Part One: Slow
What is the Slow Movement and how does it relate to
Sustainability and resource efficiency
Locality and localism
Natural rhythms: cyclical and seasonal practice
Part Two: Materials and techniques
Limit setting: less can be more
What’s in the cupboard? Using what you have
Collecting and sourcing materials
Upcycling and re-using old projects
Slow-dyed threads using local colour
The right tools: equipment suggestions
Simple stitches: getting started with hand-stitch
Part Three: Cross-cultural activity
Piecing and patching
Part Four: Contemplative
Reflective and mindful practice
Stitch journals – a regular practice
Stitching, walking, mapping
Stitching community: communal projects, wellbeing
Mindfulness and making
Seed to fabric projects
The Manitoulin Circle Project
Narratives through cloth
The speed at which we do something – anything – changes our experience of it.
The Tyranny of Email, John Freeman
This book explores a ‘slow’ approach to stitching on cloth. The pleasures to be had from slowing down processes are multiple, with connections to ideas of sustainability, simplicity, reflection and multicultural textile traditions.
The idea of a Slow Movement has been applied to many things, but all look at slowing the pace of life and making a deliberate decision to do so. It is a philosophy that embraces local distinctions and seasonal rhythms, and one that encourages thinking time. In craft terms, I see a slow approach as a celebration of process; work that has reflection at its heart and skill that takes time to learn. By slowing down my own textile practice, I have developed a deeper emotional commitment to it, to the themes I am exploring, and to the processes I use. In the communitybased stitching projects I run I have noticed the benefits that this way of working can give to participants. Simple, contemplative activities can be convivial too, creating nonverbal conversations through making.
The scope of textile art is huge. There are always new things to try, techniques to learn and products to buy. While it can be difficult to step away from diverting new experiences, self-imposed limits can bring a meaningful and thoughtful approach to your textile practice.
This book uses simple stitching techniques and traditional practices. It looks at choosing to use re-purposed materials and minimal equipment, and explores slow processes that allow thinking time and create a real connection with the object you are making. It has project suggestions and resources that will help towards making a more sustainable textile practice, and has examples of inspirational work from textile artists who work in this way.
You may find in using this approach that ‘less is more’, and that your slow textile projects become more personal and sustainable.
I have come to this slow approach to textiles through a non-conventional route. I studied political science and had a career in community engagement and advice work for many years, often working with people who were experiencing crisis in their lives.
I grew up in a household in which things were made; my mother was a wonderful seamstress and knitter, a textile project always on the go, and she passed her skills to me. My grandmother was a professional machinist and dressmaker, who worked from the age of fourteen to help support her family. In my family, talking was mostly done when accompanied by making. I watched my grandmother knit a jumper for me as a student, fully engaged in all the conversation in the room and simultaneously completing a newspaper crossword. When I went to college to do creative textile courses as a new mother, I started to see connections between my own stitching and making, that of my female relatives, and in the communal support shared by my peers in the classroom. Gradually this developed into my main work, still based in community engagement but nowadays through my textile and teaching practice. My strongest interest is in connections: how do we connect to each other and how does the universality of textiles help us to do this? My approach includes archive-based research looking at the social history of textiles; exploring family stories through textiles and working on projects that aid understanding of personal and community history through textile making. The thread that pulls this together is a strong belief in the process, and I believe that the slower this process is, the more beneficial it can be both for individuals and communities.