Oh, that word. Change. It can strike cold terror into the hearts of some. For others it is excitement, adventure, exploration. Having been born on the cusp between Virgo and Libra, I seem constitutionally accustomed to change. Notice I didn't say comfortable, just accustomed. I have had six different careers. Some might call it mercurial, I call it searching. Once again, change is at hand. This change however is not a dramatic shift as when I left photo-editing at a magazine for baking in a bakery. No, this change is more of a shift than a exact change. AGOS is hitting the road. As of the end of the calendar year A Gathering of Stitches will become a traveling show. I am leaving the studios here at Cove Street in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland, ME. AGOS has morphed, organically, into a business that creates experiences for the fiber obsessed to explore their practice. These experiences have, to date, all happened here in Maine, and that will not change. At least not right now. Who knows, perhaps we will head out further down the road in the future. For right now, however, I will continue to explore the rustic, expansive, and inspiring background of Maine as the setting for future retreats in the world of stitching. There is really no reason to be tied to one location when Maine offers up so many gorgeous vistas, so much natural beauty and inspiration for those of us who make with our hands.
If you have been to an AGOS event in the past two years you know the extent to which I will go to bring inspiring and generous talent together in small groups with comfortable, and well-equipped locations, and tasty food. This is my path, this is the direction I am heading, this is my mission. I fully believe in the impact we can make, each and every one of us Makers, when we are given the tools and the support to practice this regular meditation on creating. When we can take a moment to slow down and focus on making instead of consuming. This political season has been pretty soul crushing, no matter how you slice it. It is hard not to be discouraged. I have found myself turning again and again, back to the room with the makers and the teacher and the fabric and the irons and the color and the buzz of creative excitement that is any number of the retreats I produced this past year. It is a balm for my soul. It is a ray of wholesome sunlight in a murky dusk of bile. I'm not gonna go all grateful on you, don't worry, but I know that in my many years of slogging up the hill towards some mysterious Valhalla, the moments I have had with fabric and community are the ones I keep coming back to. I know deep down in my gut that this is my work, and my happy place, making these oases.
When I first conceived of A Gathering of Stitches four years ago, it had a form that I thought was very exciting and needed to be brought to life. I was consumed by fleshing out this idea I had. As with so many ideas, some parts of it were easy to coax into action, others not so much. That is the nature of building something new, unlike with a sewing pattern, you don't necessarily know how it's going to go together. So, to continue the sewing metaphor, you often need to do some adjustments, some alterations, take a seam in there, let a hem down here, to make it work. This latest wrinkle is just that, an adjustment. I am very proud of this studio I built, and running it for the past three years has taught me all sorts of things. Some of them are for public consumption, some need to be shared privately over a glass of wine. But the thing that is clear, and true, and real, is that I love (LOVE!) creating creative experiences for the fiber inclined to play, to explore, to practice, to further their expression. My big realization this Summer was that while I love the studios, they weren't necessary for me to continue to produce these events. In fact the studio was distracting some of my creative energy from the things I really love doing. Once I had that insight, then I knew I needed to move forward with a divestiture. A Gathering of Stitches is hitting the road. It's going to become a light, nimble, creative business that uses the beauty of Maine to support the furthering of the Making movement. I will continue to bring world class Makers here to share their skills, their knowledge, their creativity with you. I will continue to create nurturing environments for small groups to explore their practice in a comfortable space, and with good food. I will continue to provide a respite from the fast-paced technological world of our daily lives, to slow down, and dedicate your attention to tangible activities that you can take home with you. I have been feeling like I am trying to move too fast. I can imagine I am not the only one. Let's all take a collective breath and remember how much Making feeds our souls.
Going forward my emphasis will be on Slow. Slow fashion, slow stitching, slow making. We all need a bit more time for these practices that feed our souls. More time for stitching, for sewing garments, for sewing quilts, for using our hands and our hearts to bring new life to raw materials. I seek to create experiences for us to pause, to step back from the fray of Modern life, and connect with others who share our passions for fiber. To use making as a bridge to connect us, to keep us as a community, to allow us to see all our similarities instead of pushing us apart with our differences. While I would love to work towards world peace, I think we can just start with some quiet stitching on the porch. Will you join me?
Pragmatically speaking, A Gathering of Stitches will pack up it's bags and move all the sewing tools to a private location by the end of December. I will continue to send out monthly newsletters, fill my social media feed with making, and pop up at various locations like QuiltCon and Rhinebeck. As with the past two years, I will announce the retreat offerings for 2017 at the beginning of the new year, with some time between the announcement and the opening of registration for people to make arrangements before committing. There will be a small sale in the next month or so of some pieces of equipment that are not coming with me, as well as some books and materials. If you are local, watch the newsletter for that date, and come help me lighten the load for the move. Change is at hand, but with change comes growth, with growth comes growing pains. I appreciate all the support I have received over the past three years and look forward to what A Gathering of Stitches is growing into!