Butterfly Privilege

This is a wasp (Vespula vulgaris):

Wasps can sting. What do you usually do if you see one? Run away? Swat at it with a rolled up magazine? Panic? But what are the chances of the wasp actually stinging you? Quite low, unless it perceives you as a threat. But still, many of us are afraid and our first instinct is to remove ourselves from the situation or remove the wasp, generally by squishing it by some means.

Ok, now what about this creature?:

It has black and yellow stripes. It looks kind of scary. Do you react in the same way? Many people do. We make assumptions. We see black and yellow and assume this is a scary insect that will sting us given half a chance. But this is a hoverfly. It doesn’t have a sting. It can’t harm you in any way.

Our conditioning has taught us that black and yellow stripes are bad. We don’t look closer and get to know the insect, we just react with fear because we have come to believe in this stereotype. We may not be aware of what we’re doing, we just react.

But if we want to enjoy being outside among nature, we need to learn that our conditioning has got it wrong. Not all black and yellow insects are bad. Even the ones we can categorise as bad in some way (stings) are actually kind of amazing. Wasps eat things like aphids and caterpillars – so if you’re a gardener they can be pretty helpful. They are also pollinators, like bees. They are capable of building amazing architectural nests too. And most of the time, they have no impulse to harm us.

So can you get over your fear and look a little closer? Learn a little about those black and yellow buzzing creatures?

Insects that don’t have black and yellow stripes are lucky. They didn’t do anything special, they were just born that way.

Think about a butterfly:

Not many people are afraid of butterflies. Imagine one landing on your hand. Imagine how you’d feel awe and wonder, looking at its beautiful wings.

Just by being born a butterfly (well, technically born a caterpillar if you’re being picky), this insect can go around seeking nectar, flying around, and nobody looks at it funny. Nobody runs away screaming, nobody tries to swat it and squish it. It didn’t do anything to deserve more respect, it was just born a butterfly.

I am a white person. I am a butterfly. I don’t think I’m better than anyone, I don’t think I’m prettier, I don’t think I’m more worthy of your respect or interest. I’m not going around telling people not to trust black & yellow insects, I’m not treating black & yellow insects badly, I’m not encouraging humans to run away or squash them. But, by being born a butterfly, I have privilege. Butterfly privilege. White privilege. And what I am learning is that despite my knowledge that colour doesn’t make one insect or human better than another, I am still privileged.

Butterflies have short lives. They get eaten by birds. Their caterpillars are popular food for baby birds. They struggle when it’s windy. Their life is not easy by any means. But they are still privileged. Just by their nature.

It’s hard to realise that you are part of the problem when you feel strongly that colour shouldn’t matter, when you think that all humans are equal, all humans are human. But when you have lived your life as a white person, you have not had to deal with the racism that black people (and other ethnic groups) have dealt with since the day they were born. You are privileged, just by your nature. It’s time to stand up as a white person and say that this is wrong. This is not how it should be. It’s time to not just stand by as black lives are cut short, black lives are laced with fear, black lives are not given the same respect that white lives are.

There are black and yellow insects that sting, and there are black and yellow insects that don’t sting. There are good white people, and there are bad white people. There are good black people, and there are bad black people. In fact there are just people. People who are all a little bit bad, a little bit good, it’s not that clear cut, nobody’s all good or all bad, nobody’s perfect. The point is, nobody should be treated with less respect because of the colour of their skin.

Black lives matter.

Old and New, New and Old

As you’ll know if you’re a regular visitor, I am all about nature when it comes to photography. So when I saw this weeks Lens-Artists Photo Challenge was “Old & New” I immediately started thinking about how I can apply this to nature, and the types of photos I like to take. I began to think about the contrast between a new young plant, and an old fully grown plant and between a new fresh flower and an old seed-head. So here are my thoughts and photos …

Red Campion (Silene dioica)

I took this photo yesterday, and it’s beginning to show both new and old in one photo. There are still fresh bright flowers, but there are also flowers that are finished, and the seeds will be starting to grow.

In this next one taken a couple of years ago the contrast is even more marked. We have a fresh flower in the front, and in the background there are fully developed seed heads ready to spread their seed.

If you wanted to see the seed heads more clearly here you go:

Columbine

Columbines (Aquilegia vulgaris) are fabulously architectural flowers, and their flower buds are equally striking. A couple of years back I was lucky enough to get some shots of fresh new Columbine buds adorned with beautiful raindrops:

When the buds are a little older and further developed you can see their ‘horns’ more easily:

And then, of course, when they are older still, you get the beautiful, complex flower:

Hips, Haws & Sloes

Another area where there is a marked contrast between young and old is fruit. By looking at a flower you probably wouldn’t have any idea what the fruits will look like later in the year. So to demonstrate, we have some hips, some haws and some sloes …

Hips are what we call the fruits of roses. I am particularly fond of our wildflower called the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) which has lovely red shiny hips, which are quite a contrast to the delicate pastel coloured flowers:

Haws are what we call the fruit of Hawthorn (Crategus monogyna). They are bright red too, but more rounded. Hawthorn flowers are white, sometimes with some pink, and don’t look anything like their haws:

Sloes are the fruit of Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). They’re quite different to the hips and haws, as they’re dark blue, almost black when ripe and much more plump. Blackthorn flowers are similar to Hawthorn, but the fruits not so much.

