Back in late 2018 staring out of the window, as the trees began to lose their leaves, I had an idea. Conscious that winters on our Scottish island can be long and dark I thought we needed something to keep us busy through this time. I had an idea that we could stitch a postcard sized piece of work every week for a year. 52 Stitched Stories was born. I did a quick post on our community forum Facebook page inviting anyone interested for a coffee and it felt like half the island turned up. That is a bit of an exaggeration but lots of people did turn up and we all agreed to meet monthly over a cuppa and share our ideas, processes and postcards. So began a wonderful 2019 and in that time the project floated across the water to the community of West Kilbride and onwards until it had wrapped itself right round the world. All over the world people were stitching away and creating small pieces of work that uncovered their own personal stitched stories. All this from a simple tiny idea.
2020 has been a challenging year but still many new people joined the project and still we stitched. In March when we went into lockdown many of us did much more than stitch our postcards. Our creativity went off in all sorts of directions and we ‘met up’ every day at 11am to catch up. The year has had far more lows than highs for many of us but we do now know that there is a brighter future ahead. During the last couple of years 52 Stitched Stories has grown to develop kits and packs to support both the project and makers that have supplied handmade materials for those packs. We have developed a lively Facebook page and now group Facebook page – one stitch at a time. Members have stepped up to offer a Maker’s Day where we shared so much creativity in a single day while raising almost £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support. We have also hosted individual maker days to support some of our many makers in this challenging economic time.
Moving into 2021 some new members will be joining us on their own postcard challenge and some of us are going for a second year. We muted the option of adopting the them ‘recover and heal’ and this has proved popular. You do not need to adopt this theme, or any theme for this matter. But for those who would like to we will be offering a range of activities to support.
I am grateful to Judy who is now joining me to coordinate the community stitching work. Judy already runs our brand new Stitched Conversation which began in October and has members stitching a postcard in response to images they are sent from a member who has stitched a postcard before them. The idea is to test whether stitch is a language that we can understand and interpret.
But one issue has not been well addressed until now. I have lost count of how many people have asked if we offer courses. We don’t but that is about to change. From the 1st January Stitched Stories will be offering a portfolio of e-tutorials, e-books and online course through its very own Stitched Stories Academy. Four experienced tutors are coming together to deliver a range of online learning opportunities within the broad area of textile art and crafts. As 2021 unfolds we hope the portfolio will grow and develop in response to needs from our community. The aim is for the academy is to be a place where learning trails are established and supported as people gain new skills and knowledge in their personal journey in textile art and crafts. In time, we hope there will be something for everyone. From simple ‘on the shelf’ e-tutorials to online courses that take us through a series of lessons with outcomes that we can be proud of. This is a very exciting time for the project and I am grateful to Charlotte, Karen & Coral who are joining me as tutors. From time to time we will also have guest tutors working within their own specialism.
The academy will operate from a brand new Stitched Stories website which also launches on the 1st January. You will be able to browse on the academy page and select options that suit you. All four tutors are committed to offering affordable, accessible and achievable online learning options and this will always include a selection of FREE e-tutorials.
The brand new website doesn’t stop there as Stitched Stories has developed an additional pair of wings. At HQ I have a studio where I am fortunate be able to work but I am acutely aware that not everyone has the luxury. When I had four small children my ‘studio’ was an end of the dining table or sometimes a corner of their play room. My children have all grown up now so I have created a studio in the heart of the house. That said, my studio does move around thanks to having my tools etc on my grandma’s old tea trolly. Me and my trolly regularly venture into the garden to sit and stitch. At Stitched Stories we have decided to push the envelope of ‘studio’ and are creating a ‘Virtual Studio.’ This place can pop up anywhere from our home studios to the garden to the beach and onto the moorlands. It can be what we need it to be. Crucially it also connects me to Charlotte who is a very active member of Stitched Stories. I already work with Charlotte as she provides many of the materials for our wee kits and packs. During 2020 we have worked more and more together and I am delighted to share that Charlotte has agreed to become an maker in residence, along with myself, in our virtual studio which we have named as ‘The Workroom.’ All sorts of things will be going on in our workroom and we will be sharing our experiments and processes through a lively blog as part of our brand new website. Expect the unexpected. The Workroom could pop up anywhere and will invite you in for a cuppa and a chat. From time to time we will have guest makers come and settle for a while so they might share their creative stories. As Charlotte and I generate work some of this will be find a wee corner in our online stores both on the Stitched Stories website and in our Etsy Store. We hope that the workroom will be a place filled with fun, creativity and a dash of the unexpected and we hope you will pop in regularly.
So, that is the shape of the new project. In summary, Stitched Stories will continue with its 52 postcard journey & its Stitched Conversation project placing community stitching at its heart. This will also be supported by the continuation of creative kits and packs made by some of our members, the brand new ‘Academy’ and the brand new ‘Workroom’ virtual studio. I really hope that gives us all something to look forward to as the new year unfolds. Might I just take this opportunity to thank you for being part of Stitched Stories and I hope that your 2021 is everything you need and want it to be.
Fiona Doubleday x