I designed and embroidered this piece shortly after I was married. It was my first design for Our House, and I suspect it gave my husband fair warning (if he hadn’t already guessed) that furnishing it would not be a simple matter of a trip to a furniture shop!
I took some of the motifs from a tablecloth that Grandmama stitched using surface embroidery and needlelace. Then I combined them with some Jacobean leaf shapes and the occasional curlicue. The snail and the butterfly are added because Jacobean designs often included bugs and animals, and although our house is nearer to Arts & Crafts in style than Jacobean I wanted to work on a Jacobean crewel-style design.
I had enormous fun playing with ornamental stitches and threads. There are Persian wools, soft cottons, pearl cottons, stranded cottons, rayons. The butterfly even had some metallic thread in it, and I don’t often use metallics. Stitches included Battlement Couching, and Pekingese Stitch using overdyed chenille thread, and open Fishbone stitch in a crinkly overdyed rayon.
That rayon thread is much more difficult to embroider with than the chenille, but I am realising as I photograph and study some of my past embroideries that I seem to use a great deal of it. I should have a stern word with myself about that, because every single stitch with that thread is accompanied by muttered swearing – which can’t possibly be good for me!
I seem to be going through a phase of gold and teal at the moment, so when I wanted a picture of some of my embroidery to put in my header, this seemed the obvious one to pick. I’m not wholly happy with some elements of the design, but every time I see it I remember the fun I had making it. So it is a good representation of the sort of “virtuosewer” I would like to be.