And more…

Here are a few more contrasting flowers and seeds/fruit giving you some more old and new:

I could go on all day, showing you more new and old nature, but perhaps I should actually get this posted so I can go and look at other people’s posts for this challenge! 🙂

On the Hook, 30/5/20

This week I’ve completed parts 17 and 18 of my Pandemonium blanket, as well as finishing the wraparound skirt I was working on.

Pandemonium CAL Part 17 – more pretty pink petals and some blue clusters.

Pandemonium CAL Part 18 – more dragonflies, yay! 😀

If you’re being observant you might notice that at the end of part 17 I switched to green after the blue clusters, but then on part 18, that green has moved to come after the dragonflies. I didn’t think the dragons would look so good in green, so I redid the last row of 17 so the dragonfly section is in a pale pink instead. I’ve used the green at the next colour change instead.

Looking forward to the next part, out tomorrow morning.

The wraparound skirt is now finished, and my daughter has been wearing it happily. I’m really pleased with it. If you are interested in the pattern, here are the details:

Pattern: Wraparound Skirt, by Rhian Drinkwater in Inside Crochet issue 125.
Yarn: Stylecraft Linen Drape.
Cat: confused!

Bobby (the cat) was quite confused about what was going on and was a little sulky that we were doing a photoshoot and not cuddling him.

This is the sort of thing he prefers. This was taken a few days back, but he’s in pretty much the same position right now!! 🤣

Excuse the quality. This is what he likes to do – makes it a tad difficult to type!

Teeny Tiny Bee, and more…

Today is a bank holiday, so no working, I can just use my computer for fun things 🙂 So I thought I’d do another blog post as there are more photos to be shared.

A tiny solitary bee also visited that Osteospermum that I shared in yesterday’s post. If you compare these photos with yesterday’s you’ll see how much smaller this little bee is. He’s got a really fluffy face too, which is another pointer that he’s not a Honeybee. It’s hard to be sure exactly what he is, but he’s probably one of the Mason Bees or Mining Bees. If you look really closely (click to see bigger version) you might see he has very interesting spotty eyes.

And if you were enjoying this flower, how about seeing the whole flower?

I’m usually all about the wild flowers, but this garden flower is so pretty, and so enjoyed by the bees, so it’s likely to get many features on the blog!

I took some more rose photos too – these two came out particularly soft and delicate:

It won’t be long until the Scabious flowers are out – you can see a hint of delicate pink on the bottom right of this flower head, showing that they are not far away.

In other news, I have a Foxglove! Don’t know where it came from but I’m happy it has appeared. It was in one of the planters, but was struggling a bit there so I’ve planted it by the pond now and it’s much happier. I kept meaning to buy a foxglove plant from my usual wild flower seller (Naturescape), but never got round to it as I was mostly focusing on pond and marsh plants, but now I have one anyway 🙂

I don’t usually do multiple posts for a Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, but I can’t resist, with this lovely array of delicate colours to share 🙂

Pretty in Pink

What a lovely theme for this week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge – delicate colours. There are some very bright and eye catching colours in nature, but some of the most beautiful flowers are delicate, soft, pastel colours. I am lucky enough to have several growing in the garden, most with no assistance from me – they just appeared and I am happy to see them.

In the hedge to the side of our house is a soft pink rose. It’s always been there but in the last few years hasn’t had a great show. But this year there are loads of flowers, and more buds on their way.

It smells lovely too 🙂

I also have a Dog Rose growing wild in amongst the brambles. It has one single flower open so far. I struggled to get a shot of it today as it’s rather windy, but I did manage a couple of crisp shots. You might think at first glance that these 2 photos are the same, but different parts are in focus, and I couldn’t decide what I prefered, so we’ll have both!

Focus is on the stamens at the front of the flower
Focus is on the stamens towards the back

While on my windy wander round the garden today I noticed a bee enjoying visiting my Osteospermum flowers, so of course couldn’t resist a photo. A lovely contrast between the orangy colours and the delicate pale pink of the petals.

Off to see what everyone else has come up with… thanks for reading! 🙂

On the Hook, 23/5/20

This week has mostly been about the Pandemonium CAL and the wraparound skirt, although I must admit to starting yet another project too!

