I’ve only recently begun to design my embroideries entirely for myself. To begin with I took painted canvases or transfers and worked them using a variety of stitches and thread combinations, depending on what I had to hand and what aspect of embroidery was catching my attention at the time.
I was attracted by this transfer of a peacock a long time ago, in fact I think I bought it when I was still a teenager. If I had paid attention to my whims I would have bought a good many canvases and transfers of peacocks over the years. In fact there is a painted canvas that I didn’t buy that I now would, if I were to see it somewhere!
The fabric is a linen napkin, and the threads are a variety of silks bought when a needlework shop I worked in as a teenager closed. I got a very good discount, in gratitude for services rendered..
I didn’t actually get to begin stitching the Peacock until after I was married. He’s worked using chain stitch and heavy chain stitch, rows and rows and rows in blues and greens with a little purple in some of the eyes on his tail. I quite deliberately left some fragments unworked because it was beginning to feel rather congested, and although a peacock’s tail can look pretty bedraggled when it is closed, I wanted to bring to mind the glamour of the open tail and not the impediment of the closed one!
The brick work is outlined in ordinary chain stitch, and the arch includes cable chain stitch, which is one of my favourite surface embroidery stitches. It looks much harder than it really is, produces a line which is slightly more marked than ordinary chain stitch, and can be tweaked and ornamented with French Knots or simple seed stitches inside the links.
I tried to make as much use as possible of the variation of colour in some of the threads, so the work in this piece is done by the colour variation rather than by trying to make excessive use of stitch texture changes. It is now stretched and mounted over padding and framed without glass, so that the textures and colours have the best chance of being seen, and hangs in our spare room. Whether our guests notice it is altogether a different matter!