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

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2013: Almost Over, but Not Quite Finished!


Amazon Books

Time to look back at 2013 on Needle ‘n Thread!

So grab a cup of coffee and come join me on my journey as Inveterate, Ever-Positive, Slightly Unrealistic, Goal-Breaker Extraordinaire!

2013 on Needle 'n Thread

I set goals last year – with two specific goals relating to the website – so let’s start there, and then take stock of what actually did materialize on Needle ‘n Thread!

The two specific needlework-related resolutions I made last year were these: 1. to keep a sketchbook and sketch at least once a week; and 2. To create five tutorials per month (totaling 60 tutorials for the year).

Sketchbook for Embroidery Designs

Welllll… I did keep a sketchbook. But did I sketch once a week? Not quite – there are 38 sketches from last year in my sketchbook.

Embroidery Tutorials

As far as tutorials are concerned, I fared a little better there.

In 2013, a total of 294 new articles were added to Needle ‘n Thread.

108 of those articles involved tips, tricks, and techniques related to hand embroidery, and 32 of them were new Stitch Fun tutorials.

So, while I didn’t necessarily manage 60 specific step-by-step tutorials, we did get in a lot of discussion involving tips, techniques, and how-to’s.

Embroidery Projects in 2013

The Mission Rose is looming in my head as the Only Project of 2013 – mainly because I haven’t finished it yet!

Mission Rose Embroidery Project

I mentioned yesterday that it is tantalizingly close, and today, I’ll make some progress on it. Realistically, though, it won’t be finished before the clock chimes the New Year.

But, realistically speaking again, the Mission Rose was not the only project of last year!

Embroidered Easter Eggs

I managed to break four Easter eggs last year, but I also managed to embroider and finish six Easter eggs.

Embroidery on Eggs was a first for me, and I suspect it won’t be a last. I liked it, and I hope to create a few more embroidered eggs this coming year. We’ll see – it’s a lot more time consuming than embroidery on fabric!

Lattice Jumble Embroidery Project

The Lattice Jumble Sampler was begun and finished in 2013, and the Lattice Jumble Sampler Guide e-book was made available.

This started out as a Stitch Fun project to introduce you to various types of lattice fillings, and it turned out to be a really fun project, indeed!

It’s an exploratory project, great for becoming familiar with a variety of stitches and fillings and for getting comfortable with free-style surface embroidery.

Hand Embroidered Little Things

Lavender Honey & Other Little Things came to be!

This is a project e-book that includes instructions for 20 possible little embroidered things – needlebooks, scissor pulls, ornaments, fobs, and so forth – suited for beginners and beyond.

The creation of the e-book began in the summer of 2012, with over 30 individual little finished samples completed before the book could be written.

Floral Sampler Alphabet

I began and finished this floral sampler alphabet of individual decorative initials – 26 letters in all, with 3 extras – that involves over 30 stitches and stitch combinations.

I haven’t finished the e-book yet, but it’s coming in 2014, or I’ll eat the whole embroidered alphabet.

Shadow Work Embroidery Monogram

This shadow work alphabet was a more obscure project, with a few tips on shadow work offered along the way. You’ll see more of this in 2014, too.

Speaking of alphabets – behind the scenes, patterns for thirteen complete monogram alphabets were cleaned up, reformatted, in most cases completed (old monogram alphabets rarely feature the entire alphabet), and you’ll see the fruits of that effort in 2014 as well.

Tambour Embroidery

We explored tambour embroidery in 2013.

This was my first serious foray into the world of tambour stitching, and after establishing a practice regime and keeping to it daily for over a month, I was finally comfortable sharing the technique with you and creating a video tutorial for the basic tambour stitch.

You’ll see a bit more of this in 2014!

So, though I did finish some things in 2013, there’s quite a bit of baggage – the good kind of baggage! – that I’ll be carrying with me into the New Year.

Besides Embroidery Projects…

Besides embroidery projects, some other items of interest added to Needle ‘n Thread in 2013 include:

Reviews of 19 embroidery / needlework-related books

A series on Deconstructing Goldwork

25 free hand embroidery patterns

What this can’t itemize is all the fun interaction with you – the comments, the chit-chat, the emails – throughout the year. And that’s the stuff that makes Needle ‘n Thread what it is, more than anything else!

