The Everyday Lore Project

14 October 2020 – The Battle of Hastings

14 October 2020 – The Battle of Hastings

Something rather curious happened today. It’s the 954th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, where Harold was killed by an arrow, as my history teacher, Miss Welham was very fond of saying. So I thought I would give tapestry a go, given the whole Bayeux vibe. Except, of course, the Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry but an embroidery. And except the tapestry kit I bought turned out to be needlepoint kit. And although needlepoint is a form of embroidery, it uses a mono canvas, whereas the Bayeux Tapestry used linen. Although both use/used wool. 

But apart from all those semantics,  I was all set and ready to go. 

I’ve cross stitched before, and embroidered but I don’t remember ever having done needlepoint, so was quite excited, especially as I was going to be working on a sugar skull. Well, it is only 19 sleeps until Día de Muertos. First I had to separate all the wool out. And then I had to decide what area I was going to start with. And then I got to switch on my headlamp.

Yes, I have a headlamp for when it gets too dark for close up work. It’s just sensible. If a little dalek-y.

I went for an easing in, and started on the border. And went wrong. In a straight line. So tried again. And went wrong again. Third time lucky. But just doing a black outline didn’t feel very satisfying, so I decided to go for the flower in the lower left hand corner. As I figured out how to stitch the flower, it felt like I was finally understanding how needlepoint works. But obviously not very well, as I couldn’t quite get control of all of my stitches going in the right direction.

And then the curious thing happened. I started to get a little obsessed with it. The same kind of ridiculous obsession I feel about completing jigsaws. The outcome is never a surprise, given I have a picture of the finished article, but once I’ve started, I need it to be over in the shortest time possible. So the resentment I felt when I had to stop and start writing this felt quite palpable. 

So now I have a partially half-cross tent stitched skull grinning at me from across the room. Taunting me. Whispering to me to finish it. I’m sure Jane Austen heroines never suffered thus. But it could be worse, my panel is only 5”x5”, whereas the Bayeux Tapestry comes in at a whopping 2688” x 20”, complete with 202 horses, eels, double headed serpents, and a half man half donkey centaur. Ah, the fun that could be had stitching a half man half donkey centaur. Next time.


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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