Jean Luff moved to Torquay and joined the congregation at St Luke’s on retirement as Matron at Geelong Grammar School in the 1970’s. Travelling around England she admired beautiful tapestry kneelers in the churches she visited. A chance comment on the rather sad state of the flat green kneelers at St Luke’s lead to the commencement of the kneeler project in 1975.
The kneelers were sewn with carpet wool, with the background to be red and were professionally upholstered. St Luke’s supplied the wool and canvas and Jean taught willing parishioners the two stitches used. The designs came from someone Jean knew at another church in Torquay. Armed with your chosen design on graph paper, canvas and wool, parishioners were soon happily stitching. Great care was taken when counting out the squares on the blank canvas and we used ‘short thread’ as each time the wool was pulled through the canvas it weakened the thread, potentially shortening the life of the kneeler.
As part of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the church being moved to Torquay from Fyansford, the new kneelers were blessed. It was quite an achievement to have 30 kneelers ready for this celebration. Twenty seven kneelers for use in the pews and Jean completed the three much larger kneelers for communion in time for the celebrations.
I enjoyed being part of the project sewing my first kneeler at 18, the one with the fat flounder! One kneeler has my maiden name on the back, the second my married name.
Jean moved away years later to Port Macquarie and lived into her 90’s, passing away in 2015. Her wonderful legacy lives on. I am still delighted to read the name on the back of the person who created it, I remember the faces, and the pew the person sat in. Take a moment to admire them, they were stitched with love.