Joy of spring

Last day of March, today, roll on April.

March had some very stormy days. This last year or so has seen the UK (UK sends us their weather!) naming every storm that comes along and there’s been a whole raft of them. The last one, just a few days ago, was Katie. She blew and blew and threw rain, hurled hail and dashed at our windows with gremlin fingers in a very unpleasant way. Proper little tiger with PMT. Thankfully, she’s disappeared back to where she came from and the sun has come out. Washing has been dried on the line and taken in with that gorgeous smell of the outdoors wafting from the wash basket.

Doesn’t the sunshine put a spring in your step and a smile on your face? Daffodils are blooming in their golden bonnets and brightening up gardens everywhere. Buds are looking swollen and getting ready to burst. It’s lovely. I lopped off the dead flowers from the several hydrangeas in the front and back gardens. It’s a proper chore but has to be done. Come mid-summer, they’ll be in full bloom and make for a tremendous show of colour, a real hot riot of pinks and blues – carnival colours. I love them.

I’ve had time, between helping lay some laminate flooring and radiator painting, to do some paper cutting. The letter H for a girl. It’s now mounted on a piece of black cotton and framed in an Ikea Ribba but the picture above shows just the papercutting in the raw.  I did a similar one as a gift for a lady’s leaving present. Hers was mounted on dark grey linen which also contrasted excellently and set it off a treat. Using fabric instead of paper was the result of necessity. Sourcing nice paper, ie, not plain pastel or brights, is Mission Impossible. I didn’t know what to do until I looked through the fabric stash and inspiration flashed.

We’ve also got our new fire surround – not fitted yet but give it a month or so. The current fireplace has to be pulled out – that means ripping up the carpet. That’s okay, the carpet is old and needs replacing but once the fireplace is in, the floor will probably need some repair work and the walls will need papering before we can get new carpet. It means the house will be like Paddy’s Market for some weeks (months??? erk!) to come.

Want to see the surround? It has a matching mirror, pretty much the full width of the mantel. It’s a sizeable piece and very heavy, like the mantel. Big hunk of wood. The insert is cast iron with a central panel featuring a thistle and other little motifs. It’s art nouveau (I think) and makes me so happy to look at it.

It’s in the back room ‘glory hole’. Everything is stacked in there at the moment. Tools, tables, boxes…. This room will be the last one to tackle so I have to live with it as is for a while. Anyway, back to the surround. I LOVE it and can’t wait for it to take its place in the lounge.

Also found time to sew a few birdies.

This chap is made from cream and grey linen with the fringe from a woolen blanket edging the smaller circle’s (the bird is simply a couple of circles folded in half) perimeter. I used the same woolen blanket for the beak and the tail – strands rolled and tied with fine string. It’s filled with lavender and hung with wooden beads and jute twine.

The first bird would have had lots of French Knots to decorate but I got ahead of myself and stitched him round without the embroidery. The other two have bugle beads, seed beads and French Knots a Go-Go! Their tails are made in the same way as the first chap. Sandwiched in between the linen layers is a fleecy lining cut with pinking shears to add a pretty trim to each bird.

These birds look so simple but each involves a LOT of work, from Bondawebbing the layers then stitching them down, making the tails and beaks, stitching the blanket edging, tacking the bird together leaving an opening for the lavender filling and securing the tail and beaks, machine stitching them closed then hand-sewing the embroidered French Knots, (for a quick how-to, I created a tutorial with Illustrator here: Mastering the French Knot) sequins and beady eyes. Believe me, I doubt I could charge enough to cover the work and time that goes into them.  My regular Samsara birds Samsara birds2 Samsarabirds3 Samsarabirds4 with their concentric circles of machine stitching aren’t much quicker and I sell them very cheaply at craft fairs for a local animal charity. I make them because they’re a joy to make despite all the work – maybe because of all the work – that goes into them.

Anyway, this trilling threesome are flying off as a Thank You present and will be leaving the nest any day now.

Last word from Gracie. Purrrrrrzzzzzz.

You’d think that all Gracie does is sleep! Far from it. She’s a little tyke and loves to be outdoors as much as possible. When she comes in for the night, she likes a fishy supper a good wash and bed. Here she is in her radiator hammock wearing her furry pyjamas looking very relaxed and happy. It’s a cat’s life!

First day of April tomorrow – doesn’t time fly?!

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