Happy Holidays – The Sea Tractor At Burgh Island (part two)

The Sea Edge

The Sea Edge

Continuing the Saga of the Sea Tractor…

I worked the sea edge in short lengths of  scroll stitch in close pastel blues. The idea was to create the sense of the ripples at the edge as a wave settles and flows back down the beach – but only on one side of the sandy bar that leads out to the island. I wanted to create the sense of a prevailing wind that came at an angle so that the waves would be more noticeable on one side than the other.

Cloud, island, and sea suitably depicted, I could leap in and render the Sea Tractor in all its outlandish and spindly glory.

The Sea Tractor

The Sea Tractor

The Sea Tractor was great fun to do. I worked bi-coloured Dorset Buttons for the wheels, to evoke the painted metal hubs – pretty ambitious for my second and third Dorset Buttons ever!

The canopy and the base of the chassis seem to be in Brick Stitch, the main structural elements are either stem stitch or back stitch – the latter in particular for the terrifyingly spindly steps. Notice, by the way, that the steps themselves didn’t actually make it into the embroidered version. I wish I could say that was to emphasie the spindliness – that would be why I would do that now – but I have a strong suspicion that it was really either forgetfulness, or simply not being able to get the angles quite right.

Detail Of Sea Tractor

Detail Of Sea Tractor

I used heathered stranded cotton (red and black) for the engine-mounting, and ordinary black for the exhaust pipe that goes up through the roof.

The planks that create the side barriers were a bit of a challenge. In the end I settled on two long stitches in one colour, couched down in herringbone stitch in a lighter colour. I think they make pretty convincing planks, and looking at the detail, I even added the bumper at the back.

I didn’t include the barriers of the back or far side of the sea tractor, but I do recall thinking about that point. Even a painter – even a photo-realist painter – has to edit their image to make sure that it “reads” properly. Often this is a matter of making sure that the colours of things in the background recede sufficiently, but sometimes that isn’t enough. In this case I decided that adding those details would make the Sea Tractor even harder to work out, and discretion would be the better part of valour.

There really wasn’t enough stitching on this piece to qualify for a needlework competition, but I enjoyed working it!


  1. Penny says:

    This is wonderful – I can see how working on the tractor would be quite fun. I love the wheels.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Just a great piece. I love those details.

  3. ladyfi says:

    That tractor looks amazing!

  4. Terrie says:

    Very inspiring sea tides. You’re so good in making. I admire you !

  5. What wonderful work. I think my favourite detail is the sea edge, closely followed by the wheels.

  6. cathy daniel says:

    I think you captured the rippling tide really well and the tractor looks amazing – I have only seen it on TV, not in real life, but you have captured the precarious nature of it! xCathy

  7. karen says:

    I love your wheels!!

  8. Jan says:

    This looks wonderful! I remember seeing one in a Poirot movie. You did a great job – great details.