Stitching Holiday Traditions with Kamali Obiagu

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Episode Summary

Stitching Holiday Traditions is a special series of the Stitch Please podcast. These are first-person narratives from women in the Black Women Stitch community. They talk about how the December holidays bring about their creative spirit. Learn how their sewing and making enhances their celebrations. The ever amazing sewist and craftswoman, Kamali Obiagu, shares her joyful anticipation of a holiday focused exclusively on Kwanzaa. While freeing more focus for her sewing and craft dreams, Kamali delights at this unique opportunity to integrate African fabrics and a celebration of Blackness into festivities sure to deliver abundant joy to her and her family.

Episode Notes

check out Episode 85 Intentional Sewing, Intentional Living with Kamali Obiagu

Learn more about Kamali Obiagu!

Instagram: @kamali.obiagu

Webpage

Kwanzaa greeting “Habari Gani”  and the 7 principles of Kwanzaa

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Read Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: The stitch, please podcast will be taking a winter hiatus until January, but in the meantime, we will not leave you hanging. We've got some beautiful new episodes coming up just in time for the holidays. The new series stitching holiday traditions, our first person narratives from members of the black women's stitch community.
[00:00:23] Lisa Woolfork: These are first person special dispatch stories from women in. Stitch sewing community who are graciously sharing the stories of their family traditions with us. Each of them has a beautiful and unique story that we think you'll appreciate learning about as they talk about the ways that they're sewing crafty and creative lives intersect with the ways that they celebr.
[00:00:49] Lisa Woolfork: The holidays. So prepare yourself to have a really great time as we wrap up 2021.[00:01:00]
[00:01:01] Kamali Obiagu: Hey, beautiful people. My name is Kamali OGO and I am a sewist of three years. It feels like it's been longer than that, but only three years. and I've been crocheting for eight years now. I am so excited to be able to talk to you guys about the holiday season and what I do to incorporate my crafts into the gift given aspect, or just a decorative aspect of the holidays.
[00:01:25] Kamali Obiagu: So my family and I have been celebrating KZA for the past two or three years, but this year would be a little bit different for us as we are only celebrating Kwanza and putting all of our energy and time into Kwanza versus what we've done in the previous years and celebrate Christmas and Kwanza. We are excited about this year because we'd done Christmas giving, uh, gift giving and receiving.
[00:01:49] Kamali Obiagu: And then jumped into Kwanza and we found the two to be a little bit exhausting. And, uh, we decided this year we will put all, all of it into [00:02:00] Kwanza. We're doing it a little bit different for our family to make sure there's that gift giving love and excitement. Uh, but I'm really excited to celebrate just Kwanza.
[00:02:10] Kamali Obiagu: During this holiday season. I am constantly teaching my kids about having pride within themselves as. Youth and as black people, and I'm constantly teaching them about the beauty of ourselves, the power that we hold within as black people. And so to have a holiday that is just for us to celebrate, it means the world to me.
[00:02:32] Kamali Obiagu: And I thought this year let's put all of that energy and practicing and making sure we follow through with the principles of Kwanza, which is principles that we should. with each other throughout the whole year, as black people and for our community and for ourselves really. And, um, this year makes it just really exciting cuz we get to shift that focus only on the blackness of this holiday season.
[00:02:56] Kamali Obiagu: Only on the black beauty, the black strength, [00:03:00] the black success of us. And I'm really excited about it. when it comes to the holiday season, I've just started, uh, I think two years ago, I just started making pajamas. I saw it all over the groups. all over the groups. I would see, you know, matching jams and I thought it was so cool.
[00:03:18] Kamali Obiagu: So a couple years ago, that's what I did. I made PJ's pants and matching shirts and I use my cameo and my VCO machine to press on some funny sings and stuff like that. And so we are still gonna do that. This. Except I'm excited because I get to buy all the African knits and all the African wovens. And I get to be able to use that and, and be able to create something, uh, whether it's pajamas or just outfits to wear.
[00:03:44] Kamali Obiagu: I think this year I will be doing both pajamas and something that we could wear outside. The reason why I'm excited about this is one. I love African princes. There's so much diversity in African prince and being a black. These African prints just kind of feel good to [00:04:00] me. Being able to wear them, being able to see my kids and these prints is a special feeling.
