Stitch Club: The story so far
Creative lessons from workshop leaders & members
Imagine for a moment you’re writing the book of your creative life.
What tale will the chapter entitled ‘2020’ tell?
It wouldn’t be much of a story if our protagonist didn’t face some adversity.
You probably won’t have to dig too deep for source material where that’s concerned.
After all, most of the channels you’ve come to rely on to feed your creativity have been blocked at every turn this year.
Textile art workshops have been cancelled, embroidery groups put on hold and exhibitions delayed.
But the really compelling part of the narrative comes from how you’re negotiating those challenges. How you’re adapting. And how those adaptations have the potential to make a long lasting, positive impact on your life as a stitcher.
Linda’s stitch story
Linda had felt creatively stifled for a long time.
Living in a remote rural area, textile art workshops weren’t easily accessible under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic.
And even when opportunities to connect with other stitchers and learn from respected tutors did come up, the cost of travel and accommodation made them prohibitive.
With little to spark her imagination, Linda felt her work had become stale.
Perhaps you can relate? Especially if kindred spirits are few and far between and you have no idea where to turn for inspiration and guidance?
For Linda, nothing was going to change unless she did something she felt extremely nervous about…
She took the leap and signed up to online workshops for the very first time via the TextileArtist.org Stitch Club.
“I had never done any online classes and was anxious about it but quickly discovered that everyone is there to help me.
Virtual learning has opened up an exciting new world for me that I didn’t know existed. I’m being exposed to teaching and learning that I could never access otherwise.
Stitch Club has given me a more experimental way of thinking and expressing myself. I have learned that the only limits are the ones I put on myself. I can be brave and try something simply for the experience.”Linda Page, Stitch Club member
The birth of Stitch Club
Here at TextileArtist.org we’re always asking ourselves how we can better fulfil our mission to help stitchers like you (and Linda) feed your love of making art with fabric and thread.
This question came into even sharper focus in 2020, when being connected to like minded people felt more crucial than ever and creativity became a vital means of escape and comfort.
Our answer was the TextileArtist.org Stitch Club, a creative safe space where you can share your journey with a community of stitchers from all over the world and learn from some of the most inspiring artists working with textile techniques.
Mieke’s stitch story
Mieke admired stitched artwork but had never plucked up the courage to make anything herself.
“I joined Stitch Club to push myself and to my delight, I am fascinated by working with textiles.
I’m blown away by how inspired I feel and how much I’ve learned about backgrounds, using colour, analysing what works and what doesn’t.
This is much more than just a hobby for me now.”Mieke Lockefeer, Stitch Club member
What Mieke is discovering is that creativity and community aren’t just for lockdown!
And that’s why Stitch Club is here to stay.
After almost 6 months of inspiring workshops, this feels like the perfect moment to celebrate and reflect on the creative lessons you can take away from the Stitch Club experience so far (even if you’re not a member!)
Working towards ‘originality’
Debbie Lyddon workshop: The story of objects
Stitch Club launched in May 2020 with a workshop from UK textile artist and current Chair of the renowned 62 Group Debbie Lyddon.
Debbie invited members to create beautiful unique vessels with fabric and thread.
Jane Cook came into Stitch Club with a lot of technical skill, but struggled to think outside the box or push the boundaries of her techniques. She longed to express herself creatively but felt like she’d never been shown how to develop a more personal or inventive approach.
Finally, after stitching for about 60 years, Jane has discovered that experimenting through play ignites her creative flame.
“I’m not a risk taker but now I tell myself, what’s the worst thing that will happen if I use that fabric or this thread?
Stitch Club has transformed how I feel about what I do. When I completed Debbie’s workshop I looked at what I had done and thought ‘did I really make that?’
I can feel my confidence increase and my skills improve with each new workshop as I experiment and stretch my ability to make decisions.”Jane Cook (Stitch Club founding member)
Clarissa Callesen workshop: Sculpting with stitches
Perhaps, like Jane, you’ve struggled to use your textile techniques in an inventive, personal way?
The inspiring US artist Clarissa Callesen, best known for her textural sculptures made with recycled materials, has some valuable advice about ‘originality’, which she shared with Stitch Club members in a recent Q&A.
Check out the short video below!
In response to Clarissa’s fascinating workshop, members created a range of forms, then embellished and stitched them together into their own unique sculptures. The range of individual interpretations was breathtaking!
