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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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Long & Short Stitch Filling: All Filled Up!

 

Finally, finally! I reached a goal!

What happens to you when you approach a goal in an embroidery project? Not necessarily The Finish of the project, mind you, but one of your intermediate goals?

This is what happens to me:

As I near the goal, I find myself slowing down, almost to the point of sluggery. I’m pretty sure I should be speeding towards the goal line, but instead, I start to sputter. And though I’m antsy to reach the goal, I can’t … seem … to … get … there. It’s like running in slow motion in a bad dream! But during that time, my mind is already moving ahead to the next step, setting the next goal. And this works to my advantage, because while I may be sputtering about as I reach an end point, mentally, I’m already lining myself up to charge out of that start gate again.

So, this is the intermediate goal I reached this past weekend:

Silk and Goldwork Church Embroidery Project

The long & short stitch filling on the monogram on the Medallion Project is finished!

That’s not to say the monogram is finished – it’s not. But the filling is! And that is a Huge Relief. I feel as if the rest of the project will be a breeze in comparison. I’m not sure why I feel that way – those roses (all five of ’em) are looming in front of me! But for some reason, the filling on the monogram was a huge hurdle, and I’m glad I’ve jumped it.

Silk and Goldwork Church Embroidery Project

Here’s a closer shot, under direct bright white light. There are some strange looking aspects to the monogram – like the splits at the top of the M. These are to accommodate the gold thread that is going around the monogram.

And that question of gold thread brings me back to my laborious finish. During the final hours of stitching, I contemplated the gold thread that I would be using around the monogram to outline it. And by the time I took those final stitches in the monogram, I had made up my mind.

And of course, that meant starting right away on the next stage, so that I could see if the plan would work! By the time the long & short stitch filling was finished on the monogram, I experienced a huge surge of excitement to move on to the next phase. And so… in I leapt!

That’s how my embroidery sessions go: some, in slow and plodding stitchery, creeping towards an end point; others, in great bursts of enthusiasm and excitement, anticipating the outcome of some idea or plan.

What about you? Do you set intermediate goals in your stitching endeavors? When you do, do you find yourself flying towards each intermediate goal, or do you experience a slowing down, right before you reach it? Once you reach your goal, are you itching to start out on your next segment, or are you hesitant to jump ahead? What’s your state of mind as you get close to accomplishing a stitching goal? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts!

If you want, you can click here to follow along with the whole Medallion Project from start to finish.

If you’d like access to all the tips and techniques discussed in the Medallion Project, including complete step-by-step coverage of the Tudor-Style Rose, conveniently collected in one document, interlinked, referenced, and indexed, why not add the Marian Medallion Project e-book to your library? It’s packed full of all kinds of embroidery tips for undertaking a project like this, all in a convenient electronic format for easy searching.

 
 

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(56) Comments

  1. Hi Mary, It’s looking great – can’t wait to see what you’ve used to go round the edge. As to setting goals, I tend not to as embroidery is purely a hobby for me, but once I pick up some stitching of an evening I usually have a very short-term ‘I’d like to get to x by the end of this evening’ type goal. When I was doing my City & Guilds my lack of goal setting was probably my biggest problem, on reflection!

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    1. Hi Anne,

      What is the ‘City and Guilds’? I also will stitch until a section is done before I go to bed. But I pick up my stitching several times a day. I’ll stitch and then fold a load of laundry, or stitch and empty the dishwasher. I’m not lazy, I just don’t like chores so I reward myself with my stitching.

    2. Hi, Anne – I do the same thing – “I’ll finish this before I go to bed”… or …. “This will be done by the end of the day on Saturday.” Admittedly, it doesn’t always happen! I find I often underestimate the time it will take to arrive at a certain point!

      MC

  2. Congratulations on completing the LSS filling on the monogram. It looks great and I like the subtle difference in the shades of blue on each letter.

    In answer to your question, it very much depends on how I feel about the project/technique I am currently doing and the one to follow. If I am at all uncertain about what I am going to do next, or my ability to do it, that can slow me to a halt. If it is something I am really looking forward to, that will speed me up and I will dive straight into the next thing.

    I am finding setting goals or targets a great motivator. Breaking some of my larger projects down into bite size pieces makes is helps to keep them fresh and seems managable.

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    1. Yes, me, too, Carol-Anne. Uncertainty of the next step always slows me down. Sometimes, it can bring me to a grinding halt… forever! :-/

      I agree with your point on breaking things down to bite-sized portions. I think it’s the only way to get through a really big project!

