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The Year of the Bird


(Collage by friend & fellow artist Margaret Harrison.)

One year ago today I was wheeled into an operating room for the removal of what was killing me- my colon. It was Good Friday. It has been some kind of year. So much so that I can’t really wrap my words around it.

I’m still just sitting here after 5 minutes with no words leaking out of my pen. I blinked a couple of times realizing I’d been staring out the window at our bird feeder, ruminating over so much that has happened in the past 12 months. It’s dizzying. It’s breathtaking. It’s sobering. It’s worth remembering.


I gaze at these birds on our feeder and I remember that at one point in the past year I dubbed it the Year of the Bird. For some reason, I was given birds of various sorts both during and after my health ordeal: the above collaged painting of a robin, a sweet small figurine of a bird, a ceramic bird from Spain that warbles when you fill it with water and blow it like a whistle. Even this past Valentine’s Day, my mom made and sent me a collaged bird card.


Perhaps that is the way to hold all that has unfolded the last 365 days…my year as a bird:

-a time of exquisite beauty and dependence.

-a time of strength in helplessness.

-a time of abundant gain in and through losing something.

It’s a year that strangely doesn’t feel like it’s over quite yet. I do face a second surgery at some point in the next year as a follow-up to that first one, a year ago. I shall continue being that bird. Thank you friends and family for your gifts of birds. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers which saw me through it all. I do treasure them and even for the future.

With sincere gratitude,



Birds With Shawls


Ok. Wait. What?? Papier Mache birds you say? Really, what’s a girl to do when these things come marching into her brain, standing front and center, hollerin’ “Make Me! Make Me!” And she can barely sleep for the ideas roaming around…should I paint them? Collage them? Both? Realistic colors? Fun and bright colors? Multi-colors? Painted designs? How ’bout knitting? Where could that be added? Hats? Hmmm…. Well. After a few bouts of this, I just dove in. Nothing for it, but to just try. See what happens. Give it a go.

I can’t remember when I last made something with papier mache! It might’ve been 14 years ago when my first child turned 5 and she wanted a dinosaur themed birthday. Not being able to find a piñata in the shape of a dinosaur, I made one, with papier mache. I just don’t remember HOW I did it.

Papier Mache has always seemed rather involved. And sticky. And messy. And well, really what IS that white gooey stuff? But I found a blog tutorial that demystified and simplified the whole thing! Gail Bartel and her 7 year old child made papier mache birds, and I was enchanted! So.  After the first phase of Operation Papier Mache Birds, this is what I had:


No wings yet. You can see them cut out of a waffle box, laying on the table. You also see Elmer’s Glue, which is the concoction Gail made (equal parts glue to water) to make her Papier Mache Goo.  She also used cut strips of paper towels to dip into the Goo. I was a bit iffy about this. Still am. Might use just plain ole newspaper strips next time. Maybe. Anyway, I did like shaping the birds out of the wadded up newspapers and securing the shape with masking tape. I added the wire legs a bit differently that she did. I was skeptical as to whether I could get the legs to stay put and be secure. My way worked out just fine. I’m sure hers would’ve also!



Once I did the papier mache part, I left them to dry overnight on my desk. And then, things got a bit interesting. I woke the next morning to find they had been painted in these wonderful springy colors! Macy tried acting all innocent, but I think she used her paint brushes to work through the night adding color! I love her choices!


I have been rather busy each day with work on the Art Show at my school, so it was such a delight to waken again, the following morning, and find each bird with their very own shawl! These magical paintbrushes of Macy’s, also become knitting needles! She must be something of a night owl (though I’m sure she never wants to actually MEET one), to have these completed overnight!

She introduced each one to me–


This is Kiwi. She is a feisty, flamboyant bird on the outside, speckled with sweetness on the inside. Macy chose this yarn to showcase her colorful personality.


This is Bluebell. Bluebell is the smallest of the three birds, but chirps and sings the loudest! Macy said she enjoyed knitting this shawl especially as the colors seemed perfect for Bluebell’s music.


And finally this is Camellia. She is the oldest, a grand ole dame. She has a tendency to mother the other two. But they don’t seem to mind. Camellia requested the bit of sparkly lace crochet on the edge of her shawl.


Macy seems proud of her bird friends and their new “threads”. I’m thinking now Macy needs to knit herself a shawl, as she seems a bit chilly to me, especially in the sub freezing temperatures we’ve been having lately.

**Note: In all seriousness, it does seem to be a pattern: that when I have a huge amount of work going on, I tend to create in hyper drive. My brain, though full of the Art Show To-Do List, is constantly dreaming of things to make, draw, knit, whathaveyou. Perhaps it’s a way of coping with the busyness er rather, fullness of life.  Perhaps it’s a defiant stand in the midst of chaos to have some place of stillness and creative focus. Or perhaps it’s simply a way to infuse the go-go-go whirlwind with a little bit of color and sweetness. Whatever it is, it happens a lot with me. I picture myself, in the eye of a hurricane, holding one of these little birds, protecting it from the wind. It’s as if I were guarding something precious and dear…the creative pulse that lies within. It does actually need to be guarded and protected and treated with love and care. Oh…that makes me think of a drawing!

Off I go to draw that dear friends…. see you soon!

Birds & Bunnies


In putting away Christmas, the bright, festive table decorations had to go as well. To bring in the New Year, I wanted something pared down and wintry looking. I have a nice little collection of Dedham pottery my mom has given me, a piece at a time over the years.


I’ve always loved the pattern and I tend to use it in winter through to Easter.  This year, the bowl I placed in the center seemed to beg to be made into a bird’s nest! So I filled it with yarn, added a couple of my Nesting Birds, and a bit of holly around.


To crochet these sweet little birds and their nests, click here for the pattern. Birds in winter are such a sight of hope…bright spots in an otherwise bleak landscape. Happy New Year to you all!!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers


“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

-Emily Dickinson

Return to Ravelry!

I’m back up and running on Ravelry! Woo Hoo! I had let go of my YarnworksbyJennifer website, so I needed to reconfigure the patterns and link them to Etsy for purchase.  Here’s a gallery of my current patterns, some for purchase, some for FREE! In the near future, I’m planning on adding new patterns and I can’t wait to share them!