It seems like quite a long time since there was any decent Ta-dah-ing in the Attic doesn't it? I think it might've been the May Rose Wreath which was way back at the beginning of the Summer, crikey, I really do need to be more productive. How very slack I've been this year!
Working to a deadline is not something I'm used to, neither is making something specifically for others, so this project had me a little nervous at first. Like many of my projects, I've had the idea spinning around in my head for quite some time, and suddenly this seemed like the perfect opportunity to coax it out into reality.
I ended up working quite hard on it in the weeks before I took it to
Provence, and it was not as straight forward as I had originally
anticipated. I had to sample and re-sample the various pattern parts until I was completely happy with it all, and it took a lot of faffing. Lots went wrong. Lots ended up in the bin. It's one thing to come up with the idea, but quite another thing altogether to create a good pattern for it. However, this kind of design work is
soooooo interesting and exciting to me, I absolutely adore the process.
Ok, so you must've read the title of today's post, and know that this project involves a bird? That's it above in it's flattened out component stage. I originally tried to design and work a three dimensional bird in amigurumi style (a little like this one), but after a few failed attempts and a lot of frustration I realised that I was simply not capable of doing it. I am not a Three Dimensional Thinker. No. I do best with Two Dimensions, with simple, uncomplicated flat shapes that don't require stitch markers and ooodles of counting.
Right from the start I wanted this project to be very decorative. I really love combining wool embroidery with crochet (do you remember the babushkas?), and this is definitely something I would like to do more of in future.
....and was really happy with how it came out. I really hoped that the ladies in Provence would enjoy the stitching too as I know it's not everyones cup of tea (I can tell you they did, they stitched their birds so beautifully, I'll show you in a bit)
This was the Communal Yarn Heap I took with me to Provence for us to work from. It's a mixture of DK merino wools (Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino, Rico essentials merino, and Lang superwash merino). I wanted the ladies to feel the happy rush I get when faced with a whole heap load of colour, so I stuffed a large bag full and took the whole lot with me. I wanted for them to be able to play with the colours, line them up, compare and contrast, pick and choose. The yarn stayed on the coffee table in the villa for the duration of the week and provided a great working palette as well as a jolt of colourful inspiration each day.
It was really interesting seeing which colours were chosen by everyone, and how each bird began to take on a new personality when it was made with different colours. Dani chose tropical bright greens with contrasting orange details....
Sitting outside in the warm October sunshine to crochet was one of the weeks highlights for me. The intense light made the colours seem even more rich and vibrant, and it was incredibly relaxing to sit working with the sun so warm upon us. Sometimes I think that a spell of warmth and sunshine at a normally chilly time of year is the greatest luxury and gives so much pleasure.
Do you know, when I planned the project and thought about how everyone might take to it, I hadn't anticipated how I would feel about it. It was such a super-good experience to watch people actually at work with my ideas, kind of like my blog come to life in a way. It made me feel soooooooo happy! I felt like I might burst with pleasure actually!
These al-fresco-hooky pictures were taken in a beautiful spot just outside Roussillon where we stopped to have a lovely picnic lunch (with the giant tomatoes, remember?). It was really quite hot on this afternoon, but with a strong breeze blowing.
Just behind where we were sitting there was a pretty little oak tree, it's branches and leaves rustling in the breeze. I thought it might be a nice idea to hang my bird in the tree to photograph it.
Want to see?
Lets have a closer look >>>>>>>>>>>
There, that's better, there she is, my little French Bower Bird sitting in her pretty flowery bower. She was being blown about in the wind a lot I have to say, and it was quite tricky getting an in-focus picture of her. I did try!
I wish I had taken more work-in-progress pictures during the week to share with you as it was really great watching the projects take shape. The time we had to crochet at the villa was quite limited and mostly in the evenings, but there were a couple mornings where we were "at home" and could spread out on the table after breakfast. On these occasions, we had the most incredible pastries to nibble on, and of course that divine milky coffee (mmmmmmmmmmmmm!). It was all rather blissful.
