In Spring 2020 we kicked off something called Stitch-A-Long with Crispina. This collaborative project came together to field the call for a collective need to gather and be creative in the early days of the Coronavirus Pandemic. It seemed easy to spread the support garnered by the group around a little. The idea for my first Stitch-A-Long with Crispina (SAL) kinda just flowed out of me. It was easy to see that the collaborative creative recycling experience in the Scrapbox Challenge was something much greater than the sum of its parts. I wanted to continue that magic and let the ripples spread a little wider. to make something to support others.
Fast Forward a year and a half and Stitch-A-Long 2.0 is coming to fruition. 36 women participated by signing up for my SAL class and purchasing the kit of choice. A series of Live Zoom sessions ensued where technique was taught.
And you wanna hear something CRAZY? 100% of the participants returned their gloriously individual, full of love, finished appliquéd squares back to me!
I was BLESSED with the opportunity to make a beautiful quilt-like blanket from all the lovingly hand stitched squares. As a matter of fact, that blanket is coming together as we speak. You can join me live for the formal Stitch-A-Long 2.0 Blanket Reveal live-streamed on our Facebook, Instagram and Youtube channels on Friday (11/19) at 4pm EST. Here is a link to RSVP (or watch the recording)
Read on for details of how this whole SAL thing works ~
Make a ‘quilt’ square, Upcycle & Support Survivors of Domestic Violence
Collaboration and Inspiration
Stitch-A-Long with Crispina is a collaborative project designed by me, eco-entrepreneur/activist/influencer Crispina ffrench, joined by anyone interested who purchases the class and kit to make a blanket square – (no experience necessary AND scholarships are available). Everything needed to jump into the making is provided in the kits (other than a pair of scissors). Live Stitch-A-Long sessions on Zoom are hosted where participants gather for collective making, learning technique, sharing tips and tricks and completing their collaborative contribution.
After the three scheduled Live Zoom Sewing Circles participants send their completed squares back to me and I collage all the beautifully crafted components into a magnificent blanket to raise money for an organization chosen by SAL participants.
If you are ready to learn more and get familiar with the simple tools involved in the making process, download my free 10 Simple Tools for Every Used-Clothing Up-Cycler
The very first Stitch-A-Long with Crispina followed on the coattails of Crispina’s Scrapbox Challenge 2020. For that project, boxes full of Crispina’s studio scrap were sent out to 60 contestants on March 9, 2020. By the time boxes were delivered, the world was a different place than when we were shipping packages from the studio just a few short days prior. In that time, the world went into self-quarantine full of shocking unknowns and many more questions than answers.
Scrapbox Challenge participants formed bonds with the process, the project, with me and each other. The project was an ongoing creative uplift in the darkest days of this pandemic's unknown. Scientists have proven that having a creative practice for even just one hour a week has benefits, from reducing stress anxiety and fear while building self-confidence, enjoyment and sense of accomplishment.
Working in a group adds to all that, connection, the bonds of friendship and a level of support.
‘The Challenge’ lasted nearly two months with all sorts of fun interaction, documentation of each participant's creative process, an active private online community and voting for the Grand Prize Winner and 3 Runners Up. As The Scrapbox Challenge wound to a close, participants and followers alike began to chime in:
“I never want this to end.”
“NOW what am I going to do?”
I was listening, heard the need, and understand how creative community nurtures - believe me! Delving into my creativity gets me through the darkest days.
The overwhelming success already of this first Stitch-A-Long has prompted the planning of a next one, scheduled to kick off soon. Each Stitch-A-Long will be different in several ways. Blanket imagery will be different, (I am thinking trees, flowers or leaves for the next one) Each event will support a different shelter for victims of domestic violence. Each Stitch-A-Long will teach my team more about what works and what could be improved with ever increasing ripples of nurture and support as the mission.
Speaking of process, the making process for participation is simple. Download my list of 10 Simple Tools for Every Used-Clothing Up-Cycler and you will see that there is nothing all that complicated involved.
· Live Sewing Sessions are scheduled with the idea that enough time and teaching is provided during these sessions to complete the project. Recordings of the live sessions are provided to all participants for reference.
