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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Number 9. Scorpions!


So why would I want to include one in the progression of my tatted challenge zoo!

Well, after I'd tatted the Meerkats I watched a programme on Meerkats (fleas and all!) in the Kalahari Desert. What wonderful social groups they live in, taking it in turns to be the 'look out', always ready for the unexpected.
Saw them grooming each other like the primates do, guess this is their way of dealing with those darn fleas!
There is not a lot to eat in the desert and one of their favourite snacks is a nice crunchy scorpion. Makes me shudder! Apparently they are more or less immune to the stings.

Still not a good enough reason to tat a scorpion?

So on to my story.
In 1967 when we were just married (yup celebrating 40 years next week) we took our belated honeymoon on an expedition to a Greek island with our University. Mmmm not much of a honeymoon sleeping in a tent for a month in a sun scorched field in the August heat. But we did have such great adventures travelling there and back thanks to the sponsors, riding on The Orient Express route from Paris to Venice, time in Venice, cruising thro' the Corinth Canal and down the Aegean sea on a small cruise liner to Pyraeus, time to spend in Athens, oooh what memories.

OK I'll cut to the point ...the scorpion!

My job on the expedition was to collect and identify the insects on the island so I'm not unduly squimish about anything with 6 legs. But when it comes to creepy crawlies with 8 legs that's a whole new ball game. One morning as I crawled out of my sleeping bag I felt that something had landed on my hair I instinctively brushed it away, bad move... it was you guessed, it a scorpion and it stung me on the side of my head...OUCH!
Now the only thing I knew about scorpions was that their sting was fatal! So it was lucky that I was on a zoological expedition and had people around (especially new hubby who knows these things!) to assure me that they were in fact not all lethal. I work on the basis that if someone tells me NOW YOU CAN PANIC then that's the time to panic! that's the theory anyway.
Well it wasn't fatal and it paid for that sting and was preserved for posterity!! I blurred it's details on our expedition label to save it's face but I was so amused to read the little addendum on the end of it 'after stinging the latter of us' !!!!!

Here he is with a little mate who didn't get the chance to sting me!

Being stung by one scorpion is an unfortunate accident but be stung by two scorpions is darn right bad luck!

A little more than a year later we went to live in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and work at the University. The first apartment we were given was on the ground floor and it didn't take long to realise that such freedom of access to all things that creep, crawl and slither! was not good. In less than a week I had trodden on a scorpion hiding in the dark in my shoe, can't blame the poor little beggar for lashing out. Fortunately he wasn't lethal either but boy it hurt like hell, ever had dozens of red hot needles stuck into the sole of your foot so that every time your foot touched the floor they shot up your leg. Don't remember much about the pain from the Greek scorpion, it must have hurt but I well remember hopping about on a make shift crutch for days after this one.
Needless to say we applied for a new apartment on got one on the first floor where we lived happily and safely for two years.

So lets say that tatting a scorpion is like laying a ghost for me and for once I can look at a friendly very cute scorpion courtesy of Jane's pattern.

Just a little tweaking honest to make him look more like my scorpion.

This is Jane's original pattern, very cute and instantly recognisable as a scorpion to me, but just not quite right.

Perhaps I better explain a bit about Scorpion anatomy,(those who are bored cut to the end!!).
You all know that insects have 6 legs and spiders have 8, this little fellows legs have been missed out as not necessary for the scorpion effect. But they would have been seen coming from the segments of the cephalothorax. Too big a word, nah...insect body is divided into 3 parts,head,thorax and abdomen but in arachinds the head and thorax are fused into one (hence cephalothorax) so they only have that and the abdomen. So far so good but I can hear you saying if the 8 legs are not on this specimen what on earth are those leg like things with the big claws.
Well unlike us insects and arachnids don't have teeth or hands to manipulate food instead they have mouthparts..extra little 'arms' to help them pick up, hold and stuff food into their mouths!! and serrated 'teeth like bits' to help them 'chew'.
So those long 'arms' are modifield mouth parts. While used to pick up food their are also very useful in attack and defense and are called pedipalps.

Now you know that my aim was to tat realistic animals so with `Jane's permission I tweaked.

The pedipalps on Jane's scorpion are too curved and have too many segments. Scorpions hold their claws out to the side of their body ready for action, so Jane's curve had to be reversed and an elbow made.
I loved the eyes and the way she had shown the segments of the cephalothorax with the loops of chains but I couldn't get them to lie flat so had to tweak a bit.
the abdomen I felt was too short for my scorpion and is immediately narrow as it emerges from the cepho' so that was tweaked too.
here are some shots of my trials and errors.

Finally I found that if I tatted the rings of the abdomen as for wrong side..2nd half, 1st half then it would curl up holding the sting in the tail above the body, and this I am happy with. Thanks Jane I could never have made this on my own.

He wouldn't hurt a fly, honest!
He's made in Oren Bayen thread in gorgeous varig oranges, looks so desserty, and measures about and inch and a half.

What happened to the African scorpion did someone ask.....well he paid the ultimate price too, I just can't find him at the moment, just remember him as being very black and sinister!

1 comment:

  1. Now tat's a fine, fiery and fierce scorpion. Wonderful stories - I now know I never ever want to meet the 'real thing'!


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