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 (53) 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)

When Your Embroidery Grins Back at You


Amazon Books

The scenario: trying to teach the cast-on stitch and double cast-on stitch to a persistent eleven years old, while in the middle of working on other things.

(You know those situations when you really need to be working on other things, but there’s the matter of that eleven year old?)

The solution: challenge the eleven year old to be creative! She has the hang of the stitches. Tell her to come up with something inventive on her own, just for the fun of it!

Cast-on Stitch & Double Cast-On Stitch

It’s the How-to-Get-Rid-of-an-Eleven-Year-Old-and-Feel-Righteous-About-It-Because-You’re-Challenging-Her-Creativity game.

Give her a copy of the printable for the two stitches, and let her at it.

Time passes. She returns. (It’s bound to happen, and we must make allowances for these things!)

She has produced something! You both look at it a bit.

You say, “It’s good! The stitches look great!

And she says, “I was trying to make fuchsia.

And you say, “Oh! Yes. Well… yes! I can see that…. Hmmm…. Maybe if we turn it upside-down…

Cast-on Stitch & Double Cast-On Stitch

She says, “No. It’s that green grin. I just can’t get past it. It looks like… LIPS.”

Sometimes, our explorations into a stitch – into “stitch play” as I call it – may not turn out quite as we originally planned, no matter how experienced or inexperienced we are. But with the help of an eleven year old and a fresh set of eyes, you may discover that your stitches can be used in ways you never dreamt!

Cast-on stitch lips.

Who’da thunk it?


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.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


(13) Comments

  1. Recently I was at a hotel that had a very nice landscape print that you saw as the elevator doors opened. It was fall foliage, nicely reflected in a calm lake. However, the reflection was exactly at eye level, so what you saw first was a very large orange-red set of lips. It took effort to make your eyes see the rest of the (otherwise very nice) picture. Memorable, but certainly not what the artist expected!

  2. Clever 11 year old with a talent for creativity that appears to run in the family! Go eleven year old. Finding a way to laugh, goes a long way in life. See, there are many life lessons to learn while embroidering …

  3. Oh that is gorgeous. Your student’s both talented and creative – eyes as well as hands. I wouldn’t have seen that without her perspective 🙂

    And wow the stitchwork is pretty good too!

    Thank you both for sharing!

  4. Since the word “grins” was in the title, I could see the lips. However, when I first looked at the design, I was seeing it as a hat for a paper doll. The green loops were the two sides of the hat where the head fit; the purple were plumes; and the red was trim. I assumed there would be a bird or another color of plume on the left side where the red didn’t touch the green. Then the doll could be dressed as a member of Marie Antoinette’s court. Two dimentional dolls are a lot easier to dress than a regular (3-D) dolls.

  5. So cute! I can relate- I have my nieces this week and all they wanted to do was craft. I’ll have to keep this in mind for next visit 🙂

  6. Well, ok, lips. Cute. Fun. Before I went to the link, I wasn’t sure what she was aiming for, but, frankly, I loved it as an abstract design. Lips or no, it’s a pretty little sculpture. And if it grins back, it’s a clever pretty little sculpture.

  7. Dear Mary

    Ah! how cute it’s so nice when young people take an interest in a hobby especially needlework, it looks great!!!

    Regards Anita Simmance

More Comments