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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Persian Blossom Crewel Embroidery Project Update


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I’ve made a wee bit of progress on the Royal Persian Blossom crewel embroidery project from Talliaferro. I started a Royal Persian Blossom stitch-along over in Ask & Share, and since I’m the one who started it, I was beginning to feel rather guilty about not making much progress!

Well, I still haven’t made much progress, but it’s something, anyway.

Royal Persian Blossom Crewel Embroidery Project

In the really over-exposed photo above (!!), you can see that I’ve finished the top of this blossom-type something-or-other. I ended up using too many shades of the brownish-grays, I think. I’m pretty sure the instructions call for fewer, but I used practically the whole range, and the thing ended up looking pretty dark indeed. In the instructions, it says to shade from darker at the base to lighter at the top and then to work in some of the very lightest blue along the edge. I find, when working long and short stitch, that it’s easier to work from the larger part of the design and reduce to the narrower part, rather than starting narrow and getting larger, so I started at the top edge and worked down to the narrower point.

That little “bite” there at the base is a wee bit jagged, but filling the next section will help take care of that. There was some definite confusion when I transferred the design – there’s a mistake in the transfer on the right, so I’m going to try to work through that as I go, in order to salvage the area.

Royal Persian Blossom Crewel Embroidery Project

The Blue Thing (at the base of the Other Thing) presents another slight difficulty in shading, as you have to work from three directions, curving around those outside little swishes, and working into the middle. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

It’s been interesting working on this piece in the evenings, after working on a different (much smaller) crewel piece during the day, using different threads. The Royal Persian Blossom designs call for Appleton, so that’s been my thread choice in the evenings, but in the daylight hours, I’ve been working with Fine D’Aubusson, which is a fine French wool. How to describe the difference? Well, have you ever stitched with twine? I’d say the difference between stitching with the Fine D’Aubusson and stitching with Appleton is something like the difference between stitching with silk and stitching with raw twine.

If you’re having trouble with Appleton while you’re stitching (if your thread is pilling, or the plies are shredding and bunching), then the solution is to Change Your Needle! With Appleton, try a chenille needle in a larger size – like an 18 (or a 22). As a friend said, it’s like stitching with a railway spike! But it can make all the difference in how your wool behaves. If you’re using a crewel needle, a #5 or a #7 will work. If you’ve been frustrated with your thread, try the larger sizes (the #18 or the #5) and see if that helps you out a bit.

Questions, comments, suggestions? That’s what the space below is for – feel free!

Enjoy your day!


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(24) Comments

  1. Mary, that’s exactly what I did for my Appleton projects. I changed my needle from a Crewel needle to a wider Chenille needle and it worked. My thread doesn’t pile up and go bare as easily as when I was working with the crewel needle.

    The shading looks great! It’s very dramatic. I like the combination of brown, gray and blue.

    Best regards,

  2. I love to watch your projects progress. I wanted to stitch along on this one, but just can’t afford the kit or the time right now. It sure is nice to get to watch you do it. Thanks, Mary.

  3. Hi
    Is there any way of working out what size needles are once they’re out of the packet? I’ve inherited about a million needles from my great aunt but I don’t have a clue what size they are!

  4. I have some of the Aubusson wool, but I never tried fro crewel work. I used for traditional project. For crewel, I’ve been using Appleton and Paterna, so far.
    I have to try The Aubusson wool.
    I have a question about the result. Does it look as good as the result with Appleton?

  5. Hi Mary!

    I like it. It is really pretty. This looks like a really intricate and difficult piece to do. Definitely looks like it takes some major concentration to follow all of the little nuances in the design!

    The shading is very pretty and smooth and silky. It looks to me like almost a cold steel grey blue blend. I like it.

    I think it is really cool to see how when many people work on one particular design, how each one looks slightly different and unique. I also like how the individual embroider leaves their own unique signature when stitching a design.

    It will be fun to watch your piece unfold Mary. You do such beautiful work and it is fun to watch the way you are very careful with trying to get each detail “just right” the way you would like it to be seen. Instead of being someone who just goes through the motions, with rote stitching, with only a mind to start a piece, and complete it.

    The beauty is in the details.

    This is what I think. When I am having a hard time on one of the pieces I am working, or if something I just stitched doesn’t look just so, if I have to frog it and do it again, I always think about that.

    The beauty is in the details. And the differences in stitching styles, or color shades, well those are just a few of the things that make the pieces “our own” and a true “individual” work of art.

    As everything I have had the fun of watching you create step by step on here, this is very beautiful so far, and perfect. It is very…Mary.