As usual there have been 2 parts released for the CAL this week – parts 15 and 16.

Here’s how things looked at the end of part 15 (on Sunday):

And here we are now at the end of part 16:

The pink petals at the end of this part remind me of when there’s cherry blossom on trees and it gets a bit windy so there are petals everywhere 🙂

The wraparound skirt is looking a lot more ‘skirty’ and my daughter is keen for me to finish it so she can wear it. I’ve just started the last colour so it won’t be long:

Then, my other project… I was between Pandemonium parts and had an urge to make something new, so had a look in my stash for yarn, and found a pattern. I found some lovely bright blue Robin Chunky yarn my mum gave me, and a free pattern from Crocheters Have More Fun called the ‘Clara Circular Yoke Sweater’. It was such a change using a bigger hook (6.5) but fun to do something different. I didn’t get much done as my daughter was nagging me to get back to the skirt when I wasn’t doing the blanket! 🙂 It’s a continuous pattern with no slip stitch joins, kind of like amigurumi really. It’s going to make a warm jumper which may not get worn much at the moment if the weather stays nice, but I’ll appreciate it in the autumn.

Things I like to do…

If you’re a regular reader you will know what my main three pastimes are … observing nature, taking photos & creating things with crochet.

Observing nature, and taking photos often goes hand in hand, although I do occasionally take photos of other things! These are a few photos my sister has taken of me through the years in my usual position when out visiting gardens down where she lives.

I love to see evidence of the seasons changing, and go to the places I know to find the signs of spring (and other seasons). The spot where you’ll find the Wood Anemones for example. I don’t see them anywhere else in the village other than in the woods down near the pond and stream. I don’t just like to find and observe, I’m also a bit of science nerd so I like to identify, name and catalogue my findings. Back in the ‘olden days’ people would actually collect specimens and pin them in cases 😦 Not something I’d ever want to do, so I collect by photographing instead – much nicer! This has led to the creation of my nature guides – so far I have pages where you can see my collection of Butterflies, Damselflies, Dragonflies, Trees, and Wildflowers. Click on the links if you’re interested in seeing the types of wildlife found around my area.

Here’s a collection of the cover photos for my nature guides:

My other pastime is crochet, and if you’re a regular reader you will have seen the lovely blanket I’m working on right now. Here are a few photos of some of my finished items:

I still sometimes can’t get over the wonder of how a set of balls of yarn can be turned into all sorts of things. I think there’s a little magic in creation 🙂 There is a lot of possibility in a ball of yarn. It could become anything!

Looking forward to seeing what pastimes you enjoy when I go and check out everyone’s posts for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Pastimes.

On the Hook, 16/5/20

This week’s Pandemonium parts had bead stitch again, which I love 🙂 So pretty! For some reason I had a mind blank at the end of part 13 and my beads were not quite right, but I fixed them up when I added part 14. Not sure why, but I was putting my hook into the top of the stitch rather than round the post! So you’ll see them looking a little odd in part 13, but they’re magically back to the way they should be in the part 14 photos 🙂

So here’s part 13:

In the first photo above, you’ll see that this blanket is now functioning as a blanket even while I’m still making it 🙂

Now for part 14, with the addition of fixing the beads from the end of part 13!

So happy with this blanket – I love making it, I love looking at it, I love snuggling under it! ❤

I’ve done some more rows on my skirt too this week. I’m onto the 2nd colour now and it’s not long before I’ll change colour again.

Finally, a little video. If you, like me, find watching videos of someone crocheting quite soothing, you’ll like this 🙂 A couple of minutes of me doing bead stitch:

Cropping Beauty

This remains my all-time favourite photo that I’ve ever taken. I think it’s magical. It was a lucky shot, not something I’d planned. As always when I see a dragonfly, I follow, trying to get a photo. This one (a female Common Darter) perched in some long grass on a beautiful sunny day in the summer of 2015. The light, the grass, the dragon, it all came together in this moment and I’m delighted (still) that I managed to capture it!

This is how the photo began:

That was the original image, just with my usual border and watermark added. I like this a lot, but for the picture that I actually uploaded at the time, I did a small crop, just to bring the focus more onto the lovely dragon:

You can see in that one that there’s less space above the dragon’s wings at the top, and the dragon’s face is now more central. That’s the version of the photo that I’ve used ever since.

But what about other crops, how can we change this image to suit different purposes. How about if I want to focus on the dragon’s face more, and I don’t mind too much about its wings? I do love dragon faces, so this will make me happy 🙂

I could crop a little further in, losing part of the wings, but still having the whole of that one wing on the bottom left:

I could go further in and not show much of the wings at all, and let you see the hairs on her legs, and whiskers on her chin:

Or perhaps one step further to make it all about the dragon’s whiskery face and her gangly legs:

Isn’t she just adorable? Or is it just me? Not everyone finds insects cute like I do!

