Many of us are still on our own 52 Stitched Stories journey but some have finished. It has been wonderful to see just how many people stay with the project even when they have completed their own journey. The exhibition at the Barony Centre is testament to the shared message but with so many different stories. My own journey has been stitched onto my late grandmother’s blanket that see made in the 1930s. The blanket has seen many repairs. As I was getting the blanket ready for exhibition I did a few more repairs and, in places, was stitching in parallel with her stitches. Grandma died in 1985 but she still shines very brightly within me. We used to sit together and stitch and she taught me far more than embroidery stitches. She taught me the joy and peace that comes with stitching. We had many conversations about our stitching projects and often she would put her own work down to help with mine. This is where the thinking for our new chapter was probably seeded but it has incubated for all these years. Now is the time for it to grow it’s own wings.
I want to start a ‘stitching conversation’ as an experiment to test a belief that stitching is a language. It has structure and meaning and the capability to ‘speak’ to us. In these challenging times collaborative work has been made far more difficult, but not impossible…..
‘A Stitched Conversation’ is a collaborative project which starts with one person stitching a small piece of work. Sticking with our signature postcard size, the first piece starts the conversation. The piece is photographed and or filmed in progress and at conclusion. That piece inhabits a week in the calendar. By the end of the week those images are sent to the next person in the conversation via email. They are also sent to me at HQ. The second person in the conversation studies the first postcard from in progress and completed images before making a ‘stitched response’ to what they see and understand. This is their own personal response. They might pick up on shapes, colour, threads, etc. They, in turn, photograph and or film their postcard in progress and when completed. Their work has inhabited week two in the calendar. Those images are sent to the third person in the conversation and to HQ via email. Importantly, in these points of sharing there are no words exchanged apart from a wee greeting and sign off. We are testing how much we can understand through a stitched language so it is important we don’t clutter those messages with written words.
The conversation ends with the 52th person, thus the project takes a year to travel virtually. The logistics in terms of transfer takes a wee bit of concentration and management and I dare say there will be a few bumps along the way. Don’t worry if you are new to stitching, the guidelines will be asking that everyone keeps their offering quite simple so the work can be ‘read’ easily. Your response is your response and, as always, the 52 Stitched Stories community to be incredibly supportive. Guidance will also include a simple stitch we would like all members to include somewhere in their piece and also what to do with your final stitch. For this first experiment I am basing the project in the U.K. as there is a chance that we might be able to join up the pieces at the end for exhibition. However, that does not preclude members from other countries starting their own ‘stitched conversation’ with fellow stitchers. I would be very happy to support that if any overseas members were interested in starting the project in their home country. Ultimately, I would like to evaluate the success of this stitching experiment before, perhaps, sending it global. I am nothing if not ambitious….😉
Our conversation is beginning in Cornwall and needs to travel, virtually, week by week getting further north with each conversation. We want to see if we can get it to the north of Scotland or even to the islands beyond. It will end its conversation at week 52 in my studio on the Isle of Arran. At the very least we will have tested the theory of stitching as language and have some wonderful archive footage of the whole conversation. I will be archiving the project as it ‘travels’ by sending out a simple questionnaire for each stitcher to complete once they have completed their part of the conversation. I will then be able to share these findings via a Stitched Conversation ebook. If you look at the map and zoom in you will see Judy and myself labelled already. Thanks to Judy’s son for helping out. If anyone knows a young person good with video editing skills we could do with a hand with that too…..😉
So, that is how it works. But this is the important bit. Members must seek out cloth that has meaning. A piece of cloth that means something to them and, ideally, repurposed in some way. There is enough cloth in the world to clothe all of us for many many years. This project is committed to a sustainable conversation about cloth and meaning. Find something that you might have dismissed previously, a piece that exists as something else that is no longer needed, a piece buried at the bottom of your stash……😉🧵 We want the project to speak through both the stitches and celebrate the history of the cloth and the second part of that will be the subject of some of the questions on the post stitching questionnaire. I have one piece of silk left that I inherited from my grandmother. She worked in a workshop making silk lampshades and I inherited some of her scraps. I held onto this final piece for a reason, this is the reason. A word of caution though. Don’t choose something you are not prepared to pass on incase we do manage to stitch the conversation together for exhibition. We may be able to return the work but that would not be guaranteed at this stage so bear that in mind when selecting your cloth. 🙏❤️🙏
Are you in? Clearly, we need 52 UK based members for this first experiment. If you are overseas and would like to start your own stitched stories just message me and we can chat about how the project can support you. If you are interested in being in the U.K. project you need to apply by Friday 25th September via the following ways –
Message the 52 Stitched Stories Facebook page letting me know where you live, nearest town please. Please supply an email.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the same information as above.
I don’t anticipate we will get all 52 members signed up by the start so there will likely be targeted calls. If we get more than 52 we will have to set up a waiting list in case people can’t manage their week as it comes round. The very lovely Judy is facilitating this project with me and she just happens to live in Cornwall and will start the conversation for us. She will also plot the virtual journey for us so we always know where the project is.
We are starting the conversation on Sunday 4th October and will finish 52 weeks later. Each member will be sent a full briefing document which will include details about the project and contact information for myself and Judy. Obviously, we need the conversation to travel but we are more than happy for a couple of people in a similar area to be involved, just as long as we can get it to its furthest northern point by week 51 and then ‘home’ to Arran for week 52. You will be given your week slot in advance with as much warning as possible. If you then can’t manage that week we will have to see if someone can take your place. We will be as flexible as the project enables us to be.
Judy and I hope you will join us on what will be a fascinating project where stitching becomes our language and our conversation will remain with us always. 🙏🧵🙏