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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Seeing Red – Project Update!


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“Seeing red” is an idiom in English that means “annoyed” or “irritated” or even downright angry.

Hand embroidery rarely makes me see red. I always figure there’s no point in getting angry when embroidering, even if I make a major mistake – after all, what’s to be angry about? It’s just embroidery. And mistakes in embroidery can always be solved in one way or another. A few snips with the scissors in a good case scenario – chucking it in the bin, in a bad case scenario. But nothing worth getting angry about.

On the other hand, Slightly Irritated is another question. I can be slightly irritated with my embroidery, especially if I think it should be moving along faster than it is, in the amount of time I’ve been working on it. I mean, really! What nerve! You’d think an embroidery project would speed itself up now and then.

Hungarian Redwork Embroidered Table Runner

And that’s how I’ve been feeling about the Hungarian Redwork Runner project.

Haven’t I been working on this thing for Ten Ages? Haven’t I put about a gazillion chain stitches and Hungarian braided chain stitches into the thing?

Shouldn’t it show a little gratitude and finish itself up?

But then… but then I look at pictures…

Hungarian Redwork Embroidered Table Runner

This is the last time we visited the project

Hungarian Redwork Embroidered Table Runner

… and this is what I’ve done on it so far.

No, it’s not a lot. But… it is progress. And as my Great Uncle Ernie always says, Progress is Progress.

(I don’t actually have a Great Uncle Ernie.)

With this project, it’s difficult not to see (literally) red.

It’s a good thing I like the color!

Hungarian Redwork Embroidery Project

After all, things could be a Whole Lot Worse.

If you want to follow along with the Hungarian Redwork Runner project from start to finish, including set up and how-to along the way, visit the Hungarian Redwork Runner project index, where you’ll find all articles related to the project listed chronologically.


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(26) Comments

  1. Much better in red! Follow that 15 minute rule! It worked for me — Procedure put the house back to preChristmas status was completely bearable thinking about earning time to stitch! Family members didn’t know of my reward; they just got roped in.

  2. Oh Mary, if a Big Project hasn’t reached the “I’ll throw you out of the window!” stage at least ONCE before you’re three quarters through, it means you don’t care enough about it! It sounds like the Red Runnner is sprinting along just fine – causing just enough irritation to keep you stitching.
    And it IS growing. The bigger the project gets, the less impressive steady progress looks. The first third and the last third always seem to go faster. It’s the middle that dosn’t appear to grow.

  3. When you see red is when you put loads of effort in and then you don’t like it. You are not going to have that problem. It looks lovely.
    More power to your elbow!

  4. Thanks for the giggle, Mary – and yes, in this instance seeing red is a WHOLE lot better than seeing green! And that is a LOT of stitching in a relatively small area, so I suppose it’s not going to rush off and grow itself for you really! 🙂

  5. Hi Mary, You have come so far in such a short time. You have put so much of yourself into it and it’s so lovely. Maybe if you work on something else in the meantime and then go back to the Runner. Oh, well that just doesn’t work me either. I hope you finish the Runner, I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Beautiful, of course.

  6. Hi Mary,

    I understand your frustration. I myself get bored very quickly when there is no color change. I often have to go from one project to the next to “cleanse” my palette. I don’t know if I have a short attention span or what. I don’t think so, because I can sit and stitch for hours at a time. When I’m stitching something for another person I tend to dive in and get it done quickly, but when it is for me, we’ll just say sometimes I’m a little willy nilly about what gets done first.

    Have a great day!

    Melissa Bird

  7. I see green when I look at your red stitches. No need for photoshop! *jealous* LOL
    Really though, the more you get stitched the more I can see the contrast of the 2 shades of red and the more beautiful it looks!!

    1. Thanks, Heather… Yes, the difference between the heavier stitches and lighter stitches is really starting to come across. This is what I had hoped for! ~MC

    1. 🙂 That’s funny, Elisabetta! In English, when we “see green” it’s because we’re envious! (Shakespeare’s “green-eyed monster” is jealousy…) Ah! The subtle differences of language and idioms!

  8. Dear Mary

    It looks beautiful, I know what you mean I started a project before Christmas and like you I think why hasn’t this moved on but I am slow at needlework I continually stop, look and observe do I like it don’t I like it will I have to unstitch it etc. But every stitch as you say (or as Great Uncle Ernie would say) is Progress. Have a good stitching time.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  9. You crack me up, Mary, with that green photo. I just went “eeww” all over when I saw that! I think you have gotten a great deal done in light of all the Internet work you do, and the red work is looking fabulous. I have the runner in my to do list, and I slipped it in near the top, not at the bottom of the list!

    1. To be honest I will have to disagree with you. I like green better than red. I am not saying that the puke green she picked is wonderful, or even nice, but I like it slightly better than the red.

  10. A technique that I will use when I am doing a project is to take a picture once a week. There are many projects that seem like they are taking forever, and that you are not getting anything done. Th weekly picture will show that you are, indeed, making progress.

  11. I’m sure it seems slow progress to someone much more practiced, but compared to my work it’s a HUGE amount of progress. I’ve been doing some Jacobean work with chain stitch filled stems, and sometimes it feels I’ve worked all day and have only finished one teeny tiny stem. Of course when I do a needle painted piece, I can work for two or three days straight (we’re talking 8 to 10 hours) and maybe get a petal or two done on the darned flower. I’m actually quite envious of your progress 🙂

  12. Mary you crack me up, as my grandkids would say. Really that green is so awful, only you would think of doing that.

    I agree with the others, the middle bit is always, seemingly, the slowest, but things will improve. And in the meantime, think about how pretty it will look on your table or wherever it is planned to go. BTW, it is looking pretty in, er, red.

  13. G’day Mary,
    I don’t have a G.U. Ernie either but he seems an encouragingly agonising old bloke.
    I was amazed to read the article in the lastest Inspirations magazine of A Stitch A Day. Mary, we’ve ‘got it made’ (as G.U.E would say) haven’t we. You’ve got this piece ‘by the scruff of the neck’ (thank you G.U.E.!) and ‘a stitch a day is better than none’ (okay, G.U.E. that’s enough!).
    No, really, it’s going along fantastically and I reckon it’s a good ‘easy’ fill in for a break from other projects. Haven’t you got ’till Christmas to finish it?!
    Cheers, Kath.

  14. Mary, it looks really wonderful – I especially like the way the two weights of stitching interact to provide a variety of texture. It’s normal to reach a period of fed-up-ness in the middle stages of such a project, so don’t despair – you’ll get there in the end.

  15. Oh Mary it is just lovely. Hang in there!

    You’ve inspired me, so I’m going to start my own Hungarian Redwork Runner. I’m so nervous. I had a very talented friend of mine weave the linen for me. It is a looser weave than yours, but the stitches still look lovely.

    Now it is time to transfer. I’m going to take my time, practice on my sample cloth I had her do and work up the nerve to do it. I should get to it before I’m 80 or 90…

    1. Ooooooooh! I can’t wait to hear how it goes, Karen – hand woven linen! That will be special, indeed! I’m at almost the halfway point on mine but have stalled for a while. Hope to pick it up again in the next week or so! MC

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