Joining the dots: #femedtechquilt

Aunty Betsy’s button tin

This fabulous idea set me in a real spin over the Christmas holidays. I have happily promoted it to others through all my channels but my own participation brings huge challenges. My fear and loathing of all things sewing related has long haunted me, my mother too. My father’s family were skilled seamstresses who could magic a whole outfit from nothing – just threading a needle brings me out in a cold sweat.

Over the holidays I confessed this to a lady who runs a quilting shop locally, she was sympathetic but ultimately could offer little in terms of inspiration. It was only as the new year dawned that I remembered a source of real comfort from a long forgotten episode in my personal history, more than 50 years ago. As a child of about 8 years old I remember coming home from school. I got off the bus as usual and went straight to my parent’s hairdressing salon. I vaguely remember someone telling me that my mum was not available, she had been taken to hospital. I guess it was my father who then told me that mum would not be around for a while and that I would be staying with my aunty and uncle in Northamptonshire. I guess that was exciting. Uncle Cliff Sharpe (my mother’s half brother) lived in a bungalow with stables. The family had horses and dogs, I always loved to spend time there. Aunty Betsy was a lovely warm character, always cheerful and welcoming.

My memories of that fortnight or so are sparse. The Sharpe household was a busy one, my cousins were a good 10 years older than me. There were horses to feed, trips out in the mini with a bale of hay and a dog for company. Tack to clean and shopping to do. Between the periods of domestic routine – already very different from my usual home life – I would spend time playing Penny Lane over and over on the record player whilst sorting out buttons from Aunty Betsy’s button tin. This was tolerated with good grace by my lovely aunty.

Many years later, when Betsy died, I visited my uncle, who kindly agreed to let me keep the button tin and a permanent reminder of her kindness and support through a worrying time. It represents the very essence of care to me. And so,as I wondered how I could possibly contribute to the #femedtechquilt with my meagre sewing skills I decided to open up the tin again.

Opening the tin

And so I finally had an idea which I felt I could manage and a way of paying my respects to those who had supported our family during my mother’s breakdown. Now my designing an the dreaded sewing could begin with a renewed sense of purpose. My submission will be late but it is something I have to do. It will not be as beautiful as those I see on the @femedtech twitter feed, I simply don’t have the talent. I will do my best to pay tribute to the many women who care enough to make their busy lives busier in order to care for others. I will try as best I can to join the dots, as we do through Open Education SIG activities, as there is strength in solidarity and a much needed visibility for those who quietly get on with caring without expecting any acknowledgement. We may all have different backgrounds, cultures and expectations but we gain so much when we share moments of each other’s lives.

Join the dots

3 responses to “Joining the dots: #femedtechquilt

  1. Oh Teresa, this is so moving and so beautiful. Your ‘connecting the dots’ with all these buttons will be a beautiful addition to the quilt! I hope too that you’ll add your story to when you add a photo of your square. Your writing powerfully conveys your childhood confusion and sense of being ripped out of normal life — and how important your aunt’s kindness and care was during that time. Thank you so much for sharing this… I look forward to seeing your beautiful square. x

    • Thanks Catherine, it is so encouraging to read your comment. I have been able to search through that tin and select some treasures of yesteryear. It has been a fabulous experience to feel close to Aunty Betsy all these years later.

  2. Pingback: It takes a village to raise a child – FemEdTech Quilt·

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