Community Threads: Nurturing Connection Through Mindful Stitching

At the Rochambeau Library in Providence, Rhode Island, stitching took center stage as textile artists Hayley Perry and Liz Bessel offered a hands-on presentation: The Art of Expressive Stitching. The course was designed to encourage participants to consider the benefits of mindful stitching, a form of meditation that involves stitching, knitting, or crocheting while paying close attention to the present moment. 

Perry and Bessel are both contemporary mixed-media textile artists. Perry is a fourth-generation rug hooker, and Bessel specializes in embroidery and quilting. They wanted to introduce expressive slow stitching at the Makerspace at the library, bringing it to a wider community. This free workshop was to share how working by hand can be a form of mindful stitching. Like other forms of stitching, the process can be helpful to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and increase feelings of accomplishment and creativity. 

Workshop participants engage in expressive stitching.

Throughout the workshop, the artists included lectures on expression, mini mindfulness sessions, and practical lessons on a variety of stitching techniques. Their message: mindful stitching is a wonderful way to cultivate inner peace while building a supportive community and friendships. 

Their goal was to educate the public about the possibilities of expressive stitching. Perry and Bessel had examples of their work for people to look at and touch and allowed time for questions. They also prepared a PowerPoint presentation that included examples of their work, along with work by people who influenced them creatively, and instructional videos of basic stitching processes. Kits were provided, along with supplies, so attendees could start stitching and receive any instruction required to begin stitching. 

This successful event was filled to capacity and there is a waiting list for the next demonstration. Excited by the interest, Perry and Bessel have already been asked to come back to the library and share their presentation again to help support the wonderful Maker’s Space program that the library would like to grow. After such a rewarding experience, they would like to share their presentation in other locations as well. They are also constructing a workshop that will act as a follow-up to this presentation for those who want to continue their expressive stitching journey.

“Liz and I have been so inspired by the research that we conducted for this Gathering Grant from Fiber Art Now that we are expanding the program into a series of classes as well.”

Hayley Perry,

Liz Bessel, @thecrazyrhodehome


Hayley Perry (L) and Liz Bessel (R) presenting to the group.

Explore the other stories on our blog to see the way fiber art is fostering community and connections across the country. 

Launched in 2023, the Gathering Grants offered by Fiber Art Now aim to unite, educate, and empower diverse textile communities. Our mission is to foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation by supporting projects that bring individuals together, celebrate cultural diversity in fiber arts, and promote education and innovation. Through inclusivity and a commitment to sharing techniques, we aspire to weave a resilient passion where creativity and diversity converge in the world of fiber art. Learn about these awarded gathering grants: A Place to Gather – Fiber Art Now | A Quarterly Magazine for Artists, Story Quilts and Poetry at PHES Gallery – Fiber Art Now | A Quarterly Magazine for Artists, Fostering Community Through Textile Art – Fiber Art Now | A Quarterly Magazine for Artists, Stitching Lives and Communities Together: Amani Sewing Academy – Fiber Art Now | A Quarterly Magazine for Artists, Visions Museum of Textile Art—Gathering Grant January 2024 – Fiber Art Now | A Quarterly Magazine for Artists.


Cami Smith is the Fiber Art Now media manager, a contributing editor, and a mixed-media artist.

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