Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Mrs Heggardy's Windmill

Mrs Heggardy is a sad lady. She lives alone in her windmill and keeps herself to herself, other than the odd conversation with one of the farm hands who help her to keep the farm and mill going. Poor Mr Heggardy has been gone these past few years and Mrs Heggardy misses him dearly, from the way he always left his slippers out for her to trip over, to the smell of his cherry tobacco filling the air in the evenings as he settled down on a chair outside to smoke his pipe. To honour Mr H, Mrs Heggardy always dedicates one field a year to the growing of yellow dahlias; Mr H's favourite flower. She can see them out of the kitchen window and they jog good memories as she closes her eyes to watch a laughing younger Mr & Mrs Heggardy picking yellow dahlias to bring inside the windmill, brightening every room in the house with their happy faces.

The windmill itself is still going strong; one of the last working windmills around and a special sight on the hill above the village. It supplies several local bakeries with the finest quality ground flour and Mrs Heggardy will often be seen making her deliveries with smudges of flour on her cheeks and in her hair. She doesn't mind though and the villagers, who have become used to her floury appearance, nod and smile in greeting as she passes. She nods and smiles back before scurrying on her way.

When she has time among the farm duties, Mrs Heggardy is an avid gardener and the flowerbeds outside the windmill doors are bursting with sweet smelling colour of every description. Butterflies and Bees are in seventh heaven and spend hours fluttering from flower to flower, collecting the nectar and pollen that they need. Next time you are there, take a Butterfly book with you and see how many kinds you can spot.

As well as flour, Mrs H also sells eggs laid by her very own chickens to which she lovingly tends. Each chicken has a name and will come running when called, and every morning, noon and night Mrs H will check on her chickens or pause for a chat, watching as they squabble over a delicious worm, or calling to them as she throws grain into the grass for them to scratch. Red, the rooster, is prize winning and his tail feathers earn him a winner's cup every year in the village fete for the shiniest and best groomed plumage- equal to any posing Peacock! See how fine and green they are?

I love this chicken print, it has so much character! The chickens themselves barely needed any embellishment of the stitching kind- just back stitch around the chicken, tiny french knots for the combs and eyes, fly stitch for the beaks and straight stitch for the legs and Red's feather ruff. The fabric print itself has little tiny dots which I have gone over with single strand, one twist french knots in the same colour as the background of the fabric, to give it some texture, and I have created some scruffy grasses with long fly stitches and single strand pistil stitches, bedding them in with some horizontal straight stitches.

The windmill itself was glued on with bondaweb (in the same way as Lionel's Lighthouse) to keep the edges neat and clean- especially for the sails (or blades if you prefer). I have used my beloved stone wall print and edged every stone with back stitch to give them additional definition, and added straight stitches in brown for some texture. The windows have been created with chunky straight stitches, and both the body of the windmill and the sails outlined with whipped back stitch. Inside the sails, I have used a fantastic cross hatch fabric print and used that to create a woven cross stitch, working long stitches in one direction and then weaving my needle between these lines in the other direction. The spots on the pattern have been covered with chunky (three strand, four twist) french knots.
After a lot of thought I decided to use a button for the spindle cap rather than fabric and I am pleased with the way it looks as it helps to draw the eye towards the mill itself.

The top sky layer has had a cloudy effect created by couching down some bouclĂ© fancy yarn which bobbles randomly all over the place, there are simple rows of back stitch following the lines of the fabric pattern in the next layer down, and crazy seed stitch below that. These are stitches I return to over and over again, they are the staples of any stitchscape and are so easy to do and make different depending on thickness of thread and colour.
The first green fabric has been treated with rows of running stitch, then more seed stitch below that- thicker this time with two strands rather than the single strand in the blue layer. The green spot fabric behind the windmill has been satin stitched in all of the circular shapes and edged with one of my favourite fancy ribbons.

The yellow dahlia fabric took the majority of the time to create I think as there are several layers of detached chain stitches building up the flowers. At the back of each flower, loosely following the shades in the fabric print, are darker, three strand stitches, working inward a row at a time towards two strand, lighter colour threads, with some french knots at the very centres. Mr Heggardy would be proud!
The lacy patterned fabric on the right side also took quite a time to complete, and again works with different weights of line, as demonstrated by the weights of line in the remaining visible print. These have been made with back stitches and straight stitches following the print and I think they look really lovely! Almost like super fancy crop circles would you say?

So, the next time you see a windmill, spare a thought for sad Mrs Heggardy with her yellow dahlias and beloved chickens, perhaps it is her windmill you can see on your travels!

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