Slow stitch trend forces crafters to slow down
Slow stitching is a mindful practice, its enthusiasts say. You can make whatever you like, at a pace that allows you to enjoy the process and the materials. You don't even need a plan when you start. And you don't even have to be an expert crafter.
ALEXANDRIA — Barb Williams didn’t know what her needle was going to do. As she listened to a speaker talk about slow stitching, her needle took one stitch, and then another, on the back of a doll garment. By the time the class was over, the needle had made a spiral of neat green stitches, like a miniature galaxy.
"You just pick something up and you start stitching," said the Alexandria woman, who was attending a slow stitch workshop at the Alexandria Senior Center, led by former Evansville resident Kathy Fauth. "It's listening to the fabric. Whatever comes to your hands."
She was one of 12 women gathered to listen to Fauth describe how slow stitching turned her genealogy finds into family heirlooms. Fauth, who now lives in Grand Forks, creates cloth books about her family history, with photos and documents printed onto fabric.
Her dalliance with slow stitching started after her mother died in 2019 and her father moved to assisted living, and her family started sorting through their belongings.
"You are all of a sudden emotionally connected to all of that stuff," she said. "And the question becomes, what do you do with all this stuff?"
Fauth's solution was to incorporate parts of beloved possessions, like marriage certificates, photographs, and buttons, into her books. She ordered special printer fabric that she could copy onto from the family Bible, family cookbooks, and autograph albums. She decorated them with fabric scraps and family jewelry that seemed to fit — and even used a piece of her mother's treasured Norwegian curtains as a latch.
It's work she can take with her while traveling and work on in the car. And it's a way to leave memories to her children without burdening them down with a lot of things.
"I don't want to create something and it sits there and collects dust," she said. "More importantly, it needs to have a legacy, something I can pass on."
Her research has uncovered slow stitchers all over the world. It's a trend that builds on the slow food movement, where diners take a breather from a rush-rush world and savor what they are cooking and eating, paying attention to the ingredients and the process. Slow stitching is a mindful practice, its enthusiasts say. You can make whatever you like, at a pace that allows you to enjoy the process and the materials. You don't even need a plan when you start. And you don't even have to be an expert crafter.
"You don't have to be a quilter," Fauth said. "Anyone can do this. Best of all, there's no rules. You can let your creativity explode."
Some of Fauth's old Evansville pals came. Fauth has had a good career, traveling the country to train people how to stage homes for sale, and overseas to train people in the agricultural sector when she worked for Land O' Lakes. They were proud of how well she'd done in her career, and they also loved her work.
"I saw pictures of what she's doing," said Deb Erickson of Evansville. "I think it's beautiful. It would be a great memento."
Williams, whose random running stitch led to the spiral pattern on the doll garment, said slow stitching is like embroidery. It's good to keep it simple, and to collect items that might be useful, such as fabric from rummage sales.
Well-known quilting personality and publisher Mark Lipinski claims credit for the slow stitching movement, saying it was modeled after the slow foods movement.
"Speed can kill creativity and the enjoyment of our creative pursuits," his website says. "Maybe what we really need to do is slow down, enjoy the process, and create fiber art that we’re really proud of."
Slow stitching is open to all fiber and needle artists, the website says. On his blog, he maintains that slow stitching can give him a breather from daily stressors like arguments and fender benders. "No stinkin’ thinkin’ allowed," he writes.
Fauth concurs with that sentiment. Slow stitch teaches crafters to settle down and let the process guide their creativity.
"It's a way to calm your mind and be very still," she said.