Cullybackey granny has ‘Stitch for Syria’ campaign all sewn up!

77-year-old Jane Caldwell puts the final touches to Concern Worldwides Stitch for Syria wall hangings made in support of Syrian refugee women who have been traumatised by the conflict (Photo: Andrew Vaughan).
77-year-old Jane Caldwell puts the final touches to Concern Worldwides Stitch for Syria wall hangings made in support of Syrian refugee women who have been traumatised by the conflict (Photo: Andrew Vaughan).

A local grandmother has put the finishing touches to three wall hangings made up of hundreds of cross-stitched squares from across the world in support of women refugees who have fled war-torn Syria.

Jane Caldwell from Cullybackey has spent the past two months sewing together more than 900 individual cross-stich patterns made by hundreds of people in 20 countries.

The 77-year-old former creative studies lecturer in North East Institute, Antrim, took up the challenge after first hearing about the Stitch for Syria campaign from her daughter, Rose, who is the UK Executive Director of humanitarian aid organisation Concern Worldwide.

Concern had invited people to take up a needle and thread to show solidarity for a group of Syria refugee women in Lebanon, who are using cross-stitch to earn a vital income and deal with the trauma they have experienced as a result of conflict. The organisation asked people to make a section of a wall hanging for the centre in Lebanon where the women meet.

Hundreds of people downloaded a six centimetre square pattern that was based on a traditional Middle Eastern design. While most people were happy to keep things simple, a few couldn’t resist putting their own twist to the design – some using neon thread, beads and borders.

After receiving the designs in the post, it then fell to Rose’s mum, Jane, to create the final product. She spent four hours a day sewing the squares together using more than one million stitches.

“I’m really pleased with how it has turned out,” said Jane.

“It has been amazing to see how creative people have been and how varied each design is.

“It is privilege to have been able to put it all together.

“I hope the completed wall hangings will remind the Syrian women that we support them in the difficulties they face,” she said.

The wall hangings will be delivered soon to Lebanon, where they will be displayed in the centre where the refugee women meet.

You can read more at: www.concern.net/stitch where there is detailed blog on the campaign which reveals that some people sent a couple of patterns, and some sent far more than that and that they arrived from every corner of the UK as well as Australia, the US, Japan, Greece, Sweden, and many other parts of the world.

The blog states: “The amazing sense of community shared by cross-stitchers around the world has been at the heart of the campaign.”