I’ll share some of my goals and plans for Needle ‘n Thread in 2014 with you soon. I’m looking forward to the year – it will be adventuresome

What About You?

Was 2013 a productive needlework year for you? Did you learn anything new? Finish any projects? Start any new and exciting needlework adventures? I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to leave a comment below and inspire us!

And if you have a blog or website that you share your needlework adventures on, feel free to add your link so we can visit! I’ll be updating my blog list later on this month, and would love to see a few new faces!

Enjoy the last day of 2013!

See you next year!


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(60) Comments

  1. I love getting your email every day – it’s so inspiring! And I have enjoyed ‘progressing’ with you throughout the year on your various projects (especially the Mission Rose project, which is just gorgeous). Seeing them shown all together makes it clear that you are very prolific, and very artistic. Thanks so much for your website 🙂

    I have a blog at http://janetgranger.wordpress.com/
    where I talk about the projects I am working on, and so on. I also have a website at http://www.janetgranger.co.uk/index.htm

    where I feature the miniature needlepoint kits and charts that I sell.

    Here’s to a 2014 with lots of time to get all those UFOs finished, and time to start some interesting new embroidery projects!

  2. I accomplished several “half-done” projects. Became very discouraged with myself. I then completed two small ornaments. I stitched the monogram on linen in a fancy alphabet design. Did not finish by placing in the small ornament frame but now I know I can do these and give them as gifts to family and friends next year. I am in the process of organizing projects by who they are for, when I am to give them and refuse to stress of it. Your information encourages me when I read it daily. I actually stop and read and save everything. Thank you for your column or emails and love of needlework. Michaels has opened a new store near me but have very limited needlework. In fact all of their stores in North Houston area have decreased needlework supplies. Maybe there is decreased interest but your information helps me be proud of my love of needlework. My choice is counted cross stitch. I thank you and wish you a very Happy New Year. And to all of my fellow needle crafters. Dianne Griffith

  3. Mary, I believe your biggest accomplishment of the year was dedication and consistency. What a joy it is to click on your blog and know Monday through Friday there will be a new post. Many very good embroidery blogs start out with daily posts – that become semi weekly posts – that become weekly posts – that become bi monthly posts and soon they never post again. So sad…. I applaud you for your dedication to us, your readers. Thank you!

  4. First I have to say how lucky we are to have someone like you that gives us(& shows us) all this advice,ideas,tips,tricks and the most wonderful projects.You are truly an inspiration.I thank you. Well I just started making a free hand design on my pillowcases. And of course I had to go to your website for tips and a refresher course.I haven’t done this in awhile, been too busy painting. But ,if I do say so myself,I am doing pretty good thanks to you. I am looking forward to 2014 and your newsletters. Thank you again. Happy New Year! Susan
    P.s,if I get brave enough maybe I will send you a pic of the project when completed…

  5. Dear Mary

    I think this post just proves how much you accomplished in 2013, my favourite was eggs embroidery which I really enjoyed and will return this year in time for Easter and Tambour stitching (I bought some cotton tulle so I will start practising this in 2014) as well as the Little Things which I’m still embroidering) and your continued ideas in new techniques always inspire me. I’m planning to embroider a fabric book on the alphabet so your monograms will come in handy can’t wait to purchase the ebook hope its completed soon. So Mary a Very Happy New Year to you and your family I hope you are doing something nice this evening. I plan to do some embroidery and then watch a good film with a few glasses of wine. Enjoy the evening.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  6. Thank you, Mary, for this wonderful review of your year. I followed you throughout 2013 mostly just reading – so your themes are wellknown to me. I did your little beehive needlebook and earned many admiring looks and words.
    I wish you a very happy, healthy and creative year with much time for yourself and us.

  7. Mary, this is the only site that I consistently read and enjoy – and I don’t even stitch that much! Thank you for sharing your talent, humor, frustration, work, and everything else that goes into making such a wonderful site. Many blessings and Happy New Year! Carolyn

  8. Thank you for your daily visits and for sharing your knowledge and discoveries of new books, products, etc. This year I tried to make one needlework project per month as a Christmas gift. When the Christmas “crush” begins, I’ll have be ready with small special gifts. Well, I only accomplished 8 but was happy with that. I’m ready to start my “One a Month” projects and since I love monograms, and your alphabets are wonderful to stitch, I’ll make appropriately adorned gifts. The ideas are percolating in my mind and I can’t wait.