· The collaborative Stitch-A-Long schedule pretty much guarantees completion. Did you know that scientists agree that project-completion empowers by building self-confidence, and reducing stress. Combine that with the fact that spending even just one hour a week in a creative practice reduces fear, anxiety and stress while building confidence and self-assuredness and this project becomes a win, win, win ~
The good goes on. . .
· Working collaboratively in a group builds connection and meaning. As participants work their kits, discussion circles around the end-use of their labor and the connection they feel to the outcome.
· Connections felt in the private online community for each other grows as does the collective desire to help build up victims that might feel 'less-than'.
· Collaboration leads to community.
· When handwork is done with intention, the results carry that energy forward. Stitch-A-Long components are stitched with thoughtful intention to lend a hand, support and nurture those among us who need that most. That intention paired with the collective support felt within the group of participants imbues the end result with a layer of palpable connection of positive spirits from far reaches across the earth with participants located from Alaska to the UK in the this first Stitch-A-Long.
· Working with recycled fabrics, vintage buttons and embellishments by hand adds a level of history, nostalgia, and more intention.
· All the pieces curated for the kits are disseminated from donated materials. Donors have an intention to share, to reuse, to pass-on useful things to those who might need or even treasure them. All fabrics incorporated in a Stitch-A-Long are recycled, found and treasured. Buttons are scavenged, beads and embellishments thrifted, teaching that, from what one might discard as useless, comes work encompassing an unexpected level of refined function and beauty.
· Stitch-A-Longs raise awareness of, and money for, a global pandemic of other sorts. Domestic Violence mostly goes unspoken, unacknowledged. By participating in this project you are speaking up for victims that have often become accustomed to remaining silent in their lives of danger. You are doing meaningful work, building friendships and bringing domestic violence into the conversation. The alternative to living a life in fear is to be happy, productive, and empowered.
· The Stitch-A-Long with Crispina answers the call to gather in community to create magic that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
· The Stitch-A-Long with Crispina is structured to help participants overcome the idea that their creative practice is optional but rather a valid investment in self-care.
Whether you are an experienced embroiderer, cross-stitcher, quilter, knitter crocheter, OR someone seeking a creative practice for the first time, a Stitch-A-Long with Crispina is nurturing, welcoming, and accepting. A perfect place to build bridges of craft, care and connection. (What I mean there it that this is super fun. Like HIGHLIGHT of your week kinda fun) It is a place to stand in the face of global divisiveness and come together supporting the earth, each other and the most vulnerable among us.
(Ok, so it is actually a bunch of super nice people having fun together)
Profits from the next Stitch-A-Long with Crispina will support a shelter for victims of domestic violence. (If you know an organization for consideration you can send an email to Hello@Crispina.eco with Domestic Violence Shelter in the subject line.)
Stitch-A-Longs are planned this fall and quarterly through 2022 and into the future. If you want to be in that loop, download 10 Simple Tools for Every Used-Clothing Up-Cycler to learn a little about the tools involved. We will add you to the list.
Back over here in the studio I am dreaming up the next Stitch-A-Long. Thinking of ways we can support more women and girls and hoping that our efforts can make real change in the lives of those we touch. Imagery is inspired by nature and our human ability to connect and care for one another.
Here is what participants shared about their Stitch-A-Long with Crispina experience:
Barbara from Arizona says:
- Doing art in a group for a higher purpose is a totally wonderful fusion of hearts and minds.
- Stitching was an easy way to create something beautiful.
- If you're looking for a creative outlet that makes a real difference, this is it!
Debbie from New York says:
- I loved the opportunity to rekindle my decades-old love of working with fabrics and needlework, and the opportunity to participate in a project that will contribute so much to the world
- I often felt overwhelmed with emotion while working on this project……not only for the wonderful project to which we were all contributing, but also, I quite naturally felt reminded of and close to both my mother and my Nanny, who took the time to teach me to sew, knit, crochet, and more --- I lost them both before I was 30 years old, and it was wonderful to have this type of reconnection now at age 58. I see now why women used to quilt incircles and why women knit together and craft together…….it’s soul enriching.
- I absolutely recommend participation in a Stitch-A-Long and will do it again myself!
Joan from Missouri says:
- I especially liked the group responses, which were very motivating.
- Crispina really sparked my creativity.
- I found a new skill that has been fun and stress relieving during these difficult times.
- I definitely recommend a Stitch-A-Long and hope to join again too!