Sunday, September 6, 2015

Quilt making in Iraqi Kurdistan

I began work with CPT in Iraqi Kurdistan in March 2011. Lukasz Firla came on team just a couple of weeks before me. We both entered Sulaimani in the midst of anti corruption demonstrations. As we could not leave the CPT house alone Lukasz and I bonded over nargila/hookah/waterpipe smoking and walking around the main square of Sulaimani speaking to the Kurds who came out in the thousands to demonstrate and to ask their government to change.

We spent many hours talking and getting to know each other. Thus we became close team mates and friends. When he and Carolina Rodriguez announced their engagement I knew I would need to create something to celebrate their marriage. I had plenty of opportunity to get finished.

First they were married in the civic office in Washington, DC (where Carolina had been attending university).

 Then, in summer 2014, they had a wedding in Czech Republic where Lukasz's family lives and where he spent most of the years of his life before coming to Iraqi Kurdistan. Fourteen year old  Jaco is also part of the new family.

Then in March 2015 during the Kurdish .New Year Festival, (Nawroz) they had a Kurdish celebration in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. Latif who is a friend of the team and a lawyer presided .

Then finally,( I think), in the summer of 2015 they had a celebration in Colombia where Carolina's family lives and where she spent most of her life. Many of the team  members of CPT Colombia were able to join the party.

I was not able to join any of the weddings, but this summer I was again on team with Lukasz (just before the Colombia celebration). I decided to buy a simple sewing machine and to work on a small quilt for them. But all the new fabric on sale in the bazaar is not suitable for making quilts. So I had to work hard on how to find the resources for it.

I had bought  a duvet cover that seemed to be created with European quilting cotton. I thought that could be the base fabric for the quilt. But I needed other colours to co-ordinate with the pattern. So I spent one of my Friday days off to head to the second hand section of the bazaar. These stalls are full of textiles from Europe and  I thought it was possible to find more cotton. I dug deep in the two piles outside of this stall. and I was amazed to find the fabric that would work.

I did not have all my fancy tools for creating a quilt, so I used the old technique of tearing!! Then I had a cardboard template to try to make all the strips the correct length.  I decided to make it only two layers, without a batting in the middle. This would make it a cooler blanket that can be used in the spring and well as the winter. Also, I imagined that the family will not be staying in Iraqi Kurdistan forever, so it would be lighter to carry in suitcase.

I gave the quilt to them at the team party just before Lukasz left for a few weeks  in Europe. Even though  he had seen the quilt in the spare bedroom, I don't think that he knew it was for them.

Recently a new member joined the family. Mexica was a teeny, tiny kitten, far too young to leave her mother. However, the mom was gone. So this tiny critter came to live with Lukasz, Carolina and Jaco. I took this photo because she was in the middle of capturing a cockroach. Fortunately she does not have any mice to catch , but  she is an expert at catching and playing with the large bugs.

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