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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Embroidery Projects Everywhere – and Narry a Spot to Stitch


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Sometimes, I call it the Embroidery Blues. Sometimes, I call it a Needlework Dilemma. Right now, though, I think I’ll call it utter-and-total-complete-indecision-with-a-bit-of-guilt-on-the-side.

The problem? I want to start a new embroidery project, but I’m stuck in the Worlds of In-Between and Not Finished.

Don’t you ever get this way? It’s kind of like inspirational glut: I have a million ideas that I’d like to move towards, and yet I know I can’t start anything big, and yet, I know I want to be doing something, and yet I have plenty to do, and yet I can’t make up my mind.

And yet…. there’s a pretty good line-up of ready-to-do embroidery projects just waiting to happen:

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

I want to work Trish Burr’s lilac-breasted roller. It’s so darned beautiful. I want to make it. I want to hang it on my wall.

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

I want to take the embroidery design I posted the other day and translate it into a goldwork project. I’m even thinking I want to stitch it on velvet. I’m also thinking I’m a glutton for punishment.

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

I’m also thinking I want to start this project, but there isn’t really a buuurrrrning desire to start it. It’s not sparking anything right now, if you know what I mean. Do you know what it is? Can you guess? It was a gift – I was enrolled in “university!” But it’s not a project I can blog step-by-step without violating an ethical code, so I am rather hesitant to launch into this one. I could certainly update you on progress with pictures, I suppose, since it’s my embroidery, but I do like to venture into instructional points when I blog, and that wouldn’t be quite right. Any idea what it is? I’ll give you ten points if you guess right.

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

Oh. He just HAD to sneak in here! This is the Side Dish of Guilt in my present state of indecision. He must be finished. I’ve circled the parts that need to be done – it isn’t much! I know I’ll feel better about everything once I conquer this rascally rooster. (And hey – I’ve thought of a good use for him, too – but more on that later…)

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

I want to make this next needlebook from the French Maid Needlebook series designed by Bobbi Chase and distributed by Access Commodities. I really loved making and finishing the last needlebook, and I’m kind of eager to translate this one into a surface embroidery design, too. On top of that, they’ve come out with the fourth one in the series. I’m sure I’m going to want to make it, too.

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

Remember this? I started it last year, with my niece working on her own copy of it at the same time. Neither of us has finished. Working on this right now isn’t un-appealing. I’m kind of in the mood for the simplicity of a charted design.

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

But then there’s this – I’m dying to get back to some Schwalm work and actually FINISH a piece. Luzine Happel, author of Basic Principles of Schwalm Whitework, sent me this printed piece of linen, which is ready to stitch. Not only do I want to do the central section of this cloth, but I want to work some fancy hems around the outside (using Luzine’s book, Fancy Hems). What to do?

Hand Embroidery Projects Waiting to Happen

I could take up something very small, like this crewel small. I enjoyed working on the crewel pomegranate small and the other crewel flower small – they were quick weekend projects that satisfied. But if I’m going to do crewel work, you know and I know that it must be the rooster first.

In fact, if I’m going to do anything, we all know it has to be the rooster first.

There’s one other thing that’s tempting me, and it’s rather silly and inconsequential – but it would be a fun and relaxing project for the next week or so. Remember the spring corner I embroidered on a towel, to line an Easter basket last year? I want to make another one, with a different design, but in spring colors, for the same purpose. I have a terrific corner flower design to use – it’s fun and crowded and casual and versatile, and it would be really bright and colorful. I think the grey winter weather is leaning me more and more in the direction of THIS idea.

So this is where I am, in the throes of a jolly bout of indecisiveness.

How about you make the decision for me and put me out of my misery?!


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(28) Comments

  1. Oh my gosh – do I feel your pain! lol I've been in this same 'dilemma' myself and what I usually wind up doing is going through ALL my UFO's, new patterns and doing nothing for a few hours, while I study on it. Eventually, I figure out what I want/need to do and get back started stitching. Not much help, I know – just wanted you to know that you wern't alone! lol
    Barbara in TN

  2. My vote is to finish the rooster. He wouldn't take long (especially if you refrain from ripping out) and then you'd have the feeling of accomplishment that would lift you out of the "what next" rut!

  3. I'm not touching your decision with a barge pole! Been there tooo many times myself.

    As for your 'university' piece, how I ENVY
    you! I have LUSTED after that Floral Glove Needlecase of Tricia's. If it were in MY stack, it would be right behind the two small obligation pieces that will be
    finished within the week!

    Whatever you choose, enjoy!


  4. I go with gocrazywithme and finish the rooster otherwise he is going to sit there at the back of your mind, crowing;"finish me, finish me." Then you start with the lilac breasted roller. The last for pure selfish reasons. I also have a lilac breasted roller (although a different one to yours) and so between the two of us I can learn a lot. Kind regards, Elza Bester Cape Town.

