A Peacock, A Unicorn, and A Badger

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A needlework picture designed after an early eighteenth century canvaswork piece

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A needlework picture designed after an early eighteenth century canvaswork piece

This design was inspired by an early eighteenth century English canvaswork picture executed in tent and counted satin stitches. It illustrates a stylized “Tree of Life”: a brilliant example of needle-painting with the meticulous shading of embroidery threads on linen, illuminating various exotic creatures and plants, inspired by the new discoveries of mariners and men of science as excursions to the west teased and opened the minds of embroiderers more than three centuries ago. The exaggerated forms that inspired me were likely executed by a professional “pattern drawer”, whose vocation is described as follows, in “The London Tradesman” in 1747:

Pattern drawers are employed in drawing Patterns for … Embroiderers…They draw Patterns upon Paper which they sell to Workmen that want them…This requires a fruitful Fancy, to invent new whims to please the changeable follies of the Ladies, for whose use their Work is chiefly intended. It requires no great Taste in Painting, nor the Principles of Drawing: but a wild kind of Imagination to adorn their Works with a sort of regular confusion.

Stitched over two threads on 40 count linen, the finished piece will measure approximately 16″x17″. Cross and counted satin are the only stitches required to complete the picture, so it is recommended for any level of skill.

Chart Correction

Please note that the symbol for a black box, DMC 3371, AVAS 4136, appears as a white box on the chart. It’s used to outline many of the motifs. I apologize for this error.


The satin stitched “water” is executed with color DMC 927/AVAS 132.  This is indicated in color on the chart, but there have been some questions about it.

Additional information

Kit Type

Silk Floss, Cotton Floss, Graph Only, Finished Model