My second piece from Kyiv, written during the summer of 2017.
The Sisterhood of Sewing
On St Andrew’s descent, I found a woman selling soft toys: cats, cockerels and gloriously curvy satin horses with flowing woollen manes and tails.
‘Did you make these?’ I asked.
She nodded and smiled. ‘All my work.’
I bought a beautiful Palomino-coloured horse, its body soft caramel with a creamy mane and tail. And I thought of a trip I made to South Korea, a month ago. There, on the island of Jeju, I spent a happy hour at a sewing workshop, hand-sewing a Ganse doll – a small fabric horse. The dolls are made by women across the island, using scraps of material.
The sewing instructor spoke no English, but step-by-step she showed me what I needed to do. I especially loved how she made the tail, cutting and tying together multiple lengths of cotton thread before attaching it to the horse’s rump.
So I was thrilled to find another hand-sewn doll, made with skill and care by a different woman, in another country, on another continent. I bought two, and happily handed over my money. I love the simplicity of street transactions, when a note given at lunchtime buys the food for that evening’s suppertime.
I asked her if I might take her photograph, so I could show it to my friend. I wanted her to see who had made her gift.
‘Yes,’ said the woman. ‘But wait.’ She took off her coat, removed her glasses, tidied her hair. ‘Ready.’
I smiled. Such care. Such love for strangers. The sisterhood of sewing.