  3. This is a timely question. I ponder things while I am stitching these days. I began to think about procrastinating. I landed in the place that perhaps I am not really procrastinating at all. Maybe, for me, it is part of the preplanning that goes on in order to take a next step. So anyway, I seem to get ready for the next step before I am ready to take it and it really slows down the current step that I am in. This appears to slow me down. My brain however is in high gear. I try to enjoy the journey as I am experiencing it, whatever it brings to me. I love to look at the finished crafts and I find that I remember what went into it to make it, not just what it looks like finished. Most of the time my crafts are gifts. In the end, it’s about the gift and prayers that the craft brings to others. That’s what it’s about for me.

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  4. Absolutely gorgeous! I curious to see what you do with the circles between the roses.

    I gallop towards my goals when they are in sight and in my haste would not do as good a job as usually possible. Always thinking and planning the next step!

    Your work is just beautiful and your instructions so detailed and clear.
    Thank you.

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  5. I seem to be the opposite of you: I seem to get fired up by the impending achievement and maybe even move all the faster. As it’s intermediate goals we’re talking about, it also starts me wondering if I can’t make a start on the next section and get further than I’d planned…

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  6. That is a funny question! I actually get nervous in a giddy sort of way and I start changing my method and begin fumbling in my excitement to the point where I actually mess up the ending! I am trying to train myself now that I am nearing old age, to remain calm, and stay the course, to ignore the finish line and keep working naturally! It is not easy!

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    1. Laura, I would really like to know what ‘nearing old age’ means in numerical terms. I believe I am there and I am 63 – does that make me ‘nearing’ or ‘there’? Some days my body feels like I have actually been old and gone past but my mind feels like 25.

  7. Oh Mary! It’s looking so beautiful! I can’t wait to see it all finished! (Nno pressure). I always slow down toward the end of a project. I think I’m afraid it won’t look the way it does in my mind and I will be disappointed so I tell myself I’m ‘making sure everything is just right’.
    I have some pattern books that are merely pattern drawings and no actual pictures of the finished piece. You’re Medallion Project lets me see what the finished piece can look like and I’m now so excited to try one of my own. Thanks again for so much inspiration.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy – thanks for the “no pressure” remark, too! Hahahaha. Don’t worry, I can supply y own pressure really, really well! At one point, I thought Easter seemed a fairly long way off. For some reason, today it seems to be Looming! 🙂

  8. I’m SO glad to hear I’m not the only one who slows down near the end of a project. Here it is February, and I’m still not done with my step-granddaughter’s Christmas present. It should have been done last month. Yep, the slug hits me!

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  9. I always slow down near the end of a goal because it makes me sad. It’s like I’m leaving an old friend behind. I feel the same way when I come to the end of a good book.

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    1. I call this the End Blues. I always feel this way when I completely finish a project. At first, I’m exhilarated to see the end! But when that final finish actually comes, I always experience a let down. I flounder a bit until I can put myself whole-heartedly into another project.

  10. Absolutely fabulous, Mary! As for me, I have never put so much forethought into projects before, as someone else said, it has always been an (occasional) hobby. But now that I’ve started to take it more seriously and really work to improve my skills, I am about to undertake a large needlepoint project (while finishing some smaller embroidery projects) and I’m really trying to take my time, set it up correctly and not get in too big of a hurry. That is my first goal — to start off right. Thanks for the “discipline” lessons of goal setting!!

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  11. Thanks for your newsletter. It is very helpful and timely. I am working on an EGA GCC called Spring Splendor and we are doing long and short stitches on the flowers. If I can get the gold and silk to lay correctly, it will be beautiful. If I am in the middle of a project, but almost done with a section, I generally push myself to get it done so I can work on the next part. If the next part is boring or not appealing, I will slow down. Guess it depends on the project.

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  12. This piece, like all of your work, is just beautiful. I always set intermediate goals for my stitching projects, sometimes subconsciously, but especially when there’s a part or a stitch or color that’s not exactly my favorite part or hard or tedious. Also, I’ve noticed that I almost always complete about 85% of a project, then need to take a little break from it and do a little something else. Then when I return to it, I’m full of energy for the finish.

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  13. Mary, I know how your feeling, I feel the same.
    As I read your email this morning on how you feel when reaching a goal, (don’t laugh)
    but it reminded me of blue berry picking. When my dumper (glass) is almost full, I half hate to reach the top because I have to dump my berries into my bigger bucket (where it looks like such small amount) Then start all over again to fill my dumper. But the feeling is great when I walk home with my bucket full.
    Looking forward to seeing your finished project.

