Heavenly Bresser, "Fiber remnants of combed top, roving and washed fleece" (detail)

SDA Book Club: “Resilient Stitch” reviewed by Faith Hagenhofer

Resilient Stitch: Wellbeing and Connection in Textile Arts by Claire Wellesley-Smith

What great fortune to encounter a book aimed at resilience in my field (hand crafting) at this very moment! I resisted reading this book quickly. I also chose not to read it over multiple days, preferring to find one good stretch of time and take in the whole meal at one sitting. It did not disappoint! It clocks in at 121 pages, broadly illustrated with good photographs. Each spread was a meditation of its own. I will be rereading it slowly.

Resilient Stitch is about stitch as process, stitch as community builder, stitch as meditation opportunity, stitch as window into history, stitch as celebration of like-minded artists.

Wellesley-Smith lives and works in the former textile-centered cities and towns of Northern England. As a textile artist her personal work and her community projects are solidly at home.

There are “Project” pages ( which she calls practice exercises), complete with materials lists and directions. These, however, are more like tools for grounding the community-based art projects she has described into a reader’s world. The practice exercises are also suggestions for ways we might participate in the meditation on reuse that a stitch can be, as a means for resilience and wellbeing.

Wellesley-Smith includes the work of eight other artists, all women. What they share with the author is a reverence for the practices that use materials on at least their second lives. It’s a—not so subtle—uplift for reuse and recycling in our time. Wellesley-Smith says it best: “Resilience particularly as an idea that can encompass give and take, flexibility, and that offers an opportunity for reinvention, has never seemed more important.”

– Faith Hagenhofer

  • Publisher: Batsford (buy it here)
  • Date: April 2021
  • ISBN: 9781849946070

If you’ve read this book, leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Do you have a recommendation for a recent fiber-related book you think should be included in SDA’s Book Club? Email SDA’s Managing Editor, Lauren Sinner, to let her know!

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