english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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新年快乐! Seeing in the Chinese New Year with the Jasmine Moon ensemble

To see in the Chinese New Year, me and Phil went to see a traditional Chinese music concert at the Midland Arts Centre (MAC) yesterday evening. The Jasmine Moon Ensemble played a selection of folk songs from across China, as well as more modern songs in the traditional style and a handful of film scores. They also played a piece based on the soundtrack to a propaganda cartoon from the 1960s, called Heroic Little Sisters of the Grassland, which was a particular favourite of mine. The cartoon itself is available on YouTube, the link below is to the dramatic climax where the sisters manage to brave a storm to rescue their collective farm’s flock of sheep:

The ensemble play piano, Guzheng, and a selection of Chinese woodwind instruments. One of the Chinese wind instruments, the húlúsī, was particularly unusual, with a gourd at the top of the instrument. To my (untrained) ears it had a nice folky sound and, of course, it has a nice folky look too:)

The Guzheng (古箏) is also a very traditional instrument. It is a large stringed instrument and, to me, looked abominably difficult to play. But then, to me, any instrument would be!

I’d definitely recommend seeing the Jasmine Moon Ensemble in action if you get chance. If you can’t see them in person you can watch them online (minus the Guzheng) below:


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Quick and dirty Chinese New Year paper cut

This week my Mandarin teacher taught our class a quick and easy method of creating paper cuts to celebrate the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival.

This paper cut features the Chinese character 春 (chun) which means spring and is the first part of the word 春节 (Chūnjié) which means Spring Festival.

All you need to create the paper cut is a piece of A4 paper, preferably in red which is the colour typically used due to its associations with good fortune and happiness in Chinese tradition and culture.

Fold the paper in half lengthways and draw the following shape onto the paper in pencil, drawing along the fold in the paper. Make sure that the middle stroke in the ‘E’ shaped section at the top of the character is shorter than the strokes above and below it.
春 Chinese Spring Festival paper cut pattern
Cut around the line you’ve drawn and fold flat.
春 Chinese Spring Festival paper cut pattern

Now stick onto a window to celebrate the New Year:)
春 Chinese Spring Festival easy paper cut

You can also create the paper cut in different sizes by using different sizes of paper – including the tiny paper cuts below:
春 Chinese Spring Festival paper cut