To keep the crops balanced you’ll notice I had to move the dragon’s head further to the left each time. It’s especially noticeable in that last one. I didn’t want to chop her feet off!

The position of the main part of the image can be important, so cropping can help there too. My camera’s focus is best on the central focal point so I tend to use that to focus most of the time. But then the thing I’m photographing is slap bang in the middle of the frame. Somethings that’s good, sometimes less so. In the first few shots above the dragon was pretty central. I think that worked in those shots as I was trying to capture the dragon in the midst of the sunny grass, but sometimes you want the eye to be drawn to a particular part of the image, and often you can use the ‘rule of thirds‘ to do this.

So originally we had the dragon central in the shot:

In that shot, it’s all about the dragon, she’s the central character, and the background is just an added extra.

How about putting her on the left of the shot, 1/3 of the way across the picture:

In that shot I feel that the dragon is still the focus, but we’re now paying a bit more attention to the background on the right of the shot. Our eye is drawn to the dragon, and then in the direction she’s facing.

Or we could try the opposite, putting her on the right:

Now I don’t think that last one works, but you may disagree. What I generally think about when cropping to thirds is that the dragon (or whatever else you’re photographing) should be looking into the shot, not out of it. So with this last shot you’re missing out on much of the background as your eye is drawn straight over to the dragon’s face and off the right of the image. Well, that’s what I think – what about you?

Cropping is an excellent tool for getting the most out of your shots. It can help you turn a good photo into an excellent photo just by focusing attention or removing distractions, or even just to allow people to get a really close look at something!

This was inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cropping the Shot. Now to go and see what everyone else has come up with this week 🙂

On the Hook, 9/5/20

Now that I’m up to date with the Pandemonium CAL I’m progressing at a more sedate speed with 2 parts done each week. This week was parts 11 and 12 (13 comes out tomorrow).

Part 11 ended with some lovely big bobbles, and had some nicely textured stitches before that. With the green I used, it looks like moss to me.

Part 12 ended with some fun stripes of v-stitch making a nice ripply effect.

What will part 13 bring?! Nobody knows, that’s the fun of it 🙂

In between parts of the CAL I have been working on a couple of other things. Firstly the Leila sweater I started last week. Well this one has been through several iterations… I was following the pattern and got to this point (below) where I started wondering if the braids were going too wonky and whether that was going to bug me as I carried on:

Because the pattern is in the round without turning, everything creeps across a bit row by row. I know it is designed that way but I wanted to try other options. I haven’t frogged the bit above, in case I decide to go back to it.

So I tried a few options. The pattern has trebles (UK terms), and a 10 chain loop on every row. Looking back at how we did the braids on the Pandemonium CAL I tried doing it the same: one row with trebles and 10ch loops, then a double crochet row, then back to tr & loops. That didn’t seem to work as it made each loop stretch further so looked different. Then I tried hdcs & loops, then dcs, so I didn’t stretch the loops so far, but was concerned that the increasing wouldn’t be the same. My final version is just trebles and loops like the original pattern but I’m turning and making the loops flip the other way on every other row so they end up on the same side of the jumper. I haven’t got as far as I did above, but I think it’s going to work:

It’s a bit fiddlier as you need to remember to join the 10ch loop into the back of the treble on the rows where you’re working on the wrong side, but as long as you remember to do that it seems ok. I’ll try and get it to the same number of rows as the first attempt to compare and see which one I’ll continue with.

My Inside Crochet magazine arrived last week, and I really liked the idea of making the wraparound skirt that was featured on the front cover. It’s a one size fits all pattern so I’m not really sure if it’s for me or for my daughter, although I think it will probably look better on her. I’ve never made a skirt before, so it’s quite a exciting adventure! The first picture below is a photo of the magazine so you can see what I’m aiming for:

I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but as you can see I had to do a massively long foundation treble row first, and then fastened that off and reattached further along leaving a length for the ties at each end. So we’re starting from the top from that waistband/ties, and heading downwards with a small increase each end as you go down. It looks a little strange at the moment, and not much like a skirt, but I’m looking forward to seeing it develop. I love the gentle ripples and the really summery colours. The yarn is lovely too. I splashed out a little to get the recommended yarn as I felt it was important to get the right drape, and not be too warm. It’s Stylecraft Linen Drape which I bought from Wool Warehouse.

If you’re reading this and thinking about doing some crafting, go for it, it’s really good for you! Crafting can help you live in the moment and quiet your thoughts as you concentrate on what you are working on. Whether it’s crochet, knitting, macrame or a whole host of other creative crafts, it can really help your mental health. So do it, try it, enjoy it 🙂