  9. Dear Mary: I agree with Paula Guisinger completely, and I especially appreciate your consistency in posting as well as the wonderful photos you put up. Due to your blog, I made it a point to visit RSN in London this fall, and spent a lovely 1/2 hour with the shop assistant. Unfortunately, I did not arrive on an exhibition day so had to content myself with shop items. My goal in 2014 is to complete the lattice work sampler I downloaded from your site. Best to you in 2014 — keep it up!

  10. I only found your website one month ago but I love it. Thank you for all your hard work. You have inspired me with your long and short stitch sampler, especially the videos. I am looking forward to doing more embroidery in 2014 with your help. I would love to keep a sketchbook but feel very inhibited. Any advice on how to get started? I look forward to your regular emails. Good luck. Eileen

  11. Good Morning, Mary!

    Every morning I get up and one of the first things I do is grab my coffee and head over to Needle n Thread! I enjoy your blog so much. So encouraging, instructional and useful. And let us not forget a visual treat for the eyes!

    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your dedication to the needlework craft and sharing that love with others.

    Looking forward to see what you have for us in the New Year!

    Jennifer from Oregon 🙂

  12. Thanks for sharing! What a busy year you’ve had and such beautiful work!

    I have also done a round up of my year on my blog http://www.suzical.co.uk

    My biggest accomplishment of the year is finishing my Certificate with the Royal school of needlework and aims for next year are to work harder at sharing stuff on my blog and on twitter!

  13. Mary…

    A year ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution to learn “thread painting” and, at the time, I had no clue how I would go about doing that. Magically, my resolution came true when I joined the “Vintage Garden Strawberries” class here via your website! I received wonderful instruction from Margaret Cobleigh and fantastic feedback from my classmates! I also found that your videos here on this website on “how to stitch” really gave me the visualization so that I could try the split stitch and the long and short stitch. Then you wrote something in a blog that introduced me to Trish Burr. I found Trish’s Etsy store and I bought one of her books and her DVD. With all of these wonderful “resources” I have been happily thread painting all year!

    Thank you … Thank you … Thank YOU for all that you do to encourage all of us around the world to explore new stitching techniques! Happy New Year!

  14. I discovered your site in 2013 and have so enjoyed reading your posts which have encouraged me to take up embroidery again after a 35(or so)year gap. Thank you for all the help and encouragement to take up a needle and thread and give it a go!
    A very happy new year to you!

  15. Dear Mary,
    I finished three panels with two birds on each of them, so six birds in total, in needle painting. I also covered the cushions of my lounge suite 14 in total, plus 12 scatter cushions(does that count:)?). At the moment I am busy with a beautiful snow leopard and I am more or less half finished and re-upholstering a wing back chair.
    I have a little page on Facebook if anyone is interested and thank you for allowing us to put our particulars up. http://www.facebook.com/ElzazEmbroidery
    Thanks Mary for a wonderful page and only the best and lots of inspiration for the New Year, Also to all your followers a very happy New Year
    Love Elza Cape Town. xxxx

  16. I just found you, late in 2013, and have become smitten and reenergized with embroidery because of you and your regular posts! Thank you so very much! This week, I am in London! my first trip over seas and found out the RSN is closed this week. :(. But, even better, I have you to teach me, inspire me, and guide me in all of 2014. Happy new year!

  17. I got very little done, but I want to thank you for your wonderful newsletter. I enjoy reading it and find it very inspirational. I did purchase Secret Garden. Lovely book. I think I want to color it and then stitch from it. Thanks!

  18. This year I’ve incorporated together many media, including my new excitement, beading! I am a mixed media artist but with many years of fiber art work, and I’m preparing a solo exhibit, in April which will feature concepts I executed in more than one medium: such as a drawing which is paired with a stitched hanging, a photograph which is paired with a weaving, a monotype paired with a beaded stitched mixed media piece. And just yesterday a musician got in touch to see if we can create an event where these art pieces and his improvised playing on piano can work together! It’s always something!

