Bateau Bayeux Sails Away!

My little Bateau Bayeux is sailing across the English Channel! It’s all finished, water tight, rigged out and the crew and cargo are loaded. The split word on either side of the sails and mast is “Transivit” which, according to Wiktionary, is ” the third-person singular perfect active indicative of trānseō” . Trānseō, according to the same source, means to traverse or go across. 

Well, we knew that! Just look at them; they’re clearly not standing still!


Finishing up the planks on the boat was quick and easy. Even stitching around the single line waves that come up into the bottom plank was no problem. Likewise, the letters – all done in outline stitch – were also very easy.


Looking at the photo below, you can see that the second dye lot of the creamy yellow is quite different from the first. In the top plank that’s stitched with that color, I’ve blended the old and the new dye lots.  In the lower plank I had to stitch the whole thing with the second dye lot since there wasn’t any of the first dye lot left to blend in on that panel. (If only I’d looked carefully first!) The overall effect is fine, though, and I’m very happy with how the boat looks.


The letters are all stitched with the dark blue wool. They’re funny shapes, not even at all and some have serifs and some don’t. I had to keep referring to the photo in the book to make sure I did each one correctly.


It’s a pretty nifty idea to split the word so half of the word “transivit” is before the boat and half after. I think it reinforces the idea of travel and movement. Those embroiderers of old were rather clever!


Below is a photo of the piece off the frame. It needs to be gently pressed. Whenever I finish a piece of crewel work I usually spray it with water and pin it to my ironing board where it can dry and flatten itself out through evaporation. With this thread though, I won’t do that. I already know the dark blue has a tendency to run and I’m not taking any chances. Using two bath towels, I put one folded in half under the embroidery and one folded in half on top of the embroidery and then use gentle steam to flatten out the fabric. I’ve had success with this technique before when I was concerned about the moisture from the steam causing the dye in the threads to run.



The very last decision I need to make is what do I do with it now? This is what I have the most trouble with as an embroiderer. I have so many beautiful pieces in a drawer because I don’t need that many cushions and i don’t have that much wall space. I think this would be a gorgeous cushion. In fact, the colors are the same ones as the furniture in our living room. On the other hand. I could frame it.

Opinions please!

30 thoughts on “Bateau Bayeux Sails Away!

    • Hi RMW!
      What a lovely idea! My parents have walls full of things so I think I’ll probably go with a cushion as Cynthia suggests. Right now, we don’t have cats so it will be safe for a while!
      Liebe Gruse,

      • Hehe, My parents walls are mostly full as well, but they will move anything in exchange for things I embroider. (They are biologically programmed as parents that way. 🙂 ) They won’t have to move anything in this case, because there is a blank space on the wall behind where my mom sits to read/ crochet etc and she has been “hinting”. I hope I will be done by Christmas then I can stick it under the tree and make them wait. If not, my moms birthday is in January so I can hustle my bustle and get it to her then. :-)We do have two meowing fuzz-butts so cushions are not something I embroider. 🙂

    • Hi Cynthia,
      Thanks for the link to the youtube video. I won’t be studying Latin intensively but I’m always interested in languages. I agree – a cushion seems the best idea. Then I can hold it and tell stories about the men and horses on the ships to people who come around…only once I’d imagine after I do that!
      Liebe Grüße,

      • My husband and I are currently taking Latin lessons in a community-based setting. While I am finding it fascinating I have to say it is unbelievably difficult, and I usually have no problems learning languages. There is so much that you simply have to learn and remember in Latin unlike any other language I have tried.

    • Hi Linda,
      Excellent point! And I was thinking since that plank is closer to the water the salt from the sea would have lightened it, right?
      Liebe Grüße,

      • I think that sea water turns wood of any color grey of various shades… Who knows, I am not a pirate. 🙂

      • No, not even secretly. I never even learned to swim. So the part of the tapestry I am doing is not even a boat or horse. I am also afraid of horses, so I am also secretly not a cowgirl. I do like to grow my own veggies and fruit-trees, so (Oklahoma, musical) if “the farmer and the cowman should be friends”, I am secretly a farmer. 🙂

  1. It looks great! I like the two different plank colors, adds more interest. I think it will make a nice cushion. I would not be able to do that with two cats. I’ve always tried to give away my projects, until hubby asked why we don’t have any hanging on OUR walls. So I guess I can start making some for us now.

