I have been meeting with a group of Syrian women each week since the summer. This group was initiated by Stella Charman.
These remarkable women have taught me much through their conversation. They are with families who are making new lives in the UK.
This is a short conversation about textiles:
I remember lying on the floor on a piece of fabric and my husband cutting around me. (That was so that the fabric could be made into a dress)
Syrians always find solutions. If completely stuck they look at the manual.
Syrians textiles and wood have the typical pattern of Damask, from Damascus.
The Silk road took damask around the world.
In Damascus are the best walnuts. Pistachios are grown in Aleppo. At night you walk through orchards and hear them opening. Most of the pistachio farms have gone from the old city because of the fighting. Strawberries apricots and
Idlib is now a city taken over by extremists.
We can represent our country by working with you.
In Syria we have a piece of cotton we cut it into a square. We wrap out summer clothes in this cloth in the winter and in the summer we wrap our winter clothes in the cloth. We sew the edges with a hem of embroidery, each has their own pattern. This cloth can be used for carrying clothes when travelling.
When we pray we are fully covered with clothes that are embroidered, sparkly thread and jasmine flowers.
Lace curtains at home have much embroidery.
There is a guest room in some houses, a visitors room where no one ever goes in or touches anything. It is ready for guests to visit. You clean it every day. Sometimes we use it to lay out the apricots covered in cloths to dry. The fruit is everywhere with embroidered covers spread over them.