Lisa Woolfork 0:14
Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast. With more than 20 years of selling experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.
Hello, everybody, and Welcome to 2020 this is our very first episode of the Stitch Please podcast in the year 2020. It's January 1 2020. I keep saying that it's 2020 because I have a hard time believing that that's actually a real year. It seems like, you know, I'm still getting the idea that years don't start with numbers. 19 like 1987 or 1999, 2000 was fine. That was great year and now but I think 2000 was like just a few years ago, it not actually 20 years ago. So here we are in the new year. And I'm very glad to be here. And I'm very glad that you decided to join us today. Today's episode is called a sankofa episode. And the reason I've chosen this is that it gives us the opportunity to look back at where we have been, think about where we are and where we want to go. And so the the word sankofa SANKOFA is from the Ican people in Ghana. And it's represented by two symbols. One is a bird with its head turned backwards with a egg in its mouth, and its feet pointed forward, as well as a stylized symmetrical heart. And both of these are meant to reflect the idea that you can move forward. But that it's also important to look back that it's important to keep your history in mind as you progress into the future. So the literal translation of the word sankofa is go back and get it. But some of the other representations or manifestations of the word are the phrase remembering our past, to protect our future, or to go back to the past and bring forward what is useful. And so I wanted to do this as a type of not necessarily a year in review. But as a way to think about where the stitch the origins of the Stitch Please podcast, as well as some background information on Black Women Stitch, as well as some upcoming exciting projects that we have going on. And some victories or accomplishments, or I'm not sure what word to use, but to describe where we are today. So that's what we're going to discuss right now. So when I wanna, when I look back to what 2019 meant for Black Women Stitch, it was a very powerful and formative year for us, the group started I started the group in 2018. On Instagram, just as a way to reach out to other Black women who sewed, it was very simple. That's what Black Women Stitch was about. It was I didn't want to do it through Facebook, I thought that was a lot to manage. I work full time I have kids and I do some organizing and just other things that I have going on. And I thought that a Facebook group would be too much to manage. And I'd also seen a lot of Facebook groups sprawl or spiral out of control as they got bigger and bigger and bigger, that they strayed away from the original values that the organization had established. And I think that's still true for quite a few groups, that you start with this one intention. And you don't keep that in mind because you want to grow, or you want to or the your goals change. Anyway, I just thought I didn't want to deal with that. I wanted to show my sewing projects and talk about sewing with people who also basically cared about some of the same things that I did. And so one of the realizations that I had, as I was building the group was that I wanted to sew with other people who also believed that Black lives matter. It's very simple, very, very simple idea. And I arrived at that,
because I had been involved in some local organizing in my community, which is Charlottesville, Virginia for quite a while. Just small things like maybe going to city council reading a letter to the editor, just just you know being involved. in the community, and But it wasn't until 2017, when we had a really aggressive streak of white supremacists activism that impinged on our community. And we had the year 2017. We had, it felt like clear rally after a white supremacist rally after neo nazi rally back to back to back, we had one in May of 2017. We had one in June of 2017, we had a Klan rally in July of 2017. And then in August of 2017, we had the largest white nationalist white supremacist rally in modern US history. And it was terrible. And a woman was killed. I was on the scene for that when the white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counter protesters. I was standing right there, it was a nightmare. And it just really changed a lot about how I about what I was willing to accept. And by that, I mean, I had been sewing and quilting, with various white organizations, various local quilt groups, statewide quilt groups, large regional collectives, for quite some time, maybe 15 years or so. And the silence on this issue that I thought was really pretty important that we couldn't let white supremacists come and dominate our public streets and get their way. It was very disappointing. The way that they were willing to just accept this as that basically, for many of this white people that I had been sewing with, that the virulent racism, white supremacy and Nazi-ism was unfortunate, but nothing you can really do about it. So no big deal, or who cares? or Why does it have to be you? Or if we just let them do what they want to do and ignore them? They'll go away. I mean, history teaches us that this is not the case. I mean, this is, you know, we already had a war about this world war two was pretty much about how you can't just let Nazis do what they're going to do, and hope they burn themselves out. These folks are not naughty toddlers, right? They are not just kids that need to be sat in the corner and ignored. And so it was really disappointing to have that response, especially after what I had been through and surviving this very terrifying attack. And so it might seem strange that I would turn to a sewing group for this or to create a sewing group for this. But it really was a logical extension. Because I had spent so much time in these groups, basically ignoring a lot of racism, ignoring a lot of microaggressions. And ignoring a lot of
give money to send their congregations to Africa or to Haiti, to quote unquote, save Black people, but would also lock their doors when they drove through a Black neighborhood, or who if they saw a Black person on the street, would cross the street or grab their purse. And they thought these ideas were totally, you know, compatible. And it was just it just after a while, it became too much. And after surviving the terror attack for me, it became absolutely intolerable. And so I don't know what I don't know what took me so long to get to the point where I thought, let me just try my own thing. And I've had friends who had told me for years, why do you do this? Why do you go to these things? Why do you put up with this? And I had thought for so long that well, what else am I gonna do? I mean, I don't want to start my own group. That's a lot of work. I don't want to, you know, I mean, I'm in a predominantly white community. I don't know how to do anything otherwise. And it wasn't until in the aftermath of the experience that I just explained to you that I did that I finally said, You know what, if they can do it, I can do it. And that was a very powerful decision on my part, to kind of take this leap of faith and just start Black Women Stitch and to announce from the very beginning, what the group was going to be about. Now, when I started, I didn't think that anybody else would be interested in this. But me, I was sure that it would just be me and maybe I find one or two people. Maybe, but, you know, this was just a small little niche idea. Not that, you know, really just see what happens. And it turns out that that's not the case at all. But there were lots of other groups that I could turn to, and get inspiration and mentorship from and to learn from. And this includes the yarn mission in St. Louis, Missouri, which does knitting for Black liberation. There is Black Girl Social Club that crystal Brenton Branton has created this Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilting Guild, there are there are so many different African American quilting organizations, for example, I was thinking even back historically, to there's an African American fashion designer organization, that Mary McLeod buffoon who helped who who founded Bethune Cookman College, which is now Bethune Cookman University that she helped to create in like the 1940s. So it wasn't like I was starting something new, it was just that I didn't realize that there were so many models that already existed for what I wanted to do. So I now feel like I am stepping into a history for creating a space for Black women where we can just breathe and do what we love. without waiting for the other shoe to drop, that we can center ourselves. We can talk about things that are meaningful and valuable to us without feeling like we have to code switch, or code mesh, or explain things that to us don't need to be explained. And it also helps me to feel just safer, just to feel safe, and heard and seen in doing something that I love. And that's one of the most beautiful things that has come about this year, with the growth of Black Women Stitch. When we come back, I'll talk a little bit about some of the activities that we did in 2019. And what the next phase of our progress looks like from here, stay tuned. Here it's Stitch Please the official podcast of Black Women Stitch. We talk a lot about sewing. But if you want to see and not just hear about some of the things we've been discussing,
feel free to join us on the socials. You can find us at Stitch Please on Facebook. And you can also find us on Instagram at Black Women Stitch. You can find photos of projects that we've been working on really interesting social commentary. And on Thursdays at 3pm. Eastern Standard Time, you can join Black Women Stitch for a live Instagram chat. Again, that's every Thursday at 3pm. So find us on the socials follow up with us. We are happy to hear your direct messages, you can reach out to us at the Black Women Stitch stitch page on Instagram. It will help you get your stitch together.