    I’ve done collaborative art before, but never with a musician!

    1. Thanks Mary, well…we certainly knew when it was midnight with many neighbours letting of fireworks and also some big, no doubt homemade, explosions that rattled the house and my Dad’s nerves! He’s rather deaf too.
      It’s about 36ºC here today so warm enough.
      I meant to mention your lovely bunny drawings. You have captured the very essence and attitude of…well, bunnies. Here’s a bunny for you, if the bits and pieces stay in their right places.
      () ()

    2. Cute bunny! It worked! Well, I didn’t make it until midnight last night, Kath, so I missed the whole ringing in the new year thing. I know! I know! I’m a bum! And no fireworks in this little town to keep me awake. I was up at 4:30, though, to greet a very cold, dark, blustery, and snow-promising day. Happy New Year! -MC

    1. Ahhhhh! I knew I forgot something!! No, not finished yet – that’s ending up to be a multi-year project. I only take it out when I need something to “grab and go” and I haven’t been going too many places where I have waiting time to stitch, and I haven’t been doing any traveling, either. So … it’s been neglected. I did take it out a couple weekends ago, and made some progress down one side. So I’m well beyond half way, but not near finished. Perhaps 2014 will see it finished. Or maybe…maybe by Valentine’s Day. It’s a nice heart-ish motif. Well, I won’t promise anything, that’s for sure! But I’ll keep going on it when I can! ~MC

  19. Congratulations! I wish I could be so prolific. I did finish 11 small projects and one big one but, most of all, I love reading your site every morning and enjoy seeing the comments of other like-minded stitchers. Here’s to a happy, blessed and productive New Year.

  20. One accomplishment and most important, at least to all of you followers – the inspiration you have given us & teaching; your sharing your research of new product & techniques that otherwise we would not know existed ( even if it has cost me a lot of $ ) Thank you, you are a remarkable lady that I would love to meet some day. Looking forward to sharing 2014 with you ~

  21. Hi Mary,
    I can only echo what has already been said. Your blog is sheer inspiration. Thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication. I read your blogs every day and have learnt so much. In 2013 I just ‘played’ with stitches based on your tutorials and videos and have gained so much more confidence with what were unfamiliar stitches and techniques. However, I think I have now determined that drawn thread and hardanger are my preferred embroidery styles; currently working on a Victoria Sampler hardanger design for a wedding bag in preparation for my daughter’s wedding next year. However, I am determined in 2014 to have a go at goldwork – thanks to your inspirational and excellent tutorials. You never know, in 2014 I may even have some completed projects!

    Can’t wait to see what you bring to us in 2014.

    And, having just popped into some of the blog/photo links that were posted here, I have to add that there are some very talented people out there.

    Happy New Year Mary and to all your readers.

  22. It was a more productive year than I anticipated.

    Embroidery successes: Birthday: I knitted a sweater for an AGD and decorated it front and back with embroidery, including embroidered buttons. Present: Embroidered a button brooch for a HS grad gift. This inspired me to make embroidered jewelry for my grand daughters, ll yrs. to five yrs. They were well received. I surprised and thrilled with the results.

    Alas, embroidery must share my time with other ventures. I completed four watercolor paintings (2 art jobs, two presents for G’kids), sewn purse for grand daughter, two sets of sewn doll clothes for 2 G’daughters.

    If your counting, my husband made gifts for the boys and we purchased for the baby.

    My goals for 2014 would be approximately the same, but I wish to include more embroidery!

    As an aside, I used your Boughs of Holly free embroidery pattern for painting fun time with my three granddaughters at Thanksgiving. They live several states away, and with the busy schedule of their parents, it is usually a “hit and run.” Using the pattern saved time and worked well! They loved the results! May I count this one as well? :-))

  23. This year I finished a three year project with several other ladies in my church. We designed (with tons of help from your website), stitched (with tons of help from your website) and sewed the pieces together in time for Christmas Eve services. I am truly grateful for the help your site provided not only in how to do things, but in where to source the much needed supplies. I would love to post you some photos of the completed projects, but don’t know how.

