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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Spool Needlearts Quarterly – Winter Issue, 2011


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On chilly winter days, there’s nothing better than coming home from work for a lunch, picking up the mail, and finding a needlework magazine just waiting for exploration. A great way to spend a lunch hour – inside, warm, with a cup of tea and something interesting to browse through. That’s how I spent my lunch hour the other day – browsing through the Winter Issue of Spool, a quarterly needlearts magazine.

Last July, De Selby announced the premier of her new needlework magazine called Spool, and since then, two issues have hit the press and arrived in the mailbox. With the first issue, there was a flutter of reviews on various needlework blogs, so I thought I’d hold off a review until the second issue. And I’m glad I did! The second issue is a lot of fun – take a look!

Spool Magazine

Spool is a large-format magazine, 11″ x 17″. It is dedicated to all kinds of needle arts – from hand embroidery, to cross stitch, to needlepoint, to knitting and crochet, and all kinds of sub-categories in between. This is great for the multi-talented needleworker, who likes to switch around between different types of handwork pursuits.

Spool Magazine

De Selby is the editor and publisher of the magazine. As I mentioned back in July, it is a gutsy undertaking, but so far, she has really delivered the promised goods – and I think that’s commendable and exciting!

So let’s take a look at what De collected, through the various contributors, for this quarter’s publication.

Spool Magazine

First off, there’s this little collection of crocheted nesting penguins… and they are So Cute. Perfect little projects, perfect for little gifts. They caught my attention right away. Too bad I don’t crochet. Actually, I do crochet, but the stuff I crochet is… well…. eeeew. You don’t want to know! Let’s just say I’m probably not going to perfect that skill any time soon. But, if you crochet and you like little, these things are darling!

Spool Magazine

And if you knit, there’s a terrific pattern for fingerless mittens, decorated with an embroidered snowflake. Ingenious! I wonder if I could use something like this while typing blog posts?? Anyway, I love the idea of mittens, but still having functional fingers.

Spool Magazine

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and this design for cross stitch – featuring a box of chocolates – is great for the celebration. Long before Forrest Gump told us that “life is a box of chocolates,” this iconic Valentine’s Day gift was already popular, and now you can immortalize your love of boxed chocolates in cross stitch. Admittedly, stitched chocolates aren’t quite the same as the real thing, and admittedly, you can’t bite the corners off these to see what’s inside…. but it’d still be fun to stitch! Thanks to the large format of the magazine, there’s no need for reproducing the design and blowing it up – every design in the magazine can be easily read.

Spool Magazine

Throughout Spool, you’ll find little blurbs scattered among the pages – some are inspirational, some are funny, some are informative – and one feature that shows up repeatedly is Books You Should Have in Your Library. These are short little reviews of needlework-related books currently on the market. In this issue, I came across a couple I didn’t know about, that I know would make great gifts for the various needleworkers in my family – the knitting niece, for example.

Spool Magazine

Ok. Here’s my fave. These guys just crack me up. There’s a little tutorial in this issue for felted snowman heads. They’re small, they’re endearing. I don’t know if it’s the nose, or if it’s the goofy smile, or if it’s the clever coil on the earmuffs – but I think these guys are too cute for words! They make me laugh. There’s a full tutorial for them inside the magazine. Fun, eh?

Spool Magazine

There’s an excellent tutorial inside this issue by Sharon of Threads in Bloom for this Brazilian Embroidery medallion. Very pretty! And a good opportunity to give BE a try!

Spool Magazine

There’s also a punchneedle project featured – a bunny on a sled – for those who like punchneedle embroidery…

Spool Magazine

… and for owl fans, you may like this design for charted needlepoint!

Spool Magazine

Keeping with the winter theme, this is another one of my favorite projects in this issue. Yep, it looks like counted cross stitch – and it certainly could be used as a counted cross stitch design – but that’s not actually what the project is. It’s for duplicate-stitching on a sweater. The featured finished product is a white pullover that has this penguin duplicate stitched on it, along with matching bands of duplicate stitching along the cuffs of the sleeves. The colorful scarf and the penguin really stand out against the white sweater, and the duplicate stitching along the bands of the sleeve (echoing the designs on the penguin’s scarf) is the perfect finishing touch for a kid’s sweater.

This issue of Spool has all this – and more.

