"Look to this day, for it is Life
– the very Life of Life!"
Sylvia Cosh passed away on Sunday, 30 July, 2000
– her positive and creative spirit gloriously undiminished
An exhibition of Sylvia's 'still' photographic double-images – 'Reflexions' – has been posted on this site
To see some of Sylvia's own crochet work, go to crochet.nu
Also on view at our crochet site – crochet.nu – are pictures of two amazing 'scrumbled' wall-hangings which have been made in Sylvia's memory by:
• Prudence Mapstone and members of The International Free Form Crochet Group, who live in various parts of the world and who 'meet' on the internet
• Gwen Blakley Kinsler and the Northern Illinois Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America, whose talented members have always been enthusiastic practitioners and teachers of freeform crochet
We are thrilled to bits to have both these wonderful pieces and would like to thank all the gifted and caring people involved in their creation for their extreme generosity. (Their names and some information about the creation of the hangings is contained in the respective dedications)
One idea was for these pieces to be displayed at an exhibition of Sylvia's work and then later to be auctioned and the proceeds donated to the MacMillan Nurses and the Princess Alice Hospice (both charitable organisations, which greatly helped and were very much appreciated by Sylvia)
For the time being, however, they are being kept together to form the beginning of a very special collection in The Long Room of Scrumblers' Gallery Online – a website which James is building to promote the kind of work Sylvia inspired. They are also went to the 'Scrumblers Unite!' Crochet Forum, in Geelong, Australia, in October 2003 (This event was part of the well-established week-long Forum, run by TAFTA (The Australian Forum for Textile Arts) – and they are a lasting tribute to Sylvia's creative vision
View the wall-hangings now!
As part of our celebration of Sylvia's creative and caring spirit, we have been sowing seeds and plants at The Old Chapel and gathering information, mainly through membership of the Butterfly Conservation organisation, so that we can encourage butterflies and look after their habitats appropriately
We have been growing the nectar flowers and shrubs upon which all butterflies depend, including teasels (which also appeal to the goldfinches!), several Buddleia's and Devil's-bit Scabious as well as all the usual annuals. We also maintain Nettle beds. These have received copious attention from Orange Tips, Brimstones, Tortoise Shells, Red Admirals and Peacock butterflies, which Sylvia loved very much. They seem so happy that they scarcely bother to move if you go and stand amongst them and, if you stay still for a moment, are very likely to land on you and enjoy a snooze in the sunshine
There are some examples of Sylvia's crochet work, which show how inspired she was by butterflies in general and the Peacock in particular. (The 'thumbnails' link, if you click on them, to larger images – remember you may have to wait a little time for these to download.)
by Nigel Cosh, Sylvia's son
"My earliest memories of our mother, or 'Mutts' [rhymes with 'puts', 'foots', etc] as we call her, are when she taught us how to read. With patience and many voices, she and my father brought stories to life, thus starting a lifelong love of books. She was always there for us all, and made us understand what love is.
But while we were growing up we didn't really see another side of her that was blossoming as the years went by; her teaching of crochet. There are now many thousands of people around the world that have been privileged to have attended one of her workshops. Initially these were simple, and mainly consisted of the needlework skills required to actually produce something – even I learnt how to do the chain stitch when I was 5, and was very proud of myself when I produced a 6 foot chain in one of her classes!
But teaching the basics didn't fulfill her creative side and very soon she was designing garments and experimenting with dying her own wool. When we went on holiday to Wales we would collect sheep wool from barbed wire fences and 'Mutts' would spin it and use it in her designs. Very soon her genius was bringing in orders from far and wide, and at one time a whole window in the Harrods Christmas display was devoted to her work. Most people would continue to milk this lucrative industry as far as possible, as indeed it paid much more than anything else she had worked on previously. But 'Mutts wasn't tainted by the desire for money, and simply moved on from this to writing books, so that she could share the beauty of crochet with a much wider audience. I will always remember how proud we all were, when her first book came out.