    Thanks again

  24. Thank you so much for your great website, I am planning to get back into embroidery in 2014 with needle or thread painting. I have enjoyed some form of needlework for over 55 years in fact, I may have been born with a needle in my hand. My first project was embroidery and I branched out from there, I now have an interest to go back where I started. Your website will be my go to for learning new and interesting stitches.

  25. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs to read. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do in 2014, and excited about what I can learn from you. Happy new year!

  26. Hi Mary. Congratulations on all your finishes for 2013! And thanks for sharing them and all the other features on your blog– I so enjoy them for the information and the inspiration.
    In 2013, I began a long project with one of Karen Ruane’s classes (Embroider, Embellish,Create) and have been constructing a wrapping cloth from pieces of found and new white cloth, embroidered and embellished in my own style. I’m now on piece #10, and really love the process.
    I completed my 12 blocks for CQJP 2013 in my chosen theme of Lace and Roses, and look forward to putting them together to construct a wall hanging. This was challenging in that I used a limited palette, and worried that I might become tired of the project. The opposite occurred,and I fell in love with my chosen colours.
    There were many other completed projects (and some UFOs lol) from 2013, too, and some unfinished projects for StitchMAP that are in progress.
    I look forward to more stitching fun in 2014, in enjoying your projects, tutorials, and challenges, as well as my own.
    Here’s to lots of stitching time in 2014!
    Happy New Year!!

  27. From Canada, Happy New Year Mary and my greatest wish is that you remain with us for many more years.
    Your accomplishments are many and you keep many of us interested in embroidery by your teachings.
    Thank you for everything.

  28. Thanks for a great year, Mary! You did well with your sketchbook, much better than I once did with my 30 days of sketching challenge. Sketching just seems like a waste of time when I could be stitching instead! Drafting, on the other hand, is something I do a lot. So I still have pencil and paper in hand a few times a week.

    My resolutions post is scheduled for midnight at http://www.lakeviewstitching.com. Basically, I am planning more handwork – stitching/embroidery, applique (which I laughed to learn is considered an embroidery technique, too), and hand quilting. I will never be someone who specializes in just one thing, but I am planning to bring them all together more in the future.

  29. I have enjoyed almost all of your daily blogs. Those that didn’t interest me I scanned and moved on. We don’t necessarily enjoy all forms of embroidery, so keep doing what you are doing so we can look at those we want! 🙂
    For 2013 I have completed numerous projects! I feel I have accomplished alot. They were a bit of knitting, quilting, cross stitch, crochet, applique,hardanger and several dishtowels and pillow cases embroidered. A total of 27 pieces…some were UFO’s with a little bit of work others were more complicated. All were completed! That makes me happy! I learned to tat…simple designs, like bookmarks and ornaments. Looking forward to many more…maybe I can reduce my stash a bit more in 2014!!!!!! That is if I don’t purchase more!

  30. Dear Mrs. Corbet,
    Sorry my comment was a little late today, as I usually leave it in the morning.
    I was glad to see some things that you did earlier in the year. Oh my, I had no idea you were such an amazing artist! Stitch Fun is just that – fun! As I’ve said before, I love the Mission Rose! The Lattice Jumble Sampler is very interesting. I’ve always loved lattice work, even before I started on embroidery. And I almost forgot about Gertie! She is fun, too.
    Yes, it was a productive year for me. It was because you introduced me to the beautiful art of hand embroidery.
    I hope I am inspiring when I let you know this: You are inspiring to me. Here I am, a ten-year-old girl.
    Thanks again, Mrs. Corbet! I pray that 2014 will be a good year also.

    Sarah 🙂

  31. I also love opening your email each day to see what you’ve been up to. It’s a comfort knowing that others have long term projects on the go as well, knowing that I’m not the only one!

    I have recently started a blog http://www.embroiderybyemily.wordpress.com where I am keeping track of all my embroidery, quilting and dressmaking adventures.

    Keep up the good work!

  32. Happy New Year Mary – your daily emails are an absolute delight. Thank you for your inspirational ideas. It all helps for those of us creating ideas for our Young Stitchers at the Embroiderers’ Guild of ACT – in Canberra, Australia.

  33. Thank-you for a wonderful year of stitching and information.
    You are an asset to the stitching world 🙂

    Your followers may be interested in my latest creation of a treasure book for my Mothers 80th.It has heaps of stitchery in it..lol.
    Im not a tidy stitcher by nature and this shabby style fits me to a T.


