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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Goldwork and Silk Christmas Ornament Progress


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It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned progress on my silk and goldwork hand-embroidered Christmas ornament! Don’t worry – this isn’t an example of one of those projects that went to pot shortly after take-off! Sometimes, that happens, and often, when I make a mistake, I’ll have a hard time really getting back into a project. But the minor mistakes I’ve made on this little project have all been pretty positive, so I’ve been chugging along on it still. Here are some photos for you…

Last time we touched upon the embroidered Christmas ornament, I was not liking (and then I was liking) the orientation of the center design, especially the red satin-stitched areas with the lattice work on them. Many good people gave my heaps of great suggestions on how to improve it. I think, before all is over, I will take up the suggestion of changing the orientation of the lattice work.

At this point, I’m just pluggin along on the couching around the outside edge. I’m using #5 gold passing (2%), and working around in a bricking pattern, using shades of a cranberry red silk.

Hand Embroidered Christmas Ornament, 2008, in silk shading and goldwork

The most tedious part of the ornament so far has been this outside edge. Oh, woe is me. Never, ever start a project without enough of the needed supplies on hand. My original intention was to work this entirely from stash, and so far, I have been able to keep that resolution! But it’s been hard! I’m taking every tiny measure I can think of to conserve thread as I go, including not carrying to the next area of the same shade. I’m using tiny stitches to anchor each piece of thread… and it’s getting… really…. t-e-d-i-o-u-s.

Hand Embroidered Christmas Ornament, 2008, in silk shading and goldwork

This is a very wobbly looking corner. Dang.

Hand Embroidered Christmas Ornament, 2008, in silk shading and goldwork

The other way I managed to stretch my thread stash in these colors was actually to use more shades than I intended. Originally, I was going to use two shades of this silk, but as I ran out of the darkest shade, I moved to one shade lighter. Then, as the second darkest shade started dwindling, I moved to one shade even lighter, and used less of the dark shade. So I’m ending up, in all, using four shades of cranberry, which may actually end up being five shades by the time I’m finished!

Hand Embroidered Christmas Ornament, 2008, in silk shading and goldwork

The bricking goes from dark and close together in the corners to lighter and farther apart towards the middle stretch on each side. Some of my bricking isn’t perfect. Oh, wait. Most of my bricking isn’t perfect!! But don’t try to talk me into taking it out…. Please….

Hand Embroidered Christmas Ornament, 2008, in silk shading and goldwork

I think I have about three more double lines of couching to do to fill this area. Here’s hoping the thread lasts. If it doesn’t, I’ll come up with “something,” though I haven’t the foggiest idea what.

My plan is to continue with the gold passing, even on the yellow felt (we’ll see – I’m having second thoughts), but to couch that in gold thread so that the gold looks brighter. I would divide the two areas of passing with a wrapped pearl purl (a new technique I learned when working on the goldwork pomegranate), which I would like to sit up above the passing area a bit, so I’ll work that on top of the lines, I think.

Then, there’s chipwork to add still, and sequins and beads and then I’ll think about the back. But right now… I gotta get that edge finished!!!

You’d think, knowing that I have to get that edge finished, I’d just go finish that edge, right? Right!

Wrong. Right now, I’m heading to the studio to lay out some designs for towels-turned-tea-cloths-and-basket-liners that I’m making as Christmas gifts. One design I’m going to use is this corner embroidery pattern of leaves and flowers that I’m going to blow up to make about a 3″ or 4″ deep edge. That’ll be fun. The other design I want to work on today I’m adapting from a book – it needs to be enlarged and repeated and elaborated upon. I hope to be able to share it with you, once I figure it out! It’s kind of “folky” in an Italian-pottery sort of way.

That’s what I’m up to – the rest of the world seems rather quiet. What are YOU up to these days as far as needlework goes? Are you preparing holiday projects? Doing any finish work? Just having fun with your needle and thread? If you’ve got pictures online – on a blog or flickr or whathaveyou – feel free to post a link to your current project and tell us something about it!


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(6) Comments

  1. Hi Mary, I’m having some computer problems at the moment so I have not blogged for a while – just trying to keep up with some emails while at work and just now have begged some online time on my partners computer to visit a few friends.

    I too am making a silk and goldwork Christmas ornament, very different from yours, but can’t blog it yet as it is for a swap.

    Other than that I’m plodding on with my Japanese Embroidery and some fun beaded tassels.

    By the way, I was thinking how good your bricking looks, as does the whole ornament.


  2. Ooooo…. thanks, Margaret! The color scheme was selected by someone with supurb taste, obviously!

    Agne, thanks. I’m glad you like the blog!

    Carol-Anne! Where have you been? I was wondering about that, as I hadn’t seen you post anything for a little bit, since your last twisting post! You know, my ornament’s for a swap, too, but I figure with all the thousands upon thousands (dare I say millions) of people out there who engage in hand embroidery and do these kinds of swap thingies this time of year, chances are, my swapee is not reading my website! (much as I’d like to think everyone reads it!)

    Anyway, I’d love to see your Christmas ornament, as I have no doubt it’s positively exquisite. So don’t forget to take pictures and blog about it when you’ve sent it….

    Thanks, all, for the comments and compliments…


  3. for the Nov stash givaway:
    I am not currently doing needlework, but I’ve a bargello project in the works. I would love to try some of the lovely flowers (especially the peonies) I saw in the post about the free patterns website, I would like to work in silks. Thanks for the time you give us all. How do you ever find time to teach, grade papers, do your needlework, peruse the wonderful websites you tell us about, and write the daily posts? And you sleep too?
    Martha McSweeney

  4. Re competition for November. I am a new member – live in Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies. I stumbled on your website when looking for embroidery patterns for babies. Right now I am busy making party dress for my first granddaughter – 8 weeks. I would have embroidered a beautiful christening gown but she will be wearing her mother's gown so I have decided to make a beautiful embroidered 'party' dress for the event. I am crazy about embroidery and love to incorporate beads in my work. I am also embroidering a wedding album for my daugher and her new husband – their initials made up of teeny weeny flowers and sugar beads.



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