Gregory T. Wilkins workshop: Ordinary to extraordinary
Have you ever felt like you’re so focused on the end result that you forget to enjoy the journey? Or that you become overly concerned with being neat and tidy?
Perhaps what you need is the permission to play!
US artist Gregory T Wilkins inspired stitchers to go wild with mark making as a starting point for a mixed media stitched piece.
Encouraged to use whatever she had to hand (whether that was paint, ink, marker pens or crayon), the abandonment of this approach was out of Stitch Club member Jo Eds’ comfort zone.
“I have always struggled with trying to be too precise but I really enjoyed experimenting with different mark making tools. Adding stitches and beads tied it all together.
For the first time I managed to really focus on the process rather than the outcome, which was very freeing.“Jo Eds, Stitch Club member
Now Jo has embraced her newfound inner rebel.
“I wasn’t sure how I’d find Stitch Club as my disability leaves me with little energy, but I am really glad I joined. I am loving playing with new techniques and I like that I can put my own spin on the pieces I make.”Jo Eds, Stitch Club member
Julie B Booth workshop: Exploring blanket stitch
Not every stitcher struggles to break free and get inventive with the rules.
But ‘free spirit syndrome’ comes with its own challenges. Total creative liberation can lead to total creative confusion.
Ever thrown out the rule book only to find what you’re making lacks purpose or identity? Without any limitations at all, ingenuity becomes almost impossible.
After all you can only break the rules of the game, if you know what they are to begin with.
A fact that textile artist, teacher and author of Fabric Printing at Home Julie B Booth knows only too well.
In her workshop for Stitch Club, Julie introduced members to the Stitch Play Game, in which they randomly selected words from a list to determine a design layout and character for a piece.
The challenge? To use only buttonhole or blanket stitch in the composition of that piece. And nothing else!
“I initially struggled with the concept of just using one colour and one stitch, and buttonhole stitch at that!
But Julie is very persuasive, and after I started to see some pieces by other members appear in the Stitch Club I thought I’d give it a go and soon I was gripped by the infinite possibilities!”Yvonne Schlapfer-Parle, Stitch Club founding member
“I found Stitch Club to be brimming with inspiration and creativity! I think this workshop challenged stitchers to really experiment and come up with something completely original.
Having the random element forced them to think outside the box. Having some structure/limits took away the anxiety of having too many choices.
There was such an incredible variety of results including a focus on texture and mark-making, patterning, nature-inspired, landscape and even a couple of portraits. One piece even came completely off the surface! Bravo Stitch Club members for your courage, tenacity and willingness to “play” the game!”Julie B Booth, Stitch Club workshop leader
Sue Stone workshop: The power of three
Former Chair of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and a Fellow of the UK Society of Designer Craftsmen Sue Stone has long been a cheerleader for the huge potential of simple, traditional embroidery stitches.
Sue encouraged members to ask ‘What if?’ and push the boundaries of just three simple stitch techniques, three fabrics and three threads to embellish a strip-woven background.
By embracing and gently pushing the boundaries of this type of exercise, stitchers like Marie are becoming more inventive.
“After just a few months of working with the Stitch Club my approach to material and techniques has become freer.
In retrospect, it feels like my love of textiles was lying dormant in a corner of my being, and since joining the Stitch Club, it has bloomed. I am finally delving deep into the amazing world of textiles and threads.”Marie Haas, Stitch Club founding member
So if you’ve ever struggled to get started when faced with the prospect of a ‘blank canvas’, try setting yourself some simple rules from the beginning. You can veer away from them once you find your flow, but at least you’ll be empowered to make the first mark!
Mandy Pattullo workshop: Fabric concertina
Joy had always resisted this kind of structured approach to making textile art.
“Normally I find it nearly impossible to create a set plan. Until recently I viewed this aspect of my working process as a bad habit that I needed to break.”
But when Mandy Pattullo (author of the best selling book Textile Collage) encouraged Stitch Club members to construct tactile concertina books collaged with leftover scraps and recycled fabric, Joy had a revelation.
“I began to more fully appreciate that the actual act of stitching is for me a most joyous affair. I began to really trust in my intuitive process.
The workshop helped me appreciate that we each have our own way of working and that it’s important that we embrace rather than fight it.”Joy Scott, Stitch Club founding member
Stitching your stories
Anne Kelly workshop: Mapping your journey
How do you look beyond techniques for ways to make your work unique and personal?
