I am very slowly working towards a hand embroidered calendar for 2021, creating each page month-by-month in real time. Not only will each page be filled with hand embroidered illustrations of the wild flowers in season that month, it will also show information on sunrise and sunset times, the moon phases, and other details of seasonal change. My hope is to photograph each hand embroidered page to eventually produce a printed version of the calendar that can be hung on your wall, your fridge or the back of a door to prompt mindfulness of your surroundings and maybe encourage us all to put our phones down and go outside. You can read more about the overall idea here.
September is a month in which the changing of the seasons feels very pronounced. The evenings get shorter and shorter, the mornings get darker and the light is a rusty orange. I love September for the gorgeous sunsets, and I love the rapidly changing plant-life, but it can be difficult as it becomes very obvious that we are heading into Autumn, with shorter days, less sunlight, lots of rain and colder days. For this reason, I find myself trying to spend more time outdoors on long walks, absorbing as much of that sunlight as I can before it begins to dwindle!
After the lushness of August, in September the meadow flowers begin to "go to seed" - when the plant begins to put it's energy into making seed and not growing. You'll see lots of seed heads around, and the meadows and roadside verges are crispy and straw like. It is this that I wanted to focus on for this month's page of the calendar.
I picked Buttercup seed heads, Cow Parsnip (or Hogweed) seed heads, Poppy seed heads and Marsh Foxtails. I designed the page in a similar way to that of the May page, because I felt that in both months, the seasonal change is very stark.
As you can see, I layered the embroidery with dried plants, and some fresh grass and Marsh Foxtails. This is the first page I have done that hasn't got much colour in it and I think that's why it took me so long to do (I only finished it on October 11th) - I don't think I felt as excited about this page because the colours are quite dull. However, once I had finished and I gave it an iron and started adding the real plants, I got very excited because it had turned out so much better than I had anticipated!
In the next few weeks, I'm going to start having test pages printed on different types of paper, with the view to having a prototype calendar ready for next May. Obviously, I won’t start taking pre-orders for the calendar until Summer 2020 (I’ll want a copy of it in my hands that I am happy with before I start taking people’s money!), but you can join the waiting list here, or read more about the idea here.
P.S. I read an excellent book a few weeks ago - Chasing the Sun by Linda Geddes. It focuses on how important sunlight is to our physical and mental health. I found the research into circadian rhythms so interesting and it helped me to understand why the Autumn and Winter months can be more difficult for some because we spend less time outdoors and as a result have less exposure to natural light. Definitely a recommended read!