Being an avid knitter, a day without knitting is a day without joy. And although I am not much of a gardener, I am blessed with a reasonably large garden.
Watching wildlife from my window is a lovely – but not always practical – distraction from life. Often my needles end up in my lap with me being oblivious to the project I was working on.
If it wasn’t for my chatty friends on Ravelry, I would have assumed a nest box was solely knitted or crocheted for its decorative purposes. But one friend (from the United States) had chickadees nesting in one, last Spring. With that in mind, I became determined to design a nest box myself. Hoping that birds in my garden would be as taken with woolly houses, as they are with wooden ones.
At the beginning of last Fall the first iManor was put up in the garden as a case study. I had taken great care to find out all about the measurements of nest boxes. Researching the sizes of the boxes for birds that are known to visit gardens, and the different sizes for different species regarding the entrance. So, the nest boxes are suitable for several sorts of chickadees (or tits as they are called in Europe), sparrows and dunnocks. This design comes without perches, as these would make it easier for predators to get inside.
The case study turned out to be an interesting experiment, both for me and the birds who showed not to be scared of the knitted object in any way. A robin (the same one visiting for four years in a row) often sat on a nearby branch in a relaxed, chipper way. And both blue chickadees and great chickadees could be found on top or even hanging from the iManor!
But of course the main reason for this trial period were the weather conditions. Early Fall, we had quite stormy weather, with an abundance of rain here in the Netherlands. But both the shape and the material were still looking good months later.
With the iManor I spent even more time watching the wildlife in the garden, observed all sorts of lovely creatures, and happily neglected my knitting. Some of them being a rare sight, such as a woodpecker, wren, tree creeper, or a tiny hedgehog on the last mild day of Fall. And around the same time I witnessed a female bull finch for the first time in my life.
All these amazing animals made me realize how fragile nature is, and it put some weird thoughts into my head… would it be possible to knit a nest box large enough to welcome a lady and lord Woodpecker to the iManor? Could I design a knitted object to provide shelter for hedgehogs during Winter? And what about a knitted bug hotel, wouldn’t that be cool?
We cannot save the world with knitting…, therefore we need to choose our yarn wisely. Try finding wool in your stash instead of buying yet another few skeins. I even frogged some garments I wasn’t wearing. Any natural color will do, as not to attract cats or other predators. And then all you have to do is wait for the lady and lord of the iManor to arrive. A day without wildlife is a day without joy, right?
About the Designer: Fleur Duivis
Apart from being a knitting designer, Fleur Duivis is an artist, art historian and the founder of the art project Blue Mark For ME.
She is known for knitting mushrooms and hugging yarn.