I’m delighted to announce that I’m slowly and gently rebranding my business from “Mistress of Stitch” to “Witches Stitches”. I created the Mistress of Stitch Brand in Brighton, back in 2010 to promote my teaching work in Embroidery and Dressmaking. At that time, I was also teaching several Bellydance classes a week trading as Desert Rhythms Dance, and making artisan Gingerbread cookies as the Devilish Biscuit Company – mostly baking Shakespeare biscuits for the Globe Theatre in London! It was a busy time and I felt fragmented. When I moved to Scotland in 2016, I continued with all three businesses but as my Embroidery Classes took off, there was a huge pressure on my time – Embroidery is a slow craft, but teaching new projects and subjects each term required a fast turnover of ideas and worked samples.
I got really ill with Functional Neurological Disorder with Seizures shortly after moving to Scotland. It also turns out that I am severely affected by new lighting technologies, particularly LED lights which cause me to collapse and have seizures. LEDs have been rolled out with poor regulation, ignoring the known deleterious impact on human and animal health. It is a public health disaster akin to asbestos, smoking and X-rays. I am now effectively housebound due to LEDs being in all public and private spaces, indoors and outdoors. In many places they are even on all day as well as all night. I was so ill that I had to stop teaching dance and running my biscuit company. I clung on to teaching my Embroidery classes because I loved them so much - it is a sadly forgotten cultural practice for women to come together and stitch, it’s so healing, and it builds community.
I met a lot of new people online from all around the world – India, America, Canada and Europe – including the talented musician Hannah James. We bonded through a disability discrimination incident on a Psychotherapy training course and have remained good friends, I am now a proud Goddess Mother to her baby girl! Hannah is a successful folk musician and she really encouraged me to dig deeper into my creative practice and apply for grant funding.
I applied for and was awarded a VACMA grant from Creative Scotland and Ayrshire councils for 4 days research into the Witches of Scotland – you can read about that research in the first 2 posts on this blog. Once I completed that research, Hannah encouraged me to apply for another grant, a much bigger one! I applied to Creative Scotland’s Open Fund for a 9 month Research and Development grant for a large community arts project commemorating the women accused of Witchcraft during the 17th Century Scottish Witch hunts. I was successful in being awarded this grant, and my research project started in April 2023.
As this project has developed, it seemed appropriate to mark this shift in my creative and business practice and rename and integrate my businessess into one – Witches Stitches! I love this name as it brings together all the aspects of my life and work, my spirituality, my place as an outsider – Queer, Neurodiverse and Disabled, my creative practice including storytelling and textiles, and my desire to mend and heal communities after the Covid Pandemic and the intergenerational trauma of the Scottish Witch Hunts. I love the rhythm and the rhyme of it too – Witches Stitches.
I’m slowly working on a new logo design and even more slowly on a new website. I’ll let you know when they’re ready!