Phoenix feathers and dragon toes…..


Just up the road there’s a small green, mostly it’s used as a meet up place for people with dogs and I often get the chance to make a fuss of one of my four legged friend…I don’t know half the names of the owners but I seem to know all the names of the dogs…on the green are various trees including a stag horn sumac tree (it was planted by one of the dog walkers called Ken who has a lovely little Westie called Harry, or maybe it was his brother in law who planted it…anyway, I always think of it as Ken’s tree)….

A few years ago we noticed that some of the sumac had self seeded/spread by runners…not sure how it re-produces, but there’s now a small patch of shoulder high stems growing alongside one of the paths…..they look a bit odd at the moment but come Summer and they’re all covered in leaves…..I can never just walk past them, I always have to stop and stroke those velvety stems, they really do feel just like an antler, hard and fluffy at the same time…..

buds of sumac leaves

At the moment though they look most peculiar, slightly sinister…..the leaf fronds have begun to appear and they’re slowly stretching and unfurling out….the brightest reds and flame orange, tinges of a sickly yellow green….easily as bright as something you’d expect to see in an Amazon jungle….there’s something about the shape which reminds me of parrots, those amazing colours and those fronds look as hooked as any parrot’s beak..

But touching them is as pleasurable to my fingers as stroking those downy stems…they feel quite boney, yet downy soft…the closest comparrison I can think of is a rabbit’s hind foot…fur covered and soft, yet you can feel the bone and sinew underneath.

budding sumac

Last year I bought some fat alpaca yarn by Artesano from my local wool shop in the sunset colourway and it matches these sumac buds so well……a deep flame burst of Autumn leaved orange…….I’ve kept changing my mind about what to make with it, but after spending time touching these dragon toes and phoenix feather-like leaves I’m thinking something with a lace pattern, even though it’s a heavy aran weight yarn……it’s certainly as soft and velvety feeling as the budding stems.


4 thoughts on “Phoenix feathers and dragon toes…..

  1. More and more I look to my surroundings for colour inspiration. I love the shades of green here in the mountains, I just wish I could wear dark green! Instead I am turning to the garden and the roses for my next shawl. The picture of the unfurling leaves is beautiful.

    1. Dark green socks perhaps….did you ever see the Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by Felicity (Felix) Ford…that was brilliant and her colour exercises and ideas are great. (I bought it before I was knitting and just wanted it as an inspiration point for my patchworking) I like how roses fade and you get those soft brown shades amongst the pinks.
      I’ve been thinking of you, and hope you and your family aren’t living anywhere near the fires x

  2. Thankfully the fires are nowhere near but the thought is always at the back of your mind that they could be at any time. In 2003 terrible fires raged through Kelowna where we are now and the damage is still visible even now. I keep meaning to ask, do you do all of your quilting by hand? I haven’t got a sewing machine here and would love to start a quilt. A small one, that is!

    1. Very glad to know you’re safe and sound.
      Regarding quilts, yes…all my patchwork and quilting is by hand. It’s the same as knitting…some people hand knit, some use a machine. And while sewing isn’t quite so portable as knitting, it’s amazing how fast a quilt can grow. I tend to break a project down into lots of small stages, that way it’s not so daunting, I like to enjoy each part of the making, I’m happy to invest as much time as it takes. We don’t have a huge house so I’d have nowhere to stack up some dozen quilts, so the fact they tend to take me a far while to make just means I get that much more pleasure time form the making of each one.
      I’ve written quite a lot about my quilt making process on the blog (just check the categories and tags), and am always happy to offer any advice. I’m not in a group as I prefer to sew and quilt by myself but you may find there’s a group near you. I’m in the middle of a post at the moment about things I like to use for quilting so your question was very well timed x

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