Over the last couple of days we’ve been visited by several inches of snow, which for someone who grew up on the coast of south east England is pretty exciting.
The hens aren’t too impressed, however.
But this blog post is titled after two other winter visitors.
At the end of October, I glanced out the kitchen window to see someone who looked as though he’d like to try out life as a hen.
I’d got quite accustomed to a male pheasant perched on a stump in the wetland out the back, loudly declaring his availability to any females who might be passing by, but this was the first and only time we’ve noticed a pheasant coming into the garden (I suspect the resident dogs may have something to do with this).
Earlier in October my mum and a family friend came and helped (i.e. did most of the work) decorate our hallway. It’s such a delight to come into the house in the evening, and step out the bedroom in the morning, to feel happy with my dwelling space, rather than assaulted by vile and ancient wallpaper, so I really appreciated of all they did. Below is a hint of the upstairs hallway, which now displays some of my finished felt work.
So I decided to make a pheasant for the family friend as a Christmas-come-thank-you present. I can’t seem to stop felting on tweed and trying out different things with relief, and this time I also experimented with taking the tail over the edge of the frame.
These are most colours I’ve ever used within such a small space, including woad, brazilwood, onion skins, meadowsweet, madder, and various natural wool shades.
From autumn to December, when walking in the nearby meadow and the foot of the Fells, we’d often be rewarded by the sight of flocks of redwings emerging from the hawthorn bushes, rising into the sky or darting to the next accommodating bush. Through the binoculars I could see the telltale dash of red under the wings, echoing the colour of the haw berries they visit these shores to feast on before migrating elsewhere. And the haws have been particularly lovely this year: I even tried making haw jelly, but it ended up more as haw boiled sweets.
I worked on this picture in that odd between-time of the end of December, which I always find a bit difficult, despite the picturesque hard frosts we had this year.
Making it was a glimpse of solace, much as the birds themselves are, bringing a flash of flame to otherwise cold and colourless winter landscapes.