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!



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