ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

Tina Snell, left, positions a floral border on a fabric square while Judy Peterson, angles a piece of black lace on her piece of fabric. The women, both from Alexandria, were learning about a new fad called slow stitching while at the Alexandria Senior Center.
Tina Snell, left, and Judy Peterson, both of Alexandria, begin piecing together fabric scraps after learning about a new fad called slow stitching. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)
We are part of The Trust Project.

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.

Kathy Fauth, an Evansville native, smiles and holds a family history book she made of cream and red fabric with a process known as slow stitching.
Kathy Fauth, an Evansville native, holds a family history book she made of fabric with a process known as slow stitching. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)


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?"

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

Five black-and-white photos are printed onto fabric and included in a cloth book of Kathy Fauth's family history. The photos are handstitched onto a fabric with a muted floral print, and the pages are bound with green stitches.
Two pages from one of Kathy Fauth's family history books made of cloth and fabric scraps. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

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."

Ginny Kluver, left, and Toni Tebben, both of Alexandria, search in a red basket for trim to apply to their slow stitch creations.
Ginny Kluver, left, and Toni Tebben, both of Alexandria, search for trim to apply to their slow stitch creations. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

Two pages from Kathy Fauth's fabric family history book with photos and documents on a quilt-like backing of fabric scraps.
Two pages from Kathy Fauth's fabric family history book with photos and documents. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)
One of Kathy Fauth's cloth family history books incorporates this poem, printed on fabric and stitched onto a background of green, white, lavender and yellow circles. The poem is titled "The Cycles We Live." It reads, "Perhaps we don't age chronologically, perhaps we age in spirals. Spinning and growing and spinning and growing until our lines are long and wide and full of memories."
One of Kathy Fauth's cloth family history books incorporates this poem, printed on fabric and stitched. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Reporter Karen Tolkkinen grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1994, and was driven by curiosity to work her way around the United States.
What To Read Next
The show follows the before and aftermath of an attack on two women after they share a kiss.
Pruning at the proper time can help avoid certain diseases and physiological problems.
Events for Feb. 3-10, 2023
State Trooper Jesse Grabow answers your road safety questions.