You may remember that some time ago, ECHO ran a feature on the Marathon Stitch Project organised by the Phoenix Stitchers, a local group of needlework enthusiasts. The idea behind the project was to invite local people to get involved with creating a large hanging that would be displayed in various places across the city to mark the Olympics and other significant events in 2012/13. Di Powell, project organiser explains.
“The Coventry Freemen’s Guild had made us a generous grant as they were keen for us to promote the textile skills which have underpinned Coventry’s fame and fortune for over a thousand years. We felt that getting citizens (and visitors) to contribute to making a celebratory, colourful, embroidered textile filled this bill really well, so six, 3 metre long calico panels began to make their appearance in all sorts of public places. It has been a long process as people are so very shy about picking up a needle and trying out stitching but a number of local groups have got involved including the Earlsdon W.I. who went to with a will and completed a panel within an impressive time scale.
“Taking the other three panels out and about, we had a hard time persuading passers by to actually “have a go”. Quite a lot of younger women claimed that grandmothers or mothers did the family buttons and repairs! Men generally regarded sewing out of their skill range, handling a hammer or a chain saw being more in their line. However, some delightful men were much braver and cheerfully sat down, discovering to their surprise that creative stitching is relaxing, enjoyable and satisfying.
“Our under fives in the Earlsdon children’s library corner amazed us all! Taking up their needles for the first time, they concentrated unbelievably hard and were soon making neat stitches in pretty colours as to the manor born. In fact school children of both sexes have contributed some outstanding stitched motifs. After establishing most of our more recent sessions in Central and local libraries we are now on the last leg and will be concentrating from now on on finishing the last two panels with established groups, where much better progress is made.
“We’re now planning how to make up the panels individually yet with the ability to be joined together and are talking with the local Library Services about using them to provide a cosy corner for children’s story times as well as possibly to display them in libraries around the city to promote needlework as a creative and rewarding activity as well as showing them in conjunction with other arts and crafts events. Please keep your fingers crossed that we manage to settle the Marathon Stitch Project into a loving home with a worthwhile future.
“As the project is almost complete, we don’t really need to meet at Earlsdon library on such a regular basis but anyone who’s interested will be invited to continue making their input in informal groups we hope to organise locally. I really want to thank the Earlsdon library staff for being incredibly helpful and welcoming. Sheryl in particular has been very supportive and enthusiastic, including through her artistic advertising boards and putting us on the website. We are also very grateful for the continued support of ECHO and will certainly keep in touch about developments in coming months.”
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Di on 024 7667 3099.