    • Hi Catcus,
      I have three pieces on our walls – both of my RSN certificate pieces and the Sunderland crest I did for my husband last year. That’s enough but one idea I’ve heard is to rotate what you have on the wall. Of course, that brings up the stroage issue!
      Liebe grüße,

      • My parents have a few things that I have embroidered on their wall. One is a dung beetle (long story) that I gave my dad a few years ago. Another is a bird that I gave my dad a year or two before that, which was part of a Halloween contest that he had at the office (did not win) he works at. And then there are a couple of things near where I usually sit and embroider. Near the hallway are some desert primroses I did from a photo my parents took when they visited Hoover Dam about a decade ago. My dad “commissioned” it from me as a gift for my mother. We do not put a lot of stuff up on the walls because we do not have a lot of storage space for a bazillion items to rotate around all the time.

  2. Well done! Yes, I have fears of the same problem with completed projects (of which I have so few these days and those that *are* done are usually meant as gifts, so no problem), that being, ‘what shall I do with it??’ Now I’m thinking of doing show pieces as well, then that really will mean finding something to do with them…

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      I read your post about the shows in the UK: I wish I could do that! What a great motivator and how fun to get feedback!
      Liebe Grüße,

  3. Thank you for this WONDERFUL journey! I’ve enjoyed watching your amazing progress on this piece. So lovely. So inspiring. Your generosity with sharing your talent with us is much appreciated. I’m anxious to see your next project.

  4. I really like this piece of work. I hope you found time to look at the story telling of the ‘Scottish Tappestry’ Have you thought of making it into a bag that you can use? I was lucky enough to visit the ‘Leek Embroidery’ exhibtion last week, the leek embroidery society did the Bayeux Tapestry. It was superb and free. On antiques road show last night (BBC 1 – 8pm) were two pieces of embroidery. One framed a mirror and the other a picture – value over £10 K BPS each. They also featured some embroidered bags.

    • Hi Dee,
      Yes I did see the Scottish Tapestry site and really enjoyed it. And, like you, I am an avid Antiques Roadshow fan and saw the mirror and the framed picture on the show. The owner was completely amazed at the high value of the items. I’ve seen a mirror in the V&A and it isn’t finished so I wasn’t surprised that his mirror was so valuable.
      Liebe Grüße, Kathy

  5. I’ve loved watching you stitch this. I’ve just finished reading the needle in the blood which is a fiction book with the Bayeaux Tapestry as a background (girl who is one of the stitchers on the Bayeaux Tapestry bewitches Bishop Odo). The book is the needle in the blood by Sarah Bower.

    • Hi Marjan,
      Thanks for the tip on the book. It sounds like it’s just what I need to read as fall closes in and the days are rainy and cooler!
      Liebe Grüße,

      UPDATE: I’ve startd the book and couldn’t put it down last night! I went to sleep very late for a school teacher!

  6. Congratulations on finishing this wonderful piece of embroidery! It’s been such a pleasure to see your progress and to read your blog. I too have a number of stitched pieces in a drawer waiting for the light of day. Personally I’d go with framing this piece of art.

  7. You could make a workbag out of it, specifically for travelling projects . . . .
    Wood on a ship *should* be all different colors; the planks will age differently depending on degree of exposure to salt/fresh water, air, barnacles, etc., and of course some might be very new wood, as planks would be replaced occasionally in the repair process.

  8. Kathy, this looks fabulous. You should be feeling pretty chuffed with yourself about now.

    I once made a cushion from a fairly complicated cross-stitch design that I did and ever after, right up to now, whenever it looks as though someone might sit on that cushion I rush to move it. I guess what I am saying is, frame your piece, and hang it on your wall. Items like this, ie, textiles and works on paper shouldn’t be out on display permanently in any case, so you could put something else away in a dark cupboard for a six month ‘rest’ and hang this one. Then you change them over, and so on and on.

    Giving it away sounds very virtuous and probably not something I could easily do with this one (were it mine)lol.

    • Hi Christina,

      Thank you! I am pretty chuffed! You have a good point about things being out of the light for part of the time. And our home has huge 4 meter x 2.5 meter windows in all the rooms so the light is a concern. Perhaps I will frame it…if I can find a framer in Berlin I 1. Trust to do a good job (I’ve tried two and neither one was great) and 2. Doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. One estimate I have was 300 Euros for a piece 20 x 10 cm. YIKES.

      Liebe Grüße.

      • Ouch (price), I have framed everything that is on the wall myself. I have also embroidered binder, photo album and book covers, embroidered on the front, and things like that as well.

  9. This is just gorgeous! I would go with framing myself unless you might have similar pieces stashed away or planned where you could attach them to one another to tell a little story.

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