Finding ways to honour precious memories was the theme of Anne Kelly’s workshop.
Taking inspiration from her forthcoming book Textile Travels, Anne inspired stitchers to trap old photos, receipts and other collected items within their work to capture a sense of themselves and their journeys.
Ailish Henderson workshop: Stitched collage portraits
In sharing her unusual and inspiring approach to creating self portraits, young artist, researcher and educator Ailish Henderson demonstrated a method for transferring sketch to stitch.
Similarly to Anne, Ailish was keen for members to incorporate special items such as receipts, tickets and photographs into their work. But the results couldn’t have been more different!
“I was taken aback and actually felt quite emotional by the response to the workshop. I walk away inspired by the students and I feel I want to keep reflecting back on their work!”Ailish Henderson, Stitch Club workshop leader
Haf Weighton workshop: Textile typography
Has your stitch practice ever become a cathartic experience?
In her Stitch Club workshop, Welsh speaking artist Haf Weighton shared a technique for transferring typography onto fabric in a project that gave members a chance to reflect on their experiences of the pandemic.
The stories conveyed in a wide range of responses took Haf on what she describes as an “emotional rollercoaster”.
“In describing their work, people talk about their families and ancestors, their health concerns, the beauty of the natural environment where they reside or somewhere they have visited, their hopes, and their fears.
Often, what people have to say is so personal and moving it makes me cry.
I think this is amazing. Stitch Club has created an environment that is so warm and welcoming, so supportive and kind and non-judgemental, that people feel safe in pouring their hearts out. What a strange and wonderful phenomenon!”Christine Peterson, Stitch Club founding member
Getting outside of your comfort zone
Emily Tull workshop: Getting lippy!
Ever told yourself, ‘That technique doesn’t appeal’ or ‘That’s not my type of thing?’ You could be missing out on something that surprises you and takes your work in entirely new and exciting directions.
Stitch Club member Linda Florio was initially intimidated by the challenge of stitching faces and she wasn’t alone.
But like so many other members, Linda found Emily Tull’s tuition in observation addictive and is planning on exploring figurative stitch in more detail.
“Being introduced to so many different artists and materials has broadened the scope of what is possible and inspired me to really look around and explore and to think more about the direction I am most interested in.
The Stitch Club has become a wonderful and fulfilling part of my creative life.”Linda Florio, Stitch Club founding member
Susie Vickery workshop: Treasure from trash
Australian artist Susie Vickery’s workshop merged a traditional technique with modern-day themes of waste.
Susie prompted members to repurpose plastic bags which otherwise would end up as landfill and use them to create a piece based on Jacobean crewel work.
“I was very unsure about this workshop but once I got started I was amazed at how the plastic changed in appearance opening up my mind to all sorts of possibilities.”Linda Okane, Stitch Club member
The lesson? Stay open-minded! Initial resistance could be a sign you’re about to make a truly wonderful creative breakthrough.
“I loved seeing everyone’s work and the zeal with which people appreciated being pushed out of their comfort zone.”Susie Vickery, Stitch Club workshop leader
Going at your own pace
Cas Holmes workshop: Momigami landscapes
Have you ever done an online course and found yourself playing catch up, only to fall so far behind that there’s almost no point in trying?
What makes Stitch Club unique is that it’s not a course. It’s a club. And that means there are no deadlines.
Stitch Club member Aine Nic Giolla Choille discovered through a Momigami workshop (in which she learned the Japanese technique of transforming found papers into flexible cloth-like form) that when it comes to creativity, the only right pace is her pace.
“My achievement this week has simply been to thoroughly enjoy SLOW momigami… spending quiet time kneading, squeezing, unrolling and stroking papers. I luxuriated in this tactile experience, handling paper both with strength and gentleness, delighted to discover and reveal the fibres within.”Aine Nic Giolla Choille, Stitch Club founding member
Words that were echoed by the workshop leader herself, Cas Holmes (one of the very first textile artists we ever featured on TextileArtist.org).
“What impressed me most was the way you Stitch Club members shared and supported each other.
I also want to stress that it is OK to take time over these wonderful workshop exercises from such a diverse and skilled range of practitioners! Over time, through reflection, we each build new skills and a textile language of our own.”Cas Holmes, Stitch Club workshop leader
Merill Comeau workshop: Expressive stitch
Jane Branney learned the power of reflection and repetition from US artist Merill Comeau. Rather than rushing on before she was ready Jane chose to make multiple pieces in response to the Expressive Stitch workshop.
