Stitcher Matt works as part of an in-cell stitching group.
Every day, as routinely as I do my daily ablutions, I assess my current stitching project with the discernment of an armchair virtuoso. Yes, I am a stitcher and embroiderer. Trust me when I say that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!
I probably spend 2-3 hours a day with a needle, more on weekends, depending on which piece I’m working. Some kits I’ve enjoyed stitching more than others – the ferns with all the bright colours and varied stitches was a pleasure to work on. I prefer the challenge of the larger designs, because although I can drift off with the repetition of some stitches, I like how embroidery helps me concentrate and practice my own mindfulness. It’s the best of both worlds.
Some pieces can be tedious – imagine my eyes rolling back into my head while I gesticulate wildly, screaming ‘Why!’ at the ceiling. Other rage-inducing pieces can make or break a man, such as when the fabric has puckered up so much that only three days of sleeping on it between two mattresses can flatten it. Sometimes I’ll hear the screams of prison-hardened men as they discover yet another bird’s nest at the back of the canvas. Nevertheless, whether I’ve been contentedly singing or muttering ever louder and more colourful expletives with every French Knot I’ve pulled, I always finish a piece with a sense of achievement.
It has been awesome to see my work in Stitch Up magazine and to complete my OCN certifications.
Fine Cell Work has been a real lifeline. Not only has stitching provided a little nest-egg ready for when I walk through the gates, it also kept me driving through some tough times.
I appreciate the nation as a whole struggled during the pandemic, but for those of us banged-up for 23½ hours a day, 7 days a week, putting needle to canvas was so beneficial. We won’t forget that Fine Cell Work volunteers carried on their support, even during that difficult period. From socially-distanced kit-exchanges between volunteers and our prison officers to the people who wrote personal letters of encouragement to individual stitchers, the commitment has been inspiring.
Prison would be a far darker place without organisations like Fine Cell Work and people like the volunteers. I am in awe of you all. Thank you.
To support our work in prison so that we can reach more people like Matt, do donate to our appeal here.
- Tags: Prison Stories