This month's guest blogger is Lyn Carson Harris who contacted me with an offer to tell her story and why she creates...
Here is a little more about Lyn's background
Lynn lives in Michigan where she creates art, raises chickens, and grows vegetables. Both of Lynn’s parents grew up on farms and, like the little red hen in the children’s story, she was taught to do things from scratch and to never let anything go to waste. Her thrifty upbringing led her to her current style of working with scraps and the desire to use “every last piece.” Her quilts have been juried into international shows and gallery exhibits and her work is in private collections around the world. She is the author of Every Last Piece and has also been published in numerous books and magazines.
I create textile art using the techniques employed by past generations of my family to create utilitarian objects such as clothes and quilts. I connect the past to the present and honor the beauty and artistry of the handmade. My most recent work is a series of small scale abstract designs inspired by the experiences of someone I love and care about who is in an abusive relationship. My wish is that these pieces of art can help to prevent domestic abuse by increasing understanding and awareness of this pervasive problem. While all of my pieces are original designs, I turn to the geometric patterns of antique quilts for inspiration. My art often evolves dramatically from the start to finish of a piece, and I find as much pleasure in the process as in the completed pieces.
Here is Lyn's story surrounding her therapeutic quilt:
Years ago, when four of my family members entering nursing homes, I decided I needed a travel sewing project for time spent in the car traveling and visiting with them. I prepared an intricate appliqué piece and had it basted and ready for any stitching time. I stitched on that piece for months and as I neared the end of the appliqué three of those four family members died- in the same week.
I went on to finish the piece. I hand quilted it and entered it in a national quilt show. When I got the quilt back from the show, I folded it and put it in the closet in my sewing room. About ten years later, while cleaning that closet I pulled out the quilt. I unfolded it completely unprepared for my reaction when I saw the quilt again. I was instantly in tears. That quilt held a lot of memories and grief. Unknowingly, I had parked my feelings and emotions in the stitches of the quilt for a time when I would be better equipped to process them. It was quite a moving moment.
I am currently working on a series of quilts that is serving a similar purpose. A member of my family is in an abusive relationship. After many years trying to help my family member and trying to come up plan after plan that would never help, I finally came to the realization that people are allowed to make decisions that are not in their own best interest. I am now working on a Domestic Abuse Quilt Series to raise awareness of aspects of domestic abuse as well as a form of therapy for myself.
You can see more of Lyn's work on her blog and read about her Abuse quilt series and the therapy they bring.
If you'd like some stitching therapy of your own, with everything provided for you then join in our Stitch Therapy 365 project - all the info can be found here.
If you have a story to share about how Stitching (and sewing, crafting, quilting etc) has affected your life, we'd love you to share it with us..
hugs for today
Last Sunday was our memorable annual Autumn Gathering - a little earlier than usual because of a very busy couple of months ahead - but the sun shone and we thought of everything but the impending change of season.
The lovely Marg Low was our guest tutor this year. I have always loved her work - small and oh so cute little projects using combinations of painted wooden buttons, felt applique and cotton applique and I knew that our group of ladies would also love her.
This year however she kept them in supsense until we said they could open them - with an official opening recorded live on Instagram... did you see us?
Tess came through yet again with sugary treats
and so much yummy food for all
We were in two minds as to whether to continue our gathering events... everything has its time and we were wondering if maybe we were ready for a change.. however of course everyone pleaded for another - so our Christmas gathering dates have been locked in for Sunday 24th November - lock it in ladies
or to be sure, you can book and pay your deposit now to hold your spot..
I look forward to seeing lots of finished projects on Instagram ladies....
hugs from Helen
Sarah De Jonge is the creator of the 1000 hearts project.
She believes that kindness can change our hearts and our world.
She has a psychology degree, counselling qualifications and about 15 years’ experience helping people through the tough stuff of life.
In her work for non-profits like Lifeline, CanTeen and Cancer Council Tas, she has witnessed despair, fury, heartbreak and brokenness.
A kindness project...
1000 Hearts is a kindness project that started in 2016 because Sarah wanted to spread some love and compassion.
Inspired and driven by her work in the non-profit sector, she felt a need to do some thing that offered love in an all-inclusive way with no cost, no conditions and no limits. The project is based around small pocket hearts which are handmade from wool felt and stitched with love and good intentions. These hearts are then offered to people as a symbol of compassion, care and kindness.
Not only do they bring therapy, love and kindness to the recipients, but Sarah and many other heartists around the world get to experience their own therapy and satisfaction of giving whilst making them.
Thankyou Sarah, for sharing your beautiful words below:
Years ago, I volunteered as a telephone counsellor for Lifeline. One night, a young man phoned who was what we called “a suicide in progress”, meaning he had already taken action to end his life. I was struck by how alone he was, unable to identify anyone who cared about him. In that lonely night, I felt my heart go out to him and I said “I don’t want you to die. I care about you – please let me help you stay alive tonight.” He was quiet after I said this – the kind of quiet that grabs you by the throat and makes you fear that you’re too late. Into this echoing silence, I dropped a single wavering question; “how does it feel, to know that someone cares?” and in a wretched, broken voice he replied; “feels good.” He allowed me to help that night, and as he drifted further towards unconsciousness, the ambos arrived, someone picked up the phone and said “we’ve got him” and I was left with an empty line.
