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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Blue Ribbon Embroidery! Recognize It?


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This is a Must Share! I’m so excited about it!

This past summer, Alrene Ritz from Indiana submitted a piece of hand embroidery at her county fair. And it came home a winner!

Do you recognize it?

Lattice Jumble at the County Fair

Arlene’s interpretation of the Lattice Jumble Sampler, worked on a mug rug, came home with a blue ribbon!

Lattice Jumble at the County Fair

I love the fact that Arlene interpreted the Jumble sampler her own way. She worked it on black, using bright colors, and she mixed in a variety of different stitches, too.

Don’t the bright colors and the varied textures remind you of the fair?

Lattice Jumble at the County Fair

Cropping the photo to zoom in interferes with clarity a bit, but I wanted you to see Arlene’s treatment of this circular element on the Jumble.

She used bullion knots for the center star and for the raised scalloped edges. Love it!

Arlene’s Jumble mug rug is a terrific example of how you can have great fun interpreting a design by mixing up stitches and colors.

Here’s Arlene’s note that accompanied the prize photo:

While you were working on the lattice sampler, I was working on one too. I had fun doing it as it has been years since I have done any hand embroidery. I did mine on black fabric in very bright colors. It won a first place ribbon at the local county fair. Thank you for the inspiration. I love all that I have been learning since I found your blog.

This just made my day! Especially this part: “…it has been years since I have done any hand embroidery.” It’s a good reminder to me of why I started Needle ‘n Thread in the first place.

So while I know Arlene is super happy with her Blue Ribbon, I have to say, I can’t help thinking I got the nicest prize of all, with her note.

Congratulations, Arlene, on your Blue Ribbon Embroidery!

You can find the guide to the Lattice Jumble Sampler available here. The sampler is ideal for beginners and beyond, and, as you can see above, it is a great project for personal interpretation.

If you’re not familiar with what a county fair is (or a state fair), Google “county fair” or “state fair” and look under images, and you’ll get a good idea. The fairs are quintessential American Summer Moments. They involve competitions (agricultural, textile – such as needlework and quilting, crafts, and others) and recreation, usually in the form of carnival rides, games, and lots of carnival food. They’re a lot of fun! Some states even have several state fairs, so if you are interested in submitting projects to your state or county fair for judging, check to see if you have one, and look for submission guidelines on the relevant websites.


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(25) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    Congratulations to Arlene for winning the Blue Ribbon for the Lattice Jumble sampler and I agree that I have learnt so much from Needle n Thread and I am constantly inspired by your love and enthusiasm on embroidery. I must find out about County fairs I know we have them in the UK.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Hi, Anita! Didn’t she do a great job?!

      I think they’re called “shows” in the UK instead of fairs, if I remember correctly. I wrote a paper on fairs once, on the community aspect, and whether that still exists. Researching the UK versions, I interviewed some Brits. It was a fun project. I love real fairs (as opposed to carnivals) but admittedly, rarely go. I should, though. We have plenty of them in the Midwest! -MC

    2. If you find out about any UK ones, Anita, please share with me! I’ve never heard of anything like it! Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in large cities (Leeds and Sheffield), but never a sniff of such a thing.=(

    3. OK, thanks to some help from a lady on our local city on-line forum, I’ve discovered the UK versions. They’re all part of *horticultural* shows! So, alongside someone’s prize cabbages and roses, I could compete for the local prizes in needle crafts! Look out, Mary, I’m gonna join in a few next year!=) Thanks for the idea!

    4. Yes, they’re the same in the US – they’re primarily agricultural shows (animals, produce, etc.) with other competitions (needle arts, crafts, quilting, culinary stuff like jams and pickles and whatnot). They’re a lot of fun! I’m glad you found out more about them!

  2. Arlene, Congratulations on your very well-deserved Blue Ribbon! Your work is stunning! Mary, I am so thankful for your site! I learn new things from you all the time, and I am grateful.

