February Round-Up


My Late February newsletter from Substack.

These are letters from Jeni Hankins an Appalachian songwriter living in England – writing about ancestors, found objects, sewing, hedgerows, and the pleasure of “a good quiet set of directions.”

February Round-Up 

from Jeni!

Hello dear friends, 

For many of you this will be the first time you’ve received my newsletter on Substack. I’ve moved here because I was having trouble with my old e-mail program which was sending my letters out over a period of days rather than when I actually said “send.” That wouldn’t be such an issue except that it meant sometimes news of concerts or timely events only arrived afterthe event. Not great! So, here we are. I hope you enjoy this new place. You can “like” my letter by clicking the heart icon AND you can comment on my letter, too! I’m excited about the chance to have conversations amongst ourselves. No pressure to converse, of course. You can always write directly to me at jeniannhankins@gmail.com.

Before I speak about my recent travels and projects, I want to pledge my support for the Ukrainian people who are fighting for their right to determine the future and character of their own country. This past weekend on BBC Radio 4, correspondents in Ukraine spoke about citizen-soldiers being instructed to wear yellow tape around their arms until they receive uniforms. I hope you will join me in supporting Ukraine through UNHCR, the Red Cross, or the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain. The head of the Association of Ukrainian Women in Great Britain spoke on BBC Woman’s Hour on Friday and I was so impressed with the way she and her organization had already prepared and sent medical supplies to Ukraine and Poland.

I pray for peace.

One of my aims this year is to share a round-up things I post on social media with folks here who don’t participate in those worlds or who simply don’t follow me in those lands. And the crazy world of algorithms means that even people who are my friends may not see my news (and I might not see theirs). Hmmm, where are those reliable carrier pigeons – they are probably the best way to stay in touch. I have met many kind and creative people on social media and, through those portals, I am also able to stay in touch with family who live a long way from me. But I understand anyone’s decision to step-back from or absent themselves from social media.

I hope you enjoy this round-up of some of my February travels and projects.

This month, I visited the Mark Hearld Exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I recorded four songs and three poems at a studio in Hull, I learned to make fabric twine, and I also visited Preston, Manchester, and Liverpool. I started a longterm project creating an English coastal village from scraps of wood, part of a poetry book, paint, and sea grass. My plan is to employ my village in a music video for my song The Shipping News. Here are some photos of my recent creations and travels.

This is what things look like when I’m in the middle of making a diaroma. Stanley Bear and Ms Adeline Hedgerow (my homemade doll) are always helpful, as is a fresh cup of tea.
Here’s The Rhyme and Reason Inn from my imaginary English coastal village. The Inn sits on driftwood I collected along Morecambe Bay near where I live in Lancashire. I’m excited about making this tiny set for my music video. I you’d like to support the work I do to make my own records and videos, you can always buy me a coffee (or tea)!

If, like me, you are determined to use every bit of fabric left over from your myriad projects, you’ll LOVE this! You know all of those long stringy bits you get when cutting out patterns and squaring up wonky fabric? Well, here’s the most fun thing to do with them – Make Twine! Yes! Then you can use the twine to tie bows on gifts, or make drink coasters, bowls, or even rugs. You can moor you own tiny sailboat with it. It took nine metres of twine for me to make a ten inch circle in case that helps you with your twine plans. I am a fan of the artist Ann Wood and she included fabric twine in her list of how to use scraps. This video on how to make the twine comes from My Poppet in Australia. 

Here’s a beautiful English pub in the Lancastrian city of Preston. I never get enough of these Victorian tiles decorating the fronts of these old pubs. This one is in remarkable condition!
Stanley and I are obsessed with typography! And we were lucky to see a very thorough exhibition about type, letraset, fonts, and letterhead in Preston at the PR1 galley at the University of Central Lancashire. I’d never been to that gallery before, but I’d highly recommend looking into what’s happening there. Their exhibitions tend to last for only a week or two, so don’t let the grass grow under your feet if you really want to see something. 

Little by little, I’ve tried various vegetarian British food. While I was in Hull to visit friends, go to folk clubs, and sing and read in a recording studio, I had my first ever Yorkshire curd tart! It’s a bit like sweet eggy cottage cheese mixed with currants in a pastry crust. I loved it!

If you love collage as much as I do, you will be stunned by the work of Mark Hearld who creates his own painted papers and collects ephemera which he turns into pictures of his favorite creatures and places in nature. There’s a lovely movie about him and his work here. If you are in Britain, you can see his home studio at York Open Studios or visit his collaborative space Pica Studios where many of the artists are part of the early April open studios event. 

Here’s one of Mark Hearld’s magical hares!

Stanley Bear continues to have adventures and bring smiles to people everywhere. The baristas at Tate Liverpool cafe got a kick out of him with his nose deep in a sketchbook.

Stanley wears his new Jeni-made crochet bow tie. 

Thanks to everyone who answered the call in my last newsletter and subscribed to my YouTube channel! Because I crested 100 subscribers on YouTube, I’m no longer known as UC6q6NO316a7sqyjT3nLp0oA, but I now have my own channel with my own name on it. Good job, everyone! Special thanks to my friend Tony who sent out a message to all of his friends asking them to help me become Jeni Hankins on YouTube!

If you missed my story about Aunt Laura and the existential nature of the semicolon, you can read it here.

If you’d like to buy me a coffee (or a cup of tea or a spool of thread), you can follow this link. I would be mighty pleased! Thank you.

You can always hear and purchase my music on Bandcamp.

And you can always write to me by leaving a comment or sending a note to jeniannhankins@gmail.com.

I send you friendship and kindness. 


A collection of pubs in Manchester around the corner from one of the best libraries I’ve ever visited in the whole world – the Manchester Central and City Libraries.






Buy me a cup of tea or a spool of thread or a mockingbird


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