I think this is now my 16th blog for WHP – gosh how time has flown, and yet dragged!

I checked through our Dropbox this week and discovered yet more beautiful pieces of work, so thought this was an opportunity to give you a gentle nudge and remind you that we are still interested in receiving your works of art! We plan to sew the squares into a patchwork in the order in which they were made, so that our patchwork will tell the story of the year- the changing seasons and attitudes. The project will end when lockdown ends- hopefully this Spring!

With the recent news that we are likely to be locked down until March (or beyond) by then we will have been stitching, painting, knitting, crocheting and felting for a good year so I hope you won’t be running out of ideas!

The recent snow lightened the mood and the hillside in Hatchlands was like a Lowry painting, with children racing up and down with sleds and their giggles and the dogs jumping and barking - it felt so ‘normal’ it was a joyous sight.

So, if you are lacking ideas for a new square to join our patchwork, think of the berries or dark branches of trees contrasted against the snow. The banner image shows some colourful berries I saw along the railway path between East and West Horsley just before Christmas. Has anyone got a collection of red beads and buttons? This would make a great subject for a square!

As I write, there are just the last clumps of snow where snowmen proudly stood at the weekend! Did any of you see the igloo built by two Silkmore Lane lads in the field between Ripley Lane and Silkmore Lane? There you go – another idea! My husband can’t go into our back garden without Mr Robin joining him. What joyful little birds they are – they make a lovely subject too!

You might find inspiration in a snippet of lace or small bits of ribbon or fabric at the bottom of your collection. Here is a wonderful idea from Timeless Textiles (www.timelesstextiles.com.au) which I am sure they won’t mind me sharing with you. This website is filled to the brim with wonderful work – most definitely a place for inspiring ideas! They have a Facebook page too.

I am sure this pretty background fabric and the lace flowers started Kathy’s thought process for ‘My Garden’, one of two pieces of work in our Dropbox that illustrate just how a simple idea can be created. 

NHS rainbow square by KathyOf course we must start the year with a rainbow, reminding ourselves not only of the NHS nurses, doctors, paramedics and ambulance drivers, but all the other people it takes to run a hospital, from the cleaners to the porters, and yes – even the managers and secretaries behind the scenes.

There are also the military personnel and sundry other volunteers and others who are working so hard to rollout the vaccines. I get a sort of Heath Robinson picture in my mind when I think about how challenging this must be! We should also remember that without the rubbish collectors, delivery drivers, posties and everyone else keeping the country running, we would be in a much sorrier place.

We’ve had a lot of lovely rainbows over the past year. This one is another piece of work from Kathy – so simple, using commercial felt which of course doesn’t fray. I’d urge you all to work with it – you can even buy packs of ready-cut shapes on eBay (much like the Fuzzyfelt of my childhood!)

We are now well past the shortest day of the year, but I know the winter days can take their toll, especially for those living alone. Robbi Robson sent us this beautiful piece of stitching. I hope it will encourage you to go out for a walk (however short) and find your own ‘small voice of calm’.

Dog Wal square by Robbi RobsonSadly, the Christmas event for volunteers at WHP wasn’t able to go ahead, like so many others. However, this means we have longer to collect squares for our banner and of course there is going to be a big job at the end of all this stitching them all together. When we get to that point we may well be asking for donations of sheets for the backing and/or stitchers to help with piecing it all together!

Like all charitable organisations, WHP has suffered massively over the past year with lack of funding as events have been cancelled. If you would like to support them to get back up and running you can make a donation on the website here.  I'm very much looking forward to us being allowed to gather in small groups to stitch the large patchwork together later in the year. I know that the team at WHP are very excited about being able to have public activity on site as soon as restrictions allow. 

Lastly, just a reminder that your square needs to be 15cms with a 1cm border all round (thus 17x17cms) so they can be joined together. Send good quality pictures, your name and perhaps a bit about your influences to [email protected] We’ve got at least another two months! I’ll be keeping an eye on our Dropbox for more of your lovely ideas.

Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, Fibre Art Network, Heritage Craft Association and current Chair of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen.

Nancy lives in West Horsley. She teaches feltmaking and sells her work through The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen Gallery in Milford and Haslemere Museum.