I’ll never know what happened to that young man, but I can tell you what happened to me after the experience. I learned a memorable lesson about the power of connection, and how the care of just one person can be the difference between life and death. I wanted to be that difference and in 2016, I set myself a goal – to make a thousand pocket hearts and give them away to anyone who needed a little love. I didn’t know it at the time, but this project would change my life and bring together a community of people determined to make the world a kinder place.
It took me three months to sew a thousand hearts and as so often happens, what I thought was the end turned out to be just the beginning. As my little hand-made hearts made their way out into the world, people who received them felt like they were a part of something and soon there was a steady stream of people requesting hearts and asking how to make them.
In March 2018, I set up an Etsy store to make the project more sustainable, and our community of heartists continued to grow. It is my great privilege to hold the stories people share with me and it is through the sharing of these stories that we can start to understand the power of the hearts. Not long ago, a grieving community pinned pocket hearts to their clothes at a memorial service for two young girls who died tragically in a house fire. In Australia and around the world, sewing groups make hearts for children affected by domestic violence, people impacted by cancer, patients in palliative care, foster children and young people diagnosed with eating disorders. A little boy, struggling with difficulties in his family, sewed a heart to give his counsellor during their first appointment. Hearts with rainbows stitched on them sit amongst offerings of love at the memorial for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and hospital staff gave them to young people injured in the bombing at a concert in Manchester. A woman slipped a heart into her mother’s coffin. An elderly gentleman held a heart in his hand during a confusing first night in an aged care facility. Many anxious children carry one in their pocket on the first day of school, and adults dealing with anxiety and depression have written to tell me that making hearts has changed their lives.
A pocket heart can be a talisman of hope. It can be offered when the right words are hard to find, and squeezed when life feels overwhelming. Making hearts is a mindful activity that brings a sense of calm purpose, knowing your creation will help someone get through a hard day.
In amongst all the stories and requests, I hear a theme of love. Love that holds us up when darkness threatens. Love that offers hope in times of despair. Love that makes life worth living, even when the odds are against us. By focusing on small acts of kindness, we can start creating a better version of ourselves, and when we are able to offer that same kindness to ourselves as well as others, that’s when the real transformation begins. For me the most powerful thing of all has been to read the messages that say (in varying ways) “thank you – your heart made a difference to me.” It’s beautiful to learn that a simple act of kindness can become a legacy and that a single heart, stitched with love, can be the difference between despair and hope.
You can visit with Sarah, become a heartist, support her in her Etsy shop or request hearts at
Or follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/1000_hearts/
As you stitch along in your daily therapy, think about what it's doing for you, love yourself and open your heart. Then perhaps the kindness to yourself will make a difference and spread to others in all walks of your life...
hugs from Helen
We have a new toy in our shed and are slowly learning and playing with lots of new yummyness for us all....
This little embroidery frame measures approx 4" from top to bottom with a design area of about 40x60mm. You could do anything in this frame, mini EPP, stitchery, embroidery, stumpwork, tapestry, even just a photograph - anything you can dream of. The kit includes the frame, the inner cutout for framing over and a backing piece. The frames also include a metal wall hook you can glue on if you wish to.
The Judith brooch kit measures 2" top to bottom with the design area approx 24 x 34mm
She comes with a metal brooch back included.
A quick Tutorial on how to use the mini frames...
Preparation: our frames are laser cut so depending on the material used some times some residue can be left. We clean the tops before packaging but if using a light fabric you may wish to wipe over all edges inside and out in case any residue (black soot type) transfers onto your fabric. Just use a damp cloth, babywipe or magic eraser.
Method: First, use the inner cutout of the frame to trace around to mark your design space onto paper - draw your design or decide what you will be putting into the frame.
Use a blue water erasable pen (or similar) to trace your design onto your chosen fabric - use a lightbox if necessary so you can see through. I recommend using a large piece of fabric so you can easily put it into your embroidery hoop.
Fuse a lightweight stabiliser to the back of your design fabric. You can use a thin woven or a thicker thin wadding - like Pellon H630 or Parlan to get a more padded or raised effect.
Cut out your finished design adding approximately 1/2" on all sides of seam allowance. That's 1/2" bigger than the centre insert piece of wood.
If you used a thicker stabiliser you may want to pull it up and trim it back to the actual size of the wooden insert - so the wadding doesn't wrap around the edges making it too thick.
Using a strong thread make a running stitch around the edge of the seam allowance, place the wooden insert into the centre (wrong side) and pull up the stitches to tightly gather the fabric around the insert. secure.
Cover the back with clear strong craft glue and place the backing piece centrally onto it. Use wonderclips or pegs to hold until dry and secure. Glue your wall hook or brooch pin to the back if desired.
I am so looking forward to seeing what you all do with these new little products. We have plans for many more so if you have any ideas or requests please feel free to suggest...
and please share the love and post your designs onto IG with #hnkminiframes and we'll share your beautiful work with all of our friends too....
Hugs for today and happy stitching
This week’s block is by Lori Kennedy and features my favourite technique – applique (ok so one of my favourites)
Of course I used my applique paper method and left out the piecing part.
they're starting to make a nice little display now..I shall have to take a pic of the bunch soon to see them altogether.
how are yours looking together – starting to look like a quilt?
til next week – actually I might miss next week as I’ll be enjoying some sunshine in Bali – just a wee break….
until next time