The Coming of Spring

It’s been three weeks since I planned to write this post, and I kept thinking that I’d missed the boat, it would be too late to talk about my wooly celebrations of spring’s tentative arrival. (Such as these madder-dyed Martenitsa in the garden).


But no. Spring’s presence still feels rather provisional, and while this was the view from my study window at the weekend, getting the garden ready for sowing vegetable crops–


–this is it today:


Before I moved to Scotland, spring was a season that arrived–heralded by the appearance of snowdrops, then crocuses and daffodils–and stayed put, elegantly transforming into summer at some point in May. But up here, especially in the west of central Scotland, even in early January you get the smells, sights and sounds of spring for a day or two, followed by a week of frost, and this cycle repeats itself through to March or even later. Indeed, in February and March the cycle speeds up so that spring and winter are whirling round and round within just half an hour. It has been especially like that in the last week, especially living right by the hills. I’ve felt more aware of the presence of the Cailleach since living in Campsie, where it seems like she’s always brooding over us, and each day this last week or so I’ve felt witness to the tussles of Bride and the Cailleach. In Scottish lore, the wintery old hag of the hills smites the spring growth brought about by Bride, hence the storms of wind and snow that characterise this time of year.

Still, I’ve been celebrating the early growth (such as the crocuses in the front garden)


in these experiments with needle-felting onto tweed and mixing up 3D and surface image with embroidery:

The photos don’t really do them justice – I’m really pleased with them and hope to make lots more with this technique. Also really pleased (though oddly sad) that both my Fox and Badger have sold and gone to live across the Atlantic!

Only managed to do one bit of dyeing since moving house – the last bag of lichen collected from Glasgow made some lovely golds. But making things in general has been impeded by a) political rage, b) work (teaching, writing, travel) and c) the wonderful new edition to our household: Rufus, the rescue dog who came to live with us at the end of January:

He’s brilliant. But very energetic, and getting him and Rowan used to each other has taken quite a bit of work!

But I did manage to make the kingfisher I promised in the last post, after seeing him by the stream in the park near my home.

The wool is dyed with madder and woad. I was initially a bit disappointed that I hadn’t quite captured his sense of catching fire, but he’s grown on me and I plan to keep rather than sell him. The twig he’s perched on is one of the MANY shoots of ash popping up everywhere in the garden, that I suspect I will waging war on for quite some time.


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