So you can see that Spool delivers a wide variety of projects and ideas on a wide variety of needlework topics. At first, this was one thing I thought would turn me off from the magazine… too much variety crammed into a relatively small space. But that’s where the format comes in. The large format makes the whole thing airy and open, and it doesn’t seem cluttered or jumbled, as if too much is being thrown at the reader at one time.

I’m impressed so far with both issues of Spool, and I hope that De enjoys good success with it! I definitely think it’s worth a subscription – there aren’t too many needlework publications you can get in the US for $18 / year. And this one has a good variety of fun things – things that would appeal, I think, to needleworkers of all ages!

Do you get Spool? If so, what do you think? Are you enjoying the publications? Anything you want other readers to know about? Feel free to share your thoughts!

2017 Update: Spool is no longer in publication.


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(13) Comments

  1. It’s good to hear that Spool is delivering the goods. I wish I’d subscribed now! I was interested when I first read about it and wrote in to see what contributions they wanted. Got a warm response, submitted some and then never got a reply – not even a rejection. So nose out of joint I didn’t subscribe … and I confess I’m regretting it now.

  2. Good Morning,

    Yes I get Spool and I like it a lot. My 12 yr. old is even interested in doing some of the projects and before this publication came along, she didn’t show much interest in the needlework I do, so I consider it a very worthwhile investment 🙂 De is a pleasure to do business with (I’ve e-mailed her a couple of times and got a quick, friendly response each time) so I would (and have) definitely recommend this publication to my friends. It was especially nice to see you, Mary, get such nice coverage in the Winter issue.

    Looking forward to many more issues!

    Warmest regards,

  3. What is duplicate stitching, and how does it differ from surface embroidery? 🙂

    Looks like an awesome mag; I’m passing the info on to a few folks I know…

  4. Thanks so much Marymentor 🙂 !
    I immediately started filling in a subscription request for “Spool”. ! ! Stopped dead in my tracks though, cuz, (just me a guess) but I’d so much rather use Paypal than putting my credit card number out there. I KNOW there are safety precautions always taken, but I wonder if she is going to implement Paypal anytime soon? Thanks…Judy in Pittsburgh

  5. I just subscribed to Spool. Thank you for bringing it to my attention…it looks like a fun magazine. Margaret Andrews

  6. Hi Mary, I saw your email when you advertised this new magazine and I signed up to receive it. Had to wait for the first issue but I really enjoyed it and received my 2nd edition yesterday so I am waiting for the time that I can sit down and enjoy reading it cover to cover. I love it, it’s a great magazine.

  7. I’m in Italy. 34$ for internatonal subscription are too much for me and for 4 numbers of the journal…I hope the editor will think to a digital version of the magazine…

    thanks for the magazine’s recension

  8. I did like the 2nd issue better than the first. It’s more on the fringe of my interests so far but I’m confident I will continue to enjoy it. Maybe I should submit something myself. LOL!

  9. I am very happy you have a new magazine; like Barbara I find the postage prohibitive on overseas subscriptions, but the good news is that in the past year we have two new Australian magazines: Embellish and Textiles Down Under.

    However my main purpose in commenting on this is the fingerless mittens. Mary, when I was just a little younger than I am now I studied architecture (as a mature student) which meant a heap of CAD = hours on the computer and because we had to share computers of course I had to do a lot in a block of time. I found fingerless mittens did an admirable job of keeping my hands moving in winter. So I would say, go for it. You could have several pairs in different colours, I did.

  10. This is a little off the topic of Spool, but do you know of any embroidery or general sewing magazines geared toward kids? My 10-year-old seems interested in both, and I’d like to encourage her with a subscription to something that stirs her imagination.

    Thanks for any leads.

    1. Hi, Julie – I don’t know of a specifically craft-oriented magazine for children. There are lots of online sites on the subject, but I don’t know of a print magazine. I’ll keep an eye out, though – and maybe someone else will know of something and make a recommendation?


  11. When Spool first advertised, I took a chance and subscribed. I am so glad that I did. THe 2nd issue is even better than the 1st. I enjoy the variety of topices covered. Spool is enjoyable reading and information. I am currently working on the “First lace scarf”. THese editions are keepers.

  12. I just recently found your website – it’s wonderful and has been so helpful, especially the explanations of different thread types.

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