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Bumblebees and Boats- stitching on books

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What CAN’T you do with a needle and thread?*

It can be therapy- like these prisoners who learnt to stitch their stories.

It can raise political consciousness and beautifully challenge social norms. 

It has helped people find the meaning of life – like this jolly chap who went on a journey to find out about where his clothes came from and ended up trying to sew them all himself.

And then, at its most simple,  it can just make ordinary things look pretty. . .

From that crafty wizz Martha Stewart

I love how needle and thread have replaced pencil.

From Paper Stitch (loads of beautiful art on there)

And I wanted to give it a go.



We have a few funny old books, this one above is from a 1950’s one called “Getting the most of of life” – really, it is just such a load of nonsense. But has a lot of words that evoke images.

If you look carefully you will notice there is poo in this vessel.



These two pages are from “A Treasury of Thought” a delightful book with excerpts from  Shakespeare, indexed by subject. The one above is from the Ships entry and the one below from Bees. I know for some it is pretty much an Awful Thing to be treating books in this way, but I kind of feel you are giving them an extra kudos- letting pages see the light of day that might not otherwise.


They do only take a couple of minutes to do, but I know if I had a tiny dot more patience and took them a bit slower they could look LOADS better. Darn my laziness.

I did wing this one by Ramona to see if she could tell what they were though. “BUMBLE BEE” she yelled. *fist pump*

(Yeah, okay.  Bumblebee is Ramona’s current fave word and is what she defaults to most of the time but still, a leetle bit recognisable, no?)

Joining in with this months Pinaddicts Challenge  over at the luscious  Love Bump – check out the other things I hope to make one day soon on my Pinterest Board. 

PS- So remember that beautiful vintage magazine, Pretty Nostalgic, came to our house to take some pics? Well, the issue is out and you can catch a glance here. The whole thing is STUNNING!

Just a little confession though, our house is not normally that tidy. Not even close. My mum even came round the night before to help us clean up the piles of washing, the  raisins scattered all over the floor, the crumbs and pop corn and garlic skins on the kitchen side, the toys in every corner. Just so you know. Also, just so you know, we don’t normally look quite that wild eyed and deranged, promise.

PPS- I just started a Facebook page, are you on there? I would actually really love it if you wanted to come and say hi, or even just like it, if you are a shy one.

*You can’t:

Eat with it, unless it is really fine spaghetti.

Use it to catch a ball, or put an energetic baby to sleep, or win an Olympic medal with it, or fly with it. Etc, etc.

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Solidarity stitching and a jar full of hope

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 An inner-city meadow, a three piece band, jam sandwiches, a strawberry patch,  fifty stitchers, a barn of animals and my little toddler rampaging around.  It was a weird wee scene; both very local (I’m sorry, but East London is crazy. Everyone wears such silly clothes but I KNOW they are clothes that we will all be wearing in two years time. *gah* Those hipsters) and hugely global.

We were crafting up lids to fit on to jam jars, jars that would eventually be filled with a scrumptious tomato jam – based on a recipe from a Kenyan farmer, Christine.

In a way Christine is your typical farmer – but what makes her typical is pretty surprising. She is a woman, for starters (women are responsible for most of the world’s food production). And she also doesn’t have quite enough food to eat (small scale farmers like Christine make up 50% of the undernourished and women make up 80% of the world’s poorest.)

 But Christine’s jam oozes with bold, sticky hope.

A few years ago Christine was destitute, her husband had died of Aids and with no rights or access to power, Christine and her two kids were reliant on the kindness of strangers. Now, however, she chairs a small female cooperative group who grow tomatoes (one of those mega crops that is resilient to livelihood upheavaling drought) and they make this jam to sell at the market. The jam is BEYOND delectable and is a right old hit with the customers.

That is quite a story for one little jar to contain, don’t you reckon?

A jar of hope

I guess it was in an act of solidarity that we came together in one of London’s city farms to eat said jam on sandwiches, and to let our creative juices pour out over needle and thread.  We talked about hunger, the parts of our global food system that are utterly broken, the ways people can do something, who we were going to give our jar of jam to.

Stitching my first jam lid. I had to unpick it as it was properly ugly

We have masses of tomato plants in the garden and I can’t wait for the glut to hit *probably announced a bit to hopefully* –  I am going to fill my little jar up, pop my stitched up lid on and give it to my MP, Harriet Harman.  I will ask her to stand up on behalf of small-scale farmers like Christine, to fight the powerful tentacles of huge food corporations, and to promote local food systems in our urban village of Camberwell.

Freedom from hunger. (Bit rubbish eh, but you can understand how bad my first one was if I kept this one!)

Needless to say, Sunday was probably my ideal kind of day. Dreaming together of a future where everyone has enough to eat, crafting up world changey messages and letting Ramona frolick with the farm beasts (check out this little video of her encountering a rooster) combined all the things I love.

And I think it is here,  taking what you love and doing it for a more beautiful world, where change lies.  Hope doesn’t thrive when limited to certain behaviours,  and activists fizzle out after the one millionth petition signature. But if people can marry the thing that gives them energy – be it sewing, blogging, gardening, writing poetry, being a hipster-  with their passion for justice and fairness, change will come.

Solidarity Jam:

 Makes 6 jars

 Ingredients:

● 5 cups peeled and quartered tomatoes.

● Strips of the tomato skin

● 5 cups of sugar

● 1 lemon, sliced thinly and seeded

● 2 tablespoons butter

Method

Put tomatoes, sugar and sliced lemon in large, heavy pot and bring to slow boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. When foam rises to surface, add butter and continue stirring and simmering until preserves thicken, about 45 minutes. (To test, stick a fork in. When preserves cling to tines of fork, it should be thick enough to can). Pour preserves into sterilized jars, seal and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will! 

Read about Oxfam’s GROW campaign and join the movement of people who share a vision of EVERYONE thriving and NOT A SOUL going hungry

It isn’t too late to join in. Perhaps you want to host your own lid stich-in and get solidarity jam making in autumn?

To get the full low-down on this beautiful project have a peep at Craftivist Collective founder (and the wonderful person I job share with here at Oxfam) Sarah, explain it in this AMAZE vid:

Have you found a way to do the thing you love for good?