Will be on display in the gallery for International Womans Day 2019
Yes that’s exactly what it did! My friend took me out to lunch, plied me with wine and persuaded me to embark on a year long community craft project. We were commemorating two important events of 2018, the end of the First World War and the centenary of women’s suffrage. We were well known to ICHF, the organisation who set up craft fairs across the whole country. We had some experience of this when we covered my camper van with knitting and crochet in 2017. We did this at the show in the NEC in Birmingham over just four days. After setting up our stall we invited attendees at the show to help us. We did it just in time! We raised over £1000 for the Martha Trust a local charity for people with multiple disabilities.
My part in this madness was to produce a suffragette panel. We called ourselves Grans on the Make, there were three of us. This new project involved us attending all the shows across the country from Glasgow to London over the course of a whole year. Most shows were 4 days in duration and we asked crafters to produce the knitting and crochet we needed to produce a huge 13ft square panel depicting the three colours of the suffragette movement. Purple for loyalty, white for purity and green for hope. A five foot high silhouette of a suffragette graced the central panel, with placards and flowers on the other two. The edge, 18 inches in width, was covered in flowers of all colours, designs and sizes. They were simply beautiful and were made at the shows and by craft groups across the country and sent to my house. There were 1,500 in all and realising I could not possibly sew these all on myself I enlisted the help of all my crafty friends and many craft groups and of course the wonderful WI! What an amazing day we had in the local church hall all sitting around this enormous panel with flowers overflowing. All the flowers had long tails of wool to save time looking for the appropriate colour on the day. We had them all sewn on by 2pm! I think the endless cups of tea and stopping for a ploughman's lunch help.
The raising up of the banners, my suffragette one and the poppy panel was a really heartwarming and very moving moment. This happened at the show in Birmingham between the 1st and 4th of November. Much admired and photographed by many over the duration of the show we were very proud of our efforts.
This was truly a national community project inspiring many and encouraging would be crafters to actually have a go at knitting or crochet, some for the first time. Our youngest contributor was 8. Her little piece of knitting is included in the suffragette panel along with all the rest.
This has been an amazing project to be involved in, but it would not have been possible without the contributions of all those amazing women and some men who donated their knitting and crochet. We now have to find a permanent home for this creation, my challenge for January.
As well as producing two amazing pieces of art we raised over £5,000 for the Pankhurst Centre and the Poppy Appeal.