Congratulations on the publication of SHARP NOTIONS: ESSAYS FROM THE STITCHING LIFE edited by Marita Dachsel & Nancy Lee releasing today with Arsenal Pulp Press!

Personal essays from diverse voices about their relationships to the fibre arts.

Sometimes the reliability of a knit stitch, the steady rocking of a quilting needle, the solid structure of a loom is all you have. During the pandemic, fibre arts newbies discovered and lapsed crafters rediscovered that picking up some sticks and string or a needle and thread is the perfect way to reduce stress, quell anxiety, and foster creativity, a remedy to endless hours of doom-scrolling.

Knitting, crochet, embroidery, weaving, beading, sewing, quilting, textiles – the fibre arts fuel intense passions that can often border on obsession. Chances are that you or someone close to you is currently in an ecstatic relationship with yarn, thread, or fabric. As we struggle with the pressures, anxieties, and impacts of daily life, fibre arts are an antidote, mirror, and metaphor for so many of life’s challenges. Part time-machine, part meditation app, the simple act of working with one’s hands can instantly ease the overwhelming scope of living to a human scale and to the present moment.

In this anthology, writers and artists from different backgrounds contemplate their complex relationships with the fibre arts and the intersections of creative practice and identity, technology, memory, climate change, trauma, chronic illness, and disability.

Accompanied by full-colour photographs throughout, these powerful and inspiring essays challenge the traditional view of crafting and examine the role, purpose, joy, and necessity of craft amid the alienation of contemporary life.


“The essays in Sharp Notions cover the breadth of contemporary life and experience through stories of textile making. Rich fragments explore complexities and collective and individual transformations; pieced together, they make a powerful book.” -Claire Wellesley-Smith, author of Slow Stitch and Resilient Stitch

“Each of these stories took me deep into the mind of an artist as they navigated life’s joys and inexplicable losses with needles, cloth, and yarn for comfort and protection. The pieces in this beautifully curated collection are a lesson in craft, in the gorgeous patterning of loops and words. A reminder of art’s power to transform through its meditations.” -Charlotte Gill, author of Almost Brown

“A treasure trove of magical, brilliant writing on the fabric arts. Featuring essays from a remarkably diverse range of fiercely intelligent writers, it reclaims fabric arts as a medium for intellectual thought, creative joy, and dismantling the patriarchy. What a joy it was to read these subversive and glorious accounts. It is an invitation to a craft circle filled with laughter and outrageous anecdotes you will not soon forget.” -Heather O’Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals and When We Lost Our Heads

“In a series of highly readable series essays and interviews interspersed with beautiful, detailed visuals, practitioners of the fabric arts consider what drives them to knit, bead and stitch. Running the gamut from comfort to subversion, their reasons are fascinating, and diverse.” -The Globe and Mail

“Whether the writers are hanging by a thread or piecing it all together, these essays reveal how fibre work can be an intimate marker of the human experience. The act of making presides in situations when conversation cannot – in solitude, in loneliness, in grief, in love, in distraction, and ultimately in connection. This must-read collection proves that the textile arts can and do have a transformative impact on our lives.” -Leanne Prain, co-author of Yarn Bombing and author of Strange Material and The Creative Instigator’s Handbook

Marita Dachsel is the author of the poetry collections There Are Not Enough Sad Songs, Glossolalia, and All Things Said & Done, and the play Initiation Trilogy. Her essays have appeared in multiple anthologies. She is an assistant teaching professor in the Writing Department at the University of Victoria.

Nancy Lee is the author of two works of fiction, Dead Girls and The Age, and a poetry collection, What Hurts Going Down. She is an associate professor at the UBC School of Creative Writing and co-creator of the internationally acclaimed EdX education series, How to Write a Novel. She lives in Vancouver.

Marita and Nancy are represented by Samantha Haywood.