On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me, three French Hens
A very happy New Year, lovely friends, and welcome to month three of our programme. This month we'll be making the fabulously-feathered French Hen along with another Gold Ring to add to your jewellery box.
The friendly farmyard chicken is so familiar to us that it's surprising to learn of it's exotic origins: our sociable hens are descended from the wild Red Junglefowl of East Asia. Domesticated many thousands of years ago for cock fighting, it is thought that Iron Age Europeans worshipped them as gods. They began to be bred for food in the eastern Mediterranean and were widely distributed by the Romans around their vast empire, including Britain and, of course, Gaul.
While British hens were kept mainly for their eggs, the French kept them for the table and for centuries the Poulet Bresse Gauloise, a 400 year-old breed from eastern France - with its tricolour of red comb, white feathers and blue legs - was considered to be "the queen of poultry, the poultry of kings" making our French Hen a covetable gift.
You will have noticed that my hen isn't white, but a teal and pink chicken isn't quite as outlandish as it sounds. Last spring Italian photographers Moreno Monti & Matteo Tranchellini published Chicken: A Declaration of Love, a beautiful photographic record of their ravishing variety. Chickens now outnumber any other breed of bird, providing us with meat, eggs and, increasingly, companionship. This month's treat, a French Hen enamel pin, celebrates this seemingly humble but rather extraordinary bird.
This month's tip..
How is your quarter inch seam? I almost hesitate to ask, because it's not the most scintillating subject, but just half an hour spent playing with your machine settings - go on, break out that manual - will repay you a million times over in time saved unpicking!
On my Janome I move my needle position very slightly: it makes all the difference!
PLEASE NOTE: Andrea and I have also included the Blue Aella sashing fabric in this month's parcel, so keep it safe until we assemble our quilts.