Mindfulness & stitch groups: an interview with Rebecca Picton

17 March 2022
A selection of stitched mandalas taken from one of Positive Arts Stockport's group projects A selection of stitched mandalas taken from one of Positive Arts Stockport's group projects
Get to know Rebecca Picton, chairperson of a craft group called Positive Arts, Stockport, as she talks about the importance of helping and supporting one another through the use of art and embroidery, along with tips on how to set up your own stitching group...

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Rebecca, I'm 43 and have always had a love for art and anything creative. I'm the chairperson of an art group called Positive Arts based in Stockport which I've been doing for over the past 12 years – it's something I really enjoy. The group has evolved over the years to cover lots of different crafts, including embroidery. Those who attend the group find embroidery very relaxing, and beneficial for their mind and wellbeing. It's incredibly exciting to be part of the journey that I'm involved in with the group.

I also do art commissions for friends and family – these are very precious to me as it's an honour to be asked. 

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How did you get into embroidery? 

I recently got back into embroidery because of a friend and by attending workshops.  I find it very rewarding and relaxing and can definitely see the progress I've made so far. I'm able to transfer the new things that I've learnt into my work, and also share in the Positive Arts group. 

Are there any embroidery artists you admire?

Yes, there are two embroidery artists that I admire most. Firstly, Jo Swales who has given me so much encouragement and is a huge inspiration to myself and my work. The second biggest influence on me is Sue Spargo, who takes her embroidery to another level – it's fantastic!

Do you have a particular project that you're most proud of?

Yes – I did an embroidery initial for my mother encircled with beautiful flowers to display in her house, which you can see below. It was probably the first thing I did after I started stitching again! 

Rebecca Picton interview image 1

Any top stitching tips for budding embroiderers?

Yes – I have two top tips for those wanting to delve into the world of embroidery! Firstly, make sure you don't use too much thread to avoid creating knots in your work. Secondly, try using a stand when doing French knots, as this keeps both hands free. 

Can you tell us more about the stitching group you run? 

It's a local art group that meets once a week, where we work mainly on our own projects and develop our skills. Our group is based on helping and supporting each other, as all members have a history of health problems.

I decided to add an aspect of embroidery to the group because members suffer with different health problems and I thought this would be a wonderful way for them to do something that's relaxing. We probably do embroidery once a month at the group session, then members will work on something at home. The feedback I've received so far has been very positive – it's definitely helping with the health and wellbeing of the group members. 

A recent project that the group's completed is a mandala embroidery workshop. You can see from the photographs some of the creations. Don't they look pretty...!

Rebecca Picton Interview image 2

What sort of projects do you work on?

We work on anything from practicing different stitches to producing a hoop embroidery design – the group likes to try new things! An upcoming project is a felt project using embroidery flowers, hopefully showing the members some different techniques they can practice and use in their own work. 

Do you have any advice for those wanting to start their own stitching group?

I'd say just go for it – as long as you can get enough people who are interested in joining to cover the costs of materials, etc. (charging a small fee also helps with this). Those members will, hopefully, start to tell others, and you'll soon have a good number to be able to provide a fantastic service! I also recommend looking into what local support there is in your own area, as you might be able to get some funding for your stitching group. 

Is there a particular tool or piece of equipment you wouldn't be without?

There are a couple of items that I couldn't be without!

  • Hoop stand
  • Needle threader
  • Good quality thread
  • And, of course, my favourite needle

All are a must!

Where can we find out more about you? 

[email protected]

Next, meet talented embroider and quilter, Jo Avery who shares her advice and inspiration, or browse our hand embroidery guide to get inspiration for your own group projects!

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