Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Needlework is my Carrot


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Now that I finished the embroidery on “Breath of Spring,” and with the busy school year underway, I want to line-up my next needlework projects so that I don’t have to focus so much on set-up, and so that I always have a “carrot.” You do use needlework as a carrot, don’t you?

For me, needlework is absolutely a carrot – it is my inducement to get myself to perform (whether household tasks, job-related activities, whatever) so that I can embroider with a clear conscience. Basically, I do what I have to do so that I can do what I want to do. That’s not to say that everything besides needlework is drudgery; on the contrary, I like my job and I like doing other necessary things that relate to normal living. I always find, though, that if I have a goal (get this done now so I can do that later), I work with more energy and focus.

Do you want to know what my carrots are right now? Well – here they are:

First, I’m working on a goldwork project – a small project that’s a lot of fun so far. I’m giving it to my niece for her wedding in November. I would like to have it finished by the end of next week, which isn’t impossible. I’ve done all the silk shading, and now it’s just a matter of the goldwork.

Goldwork with Silk Shading: project in the works

This is a picture of part of the project. I can’t blog the whole thing right now, as the project isn’t really “mine.” Once it’s published, I’ll show you my finished work and tell you about it at length. But don’t you love the colors so far?

Goldwork with Silk Shading: project in the works

Here’s a little shot showing you how a vine is narrowed using gold passing thread. The vine is originally two pairs of passing thread (gold passing thread is generally couched in pairs). Then, about halfway around, I plunged one thread (half of a pair), and then a bit later, another thread, to narrow the vine to only one pair of passing threads. I think the designer was ingenious with this little touch.

After this is finished, I’ll move on to beginning my Pelican.

Pelican of Mercy in Needlepoint or Canvas Work

This is the piece that I bought the threads for on my recent shopping venture. It’s painted on 18 ct. canvas and the whole thing will be worked in tent stitch. The canvas was designed and painted by Judy of Possibilities, etc. I’ve had it for a while, and had every intention of starting it last spring, but, amazingly enough, I never had a chance to go shopping for threads until just a few weeks ago.

Pelican of Mercy in Needlepoint or Canvas Work

I don’t plan to stitch the whole piece in one sitting. (Oh, no kidding??) Actually, it’s going to be an on-and-off piece, for something to stitch on now and then, between projects and whenever I’m on a needlepoint roll. I don’t think I would enjoy glutting myself entirely on tent stitch for months until this is finished. I’m looking forward to working it.

My next little project is going to be BABY BOOTIES. I’m excited about this one!!!! I’m going to make a couple sets of little baby booties out of wool felt (I think I’ll try some different lining ideas, though – like lining them with flannel, or, for cold weather, perhaps fleece?). They’ll be embroidered, of course, and I hope they turn out cute. I’ve got a pattern set from McCall’s (pattern #2867).

McCall's Baby Booty Pattern

I’ve also found some cute patterns online. I especially like this Bitty Booties pattern from Heather Bailey Designs (PDF). You’ll find it on her blog Hello My Name is Heather.

I’ve also been in the process of designing a really ambitious project.

Sketched Design for Ecclesiastical Embroidery

It’s ecclesiastical embroidery and will feature mostly silk shading and goldwork. The design is still in the works, and it’s really l-a-r-g-e. I still have some sketching to do on it, like finishing the angels in the arm of the cross:

Sketched Design for Ecclesiastical Embroidery

My plan is to break the design down into workable elements that will be appliqued together onto the main ground fabric. This is a whole new adventure for me – at least on this scale. I’ll definitely be keeping you posted on this project’s development. If I flop or just give up, you’ll be the first to know!

For light work this winter, I’ve got a couple of Tanja Berlin’s kits still – the squirrel and a bird, I think. So it’s likely I’ll set those up for stitching.

And between these projects, for more immediate purposes, I’d kind of like to make a stack of Christmas cards before the end of November rolls around. I’m thinking about getting some kids together – or at least a couple of my nieces – and doing a kind of group card-making session or four on Saturday afternoons.

