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Molly Tufnell 'Stitches the Universe'

Contemporary Artist and Teacher


running stitch on felt

Since the work of participants is confidential, the images you will see are my own work. Sometimes they are just an example and other times they might be an actual meditation of my own. They are, of course, in my style, you might do something completely different and that is how I would hope it will be for you and that is absolutely ok. You will have a syle of your own, and over time it will develop if you let it....
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needles, thread, scissors and fabric...the only other thing you need is to give yourself time!

These groups are aimed at people who might be stressed, feeling lonely or isolated, anxious, possibly with low mood, or you could be referred through social prescribing; they are suitable for anyone! Only very simple stitching techniques are necessary and there is no need to worry if you don’t know how, you will be shown. You might be a stitcher and have lots of stuff but if not, don’t panic, it doesn’t matter. You only need bits of preloved fabric; perhaps cast-off clothes, an old tea towel or bedsheet or even an old blanket will do, so long as they are things you feel comfortable handling, a needle and any thread you happen to have; that old reel at the bottom of the drawer is fine! This is all that is required.
Within a supportive, small (no more than 8 per group) weekly group on Zoom we will hand stitch slowly, repetitively, and meditatively. There is very good evidence of how engaging in fine motor movements of the hands can reduce stress. This helps you to stay focused on what you are doing leading to mindfulness, or ‘being in the present moment’ and ultimately this helps you to relax. Working like this results in positive physiological changes in your body, lowering the stress hormone and helping you to be calm. To achieve this, it is very important that you understand that the process of stitching is much more important than any outcome.
I am an artist mainly using textiles, a qualified teacher and have experienced the benefits of meditative slow stitching for my own mental health. Being creative in this way helps you to unwind, centre, develop your imagination, grow patience and what’s more, being part of a group lets you have fun!


Connecting Threads Flyer (pdf)

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seed stitch using a variegated thread on an old wool blanket with blanket stitch around the edges

This started when a participant asked me to demonstrate 'seed stitch'. I made a little video to show how to do it. I enjoyed the colour of the thread against the old blanket so, at a later date, I turned it into a meditation for myself.
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simple running stitch throughout with a selection of toning silk, cotton, rayon and metallic threads

If you would like to use cloth with shapes and/or patterns on it to guide your stitches, or cloth with colour where you can have fun finding some toning threads, this is a perfectly acceptable way of preparing for your stitch meditation. Getting this prepared before you think about starting avoids any stress, worry or indecision when meditating. Make sure it’s all been gathered prior to your starting and don’t forget your needle and sharp little scissors as well.
The image shown is a little piece of silk that I have mono printed, it is sandwiched with a bit of blanket and calico to give a quilt like effect. I have used simple running stitch throughout with a selection of toning silk, cotton, rayon and metallic threads. However, you could get an interesting fabric from a charity shop, pad with a bit of thicker fabric and back it with old cotton sheeting or a tea towel and the effect would be exactly the same. Work with what you’ve got and there is no need to spend a lot of money!
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mostly running stitch with some cross stitch on an old wool blanket with blanket stitch around the edges

These 3 images are examples of 5 or 10 minute small meditations to clear the head before starting something like going to a scary appointment, starting work, or working out how to sort out a muddle. I have learnt through practice that breathing to calm yourself, and focusing on needle, thread and fabric, staying right there in the moment, stops that spiralling panicky feeling from taking control and allows you to get on with the job in hand. They are not pretty....their value is the record of the time you have allowed to look after myself and they remind you that you can succeed with things when it feels hard.
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canvas stitched with tapestry wool

Sometimes there is a need to keep stitches neat and tidy and keep stitch sizes even too and sometimes a novice sticher worries about these issues as well. To remove this stress from the meditation process, using cavanas or even weave fabric can be the answer. You can stitch away and feel confident that the result will be one you will feel comfortable with.
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running stitch with linen thread on felt

When you feel like you want to draw an accurate representation of something with your needle but lack the confidence to do so, outside of the meditation you can use a photograph or a picture from a magazine to copy. Using a lightbox if you have one, but the window will work just as well (I used a window for years), you can trace off your image onto some tracing paper or there is special paper you can buy from your thread stockist to use for this process if you would like. Once drawn, you pin or tack the traced image to your fabric and then choose the threads you want to use and you will be ready to begin. During your meditation you will be able to stitch along the lines you have drawn without any stress or worry. When you have finished you simply tear away the paper to reveal your stitches.
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straight stitch and french knots on dyed old wool blanket using various hand threads and sock knitting wool, with silk and cotton scrim strips

Over time I have found that it is very satisfying to have a piece that is made up of a series of meditations. Sometimes they can be planned out in advance and sometimes it might be something you just add to as the mood takes you. This is one of the latter. A story of particular days, told entirely for me, over a month or two of my life a couple of years ago.
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straight stitch using various threads where I played with the direction, density, length etc. of the stitch

A few years ago, just using straight stitch, so completely stressless, I produced this. Any planning with regard to shapes and colours was done at a seperate time. When it came to each of the meditations, which were done over time when I felt like picking it up, an area was achieved entirely organically. On reflection I see much of the north coast of Cornwall costal path in this. I walked parts of this path every day for years because it was so close to our home then and I found it such a peaceful place to be.