Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

I recently had the honour of taking part in a special community Sunday service at St. Paul's United Church, Riverview, NB.  The service was a project of the social justice committee at the church and focused on issues of global and local violence against women. Guest speaker Susan Hartley, Atlantic Chapter representative for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (http://www.cw4wafghan.ca/ ), spoke of the issues that are facing Afghan women and girls and their struggle to become empowered and to gain basic human rights. She explained that the goals of her organization are to advance educational opportunities for Afghan women and children, and to increase the understanding in Canada about human rights in Afghanistan.

My first awareness to the women of Afghanistan came about while viewing a television documentary that showed our former Member of Parliament, Flora MacDonald as she worked towards improving the lives of women and children in Afghanistan. Struck by the beauty of the women I saw and their colourful scarves and dresses, I created a hooked tapestry to represent one of the women in the film. I call her "Arell" and she later became part of an art show that accompanied Colleen Furlotte's film, "A Question of Beauty". 

Later, sitting around a campfire in Algonquin Park with a group of Canadian military families, our conversation included who was leaving again for Afghanistan and who was leaving for the first time. One of the women, a mother with two small children, was preparing to leave on her third tour. She was positive about going - another voice telling how important it was to work towards a better life for Afghan children.

Since then, my Afghan ladies and children have multiplied to become a series, where I humbly attempt to tell a piece of their story


(private collection)

"Zaha and Abbas"
Image: 21 cm. by 28cm.

"Jeena, Nadia and Badria"
Image: 26.5 cm. by 31.5 cm.

"Soraya and Ayesha"
Image: 26.5 cm. by 31.5 cm.

Image: 15cm. by 29.5 cm.

Ⓒcontent copyright 2012 Patricia Winans

All of the pieces (except Arell) are for sale. They are framed as shown. If interested please email me at     patriwinans@gmail.com


  1. Beautiful work, the shading is fantastic, giving the vision of the folds of the scarves/fabric. I especially love Arell, I can understand that one being in a "private collection", but they're all wonderful. Very impressive.

    1. Thanks Bonnie, I appreciate your comments and support - I had a wonderful time creating these.

  2. Well Hello! This is my first time visiting your blog and I'm SOOO glad I did! Your series of the Afgan women is absolutely amazing!!! I have literally been studying each one. Especially Arell, is her scarf hooked with wool or some other fabric? It almost looks like when I have hooked with knit t-shirts. It's so soft and fluffy!! Love your style!!!! Also what cut did you do these in?
    I'll be back,

    1. Hi Sheri
      I am so happy that you found me! I've been away for a few days - so hence my delay in getting back to you.
      I truly appreciate your comments about my ladies. Arell was the first one that I did. Her scarf is hooked from white pantyhose that I dyed with Pro Chem dyes. I learned about using pantyhose from a teacher from Newfoundland at the ATHA Conference that we had a few years ago in Halifax. As you probably know, Dr. Grenfell spearheaded a cottage industry for women of the Newfoundland outports by having New England women donate their old stockings (silk,lyle,cotton) for the Newfoundland ladies to make mats, sell them and therefore have an income. I used the pantyhose again as a metaphor for the restriction of the woman - as I for one never found pantyhose comfortable!
      The technique I use when using the hose is to hand cut a strip across the leg about 1/2" wide. You then have a circle - cut the circle to form a strip - and then give it a pull. It will roll into a "worm" to hook. The ends are traditionally left to the bottom or back of the piece - hence it is very messy. I bring the ends to the top (as you do with wool) and then bury the ends in the work.

      For the others, I used linen for example to hook the tent so it would look like canvas, "cut" or flocked silk for Zaha's robe, all faces are natural colored pantyhose - in short, I use whatever will work for texture, colour or impression.