when my house was in such a shambles!!!
Then I thought I would try classes. I mean, really, how could I get stressed out if I wasn’t looking at my own house. Put me in a room full of very bendy and serene people…. It won’t go well. I haven’t touched my toes since 1964. I was the one in the back row falling over and giggling. The only exercise I got were my sides that were in stitches from laughing so much at myself. I was (only a teeny bit) remorseful about disrupting some very serious people’s serenity. I did get a few superior glances from the more serene. Sigh. I know where I don’t belong.
Ohhh!!! Woe is me in the ever elusive route to calm.
Enter…. ‘slow stitching’
I have only recently been made aware of this concept (though it has been around for centuries!!!). In this fast paced world of digital technology, hand held devices, fast cars, and so on, there is a movement to just slooooooowwwww it all down.
This is not too dissimilar to the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th century that was a response to the rapid industrialization and mass production of the industrial age. Begun in England and most often associated with designer William Morris and ceramicist William De Morgan, the movement spread internationally. In England , furniture, jewellery, household items, ceramics, hand-decorated wallpapers and textiles, gardens and even entire houses were produced in the Arts and Crafts style
It was during the Arts and Crafts movement that Englishman Aurthur Lasenby Liberty opened his shop in 1875. Liberty of London fabrics include designs by William Morris—the famous “Strawberry Thief” being one of his most memorable (perhaps because of the Liberty distributer of the same name!). Gerri has the most amazing selection in the shop.
In the United States, iconic architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and the bungalow styles of Green and Green are emblematic with that movement. While there is so much attention to Wright’s homes, I really love his stained glass designs. I mean, really, how quiltable is this??
THEN I found this beautiful Quilt on the blog from Quilting42. She goes through the entire process from inspiration to design and quilting. It is truly amazing.
Oh my gosh… I have totally transgressed. So, let’s bring it back to today. It seems to me that the slow stitching movement has a lot in common to the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th Century, but perhaps a bit different. We are now living in a digital age where we are increasingly separated from each other by digital technology and busy lives. When I ride the bus, everyone is stuck on their iPhones not talking to each other. We can sit amongst friends who constantly check their messages or text.. not really being present.
Nevertheless, when we slow down and hand stitch, we come together, chat and create. It is a conscious or semi conscious response to isolation, text, and simply frittering hours away with nothing to show for it.
If you just pull up #slowstitching on instagram, you’ll find over 50,000 tags. Earlier this year, Gerri hosted Lisa Mattock of Forage. The class was overflowing with beauty and enthusiasm and creativity.
This is my last blog for 2018. I’ll be back in January with a project that will take us from the A to Z of sewing… we’ll start with “A is for Applique”. Looking forward to next year. Have a happy holiday season to all.