Archive for bat

Shorleyker’s Bat – the story continues

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , , on August 3, 2013 by suetortoise

Where had I got to? Last time, I left my ‘Batty’ project with the trees in progress and most of the sky filled with seeding. The next step was to add some stars….
Batty WIP 6 - the stars are out
I went back to the DMC metallic thread for the stars, and made them with either two or three tiny stitches crossed. They were not neat little ‘x’ marks or asterisks – they would have looked wrong if they were too tidily stitched against the background of seeding stitches. While I was doing that seeding, I thought I’d left far too many spaces for the stars. I was expecting not to use them all. But once I’d got a rhythm going with the metallic thread, I found I needed more, not fewer, stars. As if by magic, usable gaps between the seeding stitches seemed to turn up naturally wherever I wanted to pop in an extra star. I was very pleased with this stage.

batfaceWhile adding twinkle-twinkles to the sky, I was thinking about the stitching I needed on the main bat. I wanted its face to look as much as possible like the face in Shorleyker’s woodcut. So the edge of my fabric soon sprouted a collection of eye tests and mouth samples.

Batty WIP 7 - eye test

I settled on bullion-knot loops for the eyes and finished them off with a single-turn French knot in black in the centres.

The mouth was less successful. I finally decided to use a backstitch outline and whip it. I was happy with the shape, but it looked wrong, somehow. I didn’t want a solid silver grin, but it was too ’empty’ with nothing in the centre. While I let that problem stew in the back of in my mind, I started on the black stitching for the body of my bat. The photo isn’t very clear – black on dark navy blue is a pain to photograph! The legs are single-feather stitch, like the ‘finger’ lines on the wings, but with the smooth edge facing inwards, not running along the inside of the silver line. The tail-bone was a row of chain stitch. Above this, I used short straight stitches to make the furry body and head, very similar to the seeding I used in the sky, but more dense and worked more-or-less in the direction of fur growth.

Batty WIP 8 - bodybuilding

The empty mouth was still bothering me. I picked up a scrap of in the variegated thread and held it in place to see how pearl cotton might look as a filling for the mouth. Much to my surprise, the light purplish-blue colour I had in my hand seemed to be just the right thing. (A blue mouth – who would have guessed that shade would work?) So I filled the mouth outline with close-packed straight stitches and the picture was finished.

This has been such a fun project to do and to share. I like to think that Richard Shorleyker would be pleased if he could see what use I have made of his 1632 design. (I have not yet mounted the fabric properly, I have not quite finalised what I want put around it, although I will be almost certainly be using the ivory-coloured mount you can see in the photo. I used the mount as a size guide when designing the piece, so they fit together.)

Shorleyker's Bat - stitching finished

I have had some really lovely comments on this piece, both here on the blog, on Stitching Fingers, on Flickr and in emails. I am glad that you have enjoyed seeing me ‘thinking out loud’ with it. I must also thank ‘Emma’ who blogs on the DMC company’s American website at  for a lovely write-up of the first part of this project. I am really flattered to have been selected. If you’ve found the blog through one of these links, then hello! You are very welcome. I hope you will find some interesting things to explore here. Don’t be afraid to add a comment, make suggestions or ask questions.

Now, before all my non-embroidery friends and readers give up on me altogether, I promise that the very next post on TLTB will be something other than embroidery. But stitching will be back here again soon, don’t worry!


Bats in the Tortoise Loft

Posted in books, Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , on July 21, 2013 by suetortoise

Above my head, the
star-specked, silent-movie sky
flickering with bats.

Work in progress and book cover.

Back in 1998 or 1999, I went went to a talk at the Shropshire branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild where John and Elizabeth Mason, talked about discovering that they had one of the best preserved copies of Richard Shorleyker’s 1632 pattern book, A Schole-House for the Needle, a curiosity that John had bought in a rummage sale in Newport, Shropshire in the 1940’s, when he was a child. They told us something of the history of the book, and how they ended up producing an excellent reproduction. It’s a good story, which you can also read on the website, where the book is still available directly from Elizabeth Mason.

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