Lowestoft Folk stories come from all sorts of places; yesterday, they came from small squares of fabric.
Inspired by the Suffolk Puff quilt on display in Lowestoft Museum, the group set about making their own patchwork of stories, both real and imagined.
Lynn Whitehead led the group, as we explored a variety of different types of fabrics and talked about what they were called – why corduroy? what was ‘winciette’? – how they felt – the difference between brocade and shot silk – and how they might have been used.
Then, working in small groups, the participants chose one particular piece of fabric and, taking their lead from Lynn, created their own story of how the fabric was used, who wore it, and what happened to them.
What followed was an amazing collection of short stories, created between the children and adults, full of detail, humour and imagination, and told beautifully by the children.
We also learnt some personal stories from the adults. One resident told us about her daughter-in-law who, when her father died, took all his shirts and made them into a quilt for her mother.
Another resident – who claims that being 97 years old holds her back a bit, but we’ve seen little evidence of that – told us that, as an ‘innocent young child’, she saw a woman in a tight fitting veil pop a sweet into her mouth. For ages she was convinced that the woman had made magic, and passed the sweet through the material, as she just couldn’t work out how else she had managed to put it in her mouth.
As the end of the session, the parents arrived to collect their children, and there was much excitement as the children told them what they’d been doing. One mother told me that her son is really, really pleased to be part of Lowestoft Folk.
Apparently, he went home last week and said, “Mum, you know I said I wanted to be either a paleontologist or an astronaut? Well, now I think I might like to be a carer, too.”