Welcome back. You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast and today our special episode is called "Sankofa" where we're going to talk about what it means to look back at our past in order to bring what's necessary into the future. This isn't a case of looking at the past in order to avoid it or to escape it doesn't have these negative connotations that the past is somehow a sinister force. It's looking at the past in such a way as to better contextualize ourselves our current lives to acknowledge our ancestors to acknowledge good and bad things. And at least that how I'm seeing it in order to move forward into a bright future. I think a lot about time, and that the fact that I'm here right now in the podcast studio, also known as my son's room while he's away at college, but he's back now. And he's like, Mom, I need to use my room and I say, Oh, the podcast studio. He says, What do you call it that I was like, What do you mean? But one of the reasons that I'm sitting here right now in January 1 2020 is that one day this is going to be somebody who's past And it's just really important, I think, to kind of acknowledge the range of range of experiences that we've had because all of it makes up who we are. And so I've been talking a bit about some of the origins of the Stitch Please podcast or of Black Women Stitch in particular. And I'm going to turn now to the Stitch Please podcast. But I wanted to talk before I get to the podcast itself, would be to talk about Black Women Stitch and what 2019 meant for Black Women Stitch. I really enjoyed this year's Kwanzaa, and then go Saba The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa because I felt like almost every day of Kwanzaa this year, well, every day of Kwanzaa in 2019. Last year, also known as yesterday, I felt it really each of each of those days really spoke to me about something really meaningful about cooperative economics, about creativity, about self determination. And so I really feel like Black Women Stitch was that type of activity. For me this year, as I mentioned, in the previous section, I started this organization, I started this project as just a way to reach out and to center Black women, girls and families in sewing. Because so much of my own creative life, working in predominantly predominantly white institutions, working abdominal white schools, living in predominantly white communities, anything that I wanted to do, would be done in a predominately white setting. And so it wasn't, as I said earlier, until the traumatic aftermath, and what I perceived to be the very negative feedback from the white women that I had been sewing with, for all those years, that I decided that this was ultimately and cumulatively harmful to me. And so I wanted a space that I could just be myself, you know, where I didn't have to explain things I didn't have to, like I said, wait for the other shoe to drop, and it was a lot of waiting for the other shoe to drop. And people would do things that were really harmful and racist. And then when confronted on them, which I did, and said, Well, this is not appropriate, or this is racist, it was Oh, I didn't know. I mean, things that are like really explicit, like, essentially, using a yellow face minstrelsy show in order to talk about quote, unquote, Asian fabrics, or putting your hands next to your eyes to pretend that you're Asian, like, That's racist, this is harmful.
Oh, we didn't know, I didn't know what's gonna happen this way. And it was, it was hard, it was difficult. And then after a while, cumulatively, it became something that I could no longer accept. And it was really a beautiful gift to me in a way. And sometimes our really negative experiences can be, because it showed me that I didn't have to, I didn't have to accept that, that I could create something that would be fun, and nurturing and not traumatic. And a really, you know, as I like to say, a black ass good time, which is what I've done in 2019. And so I'm looking back at the year. And one of the first things that I did for 2019 was I hosted Black Women Stitch beach week. And this was a small group of Black women we met at a beach house, right on the ocean. And we sewed and talked and sewed and drank and sewed and ate. And people made amazing and fantastic food and amazing cocktails. And I met these women and we It was like someone described it as lightning in a bottle. Like we really had a fantastic time. We were there a week, we just had a really good time because there weren't we came together in this space to sew and have fun. That's a small thing. But it's also a really big thing to be able to do this in such a way that centers honors sees and acknowledges the complexity and the beauty that is within Black women. And I was so glad that I was able to put that to pull that together. And just a quick side note, we do have one spot available for 2020, one spot available. So if you are interested, you can send me a DM and we can have a conversation. I have an interest form that I can provide for people who are interested. But yeah, that was really fantastic. So that was in March of 2019. Then in June of 2019. I apply for a local artists grant in order to co sponsor a pop up sewing studio and to get some of the seed money to create the podcast. This organization that I went through is here in Charlottesville. It's a wonderful arts organization called New City Arts. I won the competition and I was awarded a small grant, which was one of the largest ones that they've given provided by the community. It was wonderful, no strings attached, we trust you as an artist to do what you want to do. And can I just say that I had no idea that I was gonna win because I was like, Am I really an artist, I mean, I'm a soloist, I do make all my clothes and my underwear, I was trying to make my bras and make culture my kids like, is sewing art, you know, so I had all of these. But I went into the presentation, and