She worked with many other people on a total of 8 books, countless teaching documents and articles, and several videos. Virtually anyone who has a serious interest in arts and crafts has heard of her, and many met her. She did lecture and workshop tours around America, Australia and New Zealand with James, and they had many stories of the wonderful people they met and interesting places they visited.
'Mutts' didn't limit herself to crochet however; her creative talent covered many textile areas, especially the study of colours and textures. In recent years she had become much more involved with video and photography, and many was the time you could see her in the garden with her camera, taking shot after shot of a particular flower because the light and colour made her so excited.
'Mutts' saw the world through different eyes from most people, enjoying symmetries we didn't notice, colour variations we couldn't discern, and patterns we simply didn't see. These fed her spirit and caused her to write countless snippets in her diaries of the beauty of our surroundings. Even as late as last week, 'Mutts told me that she wanted to start experimenting with watercolours, and it was clear that she had many more ideas waiting in the wings for when she had time to work on them.
Most people would hear this and say that she must have lived a busy life. But 'Mutts knew there was more. As a diversion from the crafts she took courses in hypnotherapy and psychotherapy, and began to get involved in alternative medicines and healing. She read a great many books on the subject and decided to help people in her spare time. This very quickly became a passion and she regularly visited the healing centre in Kingston, where her skills were sought after and many people benefited. She also gained a great deal of strength from these sessions and enjoyed enormously the opportunity to probe her spiritual side, and get closer to others. The friends she made whilst doing this were very important to her, and helped her get through the illness.
It's clear that 'Mutts' did an enormous amount of things, but these details don't give any impression of the real her. Her warmth and kindness, her caring and compassion, her patience and love. Everyone who met her immediately fell in love. She was very beautiful, but also had a much deeper gentleness that attracted people to her. All of us received notes and cards from her telling us how important we are, and how much we matter. She made us feel good about ourselves, with no expectations in return. She spread her love around, and made the world a better place.
This wasn't simply preaching, as I have never met another person who was so genuinely moved by emotion, and who approached life from a point of naivety many modern cynics simply wouldn't believe. She never grew the shell around her, that so many of us use, to avoid feelings that embarrass us. Seeing suffering was very painful for her, but witnessing nice things would often bring tears of happiness to her eyes - simple things like someone telling someone else how much they love them. Because of this naivety she let people get close to her, and discovered how rewarding it can be to form such deep friendships. Her simple love was the most wonderful thing to experience, and many of us here are still feeling it now.
Although her body failed her in the most upsetting way possible, 'Mutts' never got angry about the disease, but saw it as an opportunity to fight with every weapon available. Even at the end she wasn't bitter, and was more worried about being a burden to others than anything else. In the 31 years I had the pleasure of knowing her, I never heard her be rude about anyone, put anyone down, or even say a derogatory remark. I think she fulfilled all the aspects of the definition of being a saint, although she wouldn't be pleased with me for saying that!
Her love for people and nature was boundless, but family was always the most important thing. 'Mutts' adored Jason, her Grandson, whose energy revitalised her when he visited. Amanda has grown into an astonishing woman, becoming more and more like 'Mutts' every day; caring and thoughtful, with a heart as big as a house. 'Mutts' was proud of my accomplishments, especially that I have gone into teaching, which is such a fulfilling profession.
But there is one man who made her life so special. They tied the knot 37 years ago, and since then their souls have become so intertwined that it will take much more than this to separate them. The expression 'til death do us part' is meaningless for Barry and Sylvia, as their love for each other goes deeper than life itself.
Now we have to say goodbye to her, and this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But she is going nowhere. She lives on in all of us. When I see a fly and think of swatting it, I remember her shooing them out the window asking them to leave. There was one occasion when ants had raided the kitchen and she wouldn't hear of killing them - we had to gently sweep them into a dustpan and relocate them in the garden! When I am stuck in traffic and getting angry, I think of the patience she showed when dealing with the horrific pain of the cancer. When I feel like putting someone down, I think of the way that she would always find something positive to say. When I feel like passing judgment on something or someone, I remember how she would always let us make our own mistakes, but still be there for us afterwards.
I love her deeply and will do so forever, and am so honoured that I got the chance to know someone so special. She will be with us always."