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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The Blackwork Fish: Stalled, but Not Sunk


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It’s been a while since I picked up the Blackwork Fish project, so he’s in a bit of a stall. But I do intend to finish him! (I keep saying that!) Actually, I’m dying to finish him! But I’ve only been able to snatch a few minutes here and there to stitch, and he isn’t the project I have out right now. On the bright side, since the last time I showed him to you, I made a little progress before he got shelved.

Blackwork Fish Embroidery Project

The tail and fins are all getting the same treatment: they’re worked in lines of backstitch, with one of the lighter weights of black silk.

Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite part of the project – I am not a keen lover of repetitive stitching. Still, I like to see the progress, and I know that the only way I’m going to get the fish fin-ished is to just do it!

Blackwork Fish Embroidery Project

I liked the way the tail worked out. You can see in the fin along the base of the fish that I’ve started the same treatment. I’m planning, though, to lighten up the fins a bit, so I won’t be stitching the fill lines on all the little sections.

Blackwork Fish Embroidery Project

I’ll start alternating where the “short” lines are placed, in order to leave some blank spaces in the horizontal little bars on the fin. Then I’ll eliminate the short lines altogether, to lighten up the fins a bit more towards the center. Well, that’s the plan – I’ll see how it looks when I get to that point.

Blackwork Fish Embroidery Project

What I’m really looking forward to is working the bubbles! So I’m leaving them as my “carrot” to get me through the fins!

That’s my status on this project right now. Summer starts for me (officially) this Saturday, so for a couple weeks, I’ll have a bit more time to finish up some projects and start some new ones…. while working up some tutorials for the website, and all kinds of other fun stuff.

I’m also heading out on vacation mid-June, so shortly, I’ll be inviting guest writers for Needle ‘n Thread. If you’re interested in writing about something needlework or textile related for Needle ‘n Thread, I’ll have more details later! But if you stitch and would like to share your work, if you have some tried-and-true tips you’d like to share, a favorite technique you’d like to talk about, or if you write a needlework blog, run a needlework shop, write needlework books, or design needlework products, that’s what I’m looking for! Keep an eye out!



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(6) Comments

  1. Mary, I love how the fish is turning out! What a wonderful graphic piece. And your fin-ished pun gave me a chuckle.

    When you mentioned that you will be alternating short lines, it made me wonder what the back of your fish looks like? Would you be willing to post some pictures of the back?

    I’m curious to know how you keep the traveling threads in the back to a minimum, and if you worry about the black thread showing underneath the white linen that you stitched on? Will you need to worry about any black thread being visible when you take the fish off the frame and mount it in its final evolution as framed piece/pillow, etc.?

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi, Sheila – Good questions! Sure, I’ll post photos of the back. I never actually thought of that. The thing is, the stitching is all so close together on this piece, that there’s not much of an opportunity for the black to ‘show through’ in an isolated way. I don’t carry across any wide spaces of white, because there really aren’t any. All the stitching is very close together.

      I’m using a fairly sturdy piece of linen – it’s 40 count Alba Maxima by legacy linen. I’d call it a “medium” weight linen. Unless I were using one of the three heaviest threads in my thread pack, I doubt any of the lighter ones would show through, even if they did cross over some blank spaces.

      I always “travel” my threads on the back. When I have to move any distance on the back to get to another starting point, I “travel” the thread through threads already on the back to keep the back neat (ish). That way, I don’t have any long threads that are unanchored going along the back of the work.

      But, yes, I’ll see if I can get some shots of the back next time! Thanks for the suggestion!


  2. The fish is turning out so beautiful. Please continue to doodle since we get to see such superb stitching:)

  3. Hi Mary,
    I was checking out the blackfish again and had an idea. What about making the large fin closest to his mouth really dark to balance him out and anchor him as well. It would also round out the eye and mouth and you have 3 dark areas, which is a good number. Just a thought….take care.

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