Challenge Recap: Stitch Away the Winter Blues

challenge collaborations mystery stitch along stitching Feb 14, 2024
An image of white and blue marbled fabric with blue and white running stitch along it. A brown bar across the bottom of the image has white text that reads

"Light" and "joy" might not be the first words that come to mind when you think of January... In fact, it can be quite dark, lonely, and sad. This year, however, we sought to change that, and make January a little brighter with our Stitch Away the Winter Blues challenge - and you really showed up! We are so grateful to our little community of stitchers who helped us kick off winter in the best way.

What is Stitch Away the Winter Blues?

Stitch Away the Winter Blues is a free challenge we ran through the month of January. Participants signed up and throughout the month, 25 different word prompts were released to stitch onto small squares of fabric. These prompts were open to interpretation, however the names connected to Sashiko stitches for anyone who wanted a specifically Sashiko-centered event. We wrapped up the challenge with a workshop led by Blair Stocker of WiseCraft Handmade, who helped us turn our little stitched squares into a delightful mini-quilt on February 1!

Photo from Cornelia Buttmann-Scholl, Stitch Away the Winter Blues 2024 participant

The Results

We welcomed just over 2500 participants into Stitch Away the Winter Blues, and many of them were brand new additions to our Zen Stitching community - welcome, new friends, and thanks for joining us! It's a thrill to think that all of these people have been introduced to the power of slow stitching, and it makes my heart smile to be able to share this act of mindfulness with you!

Here's what some of the participants had to say:

"Thank you Kate for organising this amazing challenge! I have learnt so much through the process of figuring out how the motifs go on the grid, working out the different grid to get the complete pattern in the square, managing the stitch lengths to fit the pattern and so much more! But most of all I have learnt so much from you, Kate, and the wonderful ladies through their sharing of their stitched pieces. I have been surprised and amazed so many times by their creativity and even more so by their encouraging comments! Thank you, ladies, for making this challenge such a wonderful experience!" - GIna Lee

"Hi Kate, Amy, and all stitchers. I have really enjoyed checking our app (every morning in January) and I will miss it when it is over. I was amazed to see a prompt finished before I received it from Kate. It was magical to me and probably due to the different time zones. I have loved all your different interpretations. Thank you Kate for this challenge." - Alice Paradis

"This challenge has been a joy for me! Kick-starting my desire to be more creative, learn new things, and feel productive! I found myself stitching in the evenings after dinner which helped curb my snacking. Along with a healthy meal plan, stitching has helped me lose 10# ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚ Thank you Kate for offering this great opportunity and sharing your knowledge. Thank you!๐Ÿชก๐Ÿงตโค๏ธ" - Pam Bendt

As you can see, it was a month of learning, connecting, and getting inspired for so many of us! Bonds of friendship have been formed, and I think it's safe to say we've successfully stitched away our winter blues together. And there have been some great projects that have come out of the challenge that I can't wait to show you!

Hand pieced quilt top for a wall hanging by Elizabeth Leger

Contrasting quilt by Gina Lee

Stitches on dyed fabric by Pamela Harris

All denim quilt by Pam Bendt

We also had a few folks thinking outside the box for their final piece:

Stitched squares are vibrantly framed in this quilt by Deb Anderson

Patchwork bag by Dianna Kington

Textile book by Els Gauchotte

Mini-pouch with reclaimed button by Elisa TS

I have loved seeing all of your different stitching interpretations, and your final project variations! Please keep posting them to Facebook and Instagram and tag @zenstitching #stitchawaythewinterblues, or you can email them to me directly.

A special thank you goes out to Blair Stocker, who led a brilliant workshop teaching us how to make mini-quilts from our squares!

And a big thank you, of course, goes out to the community - we're so thrilled that you enjoyed this challenge, and we can't thank you enough for making it as great as it was. While the challenge is finished for this year, you can find out about the next one by joining my mailing list - and I'll send you my free Sashiko Essentials: From First Stitch to Mastery guide, too!

Hi, I'm Kate!

I am a strong believer in starting where you are and using what you have, wherever and whatever that may be.

Everyone should get to experience the joy of connecting to others through learning, experimenting, and creating.

Creativity doesn’t have to be expensive or wasteful. Whether we’re using natural materials, reusing materials, or shopping our own stashes first, creating mindfully goes beyond being present in the moment - it extends to being mindful of our environment and the other communities around us, too.