Merril encouraged members to use imagery from nature and salvaged fabrics to create beautiful, unique collages.
With each new piece Jane made, she tailored the process and began to incorporate other techniques like machine embroidery to mould the guidelines to her own practice. And with each new piece her interpretation developed and strengthened.
Maybe you’ve found it challenging to find the motivation to stitch at all in this most challenging of years? That’s ok (and entirely understandable). Sometimes the only way to cope with a crisis is to hunker down and look after yourself.
Maybe you’ve felt creatively ‘stuck’. Without the focus of specific projects, guidance from inspiring teachers or interaction with your fellow stitchers, generating new and exciting ideas for your textile art can feel like an impossibility.
Our hope is that the creative lessons in this article can help you reconnect with your creativity and make stitching part of your self care. That the insights from Stitch Club members can help you discover what you want to make and how you want to make it.
Because there’s still time to change the way your ‘2020’ chapter ends!
32 comments on “Stitch Club: The story so far”
Wonderful to see such inspiring work. I am still looking for my lost enthusiasm
Me too. 🙁
I have been dealing with depression from what’s happening politically in the U.S.
Several of the workshops have GREATLY inspired me. And then I can’t get the motivation to actually start my project. It’s very frustrating.
But no regrets about signing up. I know I will be coming out of this and look forward to rewatching every single video and attempting each project.
yes- the times are so difficult and lonely. I find that the making spirit is empowering-it is part of the best of us and of what is human about being human. I Honor it by embracing it and doing what I can. I am
still trying to learn to stitch better at 75 and follow directions. Usually I follow my making spirit wherever it takes me and constantly have to work at maintaining discipline and structure.
Stay well and hopeful.
Amy Mimu Rubin
When I have had enough of the rest of my life, Stitch Club keeps me going! I am mesmerised by the stunning work and all the new techniques and ideas. Long may it last!!
I’m loving being part of this community with such great tutors, it’s been especially helpful during lockdown and I now fill my days with creativity as one thing leads to another. Stitch club is getting better and better and I thank the team running the show for all their hard work.
Stitch club has been so inspiring! I am trying to do all of the workshops because I learn something new from every one of them. I am, therefore, a bit behind so it was quite reassuring to think about the fact that it is ok to take your time and remember this is not a challenge that needs to be completed by a certain time, but gives you the opportunity to explore ideas in your own time and in your own way. Stitch club is such a welcoming thing to be part of and I feel I have grown creatively from both the workshops and members work which I can look back on time and time again! Thank you stitch club, thank you Joe and Sam
How do I go about joining Stitch Club?
Hello Di – make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter and we’ll send more details when we open up registration next week. Thanks!
Thanks for this content Joe. I already started to reflect on my own learning curve yesterday over the last six month with Stitchclub and the influence it had on my work. But yours helped too. You pointed out other details I had forgot and like to take into account. I had my ups and downs with this club but overlooking the topics you brought us it was a versatile journey with gave me knowledge, happiness and determination. My point is: I am never stuck and afraid of a blanc canvas and limitations was always part of my studio practice but I was lacking a more down to earth approach. This club forced me to look arround more carefully to my surroundings, materials and hardly used old skills.
I am looking forward to joining Stitch Club when the registration opens next week. For inspiration I have become a member of the Facebook group Slow Stitching Community. There are some fabulous stitchers in that group, as well as some beginners. Can’t wait to join this group as well. My work and creativity is explanding since finding Joe and Sam. Thank you thank you thank you.
so inspired by this and SO excited for Stitch Club to open up again so I can hopefully join! this is an amazing place–thank you for the time and energy you put into it 🙂
Stitch Club is wonderful inspiration and just came at the right moment.
This resume is very interesting and further inspiration, I really look forward to the weekly Newsletter.
Those of us who have this interest in Textiles, Art, Embroidery and all Crafts are so fortunate.
Thank you to two inspired and inspiring young men.
Such wonderful pieces! I need to join this group! How do I sign up for the newsletter?
Hi Heather – you can join the newsletter at the top of this page where it says “Join a Community of 60,000 stitchers”. Thank you!
