“Thread by thread, stitch by stitch, row by row—this is how I build my work, and my life.” ~ India Tresselt
Until I visited India Tresselt’s website Yarndance, I knew very little about temari balls, a traditional Japanese handcraft that originated in China.
Temari were first made from wadded up clothing remnants as children’s toys. They gradually evolved into an art form incorporating elaborate and intricate embroidery, and today are considered valued and cherished gifts.
India, a fiber artist based in Vermont, has loved fiber, color, and texture since childhood. She taught herself how to knit, and as a serious knitter for many years, worked in a yarn shop teaching knitting classes. She once stumbled upon a temari book that included a starter kit, and has been making temari ever since. She blends traditional with original patterns, stitches and colors to create these beautiful and coveted decorative objects.
I love how she considers the repeated small movements of knitting and stitching temari a daily meditation — art forms that calm and soothe, a way to practice mindfulness.
Back in 2016, she participated in Kate Bridger’s Made on Monday project, creating small 5″ x 5″ pieces of fiber art exploring various techniques (appliqué, embroidery, weaving, knitting) alone or in combination. These were made spontaneously, with little forethought or planning. Such interesting designs!
In response to the 2016 presidential election, India began her “Resistance” project. For the first 100 days of the new administration (beginning on Inauguration Day 2017), she started a small practice of daily resistance, stitching the words THIS IS NOT NORMAL on small themed pieces.
She later assembled these into the First and Second Cloths of Resistance.
Since Day 101 (April 30, 2017), she’s been stitching FLAGs of Resistance, adding THIS IS NOT NORMAL in different iterations each day. She completed her first flag on December 10, 2017:
She plans to stitch as many flags as necessary over the coming days and years. She explains:
The point of this resistance practice is not to suggest that there is some magical “normal” from which we have deviated and to which we should return, but rather to remind myself every day that we must not allow the current situation to become accepted as normal.
In January 2018, India began her “Hands Off” piece in response to the #metoo movement. Her intricate, painstaking, and sometimes emotionally gut-wrenching work represents all women (six shades of skin) and their stories. The hands symbolize both the unwanted hands of aggressors as well as the hands of victims and survivors raised in protest and defiance. Read more about this extraordinary project here.
I’m in awe of how India is using her craft as a form of peaceful protest, to make powerful statements about inequality, sexism, racism, injustice, intolerance, and hate.
And, I’m totally in love with how she blends colors and textures, creating gorgeous patterns both through her knitting and embroidery. Simply stunning!
See more of her exquisite creations at Yarndance. There, you can purchase temari balls and knitted accessories via her Webshop, and download free original handknit patterns. All of her pieces are one of a kind, and she does take commissions. If you’re on FB, like/follow her Yarndance page. She shares not only her own work but that of other amazing fiber/textile artists. Check out her Etsy Shop too!
♥️ Oh, in case you’re wondering, India is the daughter of acclaimed children’s book author Alvin Tresselt (White Snow, Bright Snow, The Mitten, et. al.). I “met” India online because of my children’s book illustration postings on FB. Serendipity! 🙂
* Product photos posted by permission of the artist. Copyright © 2018 India Tresselt.
** Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.