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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Spring in Italy Sampler: Wool Threads


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Kathy Andrews shares her first step on her Spring in Italy Sampler. If you’re just picking up on this series, be sure to check out the first article on Kathy’s design process on designing a hand embroidery project using Italian pottery as inspiration.

Here’s the first stitched design of the “Spring in Italy Sampler.” Why Spring in Italy? I have been to Italy many, many times, at all times of the year. Spring is the best. There aren’t nearly as many tourists as later in the summer, the air is fresher and the colors are clearer. Whenever I use this pottery, that’s what I remember – a cool, spring day in the hills of Italy. (Before those of you living outside Europe think I’m made of money…the distance from where I live in Berlin, Germany to Florence, Italy is the same as traveling from Ames, Iowa to Denver, Colorado. It’s a vacation spot but not the trip of a life time as it would be if I were living in the USA!)

Italian Pottery Inspires Hand Embroidery Designs

The first design I stitched was the fleur de lys. My intention was always to stitch this in wool. As I drew it I knew that the large blue flower would look great in long and short stitch. I love how long and short stitch looks when done in wool. The fuzziness of the wool makes the shading fuzzy, too.

It worked up quickly with the first of four wools I will be using on this sampler: Appleton, Paternayan, Renaissance Dyeing and Caron Impression (a wool silk blend). This is stitched in Appleton wool. The colors are: blues 741, 745, 747; gold 693; green 254.

Spring in Italy Sampler with Wool Threads

I was really pleased with the chain stitch leaves and the long and short stitch flower and the satin stitch/couched center. I was not pleased with the sepals or the stems.

Two problems arose – a bad stitch choice and a design fault. I wanted to do all the stems of all the design in stem stitch. An important component of this project is to be able to compare how stem stitch looks in all eleven types of thread I will be using.

First I did the stem in stem stitch with one thread. It didn’t cover the drawn line. I was not happy. I picked it out. I reworked it in stem stitch but with two threads (in the photo above that’s what you see.) I didn’t like that either – too thick and bulky. Finally (I’d picked it out twice at this point!) I worked the stem using one thread in stem stitch going towards the flower and outline stitch coming away from the flower. Much better!

Spring in Italy Sampler with Wool Threads

The design problem was that the sepals weren’t quite the same distance past the edge of the blue flower. The design is not supposed to be symmetrical but it was too wonky for me. I also didn’t like the direction of the satin stitch on the right side. It covered up the center of the flower and looked sloppy. So out came all those stitches and I re-sized the sepals and stitched them again.

Spring in Italy Sampler with Wool Threads

Here is a photo of the first design in Appleton wool.

Next time I’ll be writing about the first cotton design, worked in floche a broder. There are two things I can already share with you about this design:
1. It takes a LOT longer to finish a design with floche a broder than with wool!
2. I love stitching with floche a broder!

Thus ends the second post in this series on Kathy’s Spring in Italy Sampler! I hope you’re enjoying the series! Next up, she’ll discuss embroidering the next motif using floche. Look for it in a couple days. Thanks, Kathy!


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(6) Comments

  1. Your work is beautiful. I fell in love with the same Italian pottery and your design is amazing to me. You are a very patient person and an inspiration to all of us.

  2. Yes, Thanks, Kathy. G’day Mary!

    Interesting about the stem and outline stitching on the stems. They’re (the stitches) something that bugs me. I know which is which but which to use on which and which is best for which direction. Yeh, I know. Just do it and see. It get tangled in my mind tho. Glad of your detailed doing and undoing and explainations of the same. Those you were happy with first up too. Many thanks.

    Cheers, Kath.

  3. Hi Mary,

    Recently I started a new project for spring. It is a wool felt appliqué project. Would you please share with me if you have a favorite brand or your top favorites of wool thread? I did read your entry from 2010 but was wondering if you have anything new that you would be able to share with me .

    Thank you so much Mary,

    1. Hi, Nadine – I like Au Ver a Soie’s Fine d’Aubusson wool. I think Needle in a Haystack probably carries it (www.needlestack.com). I also like Appleton, just because it has such a WIDE range of shades. I LOVE Heathway, when you can find it. It’s not as easy to find in the States!

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