Ripping stitches celebrates and honors feminine* energy, relationships, histories and traditions, and seeks to create empowering connections between those condemned as witches in generations past, and those claiming the term and wisdoms today. The project is a manifestations of the artist’s own ongoing reclamation process, and a desire to transmute past pains into love and support for herself and others. Each piece is handmade with care, and relies on methods like sewing and embroidery, which have been denigrated along with women under capitalism, and devalued by the exploitative business practices of profit-seeking fast fashion. Ripping Stitches is a reclaiming. May these pieces uplift you, support your personal growth and expansion, and help you in extending support and love to others.
*Feminine vs Woman/en: RS intentionally uses “feminine” rather than woman or women.
Woman/en is an identity that can be very powerful and empowering and I personally do identify as a woman (she/her) and many of my closest friends and comrades do as well. I also find it to be inherently exclusionary and too often deployed in restrictive and limiting ways. Even when deployed in seemingly liberatory ways, as with “the Women’s March”, the pink pussy hats and many posters seemed to reduce womanhood to body parts, thereby excluding some women. Further, “woman” is one-half of a false binary (with “man”) that works to deny naturally-occurring experiences of gender and sexuality beyond the binary, creating unnecessary and often life-threatening risks.
Feminine, on the other hand, is a quality of being that we all have the capacity for. For me, feminine qualities are about leaning into one’s intuition, privileging care and cooperation over competition, an alchemy of strength and softness that many liken to the sea or other bodies of water. These are the qualities that I value in others, and in myself, and that I sew into each piece.
The Maker, Kristen Hackett
I am a writer, researcher and organizer living in Queens, NYC. I am currently finishing my PhD in Environmental Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. I also organize locally with neighbors through the Justice For All Coalition and Save Section 9. Through these endeavors, I have been studying the intersections of the housing crisis, inequality, urban development, and financialization, and am ever-working towards anti-racist, decolonial and just futures for all.
Fiber arts are a restorative practice for me, as well as another arm of my politics. Women and feminine energies and ways of seeing are denigrated through our socialization in a world that has mostly been molded by men and masculine energies (at a large scale). In turn, many of us grow up rejecting parts or all of themselves, whether we know it or not. In turn, our journey in adulthood becomes about restoring and strengthening our connection to those parts of ourselves.
In small and intimate ways, my sewing practice intends to counter these processes and I understand this work to be a radical political endeavor.
In 2021, I picked up sewing for self-soothing and sanity in a world on fire. The practice brought new modes for daily grounding and mediation, as I had hoped.
Sewing also brought a new sense of ancestral connection and healing by spawning a revived sense of connection with the women in my family, many of whom had been or are themselves sewists or artists in their own right. For example, my mom sewed our “fancy” clothes as children (and my sister’s and my prom gowns), my grandmother spoke of her quilting club and adorned her home with vintage trays she had essentially upcycled by painting over them, the floors of my childhood home were covered in rugs braided by my great aunts, and our couches covered with blankets they had crocheted, while the walls were filled with paintings by my aunt. These connections created further grounding, as well as led to reflections on the life-sustaining nature of my relationships with other women, and among women in general — and the ways in which women not only care for each other, but often collectively lead community and family care projects.
These meditations combined in new ways with my ongoing inquiry into the history of “women” and gender and sexuality in modern society, and into what I think of as lost feminine knowledges and modes of seeing that have been denigrated under capitalism (divination, astrology, tarot, magick, etc), and are being revived today. These historical inquiries spoke to the ways that both women, gender-non-conforming people, feminine knowledges and ways of seeing have been denigrated and constrained if not silenced in tandem with the onset of capitalism, and its that history that continues to play out as we continue to struggle for equal rights and sovereignty under a global capitalist political economy today.
My historical inquiry into astrology and tarot were also practical inquiries, as I took up new methods for seeing and making sense of the world around me and my path in it. Sewing blended with this transformation, as it became another way in which I could find agency and support in the world, and often joy regularly and reliably. In giving me the space to reflect on my lineage and relationships, I found a desire to bring these interests together in a way that could offer broader to support to others, as well as support of feminine legacies and energies more generally.
Thus, Ripping Stitches is a creative and expansive project that aims to celebrate feminine energy, relationships, histories and traditions. In realizing my own agency, I hope to uplift and support the agency of others through the pieces I create.
At the moment, my focus is on creating “Grandma Chic Day Bags,” inspired by our grandmother’s sofas (in theory) and a nod to our ancestors, familial and otherwise; and embroideries that match our vibrancies and frequencies; and friendship bracelets and framings of pressed flowers that encourage us to celebrate our life-sustaining relationships.
And I can only promise that the project will continue to evolve as I do.
More soon, stay tuned, xx