    Keep up the great work as you continue to inspire us to create our own. I feel like we are a little legion of Mary Corbet art students lol.


    All the best,

    Mindi Hammerstone

  6. que de impresionada ”se ve facil ”pero no creo”e disfrutado mucho ,mi unico prblema”es mi ubicacion ,geografica
    gracias mary

  7. Hi Mary,
    I agree with you about the Appleton wools – and so do all the students on the RSN Crewelwork course I just finished. It’s fuzzy, it’s uneven in spin, it breaks – not one of us didn’t have to discard lengths of wool because it was of inferior quality. Too bad since their color range is so good. I’ll be working this piece in Heathway wools of similar colors and I know it will be joy to stitch.
    Your looks just beautiful so far and I can’t wait to get home and begin!
    Liebe Grusse,

  8. What fabric are you using for the Persian Blossom? I am in the process of deciding which fabric to buy but I do not like Linen Twill. I like fabrics with some drape.
    I have another problem. I am going to work my Persian Blossom in Cascade House varigated wools which I have ordered from Australia (I live in the UK) and have chose the colours by looking. I do not like using Appleton for crewel work. I would love a conversion chart Appleton – Casacade House but have not found anything on the internet to buy.

    1. Hi, Isabel – I’m using Strathaven linen, in “natural.” It’s working quite well! It’s a nice linen for crewel work, if you don’t want to use twill. Concerning the threads, I doubt there’s a conversion chart available, especially if the Cascade House threads you’re talking about are variegated. (Appleton doesn’t do variegated threads…) It’s hard to purchase threads unseen, especially considering the differences between monitors and how they display color. I hope you find what you’re looking for! Maybe you can contact the company that makes the threads you want to use, and find out if they have thread color cards. Ordering a set of color cards may save you money in the long run!

      Another thread choice you might consider, since you’re living in the UK, is Heathway wools (from Wales). They’re quite nice to stitch with and have a good range of colors and shades. They don’t have variegated options, but they do have a good range when it comes to shades within a color. Just something to think about!


  9. Mary, I think the colors look beautiful, very subtle and interesting. What other colors will be used? I believe a lot of subtle neutral tones with small accents of bright color can be very effective.
    By the way, I’m still not receiving your newsletter at my email address, though obviously no problem with simply going to your site. Just curious if something has changed.

    1. Hi, Patricia – Thanks for letting me know – I made some adjustments the other day when I got your e-mail, but I’ll go back in and see if there’s another problem. Have you checked your spam filter? Sometimes, they might start escaping into there for some reason! I’ll take a look on my end!

      Colors – there are some “brighter” golds and blues in here, but nothing really bright-bright. It’s mostly neutral colors, golds, and blues.


  10. I’m anxious to see how you stitch all those teeny floral things. If you stitch the whole background, then the tiny blossom placements will be gone. If you stitch all the blossoms, stitching around them would be a royal headache.

    I like the colors because they’re unexpected. Not the typical blossom.

    1. Hi, Anne – Heathway is made by the same folks who dye Pearsall’s silk. Perhaps if you contact them through their website, they’ll be able to give you a source for the threads in the UK or Europe? ~MC

  11. Wow, Mary, my eyes are googling yet again! I loved this design when I first saw it and would love to work it, but time is not on my side at present so it will have to wait.

    I am what you might call a ‘thread tart’ – I will use anything and everything all together in one piece, although if I were to work something like this it would be all one, either wool or silk. I have had a look at the Fine d’Aubusson wool, it looks much nicer than either Appleton’s or Medici, so I can see the poor old credit card getting another working out, lol.

    Thanks for everything. I agree wholeheartedly with whomever said this is like being in the Mary Corbet Art Class.

  12. Hi Anne,
    John Cunningham is just getting his wools online for sale. Contact him via his web site to ask about getting wool in Europe. For a supplier in the USA, go to Tristan Brooks. She also sells his silks which are equally beautiful.
    Liebe Grusse,

  13. I would like to stitch a project that calls for Cascade House crewel wool but I’d like to use Appletons instead. Do you know if there is a conversion anywhere please?

    1. Hi, Sandra – I’m not sure if there’s a conversion chart for Cascade to Appleton available. I haven’t heard of one, anyway, and I couldn’t find one by googling it. Maybe someone else out there has some more experience with the threads and can answer that. You could always try contacting the manufacturers directly…

  14. Hello such, I love the embroideries mainly perform crewel, I board with Muline and perlé thread, but I would love to use wool as you do, I could say wool, from already very grateful Cristina de Montevideo-Uruguay

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