The Embroiderers Guild “100 Hearts” project

Embroiderers Guild "100 Hearts" project

The Embroiderers Guild “100 Hearts” project

I am now a member of The Embroiderers Guild, and when my membership card arrived, so did some information about a project they are doing in collaboration with SSAFA, called “100 Hearts”. It offers embroiderers and textile artists the opportunity to create their own memorial to all those who fought and died or came back changed, to all those who kept the home fires burning, and, in summary, to all the many untold stories of that time.

Now, generally speaking I’m not very good at responding to a brief I’ve not created myself, but as I sat reading the information and pondering whether to join in, I thought about my Grandmama, who taught me to embroider, but who would probably be bemused and (I hope) impressed in equal measure by what I have done with what she taught me. Her father was a Swedish immigrant to the UK, who became a British citizen shortly after her birth. He won’t have been a young man when the war broke out, and I’m sure he wasn’t called up, but he was a mariner, and I expect that he was working in coasting freighters, keeping the supply of food and fuel moving. From that I thought that he could stand for the many immigrants and naturalised citizens who, in the face of the hysteria and suspicion of the time, continued to serve their adopted home loyally and well.

So my design will be specific and local – he lived in South Shields, and I’m using the headland and the shape of Tynemouth Priory to stand for that – but it stands for much, much more than that.

Trialling combinations of the Swedish and British flags

Trialling combinations of the Swedish and British flags

I will be searching to see what more I can find out, about Great Grandfather, about what he might have been doing, and about what records there may be concerning the war service of immigrants and naturalised citizens, and we will see what I manage to come up with!

To begin with, I want Tynemouth Priory to be set against a “sunset” of the two flags of Sweden and the United Kingdom. I had originally misremembered that the gold cross on the Swedish flag was essentially the same as the cross of St George, but no, the vertical line is set closer to the hoist (the part of the flag nearest the flagpole).

Once I’ve decided how large my sunset needs to be, I can start stitching it while I go to have a look at Tynemouth priory….


  1. Lady Fi says:

    My two favourite flags!

  2. That’s a lovely project Rachel! My grandpa was an immigrant too: from Germany to the Netherlands. He naturalized just in time before the second world war broke out. He an his family were met by a lot of suspicion, as you can imagine.

  3. What an excellent project to be involved with. I look forward to seeing it unfold!

  4. Your grandmother might be bemused and impressed with what you have done with the skills she taught you, but your great grandfather MUST be honored by your initiative.
    Combining the two flags will be a challenge.
    Looking forward to seeing how you get along.

  5. Catherine says:

    I have heard of a few people partaking in this project, what a great opportunity it is to pay tribute and remember our forefathers. I look forward to seeing this develop.

  6. Sue Jones says:

    Having had a sneak preview of some of the threads you have chosen, Rachel, I am looking forward to watching this project develop. Combining the flags will be quite a challenge. Can you use the priory buildings, or some clouds to help cover any awkwardness where they meet?

  7. Lin says:

    What a great project to be involved with. xx

  8. Sheryl says:

    What a wonderful idea and project. A tribute to your great grandfather and interesting to investigate a bit into his life. I´m very interested in genealogy and for years have investigated my family tree. It will be interesting to see your project grow.

  9. karen says:

    lovely to hear of your family Rachel. This project seems very appropriate to remember them.

  10. Susan says:

    When I saw there was a first post, I had to go read this one, to put the whole project in perspective. This is the “Great War”? WWI? What a wonderful tribute to all who endured that time, including those who lost their lives. From what I’ve read, the Somme was just a massacre of men, and it wasn’t the only battlefield where so many died. An entire generation of men and women who lost their futures. Perhaps far worse than WWII, in some ways. This is a wonderful project, and I look forward to seeing it move along with your ideas.