Sometime in the late eighties I bought a 120cm square of Liberty fine wool in William Morris’s peacock feather design. I fringed the edges and gave it to my mother for Christmas as a shawl. When my mother died in February 1992 it came back to me along with her snow-grey wool coat. I wore them together and they warmed and comforted me through the rest of that sad, cold winter.
The years passed and the coat went to a charity shop and the shawl into a drawer.
A couple of years ago I visited the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter, where there was an exhibition showcasing Victorian quilts made from Indian Paisley shawls. I came home inspired and rooted around to find whether I still had that shawl. After a few disappointing experiments of adding other fabrics to the Liberty square I eventually decided just to use the one piece of fabric, but to make it into a scarf that I could wear again.
I cut it in half and rejoined it to make a longer shape, then folded and seamed that long piece. I could have stopped there with a long scarf, but I still had the quilting idea in mind so decided simply to stitch the entire surface kantha-style. I used a variety of different hand embroidery threads in shades of blue and grey. It took a long time, but I am finally done – and wearing it.
I'm not sure what my mother would have thought of the process - she was an elegant woman and quite particular about the way clothes should be worn. I'm happy, though, to have another turn at wearing something to remind me of her as she was before illness robbed her of speech and personality.
bristol cathedral, south aisle...
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