I talked about the passion that I had for the work that I was doing. And it seemed to really appeal to people who were there in the audience that day. So it was a crowd sourced crowd sourced competition. And they chose me. And again, I was stunned because I was like, Oh, my gosh, this person is a real artist, their photographer, or this person is a painter, and they were all amazing. And so I was like, very, you know, unsure. I said, Well, at least I got this far. That's kind of encouraging. And so when I won, I was like, Oh, my gosh, I kept looking around like who me. But it was really nice. And I do acknowledge New City Arts for putting this together. It's a great competition that they've created, that allows artists to speak about their works and to get direct funding from the community. And so with that money I hosted along with the so creative lounge, a pop up sewing studio, and it allowed 40 community members here in Charlottesville to attend basically a sewing workshop and I used half the grant money that I was awarded for 40. So that was 40 people maximum was two classes, one class of basically, of the 40 people and the 40 participants, 20 people could attend the class for free. And I was just so glad to be able to do that. So that this did not there were no barriers to participation. It was a fantastic experience, I was able to call on some sewing sisters from Black Women Stitch to come and help. We worked with Cecily, who came in did this great workshop on helping everybody who took that class left with a skirt. And that was really fantastic. And this was open to the entire community. You know, regardless of how one racially identified, you could come and sew and make a skirt. And it was really such a beautiful fruition of the vision that I had had about what it meant to bring sewing to Charlottesville, and to help more people realize how great it was to sew something, because I think it does give you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. And that was hosted in July of 2019. Then a few months later, in October of 2019. I wanted to do another retreat. And I ended up doing a retreat called the Stitch Please, which was a retreat here in Charlottesville. And it was absolutely amazing. And I was able to do some fundraising in order to try to keep the costs low. And I was able to bring in my hairdresser. She came for a few hours in her amazing magic hairdressing truck people are able to get their hair done. We got massages from the common ground healing Art Center, they came and did chair massages with us Tobea from The High, which is a local makerspace came and we made bath salts and lotion bars. And there was just so much fun. It was such a beautiful tag. And this is another event that we're going to be holding in October of 2020. So just put that on your calendar. If you're interested, let me know I'm sure I'll be talking about it more in the upcoming year. But as soon as we get the dates on the calendar, it's going to coincide with the University of Virginia's what they called reading holiday. I'm a professor at the University of Virginia. So we need to have it when I'm on break. Because I can't be missing classes.
That is as something that you know, the University I don't think cares that much. But I don't like to do that. I really like my students and I like my classes and I don't want to miss. And so this was a really fantastic event. It was such I don't know, I think people and I get a lot of great feedback for everything. Everything that I did, I was always surprised that there were Black women who felt as I did, or felt it even more acutely. I was really surprised that there were folks who might have even come from majority Black cities or municipalities and still felt like they had never been able to center themselves or not feel slightly like an outsider doing something that they loved. And this is what Black Women Stitch is about. It's basically table setting. It's setting the table for people to come for Black women. Men, girls, Black fans to come and be welcome. And that I think is so important. And that's who reaching out to and that is where Black Women Stitch is about. And so moving forward, moving into our next phase, we've got some really exciting things coming up. So I'm going to tell you about that after a short break.
Hello, everyone, I wanted to tell you about a quick opportunity to support the Stitch Please podcast that you might appreciate. If you're following our IG stories, you might know that my mother and sisters came to visit me for the December holidays, we did a great episode called a Christmas kiki episode last week. And now here we are in the beginning of 2020. You might recall that my sister's well, but all of them helped My mother helped a little bit too. She did. Anyway, we created mystery fabric boxes. These are USPS medium sized boxes that are absolutely jam packed stuffed with fabric. They're pretty heavy. But because it's a flat rate priority box, the shipping is all the same. So what we're offering is a variety of really cool boxes, with all types of fabric in them. I've divided them into knit and woven though I think all we have yet is knit leftover. These will be cotton lycra knits, some custom knits, some IT wide knits, lots of different fabrics that are all in these boxes. If you are interested in acquiring a box, send $30 via PayPal or Venmo, or Cash App to me, and my all that information is in the show notes. And I will put one of those boxes in the mail to you. So $30 includes shipping, and you will get a bunch of really interesting surprise fabrics that I obviously loved. But just you know, sometimes you just don't get a chance to do anything with it. If you want a box of fabric, hit me up. Again $30 to Paypal Venmo or Cash App and DM me your mailing address or make sure you put it somewhere in the PayPal section, just so I know where to send the boxes to. And I can do that pretty quickly. Thanks.
