Friday, February 25, 2011

February 2011 Meeting: Female Frontiers

Starting 2011 as we mean to go on, the Sisterhood celebrated their first meeting of the year with a furious concentration on “lady bits”.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is coming up in March, and to mark the occasion the lovely ladies from Ovacome paid Shoreditch a visit to give us a talk on ovarian cancer and involve us in their Teal Tips campaign.

Teal is the colour chosen to represent ovarian cancer; and this March Ovacome, together with OPI nail varnish, are using a rather dashing shade of teal nail polish to raise the profile of the disease. As we learnt on Monday ovarian cancer causes vague symptoms, if any at all, earning it the nickname “the silent killer”. By tealing our tips we hope to do what women do best – help each other. Simply being aware of the disease may encourage worried women to go their GP, and knowledge of symptoms will empower women further by taking away the mystery of the “silent killer”. Ovacome’s campaign BEAT makes this easier to remember the three most common presented symptoms. 

BEAT stands for:
Bloating that does not fluctuate with your cycle, 
Eating less than normal, 
Abdominal pain and 
Talking to your GP. 

Finally we hope our nails will show our concern and support for all the women who have been affected by ovarian cancer.

Jazz hands everybody!

While our nails were drying our very own Tara and Saria from Forward gave us a talk on FGM and the Embroideries campaign. The Sisterhood have been involved in this campaign for nearly a year now, and we were very excited to hear Tara confirm the location for the quilt launch. For those of you that haven’t finished (started) your patches yet don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time to pop a pussy in the post and join the collection so get creative.

The address to send them to is:

5a Gransden Avenue
E8 3QA
United Kingdom

Snack Chat: Vegan cookies (Caroline), brownies (Jen)

See you at the next meeting! SSWIxx

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stitching Vulvas with the WI

We have had some patch deliveries from far and wide, even one from France. A lovely Glaswegian has blogged her contribution here. If anyone wants to sew, embroider or knit or other wise craft a 7x7 inch patch for our Embroideries Project, they can be posted to :

5a Gransden Avenue
E8 3QA
United Kingdom

Our Tara loves getting pussies in the post at work, so make her happy and get crafting.

Of course, anyone (female) can join us at our next meeting on February 21st @Concrete to make more vulva patches as well.


We had great fun at the Women's Library on Saturday. Thank you to all the sisters who came and helped out and all the stitchers who sat and created with us and Saria from Forward who provided lots of information about FGM.

Saria's table, with International Women's Day fabric that several of us want to make dresses out of.

I have honestly never said the word vagina so many times in one day, only to be reminded afterwards that the vagina is technically the inside bit and we were making vulvas, the exterior bit.

Here is our table:

A favourite reaction to the table ladened with vagina/vulva patches was "These seem to be.... variations on a theme." A lovely WI member from Sussex wanted the pattern for my crocheted cardigan (which I had to admit was from eBay) and took me around the current exhibition "Handmade Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts", showing me where the tatting had been scandalously mislabelled as crochet - quite a few eagle eyed Women's Institute member had spotted this mistake. Also got to meet ladies from East End WI, Stoke Newington WI, the First Ladies of Barking and Dagenham WI and N1 WI.

Some more pictures from the event at the Women's Library:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 2011 Meeting: Embroideries & Lady Parts

Our next meeting has shifted to Monday 21st February at Concrete and we'll be open from the earlier time of 6.30pm to say hello to new members and do all the annual fee paying for existing members. 

Saria from Forward and our own Tara are going to introduce our Embroideries campaign (see pic above & previous blog post). There will be lots of sewing going on. Useful things you could bring are needles, sewing thread, embroidery thread, fabric, scissors, embellishments and any thing else you'd like to make your patch - lace, sequins, etc.

There will also be a chance to have a your nails painted as part of Ovacome's Teal Tips campaign. We wanted to lend our support to Ovacome's Teal Tips campaign this March to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. Although ovarian cancer is more likely to manifest itself in post-menopausal women, and we are a largely younger WI, we know that awareness amongst ourselves can have positive implications for mothers and friends - awareness is key to recognition of symptoms, early diagnosis, and ultimately lives saved. Hopefully all our distinctive nails will prompt questions and comments from friends and colleagues in the days following our meeting, so we can spread the message even further!

RSVP to the facebook event page or just turn up and say hello.

What with making patches, talking about FGM and ovarian cancer, it is unintentionally a lady parts theme night!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

WI Craft Day at the Women's Library

Hope you can join us to day, to learn new crafts, maybe listen to some talks and buy some cakes. Free entry, open to all. Drop in any time between 11-4pm.

