…and in the morning, we will remember them. I’ve just come back from visiting a local church which was holding a flower festival to commemorate the fallen, and those who returned, from WW1. It is very moving to see the wide variety acts of remembrance taking place in the UK and world-wide.
The church display included some clay poppies made by children at the local school – very touching, not quite as flamboyant as the spectacular display planned for the Tower of London. This new installation by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper commemorates all British deaths from WW1. A total of 888,246 red ceramic poppies will be arranged around the tower, including a cascade of blood red poppies pouring from a turret window. It is hard to imagine what that number means, but this sea of red will truly help to visualise the human toll.
Of course, the vastness of the numbers hides all the individual sorrow and heartache that was experienced as loved ones received the dreaded telegram and had to come to terms with loss (something that still continues today – sadly WW1 wasn’t the war to end wars).
I was researching my own family history recently and came across a facsimile of the telegram my great grandma would have received telling her that her 22 year old son had been killed – the same age as my son now. Luckily her other son (my grandfather) survived (or I wouldn’t be here writing this of course) but how she must have worried until he returned home safely. In honour of my deceased and surviving relatives from WW1, and as a bond across the years from one mother to another, I created my own small commemoration in the form of a tea and cafetiere cosy, which I would like to share on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the day war broke out.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
by John McCrae
Slightly out of the blue a friend asked me the other day if I would be knitting poppies for Remembrance Sunday this year. Now part of me questions that, if we all bought reusable poppies then how do the various veterans support agencies continue to make money….But as the owner of three delightful little stick pin poppy brooches bought over the last three years at the wonderful National Memorial Aboretum in Staffordshire, I think I’ve answered my own question!
Now, I hadn’t thought about it till she mentioned it but when I got home, I started looking at poppy patterns on the internet. There are quite a few out there of varying quality (one or two that look nothing like a poppy other than they are red with a black centre) but I did find a couple that I’m delighted with.
I particularly fell in love with the crochet pattern on the 5000 Poppies blog which makes a real statement poppy (the three across the top of the picture). Obviously you can vary the size by using a smaller or larger crochet hook and the use of an oddment of eyelash yarn adds an authentic touch for the stamens. For those who prefer to be less flamboyant, I made a few small knitted poppies but for the life of me, I can’t find the the link to the pattern. It was very simple though – twisting the needle through 360deg gives the petal shape with no need for any fancy increasing and decreasing. If anynoe out there is familiar with the pattern, please let me know so I can acknowledge them.
Haven’t had time to make many but I’ll be offering them to friends and at church for a generous donation in aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal….and hopefully they will wear their poppy with even more pride knowing that, not only is it showing support for a worthy cause but that it was handmade with love!