Welcome back to the Stitch Please podcast where we're doing a special episode for the new year called "Sankofa". This is an opportunity to remember our past as we project our future, or protect our future, which is one of the translations of the Ican word. I'm thinking about it today. And it's in terms of remembering our past to step into our future. And I was thinking about this in the context of New Year's Day traditions. In African American cultures, there's lots of different ways to go about this. But raised in the south, something we always did for New Years was special meal, which I'm preparing right now this is I'm recording this on New Year's Eve, which is unlike me, I try to like plan ahead. But you know, y'all, I'm not like a professional podcaster. I'm just like a person with the podcast studio in her son's bedroom. And I was busy. It was a very busy holiday. So here I am New Year's Eve, we had a wonderful dinner. And now I'm doing the last little bit of podcast. But one of the things that we like to do, at least within my African American family and culture that within which I was raised is and I've seen this with a lot from a lot of other folks is there's certain things that you need to do in order for your house to be ready to greet the New Year. Your house needs to be clean, you need to have your laundry done. And so I am working on a good enough policy for both the house cleaning and the laundry. The laundry is done. I have a very good collection of very clean clothes. My children and husband also have the same The house is freshly cleaned from Christmas. And we just gonna go with that I am I do not have the energy to be scrubbing and vacuuming and everything else. So we're just gonna move with that and just have that great us into the new year. And we have a special meal that a lot of Black southerners prepare, and I'm not sure how this works and other other Black communities around the US. All I know is what I grew up with. And we would have collard greens which represented I think long life, some say money. Another thing we would have is Black Eyed Peas. Which is, I think that's just good luck.
Some people might sometimes make hoppin john, which is basically Black Eyed Peas and rice, which is based on a dish made by an enslaved man. There's a lot of very rich history to hoppin john. But I don't really like hoppin john, I like my peas, my Black Eyed Peas to be separate from the rice. So I'm also making some short grain rice, or some medium grade medium grain rice, which is going to go with the Black Eyed Peas. My children hate Black Eyed Peas, I always make them have a spoonful. And you would think that I was torturing them, and I say, Well, you know, we do this, because it's tradition. And my oldest boy just told me today he's like, yes, it's tradition, because it's old and disgusting. And I was like, Wow, that's really harsh. But so but we are having that. And I'm gonna make a sour cream pancake, because I like a little sweetness to start off the year. Isn't that nice. So that is an example, I think of balancing the past into the future, because as I said, sitting here in 2020 one day, this will be someone's past. And it's, I think it's nice to have these traditions that that can carry through. So speaking of traditions and things moving forward, for Black Women Stitch, we've got some really exciting things coming up. I was recently awarded a Civic Innovation Fellowship, which is provided by a community organization here in Charlottesville. I'm really excited about that. I'm not exactly sure what I will be doing with this Civic Innovation Fellowship, but I applied for it for the express purpose of supporting Black Women Stitch. And hopefully, they will help me do things like get a website, or mostly get a website, I think that would be really great. I kind of have a website. But as I was saying, it's a lot to do. And so I just don't have the energy to do all of it myself. So hopefully, the Civic innovation fellowship will help with that. And I also want to host an in person sewing event here in town. And I'm hoping that we can use the fellowship to get support around that. So that's a pretty bright and exciting thing that I'm looking forward to for the future Black Women Stitch. For this Stitch Please podcast. We recently I think, as of two days ago, hit 10,000 downloads. Thank you for listening to this because if you are listening to this, you have contributed to that massive in my opinion number.