  5. I'd do the project that's generating the most excitement with the least (potential or actual) frustration. But then I have 4 craft projects I'm in the middle of, so maybe this is not the best advise. 🙂 I have my very first embroidery project, 2 Dutch Embroidery projects (embroidery on paper) and a crochet afghan. Love your site!


  6. Finish the rooster.
    Having him completed will get rid of the side dish of guilt (great phrase!)
    I'd love to see you start the roller afterward simply because I love him, but perhaps you should do something that isn't feathered.

  7. Oh, I feel your pain. I have the same dilemma, and at least one of the same projects.

    But there's this little thing called tenure, and NSF grants waiting to be written, and an unfinished silk fan, two pillowcases, a promised barbecue apron, and a certain Indian girl project…and I send you via e-mail two other Indian motifs I would LOVE to make.

    Not enough hours in the day.

  8. Go for the bird….birds are always good and a sign of spring! Thanks for reminding me that I am not the only one with this dilemma…..I am taking care of my (grown) daughter after surgery. Brought my stitching, but don't want to work on that one. I am getting the urge to go to the stitching store and find a project. But I have so many at home!! I will be here two more days…can I make it that long??
    Kathy in Kenai

  9. Oh Mary, we are all there with you. The things we should do, the things we could do and the things we want to do. How they all conspire to stop us from doing anything at all.

    I would tell you to finish that Rooster, he is so nearly there and finishing him would free you up, but I know that only you can make this decision.

    Then start the glove, you are not obligated to us. Sure, we will miss you, but you don't have to post daily. Do something for yourself (say's she who is still debating wether to sign up for the Gold Work Master Class and hads't given a thought to the no-blogging aspects of it!)

    Most of all, do your heart's desire. That's what will move you forward. The blog is not the most important thing, you are.

    And when you are at your best, the blog is 🙂

  10. I would buckle down and finish the rooster. You would get that quick satisfaction of finishing something and then be ready to make another start. But I would be dying to start the needlebook next. 🙂

  11. Oh, I've been in the same position many times. If I had these projects, I would finish the rooster (you really don't have much left and he's looking so good). Then, since he was a moderately long project, I'd do something relatively quick and simple- probably the Easter project since it would need to be done soon, and since it won't be crewel (you sounded like you needed a break). Then you'll have two projects completed before you start on one of the more time consuming projects like the goldwork or cross stitch. Well, that's what I'd do….


  12. It sounds as though you need a change of focus to recharge your batteries. Make it something small and different to the rooster. The French Maid Needlebook would be ideal.

  13. I think you are going to finish the rooster… one day,
    then the spring corner for next Easter…it's relaxing, meanwhile you think what to do next, maybe none of those lol!

    I would like to hear from you about the stitch I've just posted – I was searching for a stitch for long and now I found it and had written three posts about. I don't know its name in English, do you know it?

  14. I also say finish the rooster — then you'll feel marvelously free to start something else. Do you have a super-yummy podcast, book on tape, or other goody to treat yourself to while you buckle down?

  15. Well….

    All I can say is….

    I FINISHED THE ROOSTER. I just couldn't start something else without finishing it first. I even picked out a section and restitched it. (A small section – the pinks at the base of the wing).

    Ah. He's finished. Now I can move on!

    Thanks, all, for your encouragement and advice! Tonight, I may set up the next project. It'll be something light, I assure you – and easy to stitch, with easy threads! Wool is not always a dream to stitch with, I've learned!


  16. I have to admire the fact that you posted your to-do list (AND included pictures!). As for my vote, nope, not going to go there. However, if I might make a suggestion…how about putting the names of each one in a hat and drawing one out?
    Not much help, am I?

  17. I suffer from this, too. There's the small Jacobean design that I started months ago. It kind of looks like a sunflower and I'm down to the leaves, all green, and I pick it up and do a little and put it down again. There's the pansy CQ wall hanging-an 18" block that seems not quite finished and ready for the borders. Right now, I'm obsessing about embroidered cards. I want to have enough made to send out for next Christmas, some birthdays, etc.

    And after our Texas snow storm, I'm burning with ideas about a contemporary embroidery piece from some of the pictures I took. I've never seen snow quite like this. And I've seen plenty of snow since I'm from Kansas. There was no wind that day, the temperature was just above freezing and a very wet snow piled up by inches on the trees. We actually had 12", but some of it just melted into the ground. All the trees were fat with the snow, bending the branches down low and all rounded. It was amazing to see all that snow on the Magnolia tree that still had its leaves.