All this is fun stuff and really exciting to me. But the reality is that, as much as I’d like to have all these projects underway with a certitude that I could finish them this winter, I know it will not be likely that I’ll get them all done. Oh, the ecclesiastical piece will take years, I know. But it’s nice to have stitching goals for the fall and winter months, even though I know that my real job is going to be taking the bulk of time. Still, I do plan to stitch, and stitching always makes a Really Good Carrot for me. If I do my work like a good girl, then I can settle into some serious needlework!

Is embroidery your carrot? Do you make up stitching goals for yourself? If you do, how many projects do you have on the burner? (Or at least stewing in your head?) In short, how do you go about planning and executing your stitching adventures? Maybe if we share ideas on this, we can all become more efficient with our time and our approach to our projects!


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(9) Comments

  1. I’m really glad to see the hand painted canvas, and the sketches for the ecclesiastical project look fanstastic!
    (Picking up on my points of interest)

    I think it’s a good idea to have an ‘easy, non-thinking’ project in the back ground (like your Pelican).

    I expect my current project to take about a year, and I already know what I want to do after that!

  2. Any of my craft activities are definitely my carrot, feel really put out if I miss out too. You are going to be very busy over the next few months, can’t wait to see the results

  3. Mary – is this *all* you;ve got planned? its enough to make me quake in my boots. The ecclesiastical (sp?) embroidery looks great -I can just imagine how well you’ll do all the silk shading etc – but so ambitious – Im in awe!

  4. Oh, so that is what those threads were for!!! The colors are absolutely wonderful. . . especially the golds! Yum!

    I wish I was as good as you about finishing chores, etc to move on to embroidery. I skip the chores so as to do the embroidery! Not a good plan.

    Keep us posted on all these projects; I am bursting with curiosity to know more (and more, and more). Very, very exciting.

    I didn’t know you needlepointed? I’ve not seen a previous piece you’ve stitched with that technique, I think. I is easy to loose track with all that you do!!!!


  5. Mary, thank you for exploring this area – I often feel I lack focus because I tend to have too many projects on the go and easily get sidetracked by new possibilities and sometimes a little intimidated by them. This creates a guilt spiral and I find I get less and less done. I have 6 projects in various stages together with smaller stuff. I sometimes wonder if there will ever be enough time to stitch everything I want to – I suspect the answer to that is a resounding no! I am not sure about a carrot – I think I need a two by four. I marvel at how you get so much done.

    Last evening when I had achieved only a fraction of what I set out to do, I considered using a kitchen timer to help organise my stitching time into bite sized pieces on different projects, perhaps allocating an hour at a time – not sure whether that one will work but I will try it and see. For myself I find that I have to have definite deadlines to be able to actually finish projects so I tend to take evaluated courses, however I often find myself prevaricating and then having to rush – what a hopeless case!

    I do try and get conscience cleansing chores out of the way but right now I am supposed to be in the final stages of packing for a move and I am having difficulty deciding on my immediate stitching needs (much of our stuff is going into storage for an indeterminate period as we will initially be space restricted) – this has resulted in my two traveling Sterilite boxes turning into eight – DH is having fits.


  6. Hi, Sallie –

    I can certainly sympathize! Space restriction is probably one of the most inhibitive features of any hobby — well… that, and lack of TIME.

    Jeanne, whose blog is called Just String, rotates her projects, and I think she does an amazing job of getting projects finished. Maybe a project rotation would help: certain days of the week get certain projects, or something of that nature. I was thinking of subscribing to Jeanne’s rotation idea myself, though first, I absolutely must finish the goldwork project, as it’s a gift.

    Well, best of luck with your move! Tell the hubby it could be worse – 8 sterlite boxes isn’t as bad, as, say…. 80! 😉


  7. the design of the ecclesial panel you’ve got planned sent me into shock!

    (i figured the days of those kind of panels died off in conjunction with the cloisterd sisters who made them)

    how long do you expect this project to take?

    and, of course, thank you for trying to put such a beautiful piece of art into liturgical use

  8. Wow! I want to finish a St Francis crucifix before I die. That is fantastic! I am always planning a project or 2 (or 3) in advance, too. Am trying to finish Phase 9 and 9 of my Japanese Embroidery this winter so I can get to and get done with Phase 10.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Anneg

  9. WOW! Did I do that? I thought for sure you would have it finished. I love your new piece with the angels and look forward to seeing it. Carry on. I, too, play the carrot game – but never thought of calling it that.

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