International Women's Day Collaborative Stitch Project
In 2021, I called for women and girls worldwide to unite and create a community textile project during the COVID lockdown. International Women's Day theme that year was #ChooseToChallenge, and this community-driven textile art initiative brought together over one hundred women who wanted to show their willingness to 'challenge' despite being restricted to their homes.
The virtual village that was formed followed a clootie tradition, where people tied strips of cloth to ancient sites and trees, usually around a water source. We came together in a symbolic act of hope and solidarity, intending to manifest good health, a cure, and a better year.
To further unite us in our feminine desire to create a positive change, packs were made and sent out to allow us to make clooties from unused suffragette sashes. These sashes provided by Artichoke celebrated the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave the first British women the right to vote and stand for public office. One hundred years later, women across the UK joined and wore the coloured suffrage sashes to mark this historic moment.
The project was open to all, regardless of resources, geography, time difference, or stitch ability. We found ways to come together and chose to challenge through three steps and three ribbons: creating a ribbon for ourselves that expresses our inner desire, sharing a ribbon with a friend, relative, or neighbour, and making a ribbon that was sent to create a later piece.
An online forum and instruction films centred on slow, mindful stitch were provided to ensure no one was left behind and everyone could collaborate and revel in as much or as little connection as needed.
On International Women's Day in March 2021, women from around the world tied their ribbons outside their homes, blowing their hopes and dreams into the ether and allowing the universe to respond. It was a beautiful act of unity and solidarity, with photographs shared in the group.
Despite our differences through this collaborative community textile project, we shared similar desires to make a positive change and create a better world for all. This project was a testament to the power of community, creativity, and hope.
If you want to try slow stitching, use these videos as inspiration. They were made as part of the 'Sew What?' mindful stitch programme, but the concepts and techniques can easily be adapted for any mindful stitch project you fancy.