    So I have a similar dilemma

    I think you should finish the rooster or the charted piece. You'll feel better when something is finished.

  18. I was just about to write that you should finisht the rooster. And then saw that you did! Good. Another project crossed off your list. One less smidgen of guilt. What a good feeling!

  19. As you can see – you're not alone. My unfinished business: a large teacher and children pattern I'm finishing for my Mom, a large 50 states pattern that's been on hold for at least 3 years, a baby quilt that I'm quilting by hand and my fingers are killing me and a bookmark that I'm adapting from a needlepoint pattern. Don't get me started on all the other patterns not started yet but they're calling my name and tempting me beyond measure.

    I agree – finish the rooster: the flower dots, the leafy tendrils and the beak/legs (I'd go for a rich gold color). If you finish one, you can start another with no guilt. Same thing I do with clothes or books: one comes in, one goes out.

  20. I am right there with you, I have several projects that I'm working on, that are in partial states of completion, and I want to work on all of them and none of them at the same time. Plus I have some sewing that I should probably get to at some point as well.

    So many projects, so little time :O)

  21. Miss Mary asked her loyal readers,"So many choices! What shall I do?" Projects near an end, projects half way done, and some not even out of their wrappers – All such tempting morsels.
    This lament was heard far and wide, so too was the groaning of her work space, "I'm too crowded, you can barely find the floor!
    Skeins of threads, scissors, needles and pins, not to mention all those projects that want doing.
    Miss Mary gazed around her in dismay, "I didn't realize it had gotten quite this bad." She cried, wiping a tear from her eye with a hankie (hand-embroidered, of course)
    "A bit of early Spring cleaning is just the thing to get me out of this funk. I'm sure to find something for a contest or two. It will be like killing two birds with one stone. But first, there's this book I've been meaning to read!"
    Good luck,
    Karen Hilinski

  22. H O O O R R A A A H H H , Three Cheers for Mary !!!

    I'm so pleased you've finished the rooster. Good on ya!
    He looks really good in the pic. Glad you changed the pinks in tail tho – they were a bit…umm.. well they just didn't seem right. Interested to see what you've put it their place. And the whole finished embroidery.
    I've been wanting to see the flowers as a whole and am not disapointed. They look really good.
    And his comb is fabulous. My, he's a proud fellow and so pleased with himself. Am interested to see what you have planned for him.

    The charted design is absolutely beautiful. I havn't seen it before. I like how some of the squares look like just part of a larger design.
    I have a definite leaning towards rich colours AND paterns / designs cobbled together. Like the 'patchwork' heading a recent post with photos of sections of stitched designs.
    A couple more squares of this charted design would be nice to see. Are you designing it yourself or do you have a pre-charted graph? I'm wondering too about its size. Are the squares tiny?
    It's just so very appealing. I've had a bit of a look back for it but keep getting side tracked with lots of other amazing info and projects! And it's almost midnight so… bye for now, Kath.

  23. LOL – Karen, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. It HAS gotten bad!

    Kath – the charted design is a Long Dog Sampler chart called "Angel Pavement" – I like it, except the angels, ironically. I have nothing against angels, of course – it's just the text ("Here Be Angels") and the angels themselves are a bit too sweetsy for me. What I particularly liked about this project was the section you see done already in the photo. I might try adjusting the pattern a bit to suit my tastes a bit better, on the rest of the design. Or I might just work it like it is. Or I might never finish it. Oh golly.

  24. I would choose to finish the project that weighs heaviest around my neck. A rooster seems an appropriate choice. After that, I am sure you will sail through the others.

  25. I think you should do a celebration-of-spring project.
    Whether than narrows it down to Trish Burr's project, or a crewel small. But something with colours.

    And the rooster is looking *Magnificent*

  26. Thank you Mary,
    I've found your cross stitch sampler post. The whole is so different to what I expected (book by its cover etc). Thought it would be all squares but see now why the centre is left as is. No, the angels aren't my thing either. I would be replacing them. Anyway it's an interesting, lovely piece and done over one thread gives it an appeal that the 'ordinary' cross stitch wouldn't have.

    It's a beautiful morning here. I'm still out west just yet and we've had 110ml of rain over 3 days. Beautiful. The trees look so fresh with the red dust washed off them. Hope it keeps up through the year and breaks this 10 year drought.
    Can hear Blue Wrens and Jenny Wrens singing their hearts out and scattering good vibes hither and thither on the breezes.
    Bye now, Kath.

  27. I like the Easter or Spring theme. A few years ago I did a
    Sarah May design for an Easter card. Stitched in Hardanger with some cross stitch. Maybe an embroidered Spring card of flowers using a mix of techniques (silk shading, blackwork, gold work, ect) could cheer us all up and make a great gift.

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