An Ambitious Cross Stitch

I’ve been a fan of William Morris’s textile designs for a while now. They’re the perfect blend of 1960s psychadelic colors and Victorian over-the-topness. And while you can buy pillows, drapes, tapestries, etc. of his designs, I wanted to try my hand at reproducing one of these designs. I finally decided on the William Morris cross stitch peacock design. I figured it would make a nice picture to hang on the wall next to my reproduction tapestry panels from the Sheldon tapestry at Sudeley Castle.

Materials:

I purchased the William Morris cross stitch pattern from Orenco It came as a digital download. I printed all the pages and meticulously taped them together.

Talk about a whopper of a pattern. I estimated the number of individual cross stitches to be around 20,000. Yeah, this is going to take a long time, but that’s ok.

This pattern uses 14-count Aida cloth. I was lucky enough to pick up an entire roll at an estate sale for 80ยข! Due to the detailed image of the peacock, this pattern calls for many different embroidery floss colors. I keep the skeins in this box from Fortnum and Mason that once held Turkish delight.

My dog Otis got me these fancy scissors, needle magnet, and beeswax for thread stability for Mother’s Day. He’s such a thoughtful puppy!

Difficulty and Progress

I started this project months ago, and I’m not even halfway done. While cross-stitching itself is simple, this William Morris cross stitch pattern is so complex, and with so many different colors that I have to be very careful and pay attention. I’ve already made a few mistakes, the most serious being making the width one of two stitches too short (I stitched the frame first). So far I’ve been able to fudge my way around this by cutting same-color stitches here and there, making sure to give precedence to darker colors and key stitches. I manage to stitch for about an hour a day before my hands cramp a bit and my back gets tired. If I finish this piece by the end of the year I’m calling it good.

Despite it’s complexity, this pattern is beautiful, and is keeping me busy during quarantine.

How about you? Even attempt a cross-stitch (or other sewing/embroidery) project whose complexity stretched your abilities?

Have you read my last post about how I submit short stories to literary magazines? You can here!