As most of you are surely aware off, we have a rather large influx of refugees in this part of the world. My alpine idyll is no exception. Since spring, a slowly growing group from Syria, Pakistan, Burma, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Kosovo and Ukraine is making our village street life more colourful.
I have long hesitated about becoming involved with refugees again. On the one hand, my time is limited due to me running my own company. On the other hand, I know from past experiences how it emotionally affects me to hear all the different stories of hope and suffering. That said, being a descendant of an economic refugee from Germany who came to the Netherlands in 1924, I feel obliged to offer my help.
So, what could I do? How about stitching and hand-sewing once a week. I know how to do that and I am sure, many of the women do too. Besides, it is an excellent way of learning the very complicated German language. On Thursday, we'll start with making the simple name badge you see above. A scrap of pretty cotton fabric, a disc of template plastic covered on one side with wadding, felt, sewing thread, a safety pin, a trick marker of some kind, needles, beads, perle and embroidery floss is all you need.
To keep it nice and simple, I'll forget most of the Royal School of Needlework golden rules of embroidery. Yes, we will have knots at the back and yes, we will work it all in the hand. That explains the dodginess of my stem stitching... I'll report back next week about how we fared.
Then on a completely different matter: Verena Schiegg offers a series of opportunities to learn the beautiful Appenzell embroidery technique in early 2016. You have a choice of attending two Saturdays (23rd of January and 20th of February 2016) or an intensive course of four consecutive days in February (15th-18th) or March (7th-10th). Every course day starts at 9:00, lunch break from 11:30 till 13:30 and ends at 17:00. Course fees for the Saturday option is CHF 110 per day and for the four day intensive courses it is CHF 390 for all four days. Materials are not included, but can be bought from Verena directely. Courses take place when a minimum of four people sign up. Register before the 10th of January for the Saturday option, before the 6th of February for the February intensive and before the 26th of February for the March intensive. All courses take place at the Gesellenhaus in Appenzell, Switzerland.
Want to know more about Appenzell embroidery? Click on Appenzell in the categories list to the right of this blog entry. For more information or to sign up, please contact Verena directly. As I will be attending any course taking place, people whose knowledge of the German language is only limited or completely absent, but who can either speak English or Dutch, will still be able to understand what is going on.
To my humble opinion, Verena's courses are worth every Swiss Franc. She has such an in-depth knowledge of the subject and so freely shares her tips and tricks that come from years and years of practice. Both in the field of embroidery, as well as in the field of teaching. Hope to meet some of you in Appenzell!
What a wonderful idea! Handwork will give them a diversion from their troubles, and as you stated, a chance to practice a new language. What a wonderful community-building, creative thing to do! I would think embroidery is universal, something they all can do together, yet display commonalities and differences.
Thank you for your support Kay! When they were here last Thursday, one of them spotted my mother-in-laws ancient sewing machine (powered by a hand wheel). The lady can neither read nor write, but she probably knows how to work this sewing machine. One of my goals will be to identify their talents. At present, there is so much they can't do. They can't speak the language, they can't get a working permit, they can't freely move about etc. I think it is important that they can show us that they have talents and can succeed at things. And I can probably learn a thing of two from them as well!
This simple thing that you're doing is going to mean so much to these women. Very proud of you!
Thank you very much Liz! That means a lot to me and will help to keep me going.
Thank you for being so generous with your time and talent. I'm anxious to see the different styles that will result from sharing with these women, it is a universal language don't you think?
Thank you Charlene! I think handicraft is a universal language too. And it has to be as my arabic is very, very rusty :). But it is priceless to see their smiles when I manage to remember a word and use it.
Hoi Jessica, wat lief dat je daar je tijd aan wil geven. Als je wilt kan ik je ondersteunen met materiaal je hebt natuurlijk van alles nodig en ik doe in die vorm graag mee. Laat maar weten wat ik je kan toesturen.
Dank je wel Mabel! Daar maak ik tzt graag gebruik van. En ik zal je zeker wel eens vragen om een leuk, doch simpel patroontje. Het zal nog een hele opgave zijn bijna elke week wat nieuws voor ze te verzinnen. Als ze het leuk vinden natuurlijk. Misschien lopen ze na een paar weken wel gillend weg....
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