I went to a talk this week, by Barbara Chainey on "The tent makers of Cairo". Barbara told a tale of the tent makers of Cairo, how she had discovered the street of the tent makers which is off the main tourist routes, but is one of Egypts real treasures, continuing a tradition of applique that has been going for 4000 years. For an hour and a half she held up pieces of work that were once designed to make a suradeq - a huge tented pavillion for ceremonial use, but now are sold for the tourist trade. Each time she held something up she joked "you won't like it" and lovingly smelt and stroked each piece, and every so often she smiled and said "they're mine" or "I've counted them!", it was fascinating to see someone show off with such pride the work of others, that she has lovingly collected over the last 16 years. She told of how each piece is sewn by hand, how there are no templates, only a paper pattern that is pricked with a needle and then charcoal or chalk are used to create a guide on the backing fabric, and then the colour fabrics are appliqued on, free hand, each piece is needle turned, and the stitches are TINY! As the children (only the boys) gain experience the patterns get more complex, until the master stitches create patterns as complex as anything you can possibly imagine.