Pink embroidery on blue fabric with the name DAISY

Stitching a tribute to Nanna: join the NELL ANNE Quilt Project

There’s an incredible project that’s been on my radar for some time. And because of COVID-19, we can all now take part. The artist NELL was scheduled for a residency at McCahon House in New Zealand. But the pandemic got in the way.

A blue piece of cloth with pink stitching which reads Dais

So NELL put the word out for everyone to get involved and decorate a piece of fabric with the name of a woman who has had meaning in your life. There have been a lot of women who have had a great influence on my life, but the woman I wanted to honor was my Nanna: my mum’s mum.

She was one of the best story-tellers I have ever encountered. She knew the impact of a dramatic pause and had one of the best body-rolling laughs of anyone I have met.

She loved cricket, chocolate Monte biscuits and current affairs. I could always have conversations with her about the state of the world. She was still driving a car at 96 and living at home. When they took her to hospital last year to put her on oxygen, she insisted they take her home to die.

Separated at birth, 50 years apart.

Nanna always felt she was born on the same day as me, 50 years apart. One of the numbers got lost in a fold of the birth certificate and her birthday shifted 10 days.

As a teenager, I used to sew my own clothes and wear them to school dances. There’s something particularly meditative and calming about threading yarn through fabric. Creating shapes with snaking cotton and seeing the dark side when you flip the fabric over. If you can, you should pick up some fabric and some yarn and create something for a women who has influenced your life. It’s surprising how many forgotten memories, spring from the deep of your subconscious.

Then Bunny died.

Around the same time as I was working on the embroidery for the NELL ANNE Quilt Project, a friend’s dog died. She was bereft so I made her a piece of embroidery for her terrier.

COVID-19 helps us understand what’s most important.

It’s been a very strange year. It has a large part to do with the novel coronavirus, but also strange gyrations in the geopolitical climate. Floods and bushfires back in Braidwood.

One great learning from these crazy times is reprioritising our lives. My dreams have been filled with friends I haven’t been able to see. It is good to have a quieter life, walk a dog, dig a garden, bake bread. We rush too much and when we rush we shush our inner voice.

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