I know people gain a great deal from being part of a textile or fibre group.

Groups are a fantastic place to form connections and networks.  There’s also the learning and support that should come from being part of a group.

Me?  Towards the end, I was always out of step with everyone else.

Why?  Well, I finally figured out it was because someone else was always telling me what to do.  For instance, we ‘must’ work with a certain colour, or we ‘must’ participate in the latest challenge.  Worst of all, I was producing work I didn’t want to and just that wasn’t me.

And participation was expected.

Now don’t get me wrong here.  Groups offer much, to many –  offering support, friendship, motivation and inspiration – and that’s all fantastic.  It’s also a gentle starting point for those new to textiles and stitching.

But for me, the writing was on the wall.  To move forward, I had to step away from the Group situation and work on my own.  And in the beginning, it was a lonely little place full of uncertainty and indecision.

Things began to change after a couple of good online workshops that really made me look at and focus on what I wanted to achieve and how to go about it.  I also found my voice.

Now, I couldn’t envisage working any other way.  In fact, I’m busier than ever and ideas are flowing.  And Lockdown has simply made me realise how lucky I am to work the way I do.

And I’m grateful because I needed to go through that group process to understand myself and find my own way.  Groups are a positive initiative – just not for me.

Each and every day is filled with what I love to do.  That could mean designing – losing myself in line, shape and colour, or research for my Stitch Safari Podcast – I’m only up to Elizabeth I – what an amazing and fascinating woman.  Then there’s the stitching.  I’ll always love my machine work, but I’ve recently been invited to take part in an exhibition on contemporary hand embroidery – and I’m really enjoying the change in pace.  Plus I’m trying to keep on top of my social media.

I’m focused and working towards my own goals.  I’ve learnt a lot – mainly about me – and sometimes it’s the things you know you don’t want or that aren’t working, that makes you search for the things that do.

That was my journey of stepping away and by doing so, I found myself.

cathy jack coupland