One of the Persian carpets that makes me happiest is my Qasq’ai , or Qashqai. It is the most cheerful carpet in the house, with fifteen merry goats standing at attention, greeting the viewer. It lays on the floor before the wood stove, and is the first carpet one sees entering the house. I like it so much that I decided to make a huge floor pillow, using the design. My goal was something big enough to curl up on in front of the fire on a cold winter’s night – 30” square when finished – so I began with a big piece of 8/16 Penelope canvas, which comes in 36” rolls. To personalize my design I made a few amendments, including adding a little drawing of my Bengal cat, Pyewacket.
Penelope canvas is lovely stuff, and a nice toasty brown colour. I decided to stitch using random long (or running) stitch, to get an effect as close to the original woven carpet, and all its subtle colour-blending, as I could. I used high quality American wool, “Waverly”, from the Brown Sheep Company.
My intention was to actually mix shades in every needle-full, so I ordered two oranges very close to each other, three close reds, two ivories, and so on. When you look at the carpet area I wanted to re-create, you think “Orange goat on red background; outlined in black, with small amount of cream and yellow in the little surrounding designs.” But when I carefully studied the carpet in sunlight I saw that of course the red background is shaded due to variations in the dye lots the weaver was using, as is the goat; and the black outline is in fact two separate shades, a very dark brown, and a very dark blue, and so on. It’s all much more subtle. I wanted the entire pillow to look like a tapestry of the carpet, and by blending the shades on every needle, it does.
If you’d like to see some of the carpets and needlework that inspire me please visit my Pinterest board.