"But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a... a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one."

-- Bruce Coville,
The Last Hunt

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Cherry Tree

This is Nancy Tracy's cherry pattern, more or less. As I was making the second cherry, I noticed that I had made the first one too big by one repeat, so I made the second one to match it. And because I was making it in colors instead of all white, I obviously couldn't tat the leaf continuously with the cherries. Instead, I made a lock stitch and small picot at the end of the first stem and reversed work, then worked my way down the second stem to make the second cherry. I joined the green thread to that small picot between stems to start the leaf. I used balance double stitches for the stems to help them lay more nicely.

The legend of the cherry tree has its origins in the Apocrypha. The version that has come down to us in song is slightly different from the original, and there are many different Cherry Tree Carols. It's quite possible that none of these may be the one you know. First is a tricky (at least on the harp) Appalachian tune called "The Cherry-Tree", arranged by Thom Dutton. Next is an English version arranged by Sylvia Woods (if you like harp music, visit Sylvia's website-- she has has best selection of harp CD's of any place I know). Finally, another Appalachian tune called "As Joseph Was A-Walkin'", also arranged by Thom Dutton. This last one doesn't actually mention a cherry tree in the lyrics, but its lyrics were incorporated into later Cherry Tree Carols, so it is considered part of the "Cherry Tree Series".

(1)“The Cherry-Tree”: Traditional American, Arranged by Thom Dutton ©2001 Cape Side Music, Used by permission. (2)“The Cherry Tree Carol”: Traditional English, Arranged by Sylvia Woods©1984 Woods Music and Books, Used by permission. (3)“As Joseph Was A-Walkin’”: Traditional American, Arranged by Thom Dutton ©2001 Cape Side Music, Used by permission.


  1. That is a lovely ornament! One of the prettiest I have seen. I love the simplicity of the design and the colours.

    Thanks for the instructions, which I have just tried. Either I am missing something, or this stitch is just repeating both parts: 1st half, 1st half followed by 2nd half, 2nd half. Looks right but is it that easy? And of course unflipped the same.

    Neat technique. Now I will listen to the harp!

    Fox ; ))

  2. Questions: 1) Were you adjusting the tuning at the beginning when your left hand goes upward to the keys?

    2) Do you have calloused fingers a s a guitarist and bass player does?
    Nosy Note Fox ; ))

    p.s. Lovely melodies - thank you.

  3. Fox- For each half of the balanced double stitch, you basically just wrap the shuttle thread around the working thread twice before flipping.

    My left hand was flipping sharping levers. Each string (on this type of harp) has a lever at the top that will raise the pitch by a half step. These levers are used to put the harp in the correct key for the piece; and as you saw here, when there's a sharp that's not in the key, you have to take the left hand off the harp and reach up to flip the lever. The fact that there are so many of these is what makes that particular tune tricky on the harp.

    Some harpists do have callouses; it all depends on the type of strings you have and how much tension the strings carry. I have no wound or wire strings and very light tension, so I don't have any callouses-- except for one on the middle finger of my left hand from holding my tatting!

  4. Love the harp music, I have always thought it has such a pretty sound. Thank you.

  5. The cherries and leaf are cleverly done and look very 'crisp' on the white background. I like the idea of the balanced double stitches. Your explanations are appreciated.

    Also, I'm enjoying your harp videos and background information! As a piano player, I can't fathom how one plays a harp! It's a beautiful sound!