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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Shaded Embroidery & Old Books


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Thanks to all who responded to The Nesting Place registration on Wednesday – I was really just as surprised as many of you were, to see the class full in 20 minutes. I think I’ve answered most inquiries personally by now, but in case I missed you, and if you want to be on an “advanced notice” list for the next run of this class, then please do feel free to drop me a line and let me know! I don’t have an official “guaranteed waiting list,” but I’ll send out a short advanced notice to those who are interested in the class.

On to other things: I’ve been reading some old needlework books lately. The books I’m reading are actually real books (the kinds with pages, and some even have hard board covers!), but I think a couple of the titles are online, so I’ll try to dig those up for you and point you to them in the future. If I come across any tidbits that I think you’ll like to hear, I’ll definitely take note and share them with you!

Needlecraft Journal: Embroidery Shading

Speaking of old books, one of my favorite “vintage” publications is Needlecraft Practical Journal, which was a “descriptive and illustrative journal” on various needlework subjects published 7 times yearly by the Manchester School of Embroidery around the turn of the 1900’s. It covered practically every aspect of needlecraft – all types of embroidery, crochet, lace-making. Each issue would contain “lessons” as well as practical examples and projects. Each journal was only about 15 pages long, and inside those pages, they packed a good bit of information, as well as a LOT of advertising. The image above is taken from Issue 55, which is on “Embroidery Shading.”

I’m not sure if it’s the colors in the above piece, or the shading, or the style, or what – but it’s always been one of my favorite images from an old publication. I just like it!

I haven’t found any free online sources for Needlecraft, but if you look hard enough, you can find the old publications still through eBay, used book sellers, and so forth. I found a stack of them at a local library sale years ago, donated by some estate that had no use for them anymore. Their loss, my gain! You can also find digital reprints of the journals for sale online in various places – just do a search for “Needlecraft Practical Journal” and you’re bound to turn up some reprints for sale.

I’m going to continue browsing through old books this weekend, and sign off until Monday. I’m recuperating from a nasty bout of food poisoning (hence, yesterday’s silence!) … which I would never dare to blame on my mother’s cooking!

I hope you have a terrific weekend – see you Monday!


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(19) Comments

  1. Isn’t it funny how the best things (like your issues of Needlecraft) seem to find you, instead of the other way around? I don’t think of myself as a superstitious or sentimental person, but I’ve found this to be true again and again.

    Have a lovely Labor Day weekend!

  2. Mary,
    I hope you get well soon. We missed your Thursday blog!
    I suppose you already know this, but http://www.antiquepatternlibrary.org/html/warm/catalog.htm (about which I learned from you) has Nos. 16, 21, and 27 of the “Needlecraft Practical Journal” for anyone to enjoy for free. They cover point lace and Irish crochet only.
    May your weekend give you rest so you recuperate fully. Keep safe–it’s Labor Day weekend!
    Thank you again for all you do,

  3. Mary, no wonder I did not see your blog. Hope you are feeling much better and ready to tackle your favorite hobby!
    Take care and enjoy this long week end.


  4. Dear Mary,

    Oh, I do so hope you get to rest and recuperate this weekend, maybe with a little bit of embroidery, on something fun, just for yourself. Thanks for all you do for all of us,

    Cathy in PA

  5. Dear Mary

    Sorry to hear you are not well, I do hope you feel better soon, I really missed your blogs yesterday, have a restful weekend and enjoy relaxing/sewing/reading. look forward to hearing from you on Monday.

    Regards Anita

  6. Mary and anyone else who love old embroidery books,

    http://www.archive.org is a great website for finding all sorts of embroidery sewing and other needlecraft books and magazines. All of them are out of print and all are free. There are usually PDFs and the books can be looked at online with a lovely page turning effect. While at http://www.archive.org you can also find recorded books to listen to while you do your handwork!

  7. Mary, there’s nothing worse than feeling sick and washed out. Make sure you replace lost electolytes (sorry, I’m not lecturing, just advising – ask me how I know), and have lots and lots of rest and relaxation.

    This is a gorgeous piece of work and when I am finally over my exhibition (less than 2 weeks to go), I might be able to turn my hand to something like this.

    When you do your next class will it be the same image or something different and non-bird?
    I would like to do a class, but not with those creatures.

    1. Hi, All! Thanks for your kind comments, good wishes, and so forth. Much improved this morning, thank you! But golly. It really takes it out of you, doesn’t it?

      Christina – yes, I do have a couple other non-bird-related class ideas brewing in the back of my mind!! 🙂


  8. G’day Mary, food poisoning! Oh boy! It makes you feel (and look!) so yuck. Be extra kind to yourself and get truly better very quickly. Cheers, Kath.

  9. Hope you are feeling better. I can’t stitch following an operation on my shoulder and I am going MAD. I can still look at patterns though. I found a PDF download of the needlecraft book you mentioned at http://www.pdfclassicbooks.com. They are very reasonably priced. I also like “the principle of stitch direction” a free download from http://www.victorian-embroidery-and-crafts.com. This a wonderful book and not only gives the directions for stitches in flowers but takes you through flowers step by step. it even advises how to make twiggy and prickly stems that are very realistic. The whole site is worth a long look.
    Susan (from the UK)

  10. I am making enquires today regarding a copy of The Manchester School of Embroidery….. Needlecraft. Drawn Thread Work, priced 2d. As it is so old it is in fragile condition. I was just wondering if you know of any collectors who would appreciate this and is it of any value today??
    I would appreciate your advise and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
    Kind regards
    Anne Kelly

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