- Given the success of my Pearls cases, I dug out a counted thread kit I had bought in 2010. It was a counted thread bag on 36 thread count hand-dyed linen, using silk threads and lined in silk. It was from The Gift of Stitching, a digital magazine that closed in 2012.
I thought this might make another bag for storing pearls.
I had been entranced by this bargello pattern and began to stitch it in 2010, but didn't get far. I started to drift off pattern and found, even then, 36 threads per inch difficult to see.
In the intervening 8 years, I have learnt enough to know the necessity of marking up the fabric with tacking thread around the design framework, so I put on my magnifying glass and outlined the design areas with four thread tacking.
At this point I took the piece to the Embroiderers' Guild and talked to a tutor about the best way to tension it. The tutor asked me why I was putting myself through the stress of a counted thread work on such fine, dark coloured linen. "Play to your strength!" she said, "I couldn't see to count that - work it in surface stitchery!".
It had never occurred to me to change the design. I can't believe I had been so fixed in my thinking. I suddenly had permission to move away from counted-thread work. I went straight home to my new book - a Japanese take on Scandinavian designs.
Using the framework outlined by my tacking, I embroidered a line of birds along the top panel.
Three of the four panels involved peacocks.
Zakka uses either one or two colours of thread. I stayed with this protocol, but given the silk threads in the pack are variegated, it was a bit of a cheat.
I used the gold silk supplied as lining, backing the linen and constructing the bag as one piece.
I stitched a cord channel through the two layers and an edge between each side of the bag.
I made a twisted cord to thread through the channel, but once made it deserved to be outside, so I added loops.
I've decided to use this to store my turquoise jewellery.
It isn't the bargello bag - but has its own charm. It's completion is another testimony to the benefit of belonging to a Guild!