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  14. Mary, what a gorgeous piece so far.
    I find when I begin a difficult piece, I work very hard, but begin to lag about halfway. Then when I manage to get over the halfway point…I can’t stand it until it is finished.

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  15. Hi Mary,

    I sort of identify the goals very casually in my mind as I’m working a project. But I do find my self not necessarily flying towards the end, but sticking with it and not stopping, even for any reason. I won’t answer the phone, let the cat out, get a drink of water, etc. I just keep plodding on until I’m finished with that part of the project. And I definitely think about the next part to tackle – that’s part of what makes this so enjoyable.

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  16. Beautiful work!
    I owned a needlework shop for 10 years and I learned that the really serious “stitcher” was always looking for the next project. They couldn’t stand not having something lined up to start anew!

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    1. Hi,

      Awesome!! I am a “serious” stitcher! I currently have three projects in various stages going right now. I think I do that because I’ll get to the point where I need something fresh to look at so I start another project. But, I always finish them in the end. I’m envious, I’ve always wanted to own a needlework shop. I have an obsession with notions and supplies and I have binders full of patterns that I collect. I am thinking about making a display piece by hanging Alpaca wool hanks on a dowl in color order and just hang it on the wall. I love to look at the colors and fibers.

      Melissa Bird

  17. Hi Mary and everyone,

    I always have a huge surge of energy at the beginning of a project. But when I am working on a section that has me using the same color for awhile I get bored. So I move to another aspect and change to a different color to get my motor moving again. Currently I am recreating a vintage piece that my friend’s mother did. It is mostly woven above the fabric and in the shape of a star. I am more excited about a project when I do it for someone else. By the way, your monogram is beautiful.

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  18. I always try to do the backgrounds first because they are boring and I enjoy filling in the accents parts. Keep going! You are doing a great job and I can’t wait to see how you do the gold outline and how you do those roses!! You have certainly renewed my interest in embroidery.

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  19. This is gorgeous!! I love the blue on the gold background – the texture in the background almost looks like cork from a distance.

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  20. Oh, it looks so beautiful! Mary, your monogram project is going to be gorgeous when all done. I can’t wait to see the completed piece. Such meticulous work. (I’m doing something simple — 12 redwork blocks for a quilt, but you’re inspiring me to do a more complicated piece — maybe.) Thank you for your great newsletters.

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  21. I think a task like that feels like such a huge hurdle because it’s a lot of the same. With the roses, you’ll be switching colors and seeing a picture develop and emerge. With a background you’ve just got long hours of the same, more of the same, and a good bit of the same after that. It’s satisfying to get it done, but it can be pretty monotonous in the meantime.

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  22. I do set intermediate goals. I think of them as hills in a journey. Some are little, some are big, some are steep and some are low. Some are very easy sailing and I can see ahead and some are very hard. I sometimes even seem to have parts that seem to be akin to walking in deep mud with flip flops on, lol. Other times I’m so eager to keep that flow going I can hardly make myself slow down to do a good job. Intermediate goals are kind of like looking to the next hill when your at the peak of the one you are on now.

    I think your monogram is wonderful. It’s so smooth and perfect.

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  23. I find myself, like you, pushing towards a goal, can’t put it down. I have recently picked up embroidery again with some simple stitches. When I run into a problem with a design I get discouraged. But I asked God to help me with the Mother Goose quilt squares I am working on for my soon to be born grandaughter.

    By the way, does dissovling “fabric” work with embroidery designs?

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    1. I have used disolvable stabilizer many times to create cutwork and lacework (don’t hate me I use a machine). If you stitch into it and then dissolve the fabric all that is left is the thread. I cannot see any reason it would not work the same with hand stitching, but realize you will need some starch or thick stitches when you are done for it to hold its shape if it is not stitched or appliqued onto another fabric. hope this helps.

  24. Mary, the medallion is stunning. I love the gold work round the letters. I’m going to give that method a go nect time I have a suitable vestment design to do. Thank you for sharing your work with us, and showing and explaining the various techniques.

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  25. Congratulations, I know how wonderful it feels when one project is finished.
    I have three and four projects going at one time, I guess I get tired or frustrated if I encounter a problem that I can’t resolve at that time.
    When I get back to it later on, I end up finishing it quickly.

