I'm not the only one who has used Morse-code within textiles to communicate secret messages, though this piece of cross stitch has an infinitely more heroic, historic and patriotic story; created in 1941 by Major Alexis Casdagli whilst he was a prisoner of war, being held by the Nazi's in the second world war. Pinching and scavenging various scraps of canvas and bits of yarn from fellow inmates' old jumpers and tattered pyjama's, Casdagli slowly started to create this embroidery with it's subversive coded message that was never understood by his captors, despite it being show throughout the castle in which hi was being held in Germany. Major Casdagli also created an embroidered map of his cell, as well as a fully stitched letter to his son, saying;
‘It is 1,581 days since I saw you last but it will not be long now. Do you remember when I fell down the well? Look after Mummy till I get home again,’
Casdagli continued to stitch well into his old age, and passed the skill on to his son, who has now made a book called 'a stitch in time' about his father's experience during the war. His father believed that stitching could transport him from his worries, allowing him to become fully absorbed in his activity, whilst pouring sentiment, memory and story into his patterned textiles. This is something I aim to share with this extremely inspiring and talented hero!
Tony Casdagli, , holding his father’s work depicting his PoW cell.
A Stitch in Time: God Save The King, Fu*k Hitler' by Captain A Casdagli, is available from lulu.