WHEN artist Paula MacGregor started her latest crafty community project she had no idea how much solace it would provide people.

Because just weeks after she launched Ellen’s Legacy – Slow Stitched Books people across Colchester were told to stay home.

The coronavirus pandemic might have changed the world we live in but for Paula her project could continue and was now more vital than ever.

“It turns out to be perfect timing for this enforced isolation we are all going through,” she said.

“Slow stitching is so calming and relaxing.”

Slow stitching is a textile practise which encourages us to slow down and be more mindful.

It is about stitching for the sheer pleasure of it, letting your needle take your thread for a walk.

The philosophy is an off-shoot of the slow movement, which encourages a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace.

The project was inspired by Paula’s late friend Ellen Devall.

When Ms Devall, a fellow artist, died, Paula promised her she would continue her work.

She said: “She was the kindest, gentlest, strongest and most honest person I have ever known.

“In the last few days of her life, I promised Ellen I would honour her vision to encourage people to gather together, to sit quietly and stitch slowly.

“Ellen was a textile artist, one of the last things she was working on were tiny textile books made from fragments of old fabric.

“She loved working in shades of white.

“The project shows how Ellen created these gorgeous little books, using only three very basic stitches.”

People can join the Ellen’s Legacy - Slow Stitched Books Facebook group.

Paula added: “There are more than 750 people in the group already, so much creativity, inspiration and positivity is being shared – it is a Covid-19 free zone.

“If you can hold a needle then you can make one of these little books, they are so simple.

“They are also rather addictive; many of us are now making our own little textile libraries.

“Each time you make a book you start to have ideas for what you could do in the next one.

“The one I am working on now is entitled English Country Garden.

“I was running some free workshops, but they have had to stop for the time being, but I will resume then as soon as possible.”

On the Facebook page people will find a step by step tutorial on how to make a little fabric book.

Paula, who has been behind a number of community art projects, hopes her work will inspire others.

She often uses textiles for her community projects.

“For many women textiles would have been the first craft they would have leaned, often from their mothers, or grandmothers,” she said.

“It is comforting to return to it, but in a more free and creative way – ideal for times of stress and anxiety as it helps us to focus on what we are doing, rather than what might be happening.”

To find out more about the project or to take part visit www.paulamacgregor.com.