It’s brilliant to see all this creativity. The very different responses to the same workshop are so exciting. True art, an individual’s response to the environment and to stimulus. You’ve certainly filled a need at Textile Artist.
I’m having to pick and choose workshops as being a teacher myself a lot of my time is taken up preparing for my own workshops and for a textile group that I help run here in Brittany. I really appreciate the change to fortnightly sessions, I now have more of a chance to keep up!
Thank you for what you are doing.
I am so pleased I joined textileartist.org, never done anything like this before, didn’t know what to expect and needed something to inspire me, also to teach me new techniques so I could keep improving.
I love the projects and I love that there is such a variety of types of projects. I feel very proud and excited to be part of this group.
Thank you , thank you, thank you !
I’m certain that the many new members will benefit greatly from joining Stitch Club, just as I have. The artists who have given workshops are so helpful and offer such inspiration. They are all so enthusiastic, they make me want to jump up and complete the projects. Stitch Club itself, has been great offering help and listening to ideas from members and then changing things for the better. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone behind the scenes, as well as all the artists involved
Wonderful, wonderful inspiring pieces of work! Now I’m motivated! Keep up the outstanding weekly letters!
Stitch Club has meant so much to me during COVID.. tucked away in a small cottage…I created a little corner with sewing machine and small easel …. and truly wake up in the morning excited to explore the ‘challenges of the week’
Love the creativity and generosity of all the participants…
More to come!!
I am delighted with all the workshop stitch club is offering. But I continue experimenting with the first course and workshop of Susan and by the moment is enough for me. Nevertheless for me is very very important continue asisting all the workshops and ther products of other members. Congrats, you are great!!
I have really enjoyed stitch club, I have watched all the workshops but have only completed about 3. I often tend to make other things drawing on many aspects of what I have learned. I always have something new WHICH I want to experiment with. Like many, living during this time in the US this club has given me something to celebrate and feel excited about. I love stitch club
I have loved stitch club from the start! Since I am still working full time I appreciate being able to work at my own pace. It is wonderful to know that the lessons are there when I need them-just like a good book you can pick up where you last left off. Seeing members work is also very inspiring and encouraging! I love the Q & A segments also. I would suggest stitch club to everyone! Thanks for being there!
Stitch Club has been a saviour for me during these past several months. Because of covid lockdown where I live, I have been isolated on my own in my apartment for 7 months and counting. Stitch Club workshops have given me so much during this time, as have my fellow members. They are such a supportive and generous group of fellow textile artists. Stitch Club is run so very well by the Joe and Sam and their staff. I have enjoyed every workshop so far and participated in all because of my circumstances, but it is also great to know that there is also no pressure at all to do everything, which is great if you are a busy person. Thank you Stitch Club for everything so far and I look forward to the next 6 months.
Will the next phase of Stitch Club be all new workshops. Or will we have access to some of these very intriguing past workshops, as well? I would love to take all of the sculptural workshops! Thank you!
Hello Sheary, you will have access to the full library of past workshops as well as two new workshops a month. I love sculptural embroidery and can’t wait to see what you’re inspired to make.
Thank you for the last three workshops – I’ve only just discovered you.
You’ve been ‘the way forward’ – making the dreadful months melt away.
Thank you again, can’t wait for the next thing.
x Sue Halstead
I’m still thinking about joining Stitch Club and wondering if we would have access to all the tutors who have presented up ’till now? Is it ‘lifelong’ access too?
Hi Rose, the monthly subscription to the Stitch Club includes access to the special Stitch Club members area, which has a new workshop every 2 weeks where members interact and have their questions answered by the workshop artist, a library of past workshops, the supportive community of fellow Stitch Club members, numerous resources and stitch demos and artist advice videos.
You’d have access to the Stitch Club and resources whilst you are subscribed. You are free to cancel your subscription at any point but your access to the members area (and all of the resources mentioned above) expires at the end of your subscription month. I hope that helps and if you have any more questions do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help.
All the best, Charlotte from the TextileArtist.org team
How do I join Stitch club? Do you need to be invited? I already receive your newsletter.
Hello Sue, thank you for getting in touch. News of upcoming registration will appear in our newsletter so do keep an eye out as you may be receiving more information very soon.
Hello, I am interested in signing up but can’t see the cost anywhere, please could you let me know how much it is and also whether the workshops are usually weekday or weekend, daytime or evening?