‘Skirts of Hope' - Sewing with Purpose.
I hadn't sewn anything for about fifty years but I was drawn somehow to this group via a Facebook
post from 'Doing what we can'.
The idea about the skirts came from some post WW2 activity that women began in Belgium.
This recent incarnation of it is in Penzance, Cornwall, UK. So far all women, a dozen or so meet
in a hall or this time in the open air bandstand in the attractive Morrab gardens.
Three hours sitting in a circle sewing, using appliqué or embroidery, everyone absorbed in making
something meaningful and personal. Some are using inspiring quotations, some utilise fabric that
has significant memories for them.
Whilst working one or two women have brought poetry by themselves or poets they admire, to read
to everyone, which is enjoyable. Otherwise there is all sorts of companionable chat.
One woman has come prepared to tell us about an organisation she is involved in, the
Extinction Rebellion movement that recently held large demonstrations in London to raise
awareness of the crisis of climate change. It seems a town nearby has 150 members and regular
meetings at which 40 are likely to attend. One of their objectives is to use a technique used in
Ireland which resulted in abortions being legalised. This is 'citizens' assemblies'. It's not quite clear
how these are selected. It sounds as if the climate change concerns are provoking a new wave of
involvement in communities.
The whole event is peaceable but despite its hippy look, or maybe even because of it, also
teetering on the edge of rebellious action.
The previous meeting had tea and cake and also a more spiritual dip into a guided fantasy started
with a Buddhist brass bowl sound produced by an implement passed round it's rim. This time some
cards are randomly selected and read out, all emphasising love and hope.
There's no discussion of what happens or the way it's done, it's like a tradition has been
established by core members and the rest of us fit in with it.
A future exhibition of the 'Skirts of Hope' is mooted.
Two policemen arrive, a very rare sight normally, to check us out. Maybe they were out to enforce
the ban on drinking alcohol in the gardens, which I noticed being cheerfully disregarded by two
young men with bottles of beer as I came in. We joke about having dangerous needles and pins
So, are these sorts of gatherings of mostly women meeting all over the world to engage in
therapeutic slow decorative sewing with political and social intent to improve the world?
It's a fascinating phenomenon.