Tessa Spratt, Victoria Regional Meeting and Cathy Davies, New South Wales Regional Meeting.


The Backhouse panel a work in progress

The Backhouse panel
a work in progress

When Cathy Davies and I submitted Friends in Stitches for a Summer School Programme, momentarily there was a hesitation from the organisers about it fitting with the theme “Promptings of love and truth in our hearts” We started our Summer School by going around the circle asking the 15 participants how they saw our group speaking to that theme and there was certainly no paucity of varied answers. Friends, this work, to take the message and history of Quakers to a wider audience through crewel embroidery increases our awareness of that particular advice more and more, especially when we get together at Yearly Meeting and display the completed panels. Developing a panel ready for embroidery and then the meticulous embroidery work become a labour of love and truth about the subject matter. Love and truth can be demanding and trying at times, and so is the process of completing a panel.

This year, as Friends entered through the glass door at Yearly Meeting we were all immediately faced with a wall of seven finished embroidered panels. Seven only, but enough to already create a “wow”. They are so exciting to see, we wished you all could have been there to see them. The most jaded of us would have had a lift from them. One panel is one all alone, but as each is added to another the effect is stunning. Slowly, ever so slowly, the numbers are growing.

"What a pity we can't photograph the atmosphere!"

“What a pity we can’t photograph the atmosphere!”

When Cathy took some photos of the group while participants were bent over their work, busily stitching and talking and sharing and teaching one another with a tender hand, Tessa said to Cathy “What a pity we cannot photograph the atmosphere.” Embroiderers have found that working together creates a space not unlike a clearness meeting when people do not look at one another. Concentrating on the work opens up the heart and some profound exchanges take place. The calm, supportive and focused atmosphere engenders a sense of trust and at times it seems that the Spirit is at work among us.

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