    Its an idea that others might like to try 🙂

    Anyway, wishing you the best for the coming year.
    Phillipa in New Zealand

  34. Happy New Year, Mary. Your list is not only a record of your year’s accomplishments, but also a reminder of all the wonderful things you’ve shared with we who are your loving audience. Thanks, as always.

  35. Wow, I am impressed , no wonder I look forward to and enjoy your daily email so much, because there is so much going on, so much variety and so interesting. Thanks Mary for your efforts.
    2013 was a great embroidery year for me, I completed many small projects but the 2 large ones that stand out are Shakespeares Flowers, a fabulous stumpwork project with Jane Nicholas which was challenging and I loved every stitch to say nothing of Jane herself who is a fantastc tutor. Also I completed he Frivolus Scarf project from a workshop at Koala Conventions with Nikki Delport Wepener, again lots of stumpwork and a stunning effects when put together.My number 1 2014 mission is to complete another project begun at Koala Conventions n 2012 and thats Catherine Howells Flemish Flowers, a huge project done in mixed media, wool, silk, mohair and silk ribbon threads, a great challenge and learning curve with another fantastic tutor and designer.

  36. Mary, thank you for asking! I am most happy about finishing two arts and crafts linen runners that cross a round table. I created and embroidered a very simple design that matched a set of china that I particularly like. It felt great to finish, and I have been enjoying them immensely. I also enjoy your daily blog, filled with good ideas and encouragement. Thanks for all you do.

  37. Mary – Firstly Happy New Year to you, bright blessings to you.

    Your year in review is just amazing, don’t know how you manage to achieve so much, just the tracking of all you have been up to would be time consuming in itself. You are amazing. You must have great time management skills.

    I can’t recall anything that didn’t interest me that you demonstrated, showed us and reviewed.

    Thank you so much for a fabulous year looking forward to 2014.


  38. Was a successful year!
    I began to learn embroidery satin stitch! And I like it! I embroidered a design by Trish Burr
    This year will start “Granat” of Inspirations Magazine issue 61. And start teaching English.))
    And in 2013 I opened my shop!
    My work in my blog starakalamarka.blogspot.com

  39. Dear Mary:

    Many thankyous for your blog, I love reading it and have learned so much.

    Very best and happy wishes to you for 2014.



  40. I LOVED the deconstructing goldwork series. My background is in archeology, so it was perfectly fascinating to see how you delved into the piece and determined how it was constructed.

    I just put my own needlework resolutions together. They aren’t as ambitious as yours, but I am excited to try more techniques and some design. They are listed on my blog. So fun to make resolutions that you can actually enjoy!

    My needlework resolutions for 2014.


  41. Thank you for all the inspiration you provided me with during 2013. I look forward to seeing even more of your work and ideas in 2014.

  42. 2013: the year I discovered this website, rediscovered embroidery and consequently gave my bank manager a heart attack and the postman a hernia.

    A thoroughly enjoyable year, in fact!

  43. It is amazing to see how much one can accomplish when it is all put t paper and listed. I’ve had a good year as well, but continue to struggle to finish my cross-stitch project which was my goal for last year. Hopefully it will finally get finished this year, but it gets put on the back burner when I have commissions for other people to prepare. I did manage to create 7 quilts, several teddy bears, and two sets of neck tie pillows as well as help 10 students learn how to get started in the world of sewing or stitching. Overall not a bad year considering the family events and challenges that we all have to deal with along with the fun.

  44. 2013 was an exciting and satisfying year of stitching for me. I began with counted cross stitch of a Celtic cross, then moved to some vintage crewel kits I located (I learned crewel from my mother in the 1960’s but had not done any after 1980): a 20×40 wall piece and 4 pillows. As I became curious about the history and status of crewel, I learned through the internet of people like you, Anna Scott, Philippa Turnbull, and Jan Berlin. I stitched 7 more items, I’ve developed the freedom to change colors and modify stitches, and I’m currently experimenting with drawing my own Jacobean design. I’ve been inspired by your daily blog and helped by your tutorials. Can’t wait to make a needle book and a lattice jumble for fun. Thank you!

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