I haven’t seen freshly cut branches of pussy willow for years, but to me they mean spring is just around the corner. When I was young my aunt would always fill large vases with the branches and I loved to stroke the soft catkins.
When we decided to use the word March for an art quilt group challenge, I immediately thought of those catkins. Then I remembered a small table cloth with matching napkins I had saved from my parents’ house. They were embroidered with pussy willows.
When I unearthed them I recalled why I never used them. The fabric is an unpleasant synthetic. I have no idea what it is, but the set was a wedding gift to my parents circa the late 1940s. I think the embroidery thread is rayon, but the golden yellow cloth doesn’t feel like rayon, and I don’t want to try a burn test on it while the house is closed up.
I’m sure vintage linens collectors will be horrified, but I cut out the embroidered motifs, fused them to gray fabric and stitched them down. Since that looked bare, I added branches and the outline of a bird’s nest. Then, the branches needed adornment so I painted catkins and embroidered the brown bits at the stem with perle cotton. I topped off my efforts with yellow dots on the catkins to represent pollen.
Now it’s a new pillow, backed with some Martha Negley fabric I love but could never figure out how to use.