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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About Those Threads, the Learning Process, and a Video!


Amazon Books

So, on Monday, I launched Octoberfest! An Embroidered Kaleidoscope, and along with it, the news that there is a specialty thread pack available for those interested in stitching the project.

Now, this was a learning experience, to say the least!

In the past, I’ve never worked with a manufacturer to get any specific embroidery supplies out to go with a design. But I started toying with the idea this year, because I figure some folks might want access to specific threads.

My brain has been working around the muddle of excitement on one hand, maybe a tad touch of disappointment on the other, and lots of thoughts in between. I figure your collective minds can help me sort ideas, so I’ll tell you what’s in my head and then open it up for your feedback!

Embroidery Threads for Octoberfest!

I made some assumptions when preparing Octoberfest! to make it available for you.

Based on this conversation we had a bit ago, I assumed that the general consensus was that you’d prefer a combination of pattern and stitch guide for projects like these kaleidoscopes.

I assumed that the project itself would be the bigger draw, but what I think I’ve discovered is that it’s the materials that really resonate with stitchers.

The Magic Draw of Threads!

It seems that threads always resonate! The thread packs prepared by House of Embroidery for the project sold out really fast, well beyond the corresponding sales of the stitch guide.

The stock of 100 specialty thread cards was actually my fault. I recommended even fewer than that, because I figured folks would be more interested in the stitch guide and would likely make stash substitutions and whatnot to stitch it. Still, I was pleased that the threads would be available for those who wanted to use them. Yet I didn’t want the folks at Global Artisans (formerly Akonye Kena) to be stuck with overstock, so I went really conservative in my estimate. Fortunately, they didn’t go quite as conservative on the initial round of stock.

Interestingly enough, though, the opposite happened! People jumped on the thread packs – they were sold out in less than three hours – but the stitch guide didn’t prove to be quite so popular.

I’m not sure what the moral of this tale is. I’m still trying to process it! This has been an experimental endeavor for me – I need to work through the pros and cons of the experiment and see what it’s taught me.

Two Things about Thread

In any case, I wanted to share two points with you, in case you’re hesitating about Octoberfest! because the threads sold out.

1. The House of Embroidery threads will be restocked, and they are taking pre-orders on the next shipment, so if you want to get your name in on the next shipment, you can do that here. If you’re planning on stitching Octoberfest! with those threads (it’s fine if you’re not!), you can pick up the project guide here, so that you can have all your supplies lined up when your thread arrives.

2. The project is not dependent on the threads. You can make substitutions with any six-stranded floss in any colorway you prefer. You can use standard DMC, variegated DMC, any of the myriad overdyed stranded cottons – or even stranded silks – out there. You can change the color scheme completely. Maybe you want purple leaves and turquoise branches? Hey, that’s the great thing about surface embroidery – you can adapt any design to suit your fancy! No embroidery project is absolutely dependent on specific threads. But if you definitely want to work with the same threads in the same color ways, you can still order them.

A Wee Video

I like to produce a little overview video when I publish a project guide, to post on my YouTube channel.

Here’s the one for Octoberfest! – it’s short:

Your Thoughts?

These are the questions that I’m always asking myself when it comes to Needle ‘n Thread:

What do people want or need?
What problem can I solve for them?
How can I make them successful in their needlework pursuits?

I would love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to join in the conversation below!


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(136) Comments

  1. The problem I continually have is one I’m not sure you can solve, Mary, though other people here might be able to: the death of decent, affordable linen for surface embroidery here in the UK. I’ve previously contacted Access Commodities, for example, about Legacy Linen, and they’ve confirmed it’s not available here and there are no plans for it to be, but I’ve not found a reliable alternative that’s not horrifically expensive – wondering if any of your more experienced UK readers will see this and have suggestions!

    But I must say you’ve very definitely made me more successful in my needlework pursuits – your blog has given me so much help and direction, and I’m very grateful for it!

    1. Hi, Jack – I’m from the UK, too, and have been trying to find out where find the linen. I’ve come across sewandso.co.uk and threadsandpatches.co.uk that both sell 40 count linen. They list it as ‘Newcastle Linen’ so am not too sure it’s exactly what Mary used. The price seems reasonable.

      Mary, I bought your ebook – the designs are all lovely and just about right to get me back into embroidery again. It’s been many years since I did any and I also love including beads in my work. I intend to use spring colours (my favourite season) and look forward to selecting the threads for the project.

      Thank you for the ebook. I’ve subscribed to your newsletter for quite a few years and although I’ve not been embroidering myself, I’ve enjoyed following your projects.

    2. Hi, Jack – Well, I know it isn’t in the UK, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the UK and you can order from Europe more affordably, I’d look for Weddigen linen – their “925” is an excellent all-around linen for surface embroidery. Also, if you can wade through some of the Italian needlework sites, Sotema makes beautiful linen in all kinds of different weights and colors, suitable for general surface embroidery.

    3. Thanks, Val!! I’m glad you like the ebook!

      Newcastle is not quite the same linen that I used, but you can certainly use Newcastle. I’d definitely back it with a fine white cotton muslin (calico), to give you the support for the stitches and to give you the peace of mind that threads on the back of the fabric that might tweak out from the design area won’t show through.

    4. I have bought linen from Mace and Nairn in the UK which is now owned by The Golden Hind but if you want the Sotema you can buy that in Italy from Tombolodisegni.it. They’re very nice and efficient and have really interesting threads too. The site is in Italian but you should be able to figure it out without problem. Another good Italian site is Casa Cenina. They carry Zweigart, Vaupel and Heilenbeck, and several other brands I know nothing about. Their site is both in Italian and English.

    5. The Patchwork Rabbit lists both 36-count and 40-count as Brand: Picture This Plus
      Series: Legacy
      but says delayed dispatch. This a fairly new UK listing.
      It seems mad to have to pay for linen shipped from Europe to the US – where prices will incorporate the shipping and customs charges – and back to Europe where postage and customs will be charged.
      Patchework Rabbit

      Good luck to all of us that are trying to find embroidery linen in the UK.

    6. Hi, Helen – Hmmmm. That’s interesting! Legacy linen is a line of fine European embroidery linens, selected, imported and distributed by Access Commodities located here in the US. Incidentally, none of their linens are overdyed. I’m guessing this company uses a Legacy linen as a base fabric but does the dying themselves (like Lakeside Linens – also in the US – does, using some of the Legacy line from Access Commodities). Just a guess, though – not even sure if it’s the same base fabric.

  2. Hi Mary!

    It’s a pretty design, I like it. As you said before, it would adapt well to other seasonal palettes as well.

    When it comes to threads or patterns or both, I find that designs can stimulate my interest in threads as they show how they can be used. For instance, I got interested in some of the DMC Coloris threads when I saw the designs Elisabetta Sforza had stitched up with them. So, I bought 4 skeins and drew my own design based on hers, which I think may have been one of DMC’s own, only I can’t seem to source it.

    Having said that, sometimes it works the other way and I get a design, but not the threads etc. I recently bought 2 digital issues of ‘Inspirations’, especially for that Carolyn Pearce design in #95, which I have little intention of using anything other than what’s already in my extensive stash for – no big surprise when the kit is AU$241 and I have over 1500 threads in stock already. Last autumn at the Knitting and Stitching Show, I was very taken by the colours depicted in cross stitch designs featuring winter skies – and then bought a pack of silk fabric pieces in a similar palette (I’ve yet to work out why…..).

    I guess the point is that different parts of a design will spark off different inspiration in different people.

    1. Absolutely, Elizabeth – good point! I think it’s interesting to see what resonates with individuals, whether in needlework or anything else! Though I don’t think we could ever understand thoroughly what drives individual preferences, I think the great difference in individual preferences is what makes any art or craft vast! As for your silk fabrics in winter shades…yes, that’s sounds just like like something I would do. 🙂

  3. I did place my order with the house of embroidery, their web-site was not very computer friendly, when it
    came to filling in the blanks. Paid with pay pal, have not heard from them as to the status of my order which
    was placed immediately after receiving you email.

    Mary, I purchased your design, received the pdf right away, thank you so much. Looking forward to stitching


    1. Hi, Teri – You should definitely contact them through their website. From what I have heard, all orders have been shipped. You would have received a PayPal receipt in your email, and that would normally be your confirmation from the company that they received your order. The company probably wouldn’t contact you beyond the delivery of the PayPal receipt, since that’s part of the purpose of a system like PayPal – it takes care of sending receipts. If you didn’t receive anything confirming the order, and you’ve checked your PayPal account, I’d contact them again to verify.

  4. My thoughts on the thread selling so quickly: people were eager to add a lovely collection of overdyed threads to their stash, shipping was free, it was a limited amount so buy before its gone, I’m guessing that your pattern will always be available if they want it.
    Perhaps you should work with this person to develope future collections? They can be geared to one of your patterns, so that people can have the option to purchase it. Maybe do a limited number of kits. It seems people often rush to get things that are “limited”.
    Carol b

    1. I agree with Carol, people rush to buy when there is a perceived advantage to buying right then.
      Mary, sometimes you have introduced new ebooks with an introductory discount. Can you tell if that has had an effect on your sales? I think the current price is a great value, by the way, so I’m wondering if a price of $15 initially, $17.50 a week after launch would get more people buying right away.
      I bought the ebook and the threads yesterday, and the ebook is simply wonderful!

    2. Thanks, Carol – yes, I think that’s true. I responded to another comment below on the same subject… it’s the “limited supply” thing. A powerful tool in marketing, but I only ever use it if there is TRULY a limited supply. In this case, we really thought the threads would be limited. But there was a bit of a clamor, so the distributor contacted House of Embroidery, and they have worked out a plan.

    3. I find that Mary’s “special offer” discounts that sometimes are offered after the initial discount pushes me from havering over the decision into buying. It is sometimes the nudge I need.

  5. Continue as you are doing Mary! You offer just wonderful information for any stitcher from beginner to very advanced so what more could we ask for! I read every single one of your posts and go and explore all the sites that you talk about. I now have a wealth of tagged sites for reference if I am looking for something in particular and I usually find what I need. I depend a lot on on-line shopping since where I live, I have very limited resources in embroidery supplies. I imagine it must be difficult to come up with new ideas on a continuous basis but so far so good! I see people sending others to your site continually on Facebook so to me this is a very good sign! When I need to find a Stitch to use or if I am having problems with a particular Stitch, I always go to your Stitch videos. Please, please continue as you are doing! I just can’t see how you can improve on perfection! You Rock Mary!

  6. Mary, for me price point for the stitch guide was the problem. If the stitch guide was broken down to small project choices that would be helpful. Also I don’t want to print out a large number of pages. The project is beautiful!

    1. Hi Karen,
      Just want to point out that you don’t have to print out all the pages, just the page with the design you want to transfer. I almost never print out anything else.

    2. Far as I know you can always choose a range of pages to print.

      So for example, say a pdf is 50 pages long, you only require the information from page 35-39 printed out for quick reference. You open the pdf, select print in the file pull down menus (this works in word processing or an internet browser too) then there should be an option to input from page 35-39. So you select the radio button for Pages then type in 35-39 then hit the ok (or print) button.

    3. Hi, Karen – Thanks for your comment!

      I’m not sure I could break down a stitch guide for one project into smaller parts. For example, would folks like an option just to purchase the pattern? I suppose I could divide the pattern from the stitch guide, but I don’t know how else I could break it down. But I’d love suggestions!!

    4. Personally I wouldn’t like the stitch guide broken down. I often find information I’m not directly looking for when reading through something and ideas are often sparked off.

  7. Mary , I will use the color chart in your message to get “cottage garden ” threads from our local quilt shop…Bella’s of Ralston,Ne. I think they are still the only shop in the US to sell “Cottage Garden” threads. They are all variegated and beautiful. Jan

    1. Thanks, Jan! That’s a great idea! You’re very fortunate to have a local shop that carries threads that you can go see in person!

      Hmmmmmm. I wonder how far Ralston, NE is from me down here in Kansas….??!

  8. Thanks so much for making the threads available again. I was really disappointed when I found them sold out that morning!
    I look forward to using them to work on the Octoberfest Kaleidoscope project.

  9. Hi Mary,
    The Octoberfest pattern itself stimulated my imagination, I think mainly because the colour combinations you used to illustrate were so striking. Since I’m just getting back into needlework I don’t have a significant stash, so the threads were compelling to purchase. However, after further discussion with you, your alternative suggestion was a better choice. After downloading and reading the pattern I was amazed with the quality of your publication. It is truly great value for the price! I also value your blog with sensible well thought out advice and instruction. Thank you for all that you do. I can see that you are a practical and talented person with much to offer my fledgling foray back into embroidery.
    Sincerely, Adele

  10. I am looking forward to stitching octoberfest. Because of the limited thread supply, I ordered that right away and planned to order the pattern once the threads arrive. Others may have had this same thought.

    1. Hi, Terri – thanks for your input! Yes, I think that could very well be the case. The threads were urgent. I’m glad House of Embroidery was able to work out a plan to restock them. 🙂

  11. Love your designs Mary! Haven’t purchased this one yet but I will. So nice to have the threads available. Perhaps you could work out an arrangement with a supplier to totally kit it, including background, and both of you would benefit from it. Thanks for all you do for the embroidery community. I recommend your website and tutorials to my students all the time!

    1. Thanks so much, Kathleen! I always appreciate recommendations!

      Yes, that’s definitely a direction to look into, and it’s something I’ve batted around in my head for a while. I have one design I’m working on that involves some gorgeous threads, and I may very well pursue a full kit option with a distributor, since, in this particular case, I really think the threads make the piece more than the design! 🙂

    2. I personally like a kit option. It is hard for me to drive around all over the city, so I order often online. If I can get something in a kit, it is a major selling point to me. But that is just me….

    3. Hi, Robert – thanks for your comment! If you’re in Denver, you’ve got a great shop there called A Stitching Shop – they apparently have wonderful stock in their store. I’m hoping some day that they proliferate their website with the options, too.

      I’d like to do kits some day, but I don’t have the space for storage, kitting, shipping supplies, and all that. I’d have to rent a place, and while I am looking into that, it’ll be a bit before I have the capital to make it work.

  12. How and why do you pull threads at right angles? How many do you pull? Do you always pull threads? Also if using Mona cotton do you need a backing material?

  13. Hi Mary, as a beginner I have very little stash built up, so I would definitely order the thread or floss to go with the project. I intend to get the PDF and hopefully the thread.
    I have learned so much from you and these articles, thank you, I look forward to each and every one.

  14. Hello Mary
    I’m an adventurous kinda stitcher. I relish the thought of putting my own spin on projects. I rarely stitch exactly to the design or the recommended colours. While I respect the hours of thought and procedure the designer has put in my rebellious streak kicks in and I have to do it differently, sometimes subtly and other times drastically. I guess I see it as a spring board off which to launch. I love this design (which I could not produce myself) and your colourway. But I would love to experiment with threads, colours and stitches. It just begs for individual interpretation which I believe was your intention. Thank you for the hard work you do for us all.

    1. Thanks, Debbie! Oh yes, I like to encourage individual interpretation, because that’s when (I think, anyway) embroidery really gets fun, challenging, and satisfying. It’s not essential to enjoying embroidery – in fact, I greatly enjoy working other people’s designs, because they provide me with the most relaxing stitching experience (I don’t have to think!) – but experimenting helps stitchers stretch their skills, expand their approach, and see possibilities. So I think it’s great that you stitch from that perspective!

  15. Mary you have given me inspiration, and information that has made my new found love for embroidery satisfying and successful. I was wondering through your many articles one day and came across a tidbit on separating the threads in a 6 strand embroidery thread. That piece of information has allowed me to successfully complete many projects with joy. Thank you.
    Octoberfest allows me to try something new, stitches, beads and with threads that I would never try. It is affordable the best part.
    Keep up the good work. Keep that information coming. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much, Wanda! Yes, isn’t it funny how one little thing like separating thread and understanding how to do it easily – and the difference it makes in stitching – can make such a world of difference in the pleasure of stitching! I always marvel about the “little things” that make a huge difference in outcome with embroidery!

  16. Speaking for myself, and this might be true for some others, I tried to order the floss immediately because you stated it was limited. Since your chart was an e-book I assumed it would be there when I was ready for it. This may explain the disparity. I’ve been stitching cross stitch for 40 years, and I’m just branching out to surface embroidery and English paper piecing. I am always drawn to autumn colors and this seemed possible for a beginner. I love how detailed your help and explanations are. Despite your expertise, you never seem to forget the needs of the beginner. Thank you.

    1. Yes, I think that’s a really good point, Thea. And it seems to be the case with many who ordered the thread. It’s funny how the term “limited supply” works in marketing. I avoid using it, unless I know something is Really going to be a limited supply – and the threads, from what we initially thought, were going to be limited. But then people really wanted them. And there was a bit of a clamor, and so the folks at Akonye Kena contacted House of Embroidery to see if anything could be arranged, and they worked out a feasible plan. I felt kind of bad about using the term “limited supply” after we realized that something could be arranged to bring in more threads. :-/

  17. I have always found color to be what draws my eye to a project and depending on where you live, threads are not always available. I do not buy on the internet unless I am familiar with the fabric or thread as monitors do not give an accurate color. I do not want to be disappointed with the product that looks great and perfect on a computer screen and is not in real life. When thread packs are available it makes the process easier. I see what colors are specified and then if I don’t care for a particular shade I can change it, knowing what was used makes it easier.

  18. I am a beginner and so I don’t have a large supply of threads. Sometimes buying full skeins of thread, especially if they are more of a specialty thread and you only need a small amount, the project becomes cost prohibitive. I like full kits.

    1. Thanks, Sandra – that is a Very Good Point! Concerning these threads in particular, if you worked this particular design (and you certainly don’t have to!), the thread card will handle just about the whole design, with a little leeway for mistakes, too.

      Out of curiosity, when you buy a full kit, do you prefer kits that have partial skeins (say, cut thread, in a specific quantity, usually less than a full skein?) or do you prefer threads with a full skein or spool, so that there’s a little peace of mind, in case of mistakes and whatnot?

      This is a question I mull over often!

    2. In answer to Mary’s question: I have several kits that I could not complete with the threads given. For some, it has been all right because the threads or (crewel) wool was obtainable; others did not specify the wool or threads and I’ve been unable to complete the kits.
      If not full skeins, I would appreciate more thread or yarn. I finished one kit with approximately 4″ or thread left. The thread seemed to have been estimated with a less than 10% margin which is very close.

  19. Please don’t be disappointed! I’m one of those people who purchased the thread and haven’t yet gotten the guide. I’ve been stretching the budget limits with all the embroidery purchases,including Will Ewe Be Mine(which I also havent started) but I didn’t want to risk missing the opportunity to use the same threads. I’m planning on having Husband get me this for the holidays so I actually have a present to ENJOY! I absolutely, 100%, need a stitch guide along with a pattern of I’m not going to attempt it and am THRILLED to see you put out more-especially with a thread pack option because that lets me get straight to sanity restoring stitching after care of my feral children/household. I’m sure many are in the same boat of fear of missing out of the beautiful threads you used to create the design and are planning on picking the book up later,especially as gifting time will soon be upon us.
    In Summary: I LOVE THIS! I’ve gotten just about all of your things but I am really excited about this direction and hope-cross fingers-find four Leaf clovers- that you continue. Hopefully That Was Emphatic Enough.:) Love Love Love! There,done.:)

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Shannon! I understand the desire to get the threads while they’re available, that’s for sure! I guess I just didn’t realize how many people would want the threads and jump on them. It certainly taught me a lesson on underestimating!! (Which I always tend to do, anyway!) Thanks heaps!

  20. Mary,
    We all receive so many gifts from your wealth of inspiration and knowledge! You have inspired thousands of creative people to learn how fun and rewarding embroidery can be. You have given us what we want and need with all your free teachings and wonderful emails. You have solved every embroidery problem I ever had. You have made me successful in my embroidery experience.
    I have purchased your booklets and I want everyone to know they are top-quality patterns and full of so many cleaver tips and detailed instructions. I printed them all out and use the stitches often in other projects. It takes many months to produce a booklet like Lavender and Little things. I love your attention to detail and your inspiration. I think everyone should buy at least one of your PDF booklets to help pay for all the free things you have given us! It takes so much work to do what you do, why don’t you put a PayPal button on your site for donations so we can all send you a gift because you have given us so many! A big Thank You from everyone!

  21. I definitely prefer kits, but I’m not opposed to buying just your stitch guides – I love the kaleidoscope patterns, but was waiting til I finish a particularly painful, long-drawn out project I’m working on before starting another.

  22. I would love tips on how to cut and use overdyed threads for the best effect (or different effects). I understand that sort of information is included in the Octoberfest booklet, but I’m not sure if the tips in there are only relevant to that design, or are universal.

    1. Hi, Corinna – yes, they’re pretty much universal. And it’s not just with overdyed threads. You can apply the thread combining concepts to standard threads as well. The key is in the cutting of the overdyed and the effect you want. You have to make judicious cuts!

  23. that’s funny (not in a ha-ha way, really): your comments describe my actions. I bought the threads immediately! Why? Because I thought they would sell out. I didn’t buy the pattern right away because I thought I can do that any-old-time. I just bought it now, but would have bought it when the threads arrived. I don’t really know the logic in all this to-and-fro-ing, but there you have it. I bet sales of the booklet will match the sales of the threads in due time.

    1. Hi, Dale – thanks for that! Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s the tangible thing vs the intangible, that will be available whenever you need it. And that’s ok! Thanks for the purchase! 🙂

  24. Often, I see your project, your threads and think “I can do x instead.” In fact, I saw this thread pack and thought of a needlepoint canvas I have that would be perfect for this palette.

    1. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that, Linda! I’m glad the colors inspire you and that you have a use for them. I love ’em, and I’d love to use them on other things as well! Thanks!

  25. How to accomplish cross stitch patterns and not get off the count. Maybe it’s because I have astigmatism but I’m forever getting off count when following a chart for a detailed picture. I watched a woman display once who was very prolific in accomplishing so many charted works and she would start along one edge of the work and roll it as she went so she could take it on the plane or around with her- – – but I’ve never actually seen her do it and how ever did she manage all the little bits that change color after doing one or two stitches? Mary have you done pretty charted pictures and if so, do you always work on a frame and how do you handle those quick color changes? Do you end your thread or leave it dangle to thread through the back?
    I love the scenes like Santa Filling the Stockings but see all those quick color changes and have no idea how to make it work for me. I’ve started just buying the chart just to enjoy the photo without the stitching. Would love a sure answer but it would take a miracle to solve I’m afraid. Please advise if you can.

    1. Hi, Lilia – Thanks for your question! I’m afraid cross stitch is not really my thing. I do it now and then, but I don’t blog much about it, because Needle ‘n Thread focuses more on surface embroidery. I know there are heaps of cross stitch groups on Facebook – you might check in with one of those and ask folks for advice. There are also lots of cross stitch bloggers out there who could probably help you better than I could. Also, there’s nothing at ALL wrong with contacting the designer of a chart and asking for advice. You can look up the designer online, maybe, if you know the name, and contact the designer directly.

    2. A lot of people grid their cross stitch fabric with sulky thread to help keep them on target. I’ve yet to figure out how they get their grids so pretty, and I’ve discovered how I grid drives me *bonkers* so I generally mark the center with 2 small lines of thread, then do a single grid line out to the left from the center, then a single grid line to the top left corner so I know where the edge of the pattern is.

      Print out the pattern if/when possible and use a pencil crayon/highlighter/sharpie to ‘cross off’ the bit you just did to help know where you are in the project.

      Depending on how ‘close’ a symbol is to another symbol of the same symbol, many stitchers will either end the thread or carry it across the distance on the back. The general rule of thumb is if the distance between the spaces is more than an inch, end your thread and restart it at the new point. Otherwise the back gets really bulky.

      I tend to try to do as many stitches with 1 length of floss since threading needles is annoying, but I will change often (or use multiple needles at once) if there’s a lot of single stitches in an area.

      And if you’re intimidated by how many color changes some designs have, start smaller/simpler. A HAED or Theresa Wentzler (or those big Thomas Kinkaid disney kits) design may not be the best place for a less experienced stitcher to start. A Joan Elliott may be a better starting level (not all JE’s are easy, but some are simpler than others). And a word of caution for ‘simpler’ designs…huge blocks of a single color are just as easy to miscount on…you zone out and then go OOPS!

    3. Hi Lilia. I do a lot of cross stitch projects both large and small and I always use a frame because it prevents wrinkles that a hoop can cause and for me it is easier to handle. The downside is that it takes more space when transporting but for me the pros far outweigh the cons.
      I do start at at top left and work my way to the right and down.
      If you take the time to Grid your fabric, it can help tremendously with counting issues. I prefer to use sewing machine thread to do the grid since, for me, it is easier to remove.
      As for color changes… I try to use up each piece of thread as I go along. Once that thread is finished, I decide if I will continue with that color. If it is a big section, then yes I continue, if the section is complete, I go back to the top and start filling in with another color. If I finish a section and still have a good bit of thread left, I look to see if I can hide my ‘jumps’ under the back of something else to finish it off. If the jumps are say within 10 spaces. If it is a longer jump than that, I finish off and start anew. The deciding factor is “Which way will use the least thread.”
      Those places where you have only a few stitches of a particular color, I handle by doing a lot of starts and stops. With the patterns I’ve done, when there are a lot of color changes, the colors have been very similar to achieve shading so I very rarely have more than one color going at a time because I get confused as to which color is which.
      I hope this helps you a bit 🙂
      Dara in Wild Wonderful West Virginia

  26. The thread pack was “limited”. Hurry hurry to get one! The design and stitch guide are, hopefully, always available on line. You have a huge following, so I would bet that you could calculate a percentage of responses with accuracy. What is 30% of a bazillion? You rock!!

  27. On the question of kitting threads for a project….If I am kitting for a small group, I would kit partial amounts. I always include more for mistakes. If , as in your case, you are kitting( or having it done for you) a bazillion kits….it just is not worth the time or extra money spent on assembling the individual amounts ..imagine all those extra cards and baggies!
    Also, the stitcher will enjoy having extra to do the project again with maybe just a few added threads.
    Can you feel all the love and admiration from these people? You make me happy, thank you. Donna

    1. Thanks, Donna! Yes, that’s how I think of kitting, too. If you’re kitting for a large amount, the time you’d spend cutting and organizing partial skeins would affect the cost of the kit, anyway, without the buyer receiving a tangible good. At that point, they’re paying more for labor than for the actual goods. I’d rather put something in their hands that they can stitch with!

  28. I ordered your pattern and instructions (the pdf) and was one of the ones who also tried to order the thread and found it to be out of stock. Contrary to the statistics, I was evidently one of the few who really wanted the pattern and instructions and just considered the thread an added convenience. Once I found it wasn’t available yet, I decided to substitute my own threads. So, this probably isn’t very helpful to you when you are trying to figure out the best approach to what you provide, but I just wanted to weight in with my opinion. — Thanks, Judy

  29. I am interested in discussing lower-cost alternatives to the expensive (and wonderful) Valdeni 3-strand, or 3 ply) punch needle thread. I am familiar with DMC, but are there other “outside of the box” options that others have tried……I’m thinking about lace weight knitting “yarn,” …fiber that is not necessarily purposed for punch needle, but could work well!! Needlework on a budget is the theme here, I suppose!

  30. Mary, maybe offering the pattern at a special rate for a few days would have encouraged people to the pattern and the threads….just a thought

  31. Something on Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery would be nice. Talk about the fabrics used, the different type thread (EdMar ‘z’ twist) the use of Milliner needles and why we use them.

    1. Hi, Sharon – Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve covered all these topics on Needle ‘n Thread, aside from trigger cloth, which is something I’ve only used once. It’s admittedly not a favorite fabric choice. But Brazilian embroidery – the techniques, anyway – can certainly be worked on other cloth. Maybe it wouldn’t be called “Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery” at that point, but just plain dimensional embroidery. 🙂 But all the rest – z twist, milliner needles, and even most of the stitches have all been covered at some point on Needle ‘n Thread. The easiest way to find topics is to use the search feature in the main menu. This is one article dedicated to milliners: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2010/06/perfect-french-knots-perfect-bullions.html but I’ve got heaps of articles about the different embroidery needles and what they’re used for, if you search “embroidery needles” on the website. The stitches are covered under “How To” and “Tips & Techniques” and if you search z-twist or s-twist on the site, you’ll come up with several articles discussing the subject and how the different twists in different threads including rayons affect the stitch. Hope that helps!

  32. This reminds me of the popularity of mini skeins of yarn right now for knitting. There are literally hundreds of people selling these.

    Also, at a fiber festival I recently went to, there were also mini bundles of fiber to spin in packs with different colors or gradients of colors. Knitting shawls with gradients of color are very popular at the moment. So I think your thread pack is working on the same theme. I have a hard time choosing colors to go together so a ready made pack is very alluring that way.
    I had bought some DMC variegated floss last year so I’m planning on buying the pattern and trying out stitching with that.I’m so glad it worked out so well! Thank you for your dedication to beautiful things.

  33. Well I for one am being slow and haven’t bought either the book or threads yet. I do plan to buy the book and maybe the treads. My problem is cost. I think your price is very fair for what you get, but I usually have to wait for extra money in my pocket. The threads I will have to decide if I want to use them or something from my stash. I do like kits with everything in it (like crewelwork.com). But sometimes that is also something I have to consider the cost.

    So, I guess what I am saying is – that some plan to purchase the book, but have to wait a bit for one reason or another. I think it is a shame not to purchase the two together. Obviously you meant the threads to be a part of the experience. I think maybe trying a few more this way and see how things turn out? I love your e-books and wouldn’t want them any other way!


  34. Hello Mary,

    I loved the Octoberfest guide. I will purchase the guide because I fell in love with it.
    As for the threads I have so many that I will use the ones that I have. Of course the result may be a little different but close enough.

    So I say keep these beautiful projects coming because we will always be purchasing them for sure.

    Have a great day.

    1. 🙂 Thanks, Louise! Yes, I think stitch guides alone are especially useful for those who have a large stash and who are comfortable with selecting colors and threads. I hope you enjoy the project!

  35. Personally I fell in love with the Octoberfest when I saw it and as my stash of threads equals my stash of quilting fabric, I didn’t hesitate to purchase the booklet. That said, I am always looking at new threads with visions of projects to come. The saying “You can never have too much fabric.” flows over into my collection of threads. Of all the books, patterns, etc. I have collected over the years I have learned more from your site than I could have hoped for. Thread painting is my present passion and with your help, and the book I purchased by Trish Burr, I am getting better at it all the time. So I would have to say that first is the design, then the threads, the fabric to work on, and the stitch guide. My hope is that my ramblings have helped you just a little in deciding on what you offer to us. My latest “find” was some gorgeous linen in a shade of ivory that will become the Octoberfest. Thank you for sharing your amazing talents with those of us who love to do hand embroidery.

  36. Thought, offer a set with threads and one with only the guide to start with. There those of who trust choices in picks by others (like you). Or offer sets of threadsome for each project with ordering the guide.

  37. I bought the ebook and it is amazing. I especially look forward to learning how to do that color shading. I have learned a lot from you and your website. I followed your tutorial on long and short stitch (or needle painting ) and learned a lot. It turned out well enough that my mother wanted it and she now has displayed on her coffee table. I always look forward to your newsletter.

  38. Hello, Mary Corbet! I have been following your newsletter and blog for about six months, and am thrilled with the very clear instructions and the super organization of the tutorials. I am really grateful to you for the very thoughtful, accomplished and clearly labor-intensive blog. It’s a work of love.

    I am a garment sewer, and mostly use embroidery to enhance clothes that I make.

    I learned some embroidery with my grandaughter (9 years old) about a year and a half ago. We took a craftsy course together in the summer. Very fun. I’ve been stitching away ever since.

    I would enjoy more ideas about to embellish necklines, cuffs, hems, and that sort of thing. I use feather stitch a lot, but would branch out if I knew how. I’m probably never going to frame up my work and hang it on the wall. No space, for one thing.

    Thank you for all you do.

    1. Hi, Dorothy – My niece and I were just recently discussing simple, quick embroidery for the hemlines of skirts or the necklines of shirts. I don’t do a lot of clothes embroidery, because I don’t sew, but there are definitely plenty of pre-made items that could do with a splash of color! I might tackle this one in the future!

  39. Hi Mary!

    For me, I absolutely intend to order the pattern/guide, I just chose to wait until I actually receive the threads. Since your pattern will be on your site, I wanted to put my money toward the threads first to ensure I got them, and then I wouldn’t feel as guilty for indulging on even more embroidery supplies if I let a little time pass between the purchases instead of both at once. If the threads had been something that didn’t have that worry of being limited, I think I’d be more likely to get the pattern first.

  40. I loved the October fest project, both then threads and the pattern. So I immediately pressed the link for the threads….”sold out” so I didn’t down load the pattern. Being fairly new to stitching I find it most difficult choosing colours. If I can see a picture with colours I like I’m fine but starting from scratch is anagonising, dithery process of sewing, unpicking and indecision. I really liked your idea of purple leaves but what shade I ask myself.. ..
    Many thanks for your wonderful news letters and videos. I have spend many afternoons with you learning how to sew.

  41. As a well stocked ‘just in case’ stitcher – I love someone making up packages for me. Just slip them in a ziplock and grab one as you head out on vacation or a weekend away. I loved the beautiful fall colors (I live in Alberta and we’re just getting into fall). Thank you for making this so easy to enjoy!

  42. Hi Mary,
    I plan on purchasing ocktoberfest, but I ordered the threads first before they sold out. I wasn’t fast enough so I’m on the pre-order list now. Since I can purchase and download the instructions anytime, I’ve delayed ordering. My plan is to take my download to Kinko’s and print it in color on sturdy paper and spiral bound! I can definitely see the kaleidoscope in other seasonal colors-in fact I ordered some spring inspired thread from House of Embroidery along with my preorder!

  43. Hi Mary,
    I plan on purchasing ocktoberfest, but I ordered the threads first before they sold out. I wasn’t fast enough so I’m on the pre-order list now. Since I can purchase and download the instructions anytime, I’ve delayed ordering. My plan is to take my download to Kinko’s and print it in color on sturdy paper and spiral bound! I can definitely see the kaleidoscope in other seasonal colors-in fact I ordered some spring inspired thread from House of Embroidery!

  44. Mary,

    Your website has been truly delightful. I picked up an embroidery book at my library in January this year, and had so many questions, all of which were answered by your website. I stumbled across it when I was desperate for a video on Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch, and when I began browsing I found your project journals, your talks on threads and fabrics, your explorations of others’ designs as well as your own, and best of all the little tips that slipped in here and there (like stripping floss or the importance of needle size). They don’t just give me the help I need for the level I’m stitching at, they also give me goals for higher levels. These things have made me feel more comfortable in and more delighted with the world of embroidery and its possibilities. Thank you! I haven’t found a book yet that could give all the help that your website does.

    Your Octoberfest! design is beautiful. I am more attracted to it than the thread pack; I love to choose colors, but am genuinely awful at designing my own patterns.


  45. Hi Mary,
    Although I am pretty much a beginner, I like to design my own projects. I don’t have much time (or patience) so I don’t tend to practice, do samplers or courses.
    I do however buy ebooks, watch videos etc when there is a particular stitch or technique I want to know more about. For example, I bought your lattice sampler because I want to do a lattice filling on a project and wanted to learn how to do that.
    I will buy octoberfest in future. I am planning a landscape and need to learn how to shade.
    I will also eventually buy your “small things” ebook to learn how to finish small projects. I can’t buy them all at once because I have a STRICT one project at a time policy. Otherwise, chaos would reign.

  46. In my case, I didn’t have time to jump on either bandwagon this week. When I actually had enough leeway to take a few minutes for lunch, I decided to use those minutes to order the thread because your posting said it was in limited supply. I figured I would order your ebook later in the week. As it turns out, the thread was already sold out and I haven’t had another spare minute to place either order. Maybe other people reacted in the same way. The thread pack, while great, Doesn’t serve a purpose without your ebook. At least to me. Second, it is hard for me to pick project colors as successfully as you do. So I do like having information about what thread colors you use as well as where and what stitch you use. Flagrant plagiarism, I know. But with the little time I have it’s wonderful to be able to ride the coattails of all your hard work and have some semblance of hope that I can create something to be proud of. And as my mother said, if you don’t like the end result, find someone you don’t care for and give it to them. You will earn points in Heaven and have the satisfaction of baffling the person. lol.

  47. I think people jumped on the threads first because they know they are limited. On the other hand, we can get your stitch guide later. Like next week.

    Just my two cents. ❤️

  48. Mary, I bought both your stitch guide and the threads. The reason I bought the threads was that the description indicated you would give hints on using the threads to create and control color changes. When taking sewing lessons, I have learned that it is always best to use the teacher’s supply list since they have been tested with the technique being taught. I can focus on the new technique, not figuring out if I am having a problem because of the supplies I substituted. I wanted the threads I was using to match the instructions and pictures you were providing. The threads are beautiful and will work nicely with the project I am planning, but as you correctly thought, I would be going through my threads on hand in my favorite colors if I had had more confidence in my abilities and only needed a pattern to follow. I needed your instructions and references to your videos. Thanks for doing the stitch guide.

  49. Hi Mary,
    Not to worry too much about embroiderers buying the thread packs and not the pattern. I immediately bought a thread pack because the design as you worked it was lovely and I wanted to be able to replicate it. The threads were advertised as limited stock, and I did not want to miss out. When I checked your pattern I discovered it is a pdf and will be available after the threads are sold out. I am on a limited budget, and am purchasing materials in Canadian dollars which have a very unfavourable rate of exchange. I will therefore get the pattern pdf with my next embroidery ‘allowance’.
    I also want to commend you for working with this company, which provides work for artisans in Africa. I looked at the website of this company, and their other offerings, and they look enticing. While there are many suppliers in North America, and I do try to support them, I feel that it is right to spread the business around.

  50. Threads Threads and Threads. I use them, store them, touch them, play with them. I love threads from my very core! I can never have enough Threads! Threads make my life complete!!

  51. Love the designs and video. What’s the cost if shipping to the UK? Will look at odering the pattern stitch guide when on a laptop and not a tablet. Supplies is always a pull as sourcing them oneself can often be from difficult to impossible unless you happen to have access to a good supplier you can trust. Keep up the great work. Warm regards, Julia O’Gara

  52. We at our embroidery group here in new zealand appreciate the work you put in to creating and providing us with patterns. Most of us prefer the pdf patterns and then choose our own threads. NZ is so far from anywhere that this works for us. We would not take advantage of your efforts by buying the threads and not the pattern your patterns are so versatile. Thank you. Leigh Hutchinson

  53. I am really waiting for your Kaleidoscope pattern to come out. I like Octoberfest, but know it will sit in my basement. Threads are always enticing.

  54. Mary – I love your work and color sense. I have bought several of your books including Octoberfest. I admit to being a thread junkie . Add the words discount and free shipping is so seductive. I have several of their thread collections from when you last mentioned them. Wonderful Threads to work with so I immediately ordered the Octoberfest Threads. If I use them as you show I don’t know, but they are in the stash.

    You are a dangerous woman in my life. I now own more floche than ever, bought out HedgeHog before they closed, own custom slate frames with mini legs, a new custom fire-screen, convinced Lisa at French Needle to bring in Au ver Soie metallics which I promptly bought all colors and
    6 of the photo storage multi boxes to store
    Kreinik, AVS silks, floche, pearl, gold, Vikki
    Clayton silks as well as 3 bead boxes. ALL FABULOUS! Thank you, Thank you for all the research and work you do for your legion of stitching fans!

  55. Mary, I’m probably one of the few folks out there who don’t like kits. I go for the pattern first. First off, I love your patterns. I’ve bought a couple of your e-books and really like them.

    I find that I really really like buying my own thread and dyeing it myself. I hate dry cleaning and I don’t like thread that bleeds. Most of my embroidery goes on clothing, so the threads have to wash. (Sometimes over and over again). So buying my own thread and really being careful with dyeing works great for me.

    I love Sotema. I’m in America and still order my linen from Sotema.

    So why haven’t I bought the latest design? I’m still fumbling through my patterns to see what I can put it on. I’m thinking the swoop on grey, sort of like grey sky with falling leaves. But so far, I haven’t decided on pants or blouse. But, it’s in the queue.

    I have a list of what I’d like to stitch in a binder…with small thread snips…then I add the pattern and off I go.

    Right now, you are 3 or 4 ahead. But keep them coming. I just finished one of your alphabet letters on the back of a quilt label. I made a Lavender Honey for one of my classes, and boy was my instructor impressed! I love your stitch guides.

  56. Your stitch guide looks like a winner, however I am poor. The quality threads are an asset that can add greatly to my own creations. Hence it was easy for me to see why the threads sold out so quickly. The remedy seems to be having access to routine threads, vs special collections. To state the volumes needed of various DMC thread color numbers, of six different compatible colors, could ease the rush on the limited selection of Akonye Lena over dyed threads. When the obvious choice would be to draw from my own stash, specific colors identified, I could be more frugal and invest in your project guide.

  57. Mary, This is an addendum to my previous comment, since it just occurred to me when several others mentioned budgets. We are at the end of the month and I had to weight the desire of purchasing the ebook and/or threads over necessities. I had to do some thinking and figuring to find the funds to purchase your ebook, since I really wanted it. I think the price is in line with the value received, so I don’t mean the price as a complaint. But it is the end of the month and my normal ‘free’ funds had already been spent. I bet you will also see more sales once the first rolls around again. Don’t despair, I’m sure you will see an up tick in the sales of your ebook.

    1. 🙂 My brother – who is Mr. IT Guy and All Things Online – told me once upon a time, if you’re going to sell something online, launch it at the beginning of the month or the middle of the month, but never at the end of the month. I suppose there is definitely some wisdom in that! 🙂

    1. Hi, Marty – the coupon code is in the article above. It’s Corbet20. You shouldn’t have to check out twice on the threads page, if you’re purchasing more than one thread thing. But if you mean the e-book and the thread are two different check out processes, yes, that’s true, because I’m selling the e-book, but Akonye Kena sells the threads. I don’t sell tangible goods at this time, because I have no place to store, package, ship, etc. Some day, perhaps! 🙂

  58. This is fascinating! I agree that I thought the fabulous pattern would trump the threads. It’s not like it’s a huge thread selection! Perhaps because the pattern is a pdf the shoppers knew it wouldn’t sell out but the thread might (and did). I bought both but the threads were just a convenience (I’d have bought marked linen, too, if you had offered it!).

    Thanks so much for all you do and I’m excited about this pattern!

  59. Mary,
    You have a lovely blog that I read almost every day. Please don’t ever give that up. I have found a lot of good advise and inspiration from your blog. I have only bought one of your ebooks so far, your Lavender Honey book, and it is a wonderful book. I thouroughly enjoy watching you stitch along on your projects, especially the Kaleidoscope projects, they have really caught my eye. Keep up the wonderful work please, I know a lot of ladies who read your blog and love it.

  60. I loved your concept of presenting the pattern/instructions with the curated thread selection. I was able to purchase both & can’t wait for the threads to arrive. The colors you chose are saturated & rich and perfect for the season. I think it would be fun to work up the pattern with bright, cheerful colors for Spring. The design is delicate & engaging and I love that you present so many variations!

  61. I have used your stitch videos a ton, both for myself and for my four-year-old daughter. She’s been watching me embroider and wanted to try, so we would watch your video of each stitch until she felt like she could try it. (She did a great job – it was quite remarkable.) I can sometimes learn a new stitch from photos, but she definitely needed the video.

    I also love reading your Stitch Play series and your posts about how you approach different challenges and decisions. That stuff is really interesting to me.

    I’m less interested in patterns and threads, though I’m probably the odd one out in that regard. Coming from a fine art background, using someone else’s design feels quite strange to me, so I’d rather create my own patterns. And I’ve learned from long experience that art supplies that are expensive or not easily replaceable mostly just stress me out. I probably need to deal with that someday, but for now I’ll stick to relaxing with what I have on hand.

  62. Mary, I love that you have given your followers several options for creating your kaleidoscope projects. I enjoy stitching with my own color wave mostly because I have such a large thread stash. Then again it is nice to see your creative color wave and perhaps new threads that I may not currently own. I am such a ardent fan or your work, website and blogs. Stay healthy and we will all be happy. Frantoria

  63. I’m one of the lucky few with an excellent local needlework shop, so I don’t need to buy threads or fabric online. Postage to Australia can be horrendous and that helps limit the temptation of specialty threads. Over the years I’ve accumulated a reasonable library of design sources, so I rarely buy patterns for surface embroidery. What I do buy is books – print or pdf – for what I can learn about techniques. I’ve been delighted with your Lattice Jumble Sampler and Stitch Fun Alphabet and Lavender Honey and Shisha and your tutorials on needle painting. I haven’t bought Oktoberfest (it’s pretty, but not me), but if you put together a collection of all your kaleidoscopes I will certainly buy that because I know I will learn a lot from reading your instructions.

    1. Hi, Elaine! Thanks for your comment! Oh yes, you are very fortunate to have a local needlework shop. I have to drive two hours to get to one around here, but sometimes … sometimes! … it’s worth a day out!

  64. How do you overcome the fear of starting a new project that’s very daunting? I keep looking at it like it’s got cooties. Just thought I’d ask. Thanks.

    1. One step at a time! 🙂 I actually have an article slotted for this topic…well, similar to this, covering the same concept. It’s on my publishing calendar for the not-too-distant future!

    1. Hi, Cathy – I added you to the list – you’ll receive a confirmation email in your inbox, with a link to click to confirm the subscription. If you don’t find it in your inbox, please check your spam filter. You can also email me directly at mary(at)needlenthread(dot)com if you have any questions! Thanks!

  65. Hi Mary. I would love to purchase the pattern for Octoberfest! but I live in South Africa and the Rand/Dollar conversion works out way to expensive plus I then still have to pay postage and packaging. I haven’t seen the price of the thread yet but I would really love to acquire it – again depending on the conversion and posting and packaging.

    1. Hi,Rhona – Thanks for your comment! Octoberest is an ebook, so it is delivered via a download link in your email. There are no packaging or shipping costs. The thread colors are listed in the ebook, and they are actually available in South Africa through House of Embroidery threads, so you should be able to buy them locally. Hope that helps!

  66. Hi Mary, Octoberfest is one of the most original and pretty designs I’ve seen. The stitches are not challenging so it is a project both for the novice as well as the more-experienced stitcher who wants to complete an engaging work quickly. I think you should look into partnering with a thread company to promote your designs. The same goes for the Christmas pattern you have just posted.

    1. Thanks, Catherine! Gosh, I’m glad you like it! I’m hoping to work with more thread companies in the future. I’ve got a couple other designs in the works that have specific threads in them, but I think it’s also good to offer substitutions. We shall see! Thanks again!

  67. Hi, Mary, My initial interest was the stitch guide. I cross stitch but am moving toward more embroidery. I do admit to being disappointed that the thread was already sold out, and I will be buying it now.

    1. Hi, Janet – they have about 60 left round the next round of pre-orders last I heard, so if you get your order in now, it should go out in the next week or so, with the incoming pre-orders!

  68. I like the idea of specialty threads to go with a specific project and if there is a kit available for a pattern, I always get the kit. I don’t necessarily want to do the project straight away but I prefer to get all the supplies together so I can start when I’m ready. Like you, I do love thread and patterns and materials and everything else to do with embroidery. I also know you’re a big fan of getting kits together with all the bits and pieces. I’m looking forward to doing the Octoberfest project.

  69. I got to get this thread pack from the gentleman who is the US distributor when I was at PIQF (Pacific Internation Quilt Festival) this last weekend. It was so fun to see so many thread combinations from House of Embroidery! Hugs H

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