Monday, 1 November 2010

Embroidering Peacocks

I've been playing with embroidery recently, which isn't bad for someone who nearly failed their Girl Guides embroidery badge! I cross stitch and have done black work in the past but wanted to do something more creative and artistic. Plus I didn't really want to use waste canvas on the fabric I'd chosen - a lovely fresh green! So I found a stylised peacock feather design in a book and did my level best to sketch it out - not being known for my drawing skills I decided a peacock feather was fairly idiot proof :-) I also knew that I could adjust the design as I went as I can "paint" with yarns and threads even though I can't manage to paint with the actual stuff.

Then I had to learn the stitches and as much as we all malign Reader's Digest some of their books are useful and I'd tracked down their Complete Guide to Needlework - covers everything from knitting to very fine embroidery - in a charity shop. I've already used it for knitting and crochet patterns so I decided I would give their embroidery instructions a go. The outline was fairly simple holbein stitch - running stitch that comes back on itself to "fill in the gaps. I then had to decide how to fill in the "eye" of the feather. I can do blanket / buttonhole stitch and knew that would give me a feathery effect so did that for the outer layer. But then came the middle - which needed to be feathery but more dense - so I had a look through the book and found some interesting filling stitches and chose to try Wave stitch - you can see a beautifully clear example at Needlework.craftgossip which was much easier than it looked, although mine had to follow a curve! I wanted the centre of the eye to be as "eye catching" (groan) as possible so thought that beading it would be a great idea. I secured each seed bead with a double back stitch.

The real challenge came when I wanted to do the feather tendrils  coming off the main "stalk". I have always struggled to make sense of  feather stitch, which seemed to suggest itself from the name and this time was no different! I just could not find a way to do it so was well and truly stuck. I turned the page and found another "dread" stitch - Fly Stitch, you can see an example at Sharon B's Dictionary. But this time the pictures acutally made sense and after a few rude words I was away!! I chose to do some tendrils in green and others in a greeny blue and was really impressed with the effect I achieved. And one of the beauty's of free style embroidery, where you're looking for a naturalistic look is that it doesn't have to be 100% uniform, so its ideal for working on non-counted fabrics and also ideal for the slightly less uniform embroiderer too.

Have listed the completed item today in my Folksy Shop:

Its also the start of November Sparks - the latest daily listings club @ Folksy and looking at today's listing I've found others who are posting along a "Peacock Theme":

Stars and Scars have a lovely black and white peacock brooch:

Lonely Hearts are offering this lovely peacock shades clutch purse:
Unique Beaded Gems have a lovely peacock blues necklace on offer

Also thinking peacocks - my Nan was really superstitious about Peacock feathers and refused to let me bring them into her home, even though I used to avidly collect them as a child whenever we visited anywhere that had peacocks! My Mum definitely didn't share her fears as she used to love them too.... So my question is, do any of you have any superstitions about peacock feathers?


  1. Beautiful choices and such a lovely themed blog!

    Think everything you have chosen is fantastic!

    Natalie x

  2. Great embroidery and great linked choices

  3. I have a huge peacock feather tattooed on my back - so I feel a bit of an affiliation with them! Your embroidery looks fab :-)