Now remember, when
I started the podcast, I thought that I would be the only person who would ever listen to it. And if we got 100 downloads, that 98 of them would be from me, listening to the same episodes over and over. But I'm really just humbled and excited and thrilled and grateful for people who have taken the time out of their day to listen to me in my regular voice. Talk about sewing and also talk to some really exciting people. We've got some great interviews coming up in January, as well as through February and a few of the people who were moving through spring, lots of great excitement. For next time, we will we will be talking with. So Ariel, who is an aerial artist, this is someone who does I think the name of her episode is like not Cirque du Sewing or kind of I was kind of doing like a play on Cirque du Soleil. But this woman does incredible, beautiful aerial work. And she's a sewist that is doing a monthly dress challenge. And so we'll be talking with her next week. Then we have another interview coming up with Geobella Floor, who is Alyssa Bertrand who makes amazing gorgeous, vintage repurpose things for her three lovely daughters, who are her muses and models and partners in the construction of her amazing work. And so we'll be talking with her. Also later in January. We have some interesting topics that we're also going to be exploring. One of them is called "Don't Save It, Just Sew It" I think that I was really inspired by this after talking with a friend. Because sometimes if you collect a lot of fabric like I do, you sit on pieces that are special, and never ever use them. Which makes me wonder, why do you even have them if you don't want to sew them? And so I want to spend some time talking about what does it means to sew with special fabric who to use it. So that episode will be called "Don't Save It, Just Sew It" and then we also are going to have a conversation about sewing resolutions. There's a lot of them coming up. You've seen people doing stash reductions, people doing this actually, I know for Aletha Hudson in so much talent already has a year's worth of projects laid out for her group. We talked with Alethea last year, she's really great. She has a sewing retreat, not a retreat, it's a sewing excursion coming up, I believe in July of 2020. So do check out the so much talent page to find out information about that. That's so Monica from project. So she does a lot of great things with the Sew Your View Challenge. There's a lot of ways to think about sewing resolutions. And so that's something that we'll be talking about also in January. But I just wanted to give you a bit of an idea of where we were headed, where we've been, and where we're going next. And I hope that you will stick up stick around with us for this journey. It's been a really fantastic four months. That's how long the podcast has been out. I believe that I did a preview episode in late August like a trailer. And then the very first episode started in September and that's four months. We are really just getting started the podcast is still a baby. And we are there's a lot of growing pains and I you know, I edit produce this myself. I design I created the theme music, a beautiful artists from Black Women Stitch created our logo. So it really is a labor of love. And before we go Just one last thing I'm already planning my first make of January 2020 On my first make of 2020 in general. And that is going to be a dress slash frock slash frosting slash ensemble for DC frock tails. This is a fantastic event being held in the DC metro area for so us in that region and beyond on February 1 2020, that is one month away. Now my plan was to make my dress by the end of 2020, I'm sorry, by the end of 2019. And that friends did not happen. So I've got about a month to make my DC frock tails dress, and I am certainly working on it, at least in my mind. But I wanted to let you know that Black Women Stitch has a free ticket to giveaway for this event. I believe the event is sold out. But if you are a DC area sewist if you are someone who is willing to travel as there are quite a few people who are coming to DC frock tails from out of town. And so that's very exciting.
You can find out more information about DC frock tails on their Instagram page as well as on their web page. I will include the links to DC frog tails in the show notes and look out in the next few days on the Black Women Stitch about the details for our ticket giveaway. Thanks so much for joining us for this very first episode of 2020. Think about your own sankofa moments, the things from your past that you want to honor and respect I want to name here, my great grandmother Efo my grandmother Anna Walker who died in 2018 at the age of 104. These are just two women who are in my lineage who also sewed and craft and created and created lemonade out of lemons that they were handed in the difficult lives in which they were living and did so with with joy and levity. And so think about who you want to name and bring into bring him with you to the future, which is today. Thanks a lot, everybody talk soon.
Thank you for joining us for this week's episode of the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch the sewing group where Black lives matter. There are a variety of ways that you can support the program. And you're doing it right now. By listening to the by listening to the podcast, it does help us grow. Another way to do that is to rate the podcast, review it subscribe to it all of these things are ways that you can support the podcast without having to spend any money at all. If you would like to spend some money to support us there are ways to do that as well. You can make direct donations to our Patreon site for monthly contributions, as well as one time contributions to Pay Pal, Cash App, or Venmo. And finally, we have another cute, very adorable way for you to support the Black Women Stitch. It's a pin a PIN enamel lapel pin. That's very cute. It's about two inches wide and one and a half inch tall and it's a black women's stitch logo and That is $15 with free shipping to the US. And so if you drop $15 in the PayPal Venmo or Cash App accounts, and then send me your email, oh not email if you send me your mailing address to my email either at BlackWomenStitch@gmail.com or you send me a direct message on the Black Women Stitch Instagram page, we will put the pin in the mail to you. Again, free shipping $15 for the pin. And all of this goes to support the black women's stitch project. Thank you again for joining us this week. Come back next week and we will help you get your stitch together.