I have visited the city of Christchurch twice, although each time it was only for a day or two.
The first time was perhaps about fourteen or fifteen years ago, when there was a direct flight from Norfolk Island on Saturday nights. It was near the end of winter, and the bare and leafless trees, along with the stone of the old buildings, made it appear a grey city. But after only a few hours, you became aware of a rich, colourful and almost eccentric culture there. One quickly falls in love with a city like Christchurch.
That week, I was attending a Spring School in Akaroa, which is a very historic and arty outpost of Christchurch, an hour or two's drive away. I stayed in an old Rectory, and although the grounds around the old building were beautiful, I was surprised that there did not appear to be any real garden or plantings. It looked somewhat stark.
I stayed there from the Sunday to the Friday. The Friday was the first day of Spring. As we left, I was stunned to see the garden transformed. Overnight, it seemed, bulbs had pushed their way through the ground, and everything had burst into bloom!
When we arrived back in Christchurch itself, all those bare trees now bore a faint haze of bright green. And there were daffodils everywhere.
It was all so amazing for someone who came from a place where seasons slide almost imperceptibly from one to another, with no extremes of temperature or marked changes in the natural landscape.
For the people of Christchurch today, this is a season of grieving, and every soul who has been there will be sharing in the grief of the loss of many familiar landmarks that once seemed so solid and timeless. Many people feel helpless and wish there was something they could do.
A lady in Napier, a needleworker, sent out the word to the world of needleworkers - and in these days of instant internet, that is a big and far-reaching place - and offered to collect hanging hearts to give to the people of Christchurch, as an expression pf comfort and support. The only criteria was that it should be a heart shape, with a loop for hanging. It could be a simple fabric heart, it could be crocheted, knitted, felted, embroidered, painted, beaded.....
I know they have started pouring in from all over the world.
I knew I wanted to contribute. But the weather was hot and humid, and I did not feeling up to going through my stash to find just the right fabric and embellishments.
So I decided to use what was close at hand, which is always the best way.
This turned out to be a piece of "Homegrown" fabric, where I had vliesofixed some scraps of fabric, in a sort of analogous colour range, onto a vilene backing and machiune stitched randomly all over it. I had unearthed this scrap during a mini-cleanout the day before, and at the time, had no idea what I would do with it (or what I had made it for in the first place!).
With a bit of juggling, I managed to cut two heart shapes from it, and then cut two backing pieces from my big bag of felt pieces (made by shrinking woollen jumpers.) The wool theme seemed right for Canterbury, and the green seemed appropriate as a symbol of new life. Then I reached for some odd bits of hand dyed lace motifs that I keep in sticky photo albums in a drawer near where I watch TV.
Even the hanging piece was a length of cord that I had plaited from bias strips cut from old silk blouses - and that would have been three or four years ago.
Actually, the exercise has been so satisfying that it has kickstarted me into a renewed bout of creativity. But more about that in another posting....
Perhaps you would like to help too?
Where to send your hearts.
Hearts for Christchurch
C/- Evie Harris
523 Main North Road
Now Evie has started a blog where you can see the progress of the gathering of hearts.
They can be sent unstuffed if postage is a problem.
The whole thing makes me feel proud and grateful to be part of a worldwide needlework community!