Interrupting a busy week to share the story of a rat – and if you hate rats, read on. Perhaps you might change your mind.
I don’t normally share a lot of personal or domestic information here, because this is the place where I stitch. But apart from stitching, rat-keeping has been a huge part of our lives for the last 12 years. We have had over twenty of them during that time – though not all at once, obviously! – all complete individuals, each one a unique character. Rats are fantastic little pets, as intelligent as a small dog. You can house train them, they can learn their names and simple commands, and they will do pretty much anything for food. They are clever, affectionate and clean; they are loyal, trusting, loving and loveable.
Last month we lost our last remaining little rat, a beautiful lilac boy named Bilbo.
Most of our pictures of Bilbo are a streaky grey blur. He loved exploring, and didn’t sit still for long. Like all rats, he was most enthusiastic about food and he loved treats of all kinds. We taught him to pull up a banana chip tied to the end of a piece of string, and he would sit on the stairs hoisting up this string with his little hands, like a sailor with a rope. Our attempts to photograph this particular activity were always unsuccessful. Occasionally he would just lie still and be pampered.
Soon afterwards, I happened across this blog, written by the hugely talented Jenny. At the time she had set herself the enormous challenge of ‘a walk on the wild side’, creating a stitched animal every day. You can probably guess what’s going to happen next. When I saw this, I contacted her to see if she could create a little something just for me and my hubs to remind us of our sweet boy.
To my excitement, she agreed. And she did it perfectly.
Just 3.5″ square, mounted on a wood block, my beautiful lilac boy immortalised in stitch. Jenny’s work is really stunning and skilfully executed. Her drawings are so sensitively realised, with just the right amount of detail and texture, perfectly balanced in colour, form and composition. I am totally delighted by her interpretation.
And here he is, already perfectly at home, sitting on the shelf in my work room:
Thank you, Jenny.