Hearts stitch journal, 28 June 2018

A lovely day – currently crisp and sunny, with a refreshing breeze, but due to be over 30 degrees later. The farmers must be happy, as this dry spell means they’ve been able to cut and turn the hay, and the barley is ripe – I can hear the combines as I type, which may be the first cereal harvest beginning. All over our region now, and right along our lane, the sweet chestnuts are in bloom, so covered in catkins that they look almost ornamental. They’re not a native plant – they were brought here by the Romans, along with walnuts, and were planted all along their roads to provide food for the soldiery. In this region, they are planted along the tops of banks to create a microclimate for the fields – the ‘bocage’ – and are pollarded every eight years or so. In autumn, I harvest and process sackloads of the nuts for winter stews, but right now it’s the scent that’s really noticeable – there is no getting away from the fact that chestnut blossom smells like semen! Today’s threads are pale blue coton à broder no 20; brown cotton perlé no 5; brown rayon embroidery thread; dark green coton à broder no 16; light green coton à broder no 20; green six-strand embroidery thread, sewn single strand; and lemon sewing cotton no 40. The stitches are Palestrina stitch for the heart, couching for the twig, thorn stitch for the leaves, and French knots, pistil stitch and straight stitch for the catkins.

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