A Glamorous Peacock

The Peacock

The Peacock

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!

Peacock - Close Up

Peacock - Close Up

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!

Gate - Close Up

Gate - Close Up

Now I look at the design again, it is worked almost entirely in chain stitch and chain stitch variations. The olive green tree is worked in twisted chain, with detached chain stitch leaves.

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!


  1. Lady Fi says:

    That peacock really is glorious! Love the way you have captured the real colours of a peacock…

  2. Janice says:

    A very glamorous peacock indeed! I also love the gate detail with all the shading. As for the back story – well, I have many supplies with a similar vintage but am now starting to use them, and I think it all just goes to prove that nothing is ever a wasted purchase!

  3. karen says:

    get watermarks on those pictures asap!! This has all left a really bad taste in my mouth. I think it was the fact that once I had removed the original images from flickr, she just blatently went back and got more. It seems to be resolved now though thankfully.

  4. I love the way you found that you’ve used mostly variations of chain stitch. For some stitches there are just so many variations, and some of them are more interesting than the basic stitch!

  5. Shelley says:

    I’m attracted to peacocks too ………… I think it’s the colours! I recall my mum embroidering a peacock tablecloth (back in the 60s/70s?) and I probably still have some remnants of the threads in my collection!

  6. Elmsley Rose says:

    Do you know http://peacockstitchalong.blogspot.com/ ? Peacocks, peacocks, everywhere!

    I plan to do a single feather one day. Gorgeous silks and a little passing thread. (yet another project!)

  7. Kerry says:

    Your peacock is glorious! I love these magnificent birds!

  8. […] Lady in the Garden, again came from a transfer, and was stitched as a companion to the Peacock, and a homage to Grandmama’s Lady. Unlike Grandmama, I made no effort to provide the lady […]

  9. coral-seas says:

    I thought that I had already left a comment on your handsome bird (for someone who works with computers all day, I am strangly, IT challenged!).

    I too am captivated by these magnificent birds and have plans to embroider at least one peacock project. I like the open fragments, they give a lightness to his tail, I particularly like the use of varigated threads, I think they have worked exceptionally well in this design.