[00:04:05] Kamali Obiagu: And so this year I would like to make some PJ pants and some African prints and a matching shirt, maybe with some kind of a black empowerment saying on it. I would also like to create an item for all of us to have maybe an outfit of some sorts, a shirt and pants or, or a dress or whatever that we can all take a family photo in.
[00:04:26] Kamali Obiagu: Uh, my thought is to take this family photo towards the last day of Kwanza last year, when it comes to the holidays. I like to try to say that I want to limit. Task as far as in crafting during the holidays and just maybe stick to gift giving stuff. But sometimes I have that, the thing that I always end up overwhelming myself, with, uh, crafts.
[00:04:47] Kamali Obiagu: And last year I had this grand idea to do robes for me and my family of five, and it was going to be pan African colored robes. Me and my husband would have red. The boys would have [00:05:00] green amethyst would have black. We would incorporate that and then take a picture together for a holiday. You know, so often we see Christmas cards or happy holidays cards.
[00:05:08] Kamali Obiagu: I would love to see a Kwanza card. And so my thoughts last year was just to make these robes and us just looking all black gorgeousness. Right. And , and I was gonna take a family picture of all of us and then put that on a card. Now I didn't get to it last year. But you bet I'm gonna get to it this year.
[00:05:25] Kamali Obiagu: What I did complete last year was an outfit for me and my husband. And I cannot wait for this year to where I get to make a functional outfit. Just like I said before for the whole family, I am really, really big on when it comes to stuff like Christmas, the holiday season in general, if I make something, I want them to be able to wear it.
[00:05:43] Kamali Obiagu: All year round until of course they go out of it right during Christmas times. There's the, all the great Christmas prints. And that's great, but it's kinda weird to wear Christmas print when it gets into like spring or summertime. Right. But an African print. Oh baby. That's all [00:06:00] year round. And so I'm really, really excited to be able to make something and know that they could wear that whenever they want to.
[00:06:07] Kamali Obiagu: I carried the same mindset into Halloween. I wanted them to have costumes that they could also wear as either PJ's or wear it to school. And I'm excited to make sure that that follows through with this qu season making sure. They have items that after Kwanza is over with, they can also wear it to school.
[00:06:23] Kamali Obiagu: As for decorations. Our family has a different flare on this Kwanza season where we still will have a tree, a holiday tree, but we call it the black tree, the pan African tree. So it's a black tree with red and green, uh, decorations, the mimic, the pan African colors. And this year, I would love to make some more decorations to go on this tree, whether using re.
[00:06:43] Kamali Obiagu: And silicone modes to make sure we have some more African, like the African continent decorations and stuff like that. I would love to make that happen. This year. Kwanza is our time to remind ourselves of how powerful we all as black people, the potential we already have and what we have for the [00:07:00] future.
[00:07:00] Kamali Obiagu: And to remind ourselves that we are the greatest as we are. And. We can accomplish so much more and to, it is really an empowering holiday and it, the principles in Kwanza, remind us what we need to do to be better within ourselves and within our community. And the fact that this year we will be making sure that we put that full focus in that it is something that I'm looking forward to.
[00:07:27] Kamali Obiagu: There is something so special about starting the day during the Kwan. Holiday and starting off with Hagan and explaining to the kids about the, the meanings of these days and knowing that this holiday, I get to involve my crafts in it more heavily this year, since this is the only thing, the only holiday, the season that we are celebrating.
[00:07:51] Kamali Obiagu: Uh, and that brings me joy. The kids love learning about the days or being reminded of the days. Let's say that since we're in year three of celebrating GU. [00:08:00] And just being able to look around and see that my touch of my, my work is added into this holiday. Man, that's powerful. Whether that's the robes that I hope to get to this year.
[00:08:13] Kamali Obiagu: the pan African robes, whether that's the, the joggers or the shirts and the African prints or the peplum tops. I love a good PEPM top. Or it's, it's a jacket or something like that with the African princes, just being able to look at that and see my black child, my black husband, or my black self and these prints and knowing that we are celebrating something so special for us, that's a powerful feeling.
[00:08:42] Kamali Obiagu: And I I'm. So I'm, so I'm so geeked about this.
