International Women's Day: 10 Zen Women to Follow

collaborations stitching women in craft Mar 15, 2024
Clip art images of many women in different sizes and colours fill the bottom half of the image. Above there are words on a brown/grey background that say

With International Women's Day on the 8th, March is the month for celebrating women! Working in the world of art, and specifically textile arts, I encounter so many incredible ladies on a regular basis. In the spirit of showing support for some of the wonderful women in the industry, I'd like to introduce you to 10* women who bring a little extra peace and calm to the stitching circle.

*10 is a nice, round number for this post, but I think I could mention 100 inspirational, Zen women in the art world!

1. Suzi Banks Baum

Suzi is a talented writer, mixed media artist, and book artist based in Massachusetts. Her commitment to creating daily is truly inspiring, and I love how she makes magic of the mundane through ritual and spirituality. Though she is just one person, Suzi buzzes with community and connection, and has a way of sparking excitement for creativity in every conversation. I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Suzi in the past, and I am so looking forward to our collaborative Narrative Needles: Stitching Your Truth workshop happening later this month!

Suzi's favourite Zen quote: The present Dalai Lama says, "Kindness is my religion."

Where to find her: Visit Suzi's website or find her on Instagram


2. Liz Kettle

I couldn't talk about Zen women in textile art without mentioning the creator of the Stitch Meditation process herself, Liz Kettle! After becoming sick due to stress and overwork, Liz found solace in stitching, and developed her own style of meditation in the soothing repetitive actions in 2014. I love how Liz flipped her situation into helping many others learn to let go of perfectionism and find mindfulness by making meditation feel a bit more attainable - particularly for those of us who find it much easier to empty our minds when our hands are full!

Liz's favourite Zen quote: "Be Yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just Be." - Nhat Hanh

Where to find her: Visit Liz's website or find her on Instagram


3. Ellie Beck

Ellie Beck is the creator of PetalPlum, and has the kind of soft and gentle approach that makes anyone feel welcome and at home in her corner of the web. Ellie's courses will guide you through a number of nature-inspired techniques, from slow stitching to natural dyeing and beyond. What I love about Ellie is that she has a way of making you believe there is magic inside you waiting to become art!

Ellie's favourite Zen quote: 
"Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
As if it is the axis on which the Earth revolves.
Slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life."
Thich Nhat Hahn

Ellie says: "I like to think of these words relating to our stitching - to stitch slowly and reverently, breath by breath, moment by moment."

Where to find her: Visit Ellie's website or find her on Instagram


4. Kiala Givehand

Kiala is an artist of many mediums, with a particular focus in book arts. As well as pursuing her own career in art, Kiala has also mentored more than 20 women over the past 25 years, and is dedicated to empowering women to pursue what makes them happy without regrets. I love her fluid and spiritual approach to art and its connection with ourselves along with her dedication to uplifting others and showing them the power that exists within themselves.

Kiala's favourite Zen quote: “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”– Alan Watts

Where to find her: Visit Kiala's website or find her on Instagram


5. Amy Maricle 

If you're looking for help letting go of perfectionism, look no further than Amy Maricle! Using her background as an art therapist, Amy helps release artists from the fear of imperfect making. Her nearly daily practice is truly inspiring, and I love that she makes art accessible and makes everyone feel like an artist.

Amy's favourite Zen quote: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” - Mary Oliver

Where to find her: Visit Amy's website, or find her on FacebookInstagram or YouTube!


6. Maria Theoharous

If you love to sew or dream of sewing your own clothing, you should be following Maria Theoharous! A sewist, blogger at Velosews, and founder/host of the Sew Organised Style Podcast, Maria is an inspiration in the sewing world. I love that Maria uplifts other women in the community through collaboration - you can find her supporting Sew Over 50, Sewcialists, the Australian Sewing Guild, and many more... Including our very own Making Zen retreat!

Maria's favourite Zen quote: "There are no deadlines to creating, just your breathing and imagination."

Where to find her:

Visit Maria's website or find her on Instagram

You can also check out her Podcast's website, Instagram, Facebook, and Patreon!


7. Agy Lee

The calming creations of Agy Textile Artist (Agatha Lee) are a wonderful embodiment of Zen, from the fluidity of her free motion embroidery to the natural elements that inspire her works. I know my readers are supporters of the environment, as I am, and I love that Agy is also an environmental advocate, upcycling findings in her work.

Agy's favourite Zen quote: “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.” – Eckhart Tolle

Where to find her: Visit Agy's website or find her on Instagram


8. Liz Haywood

I've had the privilege of collaborating with Liz in a few capacities - she's been a speaker in several Making Zen retreats, and we've collaborated on a couple of courses together! A fellow Earth-lover, Liz makes all zero- and minimum-waste patterns and writes about her explorations on her blog. Liz also just published her newest book, A Year of Zero Waste Sewing, on March 11! I love Liz's commitment to both fashion and reducing waste, and how she's found a way to unite those passions.

Liz's favourite Zen quote: "It's not wasted until you waste it" - unknown

Where to find her: Visit Liz's website or Etsy store, or find her on Instagram


9. Emma Freeman

It doesn't get much more heart-led than Emma Freeman and Deep Rooted Healing. Emma works in a number of mediums, all infused with spirituality - including poetry, massage, stitched art, and more. If you're interested in exploring the connection between our souls, our bodies, and our art, you should be following Emma! I love her contemplativeness and how her art inspires introspection and calm.

Emma's favourite Zen quote: "Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That's the ground, that's what we study, that's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest." - Pema Chödrön

Where to find her: visit Emma's website or find her on Instagram


10. Ruth Woods

Founder of Craft School Oz, Ruth Woods is a sustainable creator specializing in basketry. Ruth's expertise is evident in her calm, clear tutorials. I'm so drawn to the organic, natural look of her work, but even more than that, I'm drawn to the core values she has for Craft School Oz: creative curiosity, playing and experimenting, community inspiration, and sustainability!

Ruth's favourite Zen quote: "Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun" - Mary Lou Cook

Where to find her: visit Ruth's website or find her on Instagram

This truly just scratches the surface of amazing women I've met in the art industry. I am fortunate enough that when I pull up Instagram I see a community of empowered, supportive women who lift each other up - and hopefully this list has given you that luxury, too!

There are so many others I'd like to mention, but I'd risk turning this post into a book if we didn't stop at just ten. Did you find someone new to follow? Who else should we be following? Leave a comment so I can check them out!


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.