The Evolution of Stitching “Family”

(originally posted on my blog here – re-posting here because I love the story and still use it as an example when teaching Stitch Therapy workshops)

I love the meditative and intuitive process of stitching – at least my approach to stitching is intuitive and meditative. The soothing process and sound of pulling the thread through the fabric again and again and again… I don’t always plan things out – usually I will start with a fabric that was part of an old project, or a scrap from a friend, or even a handful of threads that my daughter gave me from her finished project.

For this particular piece, I started with some bits of fiber left over from some earrings I made and the piece evolved into a symbol of family and mothering.

My intention was to video record my process of creating one of these highly textured abstract embroidery pieces to include in my online workshop. And I did record part of the process, but then I stopped working on the piece for a few days. After a little while I picked up some more scraps and threads around my work table including some small feathers that my daughter had left after a project. I stitched these feathers down to the cotton base fabric and continued with small seed stitches in my favorite dark pink thread, trapping some loose threads as I worked.

Next, I picked up some golden beige yarn that I had used to knit a scarf for my mom. I cut a small length and stitched it down near the feathers. The colors for my daughter and my mom are similar. They are both born in the same star sign and the gold, earthy tones seem to match their personalities. As I continued stitching and thinking about my mom and my daughter, this piece became a meditation on family – on being a mother and a daughter.  These ideas brought to mind my sister and how different our experiences were growing up – the blue is for her stitched down with gray – both are the color of her eyes depending on what she is wearing.

As I stitched around the bottom edge, keeping the feathers securely in place, I realized that I had two feathers – two children – one feather for each – and this piece was telling me that it was about being a mother and a daughter. So, I chose the large pink feather to represent myself and stitched that into place using the pink thread. I added the black yarn for contrast, but then as the black swirled around the pink feather (me) it began to remind me of the difficult times of parenting. Around the time when my daughter was two years old, my husband was working on a new business venture and I started graduate school for art therapy. It was a lot to take on for both of us, and although there were times when I wasn’t sure what to do and felt physically and emotionally drained, my family was always there for support.

When I finished stitching all the threads, feathers, and yarn down to the cotton I took a picture of the finished piece to share on Instagram. Looking at the small image on my phone it reminded me of a face looking down (the way I remember looking at my children the first time I held them).

I am always fascinated when my art shows me more than what I was expecting.

The progression from beginning to end


Capture your nature walk for a meditation

Walking in nature has many benefits and changes our brain for the better. It reduces our stress and can train our mind to focus on our surroundings instead of mindlessly getting distracted by the chaos that often surrounds us at work, school, or in a busy city.

There is also research showing that recalling a happy memory can help alleviate depression without the side effects of medication.

I decided to combine these two activities for an art therapy experiential that I could use for my own source of meditation at anytime and anywhere.

While out for a walk on a beautiful and windy day, I captured a few seconds of video of the trees blowing in the wind, the ground while walking and snapping twigs, and a brief moment of a cardinal on the top of the fence. I decided to put these short clips together for an audiovisual resource to use for my own meditation when the weather isn’t so great, or the conditions aren’t ideal for going on a walk. I can now pull up this video and recall the beautiful day and the time I had to walk and notice nature – the time I spent with my youngest son looking for squirrels and birds and listening to the wind in the branches of the trees.