Like the rest of the nation, my family and I have been rigorously following the government’s social distancing guidelines. My wife, Tara, teenage daughters Liliana and Saskia and I, are living alongside my mother Karen and step father Roy. Our weaving workshop and design studio provide us with a communal space to come together and in which we are surrounded by the familiar sight of bobbins, yarn and our collection of beautiful, vintage looms.
No doubt, like you, the past few weeks have been a strain and worry for all of us and yet out of this time, we have also experienced moments of joy, togetherness and hope. In amongst this we have also felt an immense sense of gratitude to all of those that continue to serve on the frontline – from the postal and couriers services, to the local council workers, grocery stores and delivery drivers, there’s no doubt that all of these amazing people have played an absolutely pivotal role in protecting and maintaining the very fabric of our community.
Of course, we‘ve also been in awe of the incredible work carried out by our National Health Service. I’m sure we join you and the rest of the country in being truly inspired and humbled by their determination and dedication. Actually, it was this feeling that led to us exploring ways in which we too could contribute and give back to our local community. We soon came up with the idea of working collectively to create a unique, handwoven product, that could be sold on our website, with all profits being donated locally, to those in need.
However, given that the majority of our suppliers have sadly had to temporarily close their doors, we had to be able to create a product using only existing yarns and we had to be able to complete the sewing and finishing process on site. We also wanted to make a product that was both affordable and synonymous with our brand. Together, we drew inspiration from the many pictures of brightly coloured rainbows painted and displayed by children around the globe and so we adopted this uplifting symbol to create a limited-edition, rainbow scarf.
During the planning process, Tara and I were made aware of the ‘Now, More than Ever’ emergency appeal launched by the Northern Ireland Hospice and Children’s Hospice. Every year the Hospice supports over 4000 babies, children and adults with life limiting or life-threatening conditions. The spread of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the charity’s income. With fundraising events postponed and charity shops closed, the funds that the Hospice heavily relies on have stopped. We knew instantly that all proceeds of our fundraise would be donated in response to this appeal.
When it came to creating the scarves, we each adopted a production role; After Tara and I had completed the design work, my mother, with help from my daughters, created the warps at the studio. Roy then sprang into action, delivering the warp to the workshop (on the back of his trusty golf buggy!), where our two vintage Hattersley looms were primed and ready for my mother and Roy to weave the fabric. It was then back to the whole family for finishing (washing, sewing, fringing and labelling). From there and with freshly brushed hair, Tara marched us out for a local walk, where Liliana, Saskia and I found ourselves in starring roles of a photoshoot!
I am so proud that Tara has been able to capture a series of stunning images detailing the entire process. It’s immensely satisfying to see my family at their best in these tough times.
With all the pieces in place, we launched the scarves on mournetextiles.com and have been staggered by the response. We are only four days in and have already seen in excess of one hundred scarves being ordered from the website!
We are so grateful to all of our fantastically generous customers for supporting this truly wonderful cause and are hopeful that rainbow scarves will be worn to demonstrate support for all of those incredible people on the frontline and in addition will serve as a symbol of courage, hope and community during these uncertain times.
For more information about Northern Ireland Hospice, visit www.nihospice.org
To donate directly, visit www.nihospice.org/donate