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Thistle Bonnet

By  sam pickett 2023

Thistle Bonnet (made from recycled cotton and thistle heads found in a cow field somewhere on the Lancashire Way)

In the North of England, the creeping thistle is one of the last wild plants to flower before winter. Sometimes Comma butterflies feast on the fragrant heads and dot the green fields with dashes of pink and orange. Cows and thistles are good friends and are often seen sitting together but traditionally thistles are a farmer’s foe and they work hard to eradicate them with herbicides which also exterminate dandelions, clover, mayweed, vetch and tare. If you’re lucky you might still find a field abundant with creeping thistle.

You will need:

An old cotton bed sheet

A tape measure, pins, needle and cotton

A pencil

Some thistle heads (quantity dependant on abundance.)

Using the pattern below measure your head accordingly and transfer the pattern onto cotton with a pencil. Sew the segments together using a sewing machine. Once you’ve made your bonnet select a thistle and guide the needle through the fleshy part of the pappus and attach to the outside of the bonnet. Continue in this way until you have formed a line. Repeat.

Ensure sufficient time is available to complete the task (a number of days) as the thistle will continue to develop its fruit (the feathery pappus) and sewing the flower heads will become increasingly difficult. Fresh thistle heads should be attached to the bonnet as soon as possible.

Once the thistle bonnet is completed and the pappus are fully developed for flight select a bright, blustery day. Put on the bonnet, securing the ties beneath your chin. Go for a brisk walk in a farmer’s field, ensuring full distribution of thistle seed has been achieved before leaving.


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