Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (62) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Remember the Fish!


Amazon Books

‘Struth! I have got to get this blackwork fish FINished! And with that in mind, here and there over the past week – 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there, even an hour hither and yon, I set about to make some progress.

Actually, I set about to finish it, but I didn’t make it that far!

When last we left the blackwork fish, he was just barely afloat, looking like this:

Blackwork Fish

Really, it doesn’t look like that much stitching to do, does it? But those fins are lots of random-sized backstitches made with a tiny thread. And for some reason, they take ages to do. It’s almost embarrassing to admit, but I even fell asleep a couple times while stitching on this. On the upside, I didn’t drool on the piece… on the downside, this might be why it’s taking me so long.

Blackwork Fish

After working on the fins off and on over the last week, yesterday I found myself at this point. And I said to myself, “Today, I WILL finish the fins.”

Blackwork Fish

The lower fin area, though, still needs some touches. I worked a bit of extra stitching in the lines on the front fin, so I think I’ll do the same on the back fin. Eventually.

Blackwork Fish

The little lines add a bit of shading to the fin, and I think it looks kind of funny that the front fin has that shading but the back one doesn’t. You can see along the belly of the fish – towards the top right of the photo – how I added some slanted lines there? That’s probably how I’ll handle that back fin – just some simple straight stitches that won’t take any time at all, really.

Blackwork Fish

When I finished the top fin, my original plan was not to stitch any vertical lines on that fin. But once I finished filling in the top fin, I got to thinking that the stitching alone doesn’t define the shape of the sections of the fin.

Blackwork Fish

Looking at the fish from this angle, you can see that the stitched lines are somewhat scalloped, very “wobbly” – that’s on purpose, actually, but from here, it just looks like sloppy stitching! – and fairly undefined.

Blackwork Fish

So I decided to go back in and stitch some vertical lines with a fine thread. I like it better. There’s that one little area in the middle where things are a bit bunched up, but I’m not fretting over that!

Blackwork Fish

Just to give some perspective, here’s the frame sitting on the sofa with supplies and so forth. The stretcher bars are 14″ wide. So he isn’t exactly “huge,” but he sure has taken a looooong time to stitch!

As the school year approaches, I’m leaning more towards the fish on the outer pocket of a tote bag. You can never have too many tote bags when you teach! The bag I envision would be black on the outside, lined with a black and white print on the inside, and maybe some contrasting details outside, too, though I don’t know about that. I don’t want to put the fish up next to anything white-white, though, since the ground fabric behind the fish is not a “bright white.” It would have to be a very tailored looking tote, though, methinks. I’m not really a tote-maker, so I may have to find someone out there who has good finishing skills and likes making bags!

Well, I suppose we’ll see. In the meantime, there’s the fish! Bubbles next, then finishing touches!


Leave a Reply to shirley bligh Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(21) Comments

  1. It’s looking fabulous! Alas, it is the nature of blackwork (IMO) that it always takes at least ten times as long as you expect it to!

  2. Mary, He’s looking decidedly handsome. I think a tote bag would be great, and I agree, a tailored one is the way to go. Maybe you could find black and white fish fabric for the inside!

  3. Mary, I absolutely Love this fish. I’ve been waiting for you to finish it! You’ve done a wonderful job on it and have inspired me to try one of my own. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’m so glad you got back to Mr Fish. He’s looking very dapper, and I agree that he belongs on a tote- he’s handsome enough to take out on the town. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  5. Oh Mary! I just love what you’ve done with the fish and the idea of a tote bag in black and white is just great. Hope you find a sewer who can do justice to the fishy. You must post a pix of you with your snazzy fishy bag!

  6. This Fish is just amazing, i just love blackwork but this is wonderful…I am sure you will get it finished and framed soon…..Have you heard the saying “if you want something done ask a busy person”…

  7. Falling asleep while stitching is probably not a good idea! Drooling aside, the needle could do bodily damage!! Never mine – he’s a gorgeous fishie and will make a stunning tote.

  8. G’day Mary,

    Glad the fish is on the final stretch. I have found it very intriguing watching it come along.

    The tote would be ideal. Besides being practicle, it will go places to be seen. When people comment on it, which they certainly will, you can say “Thank you, I’m actually fishing for compliments today too”!

    Cheers, Kath

  9. You’re not finished yet! You have to do the bubbles or we won’t be able to tell if the fish is dead or alive. Get it done and make the inside of the bag black and white to match the fish, but you’d have to really pick something good for the outside. BTW do you ever go fishing?

    1. Thanks, all, for your comments on the fish! I’m thinking the outside of the bag will actually be black linen, with the white pocket, and the inside will be a white with black dots, bubbles, circles, something like that…. I can’t go with a bright white next to the linen the fish is on, because it’s a natural white, so it would look grubby. A heavier-duty black linen (or twill, even) would be ok, though, methinks. Though I hate for it to look like a “patch” in a sea of black. Hey, I’m open to ideas, if anyone knows of a good fabric or even a design for a tote that would work with this fellow!

      Now, as for the bubbles… they’re a-comin’!

    1. Thanks, Lynn! I haven’t had a chance to follow up on my blog list for about five days now, so I’m getting behind! But I will go check it out! I appreciate the heads-up! ~MC

    1. Hi, Meg – WOW, that is a big bag. It looks like a nice design. i had to go to the AB website to get a good look at it…. hmmm…. I’ll definitely consider it! Thanks for the link!

More Comments