This photo of a robin was taken by a friend of mine, Jane Carlton, who takes wonderful photographs of our local wildlife.
It’s a cold grey day and we have an amber warning here in Scotland as we await the arrival of storm Dudley, followed by closely by storm Eunice. Let’s hope these don’t bring any more of the drama that we had in last week’s wind and rain.
In the past few years, any very wet weather with strong winds seems to have brought down at least one tree. They are always old, tall, beautiful trees and though they may each provide us with firewood for years to come, I grieve for the loss of them and it takes a while to get use to the empty space they leave in our garden. Last week it was the tall confer that I used to watch swaying outside the window when I was in the bath. It had been beginning to lean a little for some time and we knew we would have to reduce the size of it soon, or it would hit the house when it came down. We had my son here at Christmas taking the tops off several other trees that were close to the house or had heavy branches interfering with the growth of others but by the time these were done, it was getting dark and the conifer was left for another time.
It did come down. And it did hit the house.
I am thankful I was not in the bath to see it coming towards me. I was at the other end of the house and didn’t hear it, though I did wonder why the kitchen was so very dark when I walked into it and why the windows were a mass of smooshed branches.
It takes a while to believe your eyes. Thankfully there was no structural damage, just a broken sill and a gouge out of the frame to one window, upstairs. We were so lucky.
Now we have yet another tree to chop up and remove the heavy chunks of wood, burn all the spindly useless pieces and clear away the mess of the wood chip made by the chain saw.
a long, tedious job that takes us away from other things we want to do at this time of year like move more snowdrops into our snowdrop area.
Since my last blog post I have managed to finish the commission I received before Christmas – two mini quilts featuring sheep. Here they are:
I have also tried some simple transfer printing of ferns from my garden onto paper, after an online workshop with artist Monique Day Wilde who is based in South Africa. This was my first attempt:
I am about to iron some fusible interfacing onto the back of the paper to stabilise it so that I can add some stitching. Then I will try the same thing on fabric. This would be such a wonderful idea for making your own fabric for EPP, using old sheets, instead of needing to buy commercially printed fabric. I was so taken with this idea that I bought myself a Gel Printing Plate though I have not used it yet.
Something for You to Try:
Here is a different idea for you to try with paper which will also work with fabric. It would be great for designing your own blocks for English Paper Piecing (it could be done with any shapes that fit together) or as a interesting background to appliqué or embroidery
To try it out on paper, find a small pad of sticky notes. I used a dozen 2” x 1 1/2” sheets from a yellow Post It pad, like this:
but you can use an even number of any size and as many as you like. Stick them down onto a piece of paper, (not glued, just using their sticky strip so that you can move them around later) butt them up together like jigsaw pieces.
Now get out your paints, markers, inks, coloured pencils or crayons and make marks all over them. They do tend to curl a bit with the wetness of paint, so you can use bits of Blu Tack underneath to keep them down if necessary.
Once you have done that, let them dry and then move the pieces around to make different patterns until you find one that you like. Here is my first attempt, using acrylic paints in blue green and purple:
Then I moved the the sticky sheets around:
I painted on more green leaves and tried again:
After a few tries you may find what kind of marks are most interesting when re-arranged. I don’t think the single fat purple line worked as well in my sample (too intrusive) as several more slender lines may have done but perhaps it depends what you plan to do with afterwards.
You can use this idea for EPP by wrapping and basting your paper shapes with white cotton fabric and adding a dab of fabric glue behind them to keep them still on a cloth background. Mark them in any way you like and, once dry, move the pieces around to find an arrangement that you like. Then whipstitch the shapes together to form your patterned piece. Take the papers out and sew the piece to some backing fabric, quilt or bag, or stabilise the back with a fusible stabiliser if you prefer, and it is ready to embroider and make into a book cover or a decorated piece for a frame.
You can use fabric paints, fabric markers, Inktense pencils, inks, water soluble coloured pencils or fabric crayons. Using stencils might be fun, too. Some of these marks will need to be heat set if you want them to be permanent but do use some baking parchment between your marks and your iron to protect it from damage.
I want to leave you with two photos of the snowdrops in our garden this month. They tell us that Spring will soon be here. We have been adding more to these areas each year and we still have spaces to fill. Till next time…