Amos and Boris and an Embroidery Project

happy whale and book

For me, one of the biggest pleasures of being a mother is reading bedtime stories. As I snuggle in each night with my youngest child, I often find myself re-reading old favorites – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Gruffalo, Frog and Toad. And I often find myself inspired, transported, bewitched, not just by good stories, but by captivating illustrations.

amos and boris book

One such inspiring book is Amos and Boris by William Steig. It tells the story of a friendship between a whale and a mouse and the illustrations are loose and alive, emotive and humorous, absorbing and appealing. I know this story so well now, that I read the words aloud without comprehension, while my mind dwells on the images, roaming over the rooftops of a castle on the horizon, basking in light shining from a boat’s cabin, floating in the swells of the ocean.


Inspired by the quirky and cheerful seascapes in this book,  I recently sketched a whale in the ocean, a design I decided to use in an embroidery project. I chose three shades of murky blue-green for the sea, an earthy whale grey, and a white cotton drawstring bag.  I stitched the lines of ocean swells, darkest blues toward the bottom, lightest towards the top for an ombré effect. (DMC #s 924, 926, 927, if you care for specifics.)


My whale, outlined in a split stitch, seems a bit washed out compared to William Steig’s beautiful illustrations. When I am a more experienced and more confident embroiderer, I’ll have to revisit this project and try filling and shading the whale with stitches.

At the edges, I extended the ocean waves (stem stitch) around the side seams of the bag and across the back too. This reverse side might just be my favorite part of the project. The open blue ocean, embroidered version.


16 thoughts on “Amos and Boris and an Embroidery Project

      1. Yes it would be! As a mother of boys, thats a project in which I’m not that well versed, btu I do have some young nieces. I might have to look into it! Thanks so much, Joan.


    1. I was wondering who would notice that! The book dates from my husband’s childhood (though its still in print) but for some reason I am the one who loves it like I’ve known it forever.


  1. Thank you for linking up your lovely wavy whale – not sure that filling him in would add anything to him as the line drawing effect has just caught his character so beautifully (and I think his expression is marvellous!)


    1. Well, thank you, Catherine. The illustration in the book certainly has has a LOT of character and I was hoping to capture some of it, so its gratifying to have you mention it. Thanks also for reading, commenting, and hosting the link up – it really is great fun!


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