Stoles and other bits and pieces


Apart from the fact that I have had a Campylobacter infection, (which turned out to be a notifiable disease to our surprise) and had to spend time in hospital as a result, I have also had some urgent non-C&G projects to complete.  A skirt for last year’s holiday, a special birthday present for one of the little girls next door and an ordination stole to name but three.

I am particularly interested in the ordination stoles as they are a very special part of a special time in the priest’s journey to his or her vocation and future life.  Clerical Outfitters stock a number of suitable stoles, often the same ones as their competitors, and not necessarily totally relevant to the ordinand’s life experience.  Because of this, I am happy to make a bespoke stole, which may not have quite the professional finish of the ones from Vanpoulle or Watts, but is made for someone I know who has told me of their journey and trusted me to illustrate it for them as they want it.

The first stoles I made were not ordination ones, but leaving presents for two curates and a retiring Parish Priest.  Helen asked me to make her a purple stole, and to personalise it for her, I consulted a Dictionary of Saints to see what St. Helen(a)’s attributes might be: a Latin Cross – an upright one.  St. Helena was born in what is now Turkey, near the city of Smyrna.  So, the cross on the back of the neck was worked in Smyrna Cross stitch on waste canvas.  I decided that this would be our ‘trade mark’, and all the others have had the same Cross.  Imogen wanted a green one, and I couldn’t find anything specific for her name, so she has an otherwise identical stole to Helen’s.

St. Andrew’s Cross & Anchor                                              St. Mark’s Lion

Smyrna Cross Stitch Latin Cross

Helen’s is identical but purple: we have two parish churches: St. Mark at the top of the hill, and St. Andrew at the bottom.  There is a hanging Rood in St. Andrew’s which is mounted on an anchor, so I superimposed a St. Andrew’s Cross onto the anchor to personalise it a bit.  (You can’t do much with St. Mark).  The silk came from Hilary Williams at The Silk Route in Frimley.

The next two were to match a Laudian Frontal which I supervised as a parish project in 2012.  One remained with the frontal and the other was given to our much loved Parish Priest when he retired in 2012, he travels a lot, and takes it with him on his railway journeys around Europe.  Because it is multi-coloured, it can be used any time in the year.  This was the thinking behind the frontal: it doesn’t have to be changed every season.

As well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee symbol, there is a leaf with the Olympic Rings.  The Vicar gets the children to look for it when he does ‘Exploring the Church’ sessions.

This is the second, and shorter stole, which fitted Helen and Imogen who are both quite short.  I am making another long one, as our current priest, Robert is over six feet tall.

We had a new curate after Robert arrived, as he is a designated trainer and this is Laura’s Ordination Stole.  St. Laura’s attribute is the Laurus Nobilis.  I machine embroidered the sprays of Bay, and superimposed Laura’s choice of motifs from her home parish, and our two churches on top.

This is David’s stole.  David lives in the next parish (also the next Diocese) and although he has not been officially on the staff, because we do not currently have a curate, Robert has been mentoring him, so I ended up making another stole.  David has been very popular in the parish, and a help to Robert as well, so we are happy to give him a present.  His cousin is taking an art course, and designed him an Ember Card (a card asking for our prayers at his ordination on 1st July in Guildford Cathedral), which illustrates part of his motivation towards his ordination.

I asked if they could modify some of the design to fit a stole shape, but in the end I had to do it myself, rather daunting, but apparently acceptable.


And from the sublime to the slightly ridiculous: Florence’s Birthday present.

I gave my grandchildren a postcard size photo album each when they were small to keep photos and treasured pictures and their own art work in.  I also gave one to Florence’s older sister Annie, and doubtless Clementine will be expecting one at a later date!

Annie’s Album

Florence’s Album

The background is actually green calico, but the photo is not very good.