My version above of a meme by @stitchesnquilts that I saw on Instagram the other day and it made me laugh so I wanted to share my tweaked version of it. Because boy do I crave laughter right now. The meme below, another that has been making the rounds, made me smile. And who doesn’t suddenly feel invisible bugs are crawling all over your face? Or is it just me?

Another meme making the rounds that made me smile

It is impossible to write about anything at the moment and not mention the current pandemic. I live in Manhattan. An island that is home to more than 1.6 million people. That’s a lot of frightened people crammed into a relatively small space all trying to stock up on supplies in case they need to stay inside for a month (or by the amount of peanut butter, broth and toilet paper being bought) perhaps people are thinking longer term, it’s hard to know.

As I write this, I am aware of how little traffic I can hear, and it’s the middle of the day on a weekday. A time that is typically filled with the cacophony of city life: sirens, irritable drivers making their discontent known, honking horns, shouting voices, music blaring from passing cars, alarms going off signaling a truck backing up or a car whose space has been invaded. People are out and about, but the mood is noticeably different. People are standing a little farther apart, not like the push and shove that New Yorkers are known for. It has the feel of a 4th of July weekend (without the TGIF anticipation and relief) when huge numbers of Manhattanites leave for their country or beach houses and the city empties out, except the vibe is a whole lot eerier.

The mayor announced Sunday that all schools are now closed. New York City’s museums have locked their doors. Broadway is dark. Times Square, usually a haven for tourists, is eerily quiet. Store fronts are dark, their iron grates locked down. Think Will Smith’s apocalyptic thriller, I am Legend, minus the tumbleweed. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it is weird out there. And I keep wondering – how does one find the balance? Knowing that this is serious and life has changed, things will not be going back to what they once were any time soon, and yet steeling oneself from the contagion of panic and even hysteria.

Manhattan – the city I love

Someone compared these last few days to 9/11, but it doesn’t feel at all like that to me. In the aftermath of 9/11 there was a mourning mixed with horror and the awful knowing of just how hideous humans can be toward one another. Yes, there was the same kind of bleary eyed realization that all our lives had irreparably changed, but this feels different. Perhaps it’s how things are changing so quickly hour by hour with no end in sight. Perhaps it’s that there is no “containment,” no focal point, it’s everywhere and everyone feels at risk.

When times are tough, I have always found joy in creating. These past few years, that has meant in stitching and playing around with fabric, wool, silk, velvet, linen, ribbons, and threads. There is a zen-like state that I feel when hand stitching that is both meditative and incredibly calming. Time moves at a different speed, worries recede. There’s a whole community out there of fellow stitchers who know what I’m talking about. I’m so grateful for that. Community at the moment feels that much more precious.

From @stitchesnquilts on Instagram

A few weeks before life as we know it changed, I launched a YouTube Channel: Ariane Zurcher ~ On the Other Hand, where I demonstrate embroidery stitches, tips for sewing things like needle turn applique, how to make a perfect circle, emboss velvet and lots of other things I’ve learned along the way. The idea is to go through Sue Spargo‘s Creative Stitching book with the goal of doing a video for each stitch. Many of the stitches I’m demonstrating are not hand specific, in other words, whether you’re right handed or left, the stitch will be stitched the same way, but many of them are hand specific and for those stitches, I am demonstrating them for left handers specifically, though I’m also teaching myself to stitch all of them right handed too. I’ve received a wonderfully, enthusiastic response so far from both left AND right handers, and am working around the clock to keep up with the many requests I’ve been given.

My recent tutorial

I love the comments people are leaving. It is life affirming to have a community, and now, more than ever. Thank you to all who have subscribed and commented and liked and watched. It feels good knowing that there are so many of us out there, stitching away during such surreal times. I think of all the people who know what it means to be passionate about textiles and thread, who are calmly stitching while a tumultuous world swirls around us. And there’s balance in that.

Here’s to all of you.

Here’s to stitching together.