Have Your Say

22nd April 2022

Books, Kindness and Some Curious Advice

We never expected this newsletter to become the place to share book recommendations, but then again, our goal is to bring stitching happiness to our community in whatever way we can. There are so many books out there that tell fascinating stories about different kinds of needlework, so sharing them fits perfectly with our purpose. And as many of you already know, there are not many things more pleasurable than spending a few wonderful hours stitching whilst listening to an audiobook about needlework!

Stephanie Lamb wanted to tell everyone about ‘The Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle’ by Clare Hunter. Clare Hunter is a textile artist and textile curator who turned her hand to writing about her favourite subject. This non-fiction book is a historical journey that traverses the world, exploring identity, protest, memory, power and politics all through the lens of needlework.

A book that Joan MacKinnon wanted to recommend after reading our article on the 150th Anniversary of the Royal School of Needlework from All Stitched Up! issue #322 is ‘The Gown’ by Jennifer Robson. This is a novel about the stitching of the wedding gown for the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947. Joan was lucky enough to meet the author and discovered that she spent hours with Mrs. Betty Foster, one of the four seamstresses who worked on the gown, to ensure the story was as accurate as possible.

Finally for our book section, Edna Brock wrote in recommending ‘The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women who Sewed to Survive’ by Lucy Adlington. This is another inspiring story of women who survived through impossible situations against all the odds, with their needles and threads to help them.

There were a few emails this week about kindness, something we should all practice whenever we can. Robyn Wright has been unfortunate enough to get caught up in the huge floods we’ve had here in Australia over the past few months. But she wrote in because she wanted to highlight the kindness she has witnessed throughout. Her neighbours have rescued people and animals; strangers have donated clothing, bedding and food; and members of the armed forces have been helping with the endless clean up. As Robyn says:

‘The kindness of strangers cannot be measured in material terms. A ‘thank you’ seems inadequate, but it’s the best we can do.’

This kindness often shows out in desperate situations, but if you look around, you can also see it day to day as we strive to help one another in whatever ways we can. Gillian Martin shared a very appropriate verse from a cross stitched sampler she had when she was a child. It read:

‘In this world of froth and bubble
Two things stand alone.
Kindness in another’s trouble
Courage in your own.’

‘Taste’ from the series ‘The Lady and the Unicorn’- Close up (source)

In All Stitched Up! issue #322 we also wrote an article on the famous tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn. Several people wrote to tell us they had been lucky enough to see the tapestries when they were exhibited. Robyn Wright commented how chastening it was to remember that when they were made, few people could read so stories were told through pictures. As such, contemporary viewers would have known exactly what these works said, while we can merely speculate as to their meaning.

Glenys Watson also had a chance to see the tapestries and commented that they were truly amazing. The trip to the exhibition and the actual experience of seeing the tapestries up close was something Glenys said she would remember for the rest of her life.

Finally, we had a wonderful email from Vivienne Garforth that we just had to share. Vivienne used to volunteer at a women’s prison teaching embroidery to a group there. Although she was nervous about the role when she started, she discovered that stitching groups are the same wherever they are held, with lots of chatting, laughing and helping one another.

Volunteers from Fine Cell Work, a UK charity that teaches prisoners how to create beautiful high-quality needlework products.

Just before Vivienne left, she was offered some advice from a couple of the women. They told her that if ever she was going to court and expected to be jailed, she should take a case filled with embroidery projects! Apparently, as Vivienne was told, whatever she had with her in court on the day was what she was allowed to take with her. Once you’re inside, it is much harder to get any needlework supplies.

Vivenne said:

‘I thanked them most sincerely for the advice, but thankfully I have never had to activate the plan!’

Let’s hope that none of our readers do either, but it is always good to have advice tucked away in our minds, as you just never know!

Until next time, keep stitching, keep practicing kindness and always have a few needlework kits with you, just in case…

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