And this pretty little cutie belongs to Petah (the wonderful Aussie lady who organises Provence Temptations tours).....
....here she is on the last evening before we sadly had to pack everything away. Petah tells me she has now added some flowers to her bird bower, although I do quite like the simplicity of it without.
Every time I walk past her I get flashes of bright sunshiney warmth and colour and a flood of happy memories.
The grey bird I made before I left home was given a slightly different vocation in the end. Rather than sit idle in a bower of flowers, he had his tummy stuffed with gloriously fragrant Provence lavender and is now keeping my Cath K pillowcases smelling divine. I so wish you could lean forward, give him a squeeze and inhale the amazing scent, it is incredible.
While I was making the above birds and bowers at home and in France, I had a PiNg of an idea. I figured that the stripy ring cover could easily be made to look like a rainbow, and instead of a heart hanging down, I could somehow come up with a design to make a sun!! Wouldn't that be sweet?
So last week I started work on the idea, and hooked up a rainbow.
The idea worked a treat, am so happy with how it turned out.
Just want to mention about the rings that form the base for the crochet, they are marvelous and not very much money to buy. They are designed (I think) to hold and frame stitched pieces of work, so they come with a lovely little metal hanger on the top. They are called "Flexi Hoops" and come in lots of different sizes, the ones I used for this project are 7" and came from Ebay (see here and here). Modelled for your appreciation by Little B. He who Has To Be IN on EvErYtHinG.
The other thing I bought new for this project were some shiny little beady safety eyes, and I couldn't believe how much character they gave to the birds. The ones I used are 6mm ones, you can find them for sale here, along with many other shapes and sizes.
This was me this morning, sat in my pyjamas in the dim light of the bay window (it's been raining all day here today, and I've been in my pyjamas all day!), adding the decorative stitching to my rainbow bird.
It's not a bad work space I don't suppose, although a little bit cramped on the arm of the chair and the windowsill. Plus is does leave me very exposed to the attentions of a certain Little Boy who was practically sat on top of me for much of the time.
I enjoyed doing the embroidery on this little bird soooo much, it's quite a knack to know when to stop. I wanted to smother her in little lazy-daisy flowers with french knot centres, just for the joy of stitching.
I have to confess, I feel really proud of this simple bird design. It comes together quite quickly really, once the main body part/tail has been made. There are two wings to stitch on, and then an underside/gusset piece which gives the bird a nice rounded tummy and three-dimensional shape (who needs amigurumi?!)
The sunshine turned out pretty good too, and was very easy to make. I made two of them and simply stitched them together with a little bit of stuffing inside to give it shape.
Awwwwwww! I love this little pink bird, I think she is my favourite of the four I've made so far.
I went up to the bathroom shelf to take a few photographs, but the light today was very low and grey, so apologies for the poor quality. My little garden flowers look bright and cheerful though don't they, I picked them yesterday and think they may be the last now (boohoo).
I've got lots of ideas brewing for these sweet little birds you know. I want to make a seagull type one to sit in a deckchair-striped bower hung with mini bunting for my bathroom. I also had an idea to make some slightly smaller/fatter ones in jewel colours which I could stuff with christmassy spices to nestle in the branches of the Christmas tree this year. And perhaps a Festive Bower Bird, sitting in a ring of holly and mistletoe? Or maybe a Snowy Bower Bird in frosty blues, silvery greys and whites, surrounded by crochet snowflakes? Sooooooo many ideas!
....but for now I need to find a home for Miss Rainbow. I'm thinking Little Lady's bedroom might be the perfect place for her to go to roost.
ps :: have just received this gorgeous photo from Dani...after returning from the tour, she made these Love Birds as a wedding gift for her friend, don't they look amazing? The sight of them has made me feel rather ridiculously happy! ♥
pps :: this beautiful picture has just come through from Petah! I am in love with her finished French Bird in his bright flowery bower, huge heart swells here! ♥