Cold, grey and drizzly today and I was in warm waterproofs for our walk down the lane. Even the Met Office describes this weather as ‘unseasonably cold’. Throughout the garden, the greater celandine is bursting into flower. This is a weed, but I am fond of it. Its screaming chrome-yellow flowers and complex foliage shape are very pleasing, especially when, as now, they are mixed with the magenta flowers of honesty, which it closely resembles in height and spread. Every part of the plant is filled with a bright saffron-coloured sap that stains clothing, so this is a plant best kept away from paths and handled very carefully during weeding. This year I have allowed it proliferate in order to use it for dyeing thread. It has a place in the pharmacopeia as an antispasmodic and liver cleanser but isn’t recommended for civilian use, as it’s a member of the poppy family and it’s easy to overdose.
The threads are a grey crochet cotton that I separated into single ply, grey cotton perlé no 5, green retors d’alsace no 12 and yellow vintage six-strand embroidery thread, sewn in two strands (the label was damaged, but I think it’s Peri-Lusta, as this thread doesn’t spread like an Anchor thread, for instance). The stitches are something I made up for the heart, which is two chains back to back joined by a straight stitch, then single-threaded, stem stitch for the stems, fishbone for the leaves, superimposed detached chain for the petals and a French knot for the eye. Today I’ve included a photo of the embroidery part-done, to show the sketching process. I use a 5b pencil, sharpened with a scalpel.