  3. Dear Mary,
    I want to add my kudos to Arlene and to you. Arlene’s interpretation is so clever; it’s no wonder it won a blue ribbon. Moreover, the knowledge you share provides inspiration to needleworkers everywhere–to say nothing of the individual attention you offered to me and, no doubt, countless others. I always look forward to reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

  4. How fun! Love her interpretation of the jumble. I just submitted my first entry to the state fair in my hometown, a cross-stitch sampler I did a couple of years ago. Hoping I’ll get one of those ribbons too 🙂

  5. Por supuesto que tenias que ganar un permio Mary, eres la Mejor , Maestra de bordado, contigo he aprendido mucho, eres una artista y muy generosa muchas gracias por compartir
    Bien merecido FELICIDADES

  6. Well done, Arlene, and how lively for you to get such meaningful feedback, Mary! I remember being very pleased when Emily from The Flossbox posted that it was my stumpwork that prompted her to get going. Since then, she’s way outstripped me in the number of pieces she’s completed, but it felt good to have been at the root of it.=)

    I wish we had fairs like this in my area. I often read about them from North American and Australian ladies’ blogs, but never from the UK.=(

  7. Congratulations to Arlene for her excellent work. I love brights on black.

    Congratulations Mary for inspiring this wonderful embroidery.

  8. Congratulations Arlene! Your piece is beautiful.
    Mary is such an inspiration to all of us who enjoy hand embroidery.

  9. G’day Mary,
    Thanks for sharing this Mary and Arlene, and congratulations Arlene. Who wouldn’t feel cheery using a mug mat like this. Bright, clever and fabulous. I’ve won some ribbons in our local show, not for embroidery though, but photography and paintings, and even though is a small town Aussie show, the thrill of seeing a ribbon or even a commended on your work is so exciting.
    Good on you Arlene, go to the top of the class!
    Cheers, Kath.

  10. Congratulations, Arlene! It is wonderful to get confirmation that you are accomplished in something you love to do. To win a ribbon is encouragement to keep working at your hobby. Fairs are also a great way to meet people who are like you and enjoy needlework, baking or whatever your passion is that you have an entry for. I have also found it a way to spark interest in people visiting the fair to pursue your hobby by exhibiting your work. It is a great platform to spread the love of embroidery. Keep embroidering and entering your pieces in the fairs and keep winning ribbons!


  11. Congratulations Arlene! Here in Australia we have country shows where you can find everything entered from embroidery, cakes, floral art, ceramics and photography. My favourites are the tea cup saucers that very young children decorate with flowers and the scarecrow section by their older brothers and sisters. The shows came about to judge the best sheep, cattle and horses and have expanded to include all that people do in their day to day life.
    This year, the leader of our local lace group asked particularly that members enter as many items they thought were good enough because if they didn’t there was a definite possibility that the lace section would be “scrapped”.
    So – please – to all you embroiderers, knitters, lace makers, doll makers and all other textile creatives take courage and enter those works of inspiration. We have to encourage those following in our footsteps!
    And so a special Thank You to Mary for the time you spend helping us by designing and discovering which stitches can go where.

  12. Congratulations Arlene! Anytime we have the chance to enter a local county fair or juried exhibition it is worth the effort. Not just for the chance to win a prize, but to help the exhibition stay alive and promote needle crafting in whatever form that happens. People at all levels draw inspiration from you.

    Many of my friends and fellow teachers began by learning to stitch, sew, quilt, bake or arrange flowers, etc. with 4-H projects at our local county fairs. In less populated counties, we often took our ribbons for granted and not until later years did we discover what a gift we were given, particularly when we were invited to be teachers, group leaders, and in some cases even judges. And like our Aussie friends, our fairs were usually a means of celebrating agriculture and judging who was the “best” at whatever category in the county.

  13. Beautiful work, Arlene! How fun to see your interpretation. It is exactly like a fair at night with the rides and lights and glow sticks that everyone walks around with. That is so cool! Great job!

    And ditto to many of the comments, Mary! You’ve done an amazing thing making embroidery so accessible. We sure do appreciate you! 🙂

  14. Congratulations Arlene, well done you! And congrats to Mary too for having the original thought that inspired Arlene. I think the brights-on-black was an inspired choice; it really zings.

    It is important for us to keep entering these shows (whatever name they have) or the whole thing will collapse. I even won once – for the best crazy quilting on a vest. It was all black and grey and a little bit of silver, and I still wear it 11 years later.

  15. Well Done, Arlene! And welcome back to needlework.

    Although I think I’d have trouble actually setting a mug or anything else on it. What fabric did you use?

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