Ground Floor Exhibition Hall 10 - 4
Hand Made Tales Exhibition

First Floor- Café space & Mezzanine 11- 4

Craft demonstrations:
Surrey Federation -Lacemaking, tatting, goldwork embroidery and rag rugging
Suffolk East Federation - Patchwork, knitting and button necklaces
Barking & Dagenham - Needle felting

Participatory events:
Shoreditch Sisters WI - Creation Station -Patchwork
Knit 1 Pass it on- for children & families

Refreshments: East End WI are organising the refreshments for this event
Seminar room (Centre of exhibition hall) 12.30-1.30 & 3- 4pm

Anne Stamper, WI Honorary Archivist -Crafts in the WI- a Historical Perspective
Pat Lumsdale, National Crafts Adviser -WI & Crafts Today

Reading Room visits - 11.30am, 1.30pm, and 3.00pm Meet in the foyer
Visit The Women’s Library Reading Room (normally closed to the public on Saturdays) and get the chance to look at material from the NFWI archives

The Shoreditch Sisters will be there making vulva patches for our end FGM campaign with the charity Forward. The European Parliament estimates 500,000 girls and women living in Europe are suffering with the lifelong consequences of female genital mutilation. Read more about this issue from Amnesty:

The patches we make are going to be sewn into a quilt and displayed at a future exhibition with Forward

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Message from our new President Becky

I wanted to take this opportunity as I take over the role of President of the Shoreditch Sisters to say a huge thank you to our outgoing President, and founding member, Jazz. I haven't been a member from the very start, but from the very first meeting I attended, making an Amy Winehouse costume for a PlayStation Little Big Planet Sackboy, Jazz's passion and enthusiasm for the Shoreditch Sisters and the activities and campaigns that we have been involved in is what stands out. I am slightly daunted by the task of taking over from Jazz and the very large metaphorical shoes I will have to try fill, but am lucky to have such a great committee behind me. 

Wishing you all the best with the completion and launch of the book Jazz, and know that the group will most definitely miss having you at the helm!  Thank you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Embroideries: A campaign to end FGM

My first reaction when hearing of FGM was disbelief that something so cruel could really be inflicted on young girls. For those like me who hadn't heard of it before, FGM stands for female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or cutting.

It is a brutal and inhumane practice often performed on very young girls. The procedure consists of cutting off the inner and outer labia as well as the clitoris before sewing the area up, leaving one very small hole for urination as well as sexual activity. The practice is designed to remove the possibility of pleasure from sexual intercourse, as well as confirming the virginity of the girl upon marriage due to the profuse bleeding that is guaranteed to occur upon the tearing of her scar during her first sexual encounter. 

FGM is most commonly conducted when the child is 7 years old, it is rarely performed in sanitary conditions with proper sterile equipment and the child is seldom anaesthetised. The practice is most wide spread in Africa and some parts of the Middle East, but it does also happen here in the UK where it is illegal and so the domain of corrupt 'backstreet' surgeons. This also means that infections are rarely treated as parents are too scared to take their daughters to  a doctor.

The word used in Iran to refer to the procedure of FGM translates to English as "embroidery"; this planted the seed of out creative campaign which aims to draw attention to the atrocity of this practice and also to breakdown taboos surrounding the vulva. We have been compiling a collection of embroideries of ornate and luxurious vulvas! Made from the finest material and the richest colours, individual and elaborate embroideries on the finest silks and velvets to celebrate and glorify the vulva as it should be, as unique as a fingerprint. 

We hope this piece of work will achieve the main objectives of creative campaigning: to attract attention, shock and surprise, make an impact, subvert, inform, educate and to appear in the media. The message we will be trying to spread is that FGM is a human rights offence and a practice which must be erradictaed now.

Thanks to Tara for the most of the words and picture.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Au Revior Old Blog

Welcome to the new Shoreditch Sisters blog. Our previous blog over at is now in retirement.

We've also said a sad au revoir for now to our founding president Jazz, who is still on our committee and will be busy with forthcoming WI related things (more to come on this soon, it's very exciting). The new president is baking specialist Becky, with the craftastic Jen as treasurer and myself as secretary.

So far this year we have been busy making plans for our monthly meetings, but we'd like to hear from our members on what they'd like to do. Any ideas, people you'd like brought in to talk to us, subjects you are interested in, skills you think you could share and anything else you can think of. We have a lot of super talented members, so does any one want to design a new banner for this page or have a go at making a new logo? If drawing isn't your thing, you could knit, bake or sew something and take a photo.

We'll also be getting involved with other people's events and are planning out first march of 2011. Subscribe to this blog to find out more, find us on our Facebook page and follow us on twitter. Paid up members will be getting a news letter emailed out soon, in the mean time have a look at the events page on Facebook (and invite your lady friends to join us) or look at the calendar on the right.

The next meeting will be on 22nd February at the new earlier time of 7pm (don't worry if about coming in late though). Details of what we'll be doing coming to the blog and facebook soon.

Finally, soon on the blog I'll be posting about some of our previous events and campains and thanking all the lovely people who have helped us, taught us something or talked to us. 

Secretary Shoreditch Sisters