[00:08:50] Lisa Woolfork: You're listening to this ti please podcast and the special edition episodes. About stitching holiday traditions. We'll return to the [00:09:00] story. After this break, the black women's stitch 2020 wall calendar is bigger and blacker than ever. Not only is the calendar about 15% larger than last year's calendar.
[00:09:11] Lisa Woolfork: It still remains jam packed with so much wonderful history about black women's history, selling history and activist history. There's also a wonderful new feature in this year's version. And that is the quarterly pattern release. At the beginning of every quarter, you'll find original images from black women artists.
[00:09:33] Lisa Woolfork: The patterns are available as a PDF download, allowing you to resize them to the needs of your project. Order your copy of the black women's stitch 2022 wall calendar at black women's stitch dot big cartel.com. And we will help you get your stitch together. And now we'll return to stitching holiday traditions.
[00:09:56] Lisa Woolfork: Thanks for listening.[00:10:00]
[00:10:02] Kamali Obiagu: I think something that is also so important to this Kwanza season is knowing that. Uh, we are not the only ones that are celebrating this holiday. And so this year I would also love to do more of connecting with other black people. You know, the pandemic has made it so hard for us to be able to closely connect with people in a, in a safe way.
[00:10:22] Kamali Obiagu: And this year I want to connect with people in a safe way, of course and, uh, be able to have that physical interaction with people. And so my kids can be more involved in the holiday in a more interactive way. Other. Being within the house, lighting the candles, greeting each other, spending quality time drinking from the unity cup.
[00:10:44] Kamali Obiagu: Those are all beautiful things. And I love spending time with my family, especially when it comes to spending time with my family during the holiday season, it brings about a little bit of joy. It's like this natural joy that happens when December rolls around. It could also be because of my birthday that I tend [00:11:00] to forget about almost every year , but the joy of the holidays, seeing the.
[00:11:05] Kamali Obiagu: Everywhere. And it's just every, you know, like it is a really good feeling. And so I just really like the thought. Us having these great feelings, but being able to connect with other black people who are also celebrating this holiday. And so there are some local events, uh, here in Michigan that I would love to attend to and have my family attend to, um, so that we can be able to share the joy of qu of.
[00:11:31] Kamali Obiagu: And that's it. I gotta say what talking about this has got me ready to write my list down and make sure I put the robes at the top of my list. , I'm so excited to be able to get working on this holiday season, uh, and celebrating Kwanza and being able to make the things that bring me joy, knowing that these things are also bringing my family joy as well.
[00:11:53] Kamali Obiagu: I think most crafters they know. It's so much, so much joy. And it [00:12:00] motivates us when we see the finished product of our make. We see all the time that we took into this and we see that finished product and it's like, oh my God, I made this, you know, I did that. And it just gives us this kind of like, okay, what else can I make?
[00:12:17] Kamali Obiagu: And , I know for me, That's the case for me, but I take pride in that. I take pride in knowing that I contributed to something. to something other than spending a whole bunch of money on gifts. it seems that around this time, it's the most expensive time of the year. And knowing that I can make something that comes from my hands, that comes from just a.
[00:12:43] Kamali Obiagu: A rectangle of fabric or, you know, a scheme of yard or something like that, knowing that I can take that and turn it into something wearable or something, some kind of item that's. It's amazing. And I, I think that surpasses, um, Going to [00:13:00] the store and buying a gift, although those are great too. But knowing that I made it is, it means it means more to me.
[00:13:09] Kamali Obiagu: So there's that, uh, I look forward to getting to work on this holiday stuff that I've talked about. Now, I look forward to. I'm putting my full focus into Kwanza this year. And I look forward to buying all the African prints so that me and my family, my biography family can really be repping hard. I am proud to be a black American, and I love having a holiday that is just for us around this time of the year.
[00:13:34] Kamali Obiagu: I am so excited about this. And I look forward to seeing so many other makes on my feed and being able to share that joy with other people. So there's that I hope that everyone has a happy holiday season, peace and blessings to you all.
[00:13:51] Lisa Woolfork: You've been listening to stitching holiday traditions, a special podcast episode of the stitch, please podcast.
[00:13:59] Lisa Woolfork: Thank you so much [00:14:00] for listening. Come back next time and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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