Wakening early, I was greeted by a cacophony of bird song in the air of the dark cold morning.
The weather has been hard on the little song birds -
freezing temperatures, a bitter wind and a blanket of snow covering the ground.
As temperatures rose and daylight arrived I was delighted to see Goldfinches amongst the visitors to the garden; feeding on last years seed-heads of the Verbena Bonariensis and Teasels that I have not yet cut down.
On a recent trip to Brighton, I found the most charming little book in a second-hand bookshop.
Rather battered, the book was obviously well used, so I embroidered a cover (inspired by Caroline Zoob) to protect it from further damage.
Beautifully written and presented, the author of the little book - Miss Benson describes the bird as the most warm-blooded and vitally and joyously alive of all the creatures.
Of the Goldfinch - she tells how it became a protected bird due to the cruel fashion for capturing and caging it - the majority of them dying in the process.
She describes it as one of the most handsome finches and "very dainty in its ways".
"The nest is sometimes deliberately decorated. I have seen one draped with fresh forget-me-nots."
The Goldfinches song is "fairy-like, with notes high and tinkling, reminiscent of Japanese wind-bells."
On the opposite page to The Goldfinch is The Linnet.
Miss Benson tells about the mother Linnet who would not leave her chicks in a gorse fire, and covered them until she was burnt to death.
She writes that "this is one of our most loveable little song-birds. It brings with it a breath of gorse-clad hillsides and summer days. The song is sweet; often almost dreamy, at other times rising to an exuberant trilling twitter."
Like Miss Benson, I have always loved birds and on many occasions rescued them from accidentally being caught in the netting and greenhouses down at the allotment.
When February's Stitchery eventually arrived, I was thrilled to find Nicki had included a lovely piece of old fabric printed with a pink bird.
The delayed arrival meant that I was rather under pressure to complete the embroidery before the March project arrived.
The woven stitch used for the ranunculus was not as complicated than it looked, so all was progressing well until I started on the Bullion Knots!
Oh my word - what a fiasco!
Despite Nicki's You-tube tutorial, I managed to get the thread in a real tangle for my first attempt. (Should've practised on a scrap of fabric first - but I was in too much of a hurry!).
The second attempt was even worse and I nearly tore the linen.
Taking a deep breath, I considered that perhaps I was overthinking the stitch. Overthinking is something I have a tendency to do and can be a terrible obstacle to getting things done.
I tried a different approach. Using my intuition and subconscious mind, I let my fingers and the needle work together and realised that the stitch I have used numerous times as a variation to a French Knot was actually a compact form of Bullion Knot.
February's heart design is complete; The birds are singing, Spring is in the air; lots of inspiration for more embroidered pictures and March's stitchery kit will soon be here.
Things are looking good!!