making of the meadows community quilt

The days roll into one. Whatever day it is. I know it’s day 71 of Covid-19 lockdown here in Cardiff. I’ve learnt zoom and done a workshop from my kitchen dye lab. I’ve broken down over google docs. I’ve made scrubs and bags. I’ve not baked a single thing. and i’ve found peace in the wild area next to my flat, called the meadows.

This bit of land, described by developers as mostly ‘scrub’ – a meaningless word used to devalue a piece of land. This ‘scrub’ is full of oaks, sycamores, maples, cherry, blackthorn, blackberry, hawthorn, orchids, grasses, etc. Then there’s all the wildlife living there. Herons, badgers, bats, foxes, larks, kingfishers, buzzards, bees, moths, blackbirds, woodpeckers, owls, butterflies, etc.

Many locals have recently discovered the meadows for the first time during the pandemic, as they wander close to home, forced to explore the land around them during their allotted exercise time. Signs have appeared, directing to the elusive meadows, messages of positivity and support for our nhs are tied to trees. All around there are little gifts to find – tree id signs, painted rocks with messages of love, natural mandalas, fairies, pompom creatures – the community has taken the meadow to its heart.

The meadow quickly became my place of calm sanity. naturally i started to look at what plants i could use for inks and dyes. Along with this, a curiosity about the area’s history and how it looked on old maps. The tithe map of 1840 just looked like a patchwork and the meadow community quilt idea was formed in my mind.

Sewing helped me cope with cancer treatment and more recently, making scrubs for nhs staff kept me occupied for a few weeks. It’s proven to lower stress and ease anxiety. ‘taking part’ and doing your ‘bit’ for nhs workers has eased feelings of helplessness and isolation. Stitching saves lives!

The Meadows Community quilt will be made with scraps of linen left over from donations to the nhs laundry bag making – my mum alone collected 500 in a couple of weeks… that’s how much scrap cloth is packed in draws or attics not being used whilst we still buy more. No money was spent making the bags, except on recycled poly thread. old t-shirts made the cords. old socks were cut up for mask bands. tin foil trays for nose reinforcement. the scraps from making bags became masks.

Now I’m gathering plants such as nettle, sorrel, hawthorn, as well as scraps of metal, to dye the remaining linens.

Burnt hawthorn and nettle with iron – meadow colours
meadow fresh colours

Once dyed, i’ll cut these to the tithe map pattern.

There are around 30 patches to be stitched. The content is up to you…

  • messages about climate crisis
  • positive expressions
  • historical notes
  • drawings
  • botanical studies
  • poetry
  • abstract stitch patterns
  • whatever you feel like!
I’m doing two and once others are returned to me, i’ll piece it all together.

If you want to join in, please email me, dm on instagram or fb. you’ll get a patch of meadow dyed linen, some threads, some ideas for your embroidery and some places to look for inspiration. Ideally i’ll deliver and collect by bike, but i can post out if you’re further away but have a connection to the place.

Meadows quilt planning

The finished piece will be displayed somewhere locally as part of the Green Squirrel organisation’s creative environmental campaign – The Girl Who Wouldn’t Give Up – a project i’m lucky to be a part of that was meant to be this week but will now be later in the year.

If you just want to support the #savethenorthernmeadows campaign, please sign our petition. It needs 10,000 signatures for our Senedd to debate it, we’re well over 5k!

Also please write your objections to the chief planning officer and our senedd ministers, there are details on the web site: