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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Stitch in Time, Stitch in Time! My Nightmare


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Remember a couple weeks ago, when we looked at progress on the stalled but not forgotten Hungarian Redwork Runner?

My plan was four hours of stitching a week. It hasn’t really happened. But I have made progress on it, and I’m pretty sure the stitching will be finished by the end of November, according to plan.

Unfortunately, every time I pick up this particular piece of embroidery, a nightmare unfolds.

Hungarian Redwork Embroidery Table Runner

Here’s what’s left to stitch – fewer than five motifs in Hungarian braided chain stitch, and the embroidery on the project will be completely finished. I estimate I can do about 1.5 motifs in an hour. So, about three hours of stitching left.

But for me, that’s a three-hour nightmare.

I don’t know how it happened. I suppose it’s because I’m stitching against the clock.

But there he is, in my head, every time I pick up the runner: Dick van Dyke, dancing on the rooftops, singing a whole new version of Step in Time:

Stitch in time, stitch time, never need a reason, never need a rhyme. Stitch in time, you stitch in time!

And the tune is unshakeable. It sticks in there All Day Long.

Oh, the sacrifices I make for embroidery!

Hungarian Redwork Embroidery Table Runner

There are about five of these motifs left.

The embroidery would go a lot faster if there weren’t as many starts and stops. The motif breaks down into seven parts, which means starting and stopping threads seven times in a relatively small space. But, hey! That’s just part of embroidery, right?

Hungarian Redwork Embroidery Table Runner

In the previous article on the runner project, I mentioned that I was using the sit-on hoop stand I reviewed earlier this year, and that I thought it was helping me speed up my stitching.

The other day, I decided to time myself. Using the same sections of a motif and working with a stop watch, I discovered that I stitch the Hungarian braid stitch almost twice as fast holding my work in hand, without the hoop!

Needless to say, now I’m hoopless, simply hoopless.

I’ll have the embroidery on this finished by the end of November (if not sooner), and then, the part I can’t wait for – damp stretching and blocking! I’m dying to see the whole piece crisp and flat!

Once it’s damp stretched and blocked, I’ll finish the edges. I still have some exploring to do in that realm.

May all your stitching this week go swiftly and satisfactorily, and may your head be free of any annoying songs that could drive you nuts along the way!

If you’d like to follow the development of this project step-by-step, including the preparation of the design and the free pattern, the set-up and transfer of the pattern, and all the materials and stitches used in the project, you’ll find all the articles relating to it in the Hungarian Redwork Runner project index.


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(26) Comments

  1. Gosh, I’m sorry about your “nightmare”, Mrs. Corbet. I hope you finish the Runner soon so that it will (hopefully) go away. I wish there was something I could do to help. . . Have you tried listening to something else while you’re stitching? (Music, audio books, etc.)
    The Runner is looking good. Can’t wait to see all the stitching done 😉


  2. Dear Mary

    Oh my nearly finished you can do it only 3 motifs left, keep saying that and then there were two and then one and then………………..NONE, please finish it, I can’t wait to see it on your Christmas table. Please keep us updated on this it looks lovely. A stitch in time, A stitch in time. Good luck you can do it.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. I’m having the exact same problem right now. I’m trying to finish my oldest WIP. I figured if I work on it an hour and a half every night then I should be done by December. But it’s so hard, because there are so many other things I want to work on or start.

  4. The best antidote for an “ear-worm” in my experience is to switch to 76 trombones from the Music Man! Never fails, and does not “stick” as long itself! hh

  5. I’m not at all surprised that you are going much quicker without the hoop, Mary. To my mind, the chain and buttonhole families are best worked in the hand rather than mounted on hoops or frames. Sometimes a weighted cushion on the table is useful to pin the fabric to, in order to take some of the weight off your hands.
    As for songs in the head, my cure is to deliberately start singing The Coffee Song instead (“There’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil”) – it is so annoying in itself that it drives out any other earworms in double quick time!

    1. Funny, Sue! My standby Sinatra song is Fly Me to the Moon. It’s one of those songs you can’t sing out loud and make sound good, no matter how hard you try. It has to have the music! Now I have the coffee song stuck in my head… No tea or tomato juice

  6. Oh, Mary! You have m sympathy. It’s not a bad song if you are watching Mary Poppins but who could stand it every time they sit down to stitch.

    I have a few songs that pop into my head in certain circumstances, some of the lyrics are not even the right ones, just ones I have invented to suit the occasion. But I usually have classical music playing on the radio while I stitch to keep away unwanted thoughts and songs.

    I hope you get more stitching time this week.

  7. I almost never comment as I’m a fairly quiet person. But this one time. . . .

    I’ve been battling that very same problem – with the song, I mean. Only for me, it’s the Bunny Hop. I have no idea why or where I could have possibly heard it, but when I sit quietly to stitch, it just starts. I find myself humming until I realize that I’m doing it. Then it’s almost impossible to make it go away.

    So I’ve recently took out my IPod and started listening to something else. Anything else, really. Soon Christmas music will be in my head and I’ll be safe until after the New Year.

    Good luck with the runner. I look forward to seeing it complete.

    1. Oh dear – I hope bringing the subject up didn’t bring the song back! I listen to music when I stitch, too, and to audio books. I love Christmas music, so I’m sure I’ll be filling my head up with holiday tunes soon, too!

    2. The only rime I heard the bunny hop (and I BARELY remember it) was in Kindergarten P.E class. The whole class lined up outside on a wiggly and loopy chalk line that my teacher drew on the playground and “”had fun””…… Maybe that is where that “virus” was installed into your consciousness computer…..

  8. I hope that you can get that song out of your head soon. Personally I think that every one has a song like that, one that they might have heard only a few times (and wish they had not) but is the most annoying song in their opinion, but they can never set it out of their head. For me, it is Mickey (Toni Basil) I loathe that song…… I do not know all the words so the same few (chorus) pop up all the time and it HAS switched to a “stitching” song. It switched to a stitching song over a decade ago. I know I will likely have it in my head for a few days but here goes… “Oh, stitching (Mickey) you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey stitching, hey stitching” (repeat)…… I would be happy to have VanDyke in my head compared to Basil. Wanna’ trade? 🙂

  9. Just a little nagging thought in the back of my mind…I can’t remember…did you tell us how you “set” the dye of the red thread to keep it from running when you dampened it to block it? I guess I could go back and look, but I can’t stand the suspense any longer.

  10. What’s that I can hear?…… it sounds like lots of people singing ‘Stitch in Time’!! Now everyone’s doing it, Mary, it’s catching! So long as you don’t try to get up and dance at the same time as sewing!

    1. Thanks Mairi – as soon as I read the first 5 words of your comment, the song “Do you hear what I hear?” came to mind. Worst part is, I don’t know any of the other words. Just those, over and over. LOL Such musical mischief going on today.

    2. Hey, Irene, I could sing the whole song for you, if you want! When it comes to Christmas songs, I’m afraid I know alllllllllll the verses. That is a particular favorite – only because it’s the one Christmas song I had “real” sheet music to, when I was a kid. Love it! (And I still have the sheet music – torn and taped, but still usable…)

  11. Oh Mary, it doesn’t just happened with music. I was working a particularly hard stitch on a long railway journey recently and was repeating the name of the stitch to myself, absentmindedly. Just as I reached my destination I realised that I’d transferred the stitch name to the sound of the wheels grinding along the tracks. I put my work away but the wheels still chanted the stitch name. Yikes!

  12. Earworms are the WORST. The one that makes me crazy the fastest is “It’s a Small World”. Honestly, a couple of hours of that one and I get stabby. Make a playlist of your very most favorite music to sing/hum along to and sing out loud while you stitch, that almost always works for me.

    1. I wanted to jump off that ride at Disney World and swim to the end to get out! LOL! Unfortunately, I do sing aloud when I stitch. Fortunately, there’s no one around to hear me!

  13. Mmm Mary, G’day.
    That’s really interesting about the hoop timing. I’ve added that to my ‘Embroidery Techniques, Tips’ Pinterest board as a reminder to sing Dick van…..MARY, what have you done!
    Mary had a little stitch, little stich, little stitch, Mary…hey what the?!
    Cheers or whatever, Kath x

  14. My earworms are a little off compared to most folks. they tend to depend on the season. I don’t mind ‘Monster Mash’ for Hallowe’en, but ‘Glorious Night of Miracles’ for Christmas drives me bonkers. My mother is a wonderful pianist who loves Christmas and that is her favorite Christmas tune. Unfortunately, roughly 2hrs after Thanksgiving dinner she starts practicing that song. Over and over and over again. As a result, us kids started making up lyrics to it. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve lived in the house, but every time I hear that song, the lyric fairy comes out to play…


  15. My, does it sound as if you had quite the time with this project during your most recent stitching session! May your next session be serene.

  16. Mary,
    Thanks for your persistence and dedication to finish my VERY favorite project ever! I am such a huge fan of red and white and have been following this project from the beginning. I recently started a similar (but smaller!) redwork runner of my own… I’ll keep you updated on its progress.

    Again, thanks for all the ways you inspire me to be more creative!
    Warm regards,
    Ruth L

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