The Elephant Of Considerable Charm

The Elephant Footstool

The Elephant Footstool in canvaswork

I don’t confine myself entirely to surface embroidery. I’ll give most things a try, and needlepoint is fairly high on the list of things I enjoy.

This is the second footstool I made. The first one, which I made for Grandmama, was an adaptation of  a design from the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, but I designed this footstool for my mother after we had Grandmama’s in the house for a while, and she decided that she really liked Putting Her Feet Up Properly.

An Elephant Of No Distinction But Infinite Charm

An Elephant Of No Distinction But Infinite Charm

There are several elephant ornaments in my parents’ living room, but the inspiration in this case was a glazed terracotta elephant which we call the Elephant Of No Distinction But Infinite Charm (to distinguish him from the Elephant of Considerable Distinction, who joined the family much earlier, when I was still a child!). I thought his decorated saddle cloth and harness simply cried out to be rendered in canvaswork of some description, and thought it would be fun to try.

The Elephant In Canvaswork

The Elephant In Canvaswork

I used two strands of Paternayan Persian wool for the whole piece. The background is worked in Leaf Stitch Filling in two shades of green. This is partly for a stylised jungle-like effect, and partly to echo the green damask fabric covering the furniture.

The reds, oranges, and browns pick up the curtain colours, and echo the Elephant Of No Distinction himself. The harness uses cashmere stitch variations, the saddle cloth is upright double cross stitch, and for some reason I can’t now recall I chose to use Byzantine stitch on the elephant’s ear.

The sides were worked with a Bargello rope pattern, but I had to fudge the final piece because I discovered the pattern wasn’t going to meet up – I hadn’t thought that far ahead when I planned it (if you can call it planning!). Almost everything I do has a slightly improvisatory element to it and in this case, I left enough space to put my mother’s name around the corner that wasn’t going to match. It almost looks deliberate!

I’m not displeased with him, but I would do something entirely different now, I think!


  1. Susan says:

    Hi Rachel! Thanks for leaving such a nice comment on my blog and taking the time to make a connection….it’s great to “meet” you!

  2. karen says:

    you made yourself an heirloom there. I have the Readers Digest complete guide to sewing from when I was about 15. I still use it a lot.

  3. Lady Fi says:

    Wow – that charming elephant is beautiful! Just gorgeous.

  4. Mam says:

    It’s good to own a piece of your work, my daughter!
    I love him very much, and am frequently delighted to discover again how each stitch is “just so” right for its job. I wouldn’t change a thing, so there.

  5. Janice says:

    Hello Rachel,
    Another beautiful piece of work. I love the original elephant and your design is a perfect reproduction. I agree with your mum about the stitches – it must be such a joy working out which canvaswork stitch will best suit the design for the section you’re working on and then seeing how well it looks when it’s all done. I have a montage of St Basil’s in Moscow that I took about 18 years ago and assembled in an album, and have often thought it would look fantastic with different canvaswork stitches representing the different designs on the onion domes. But it’s still on the ‘To do’ list!

    And now – I have an award for you at my blog. Your first one, I believe, so now you have to decide whether you’re going to participate in awards or not. (As you may have gathered, I’m rather partial to them, myself!) Anyway, you’ll find it here:
    No problem if you don’t want to take part – it’s not given with any expectation that you’ll display it or pass it on. It’s just my way of recommending your blog to others – and telling you your blog is beautiful!
    Have a good day,

  6. […] stitch (I think just because I like the name). I usually sneak in Leaf Stitch as well (remember the Elephant of Considerable Charm?).  I’ve also used Jacquard Stitch, and Satin Stitch. The background was worked in […]

  7. […] you remember the Elephant of No Distinction But Infinite Charm, who inspired the canvaswork footstool I made for my mother? She’s now commissioned me to work a doorstop with the same inspiration. […]