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  26. Working on an embroidered set of 20 colonial ladies quilt squares and now I’m down to the last five I find myself on one hand taking any excuse to stop while at the same time longing to be finished maureen

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  27. Mary, I truly wish I understood what slows me down on a project … sometimes to a complete stop. After 19 years I finally overcame my fear of turkey stitch and made an adorable bee body for the project that had been carefully stored half finished for those nineteen years. I completed the transparent wings embroidered over fine wire for said bee. I completed two three dimensional leaves and attached them to the main piece. I plunged the butterfly wings and attached them. And I am now at a full stop. All I have to do is plunge a short piece of chenille thread, add some beads for the heads and some fine black legs and the piece is pretty much done! I even bought myself a new gorgeous goldwork kit to spur me on. I’m not even allowing myself to look inside the kit until I finish this stumpwork piece. But here I sit writing to you instead of dealing with that chenille. What’s that about??!! I wish I knew. Sigh.

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  28. Mary your work is exquisite, I share your feelings of closing something off and starting something new, I too have a slow down almost a stop in some cases whereby I start a complete new project as my nerves need to rest from the previous one, especially doing something for someone else, its almost as if you need it to be more perfect than you would do for yourself. Thank you for the priviledge of following your work, you are a great inspiration.

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  29. I think larger spaces seem more daunting. The roses are broken up in small pieces. Your work, always, is beautiful. An inspiration.

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  30. Hi Mary,
    I love your site, and your work the medallion work is beautiful, I’m new to embroidery, so just starting out, so am always on your site looking at videos of stitches. So would also like to say thank you, for all the info you provide. Keep up the fabulous work you do.x

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  31. Hi Mary,

    First let me say that your medallion looks AWESOME!

    I am a fairly steady stitcher. I don’t like to have more than one or two projects on the go at once. My thing is I really dislike UFOs (unfinished objects) so I make myself finish each project as I go.

    Sometimes, if I am finding a project tedious, I reach a point where I’m ready to be done. Instead of slowing down, I find my mind racing ahead to the next project in my line-up and that gives me the push to finish up what I’m working on. 🙂

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  32. I don’t set stitching goals other than the unhelpful “someday…”. Maybe that’s why my output is pathetic. And when I finish up one stage of a project, not just needlework either, it depends greatly on how it went whether I’m mentally with the project any more.

    Your monogram is looking wonderful, and now I can really see the shading you did on the fleur de lis (is that what you called them?) on the sides.

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    1. Hi, Gail – yes, that’s what they’re called!

      Well, when I don’t set absolute goals, I at least try to abide by my 15-minute rule, though it’s hard to do that on a project like this. It takes a good 15 minutes to get into the whole “groove” of stitching on this kind of project… and by then, the 15 minutes are up!

  33. Thanks, everyone, for your comments! It’s fun to read your insights on project planning and goal setting! I appreciate the input and all the different views…. fun reading!

    I’d like to reply to each of you… but wow. I’m out of computer time for the morning already! Where does time go?!

    Thanks again!

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  34. I think your project is awesome. I have learned so much from this site. I enjoy reading other’s comments. It makes me realize I’m okay and normal. I need to do more goal setting in life not just projects. I am really good at setting goals but not so good at getting them done. Sometimes they are so boring.

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  35. Your project is wonderful to look at. I’m enjoying following along with you. When I do a project, I also set little goals along the way. It helps keep me motivated to finish.

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  36. Mary, this is looking stunning. I feel sure I have said that before and I will say it again but that is how it is.

    I confess for a while I thought the roses would be too much and that the blue/white/gold was perfect, but now it is all done I think it needs the oomph of the roses to make it glow. And it will.

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  37. Oh, I itch. I itch *so* badly. Unless it’s a boring phrase that just has to be done, then I’m looking forward to the phrase after…

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  38. It’s quite stunning! While the whole thing may not be finished, accomplishing this much looks like more than half finished. I just did a little cat and mouse in long and short stitch and OMG! that’s a tedious stitch even for a stitching lover. (I mean it takes so much more time than so many other stitched filling the same space.) No wonder it’s such a relief. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

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    1. Hi, Faith – yes, you’re right – it does take a LOT of stitches to fill a space! The Medallion does seem to be over half finished! But I have a feeling the more time consuming stuff is yet to come! Plodding forward!! ~MC

  39. I also get the slows as I reach my goals. I worked for months to finish a countd cross stitch and now that I am to the last portion, it has sat there for a couple of months. Partly because sewing for others has gotten in the way and partly because I find joy in seeing what these tings will look like. Once I get the final thought that I can do it and know what it will look like, I’m ready to move on and seem to slow down the actual finishing. That is also why I enjoy teaching because I get to see lots of stitching of many types and don’t have to do all of the work.

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