Still More Laid and Couched Work – The Swan

The Swan

The Swan

The Swan is a much simplified rendition of a photographed one. I decided in the end to change the lines on the nearer wing, so it more clearly grows from the body of the bird, but one of the great advantages of laid and couched work is that it covers such infelicities of drafting – just so long as you remember  to ignore the lines that you had decided to ignore (if you follow me…)!

It still looks a little too naturalistic, but the colours will help (blues and purples, like the Unicorn). I will have to work out suitable embellishments for the wings in due course, as well, and that will also help. As it happens, the layer of laid and couched work gave me quite enough trouble!

Swan Progress

Swan Progress

I wanted to work the body in the pale blue, to maintain at least some link with the real thing (after all, shadows on white often look blue…).

That made it possible to make sure that I reminded myself to include the forward edge of the nearest wing in with the body.

Then the more distant wing  clearly had to be in purples as being more distant and helping to throw the body forward visually. And then I came to a grinding halt – which may explain why you haven’t seen the wretched thing.

I enjoy the technique enormously, but it’s taken me all summer to ignore it and clear my head of colour schemes I hated, come back to it, and try again.


  1. It’s a pain when the colours don’t appear on the fabric as you are see them in your head! I Think though, that they are giving a very good stylised/heraldic feel. I especially like the blue body colour.

  2. elaine says:

    Love the swan and the colours! I don’t use laid work enough, it is very effective.

  3. Glenis says:

    I see the next section as the blue you used on one of the “loading the felucca” boys (any scraps left?) and then the final section as silver. Just an idea – you’ll know better whether it works “in person”, and I often find if someone says “do this” it makes me say “no – I’m doing that” so just trying to help you along 🙂

  4. Sue Jones says:

    Whatever mixture of colours you end up with, they will tie together once the edges and highlights are in place. I was wondering where this swan had swum off to – nice to see it has come back again for the winter.

  5. Tanya says:

    He has a s shaped line, and I like the blue, it looks young and cygnety

  6. As always I enlarged the photo to study your stitching – it is so even and neat!

  7. Cynthia says:

    So far, it looks great! I wonder how the forward wing will look? Light grey and white?

  8. Carolyn says:

    Glad to see the swan again. I think you have to get all the colours on the piece and the finishing to get the full effect.

  9. Lady Fi says:

    Stunning work on the swan!

  10. Penny says:

    Its lovely and I love the colors — can’t wait to see the depth that the purple will bring.

  11. Penny says:

    Whoops!! The purples are right there in front of me.

  12. Susan says:

    Wow. That is amazing work. I imagine it’s very time consuming, but the result is wonderful. It may have given you trouble, but it certainly doesn’t look like it.

  13. Hi Rachel,

    Your swan is stunning (I imagine it would take quite a while to stitch) and I look forward to seeing more of it!

    As a newbie to crewel work, I’ve been looking at your previous laid work posts, so gorgeous! I also looked at the video about scissors, which makes me think I must buy some of their scissors!

    But, can you tell me, when you start your laid work are your long stitches long on the back too?

    Oh, and I just read that you started with two threads in the needle on the base layer – I’ll try that on my next project. You’ve inspired me to go back to a picture I started last year and wasn’t really sure how it was meant to be stitched!

    Thank you for the inspiration you have given me, and at just the right time too!

    Barbara xx

  14. I have to say I really like the blue and purple together; they are very much part of my palette of favourite colours. He’s also a salutary reminder of my baby leaf-tailed dragon who needs finishing!

  15. I love coming to your blog because I’m always learning about or seeing new techniques that I’ve never seen before. Your swan is going to be lovely.

    Thanks so much for linking up to last week’s Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!

  16. Janice says:

    Beautifully stitched. Is this the Bayeux stitch….?

  17. Anita says:

    Blue and violet looks good together. Beautiful stitching as always.

  18. Terrie says:

    It’s so vivid ! Lovely colors combination.

  19. jenclair says:

    The colors give it a seriousness. Your work is so fine, so elegant. I never see a swan without thinking of Leda, maybe why the colors dark and serious have such effect.