I have now completed the stitching of the owl, and a very handsome bird she is too. Even if I say so myself.
I made some changes to the outline of the owl, to try and make it look a bit more like a real long eared owl. In effect this involved making the head more rounded. I also rather extensively extended the branch at the bottom. The eyes were stitched with two strands of DMC cotton in black brown and in light copper. This was to give a smooth look to the eyes. The rest of the face and the breast were stitched with Appleton wool. I used two ply threads, but doubled up to give a four ply effect.
On searching the web for photos of owls I was surprised by just how fluffy the feathers were, especially on the breast and head. Wool threads were good for trying to emulate this effect. I was almost as surprised to discover how much white there is on an owl. The breast was first stitched with in an off white colour in chain stitch. I then inserted into this some single straight stitches in white and a medium brown colour. In among these stitches I made a very rough approximation of a cross in dark brown. Finally to complete the breast I wanted to get something that looked like single loose feathers for the bottom part which covered the talons. For this I was advised to use turkey stitch. This was another new one for me. Relatively simple to execute I was pleased to discover. Once stitched I simply cut through the bottom of the loops to get the single dangling threads, all nicely puffed up.
I now have to start on the surrounding area. I plan to put in a couple of wildflowers at the bottom of the piece. At the moment I am working on using Scottish bluebells and the Scottish primrose. I have yet to figure out what to put in at the top of the piece. More thinking caps and inspiration required. Though I might just settle for a glass or two of wine. Happy stitching.