If you are wondering what to do in the area below your stitched text and don’t have a portion-specific illustration in mind, consider birds. Birds often appear in mediaeval manuscripts. Their appeal is both their endless variety of colour and patterns, as well as the behaviours and allegorical meanings that have become associated with certain species.
For example, in this 13th century French Bestiary the hoopoe (recently adopted as Israel’s official bird) is esteemed because the young care for their parents in their old age – cleaning their feathers and clearing their eyes – in gratitude for the care their parents gave them.
When cranes sleep, one of them stands guard with a stone clutched in a claw; if the guard falls asleep the stone will fall and wake him.
Manuscript: England c.1225, Bodleian Library
It would be delightful to see a large flock of imaginative birds stepping, flying and swimming among our panels.
Sarit is a talented member of the stitching group I attend whenever I’m in Jerusalem. Israel is on the Europe/Africa migration route, and so bird watchers have an excellent vantage point for many species. Sarit often uses images of birds in her textile designs; not for their ornithological particulars, but as a reminder of what she saw, where, and with whom.
She cuts the birds directly from cloth – much of it connected with family garments and events – and playfully embellishes the bold and often quirky shapes with hand embroidery.
In support of our project Sarit allowed me to graph her birds for cross-stitch. Here is a sampling:
Feel free to download this sketch and fill it in with your choice of patterns and colours from the project palette.
Click here to download a blank .pdf version of the grid used throughout this project so that you can draft your ideas.
For much more inspiration go to