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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Holly & Evergreens: A Stitching Break – and a winner!


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Sometimes, you just need a stitching break!

Now, don’t get me wrong. By stitching break, I don’t necessarily mean a break from stitching! I mean a project that’s a stitching break. It breaks up more demanding projects; it’s relaxing; it’s comfortable; it’s fun. And it might even serve a good purpose!

That’s the kind of project I’m working on right now. It’s my stitching break, between some more demanding needlework. It’s very simple. And the finished embroidery will make a terrific addition to a Christmas gift basket.

So let’s take a look at my “stitching break” project! I’ll tell you a bit about it and why it’s perfect for this time of year.

I’ll also announce the winner of last Friday’s Stitcher’s Christmas give-away at the end of the article, so read on through, because it just might be you!

Holly & Evergreens Christmas embroidery corner design

I’m working on a recent adaptation of this Boughs of Holly embroidery design that’s been available here on Needle ‘n Thread for a while.

I’ve filled the design out a bit with some evergreen twigs and speckled in a few more berries. I’ve also broken the design down into a couple smaller embroidery patterns, for stitching a coordinating series of things more quickly.

It’s a fun and cheery pattern. I like the new version with the evergreens mixed in a little better than the earlier design. The evergreen bits fill out the design and balance it a bit.

Holly & Evergreens Christmas embroidery corner design

The whole design is stitched only in four stitches, but each stitch brings a particular look or texture to the finished piece.

This time of year, I like to keep things simple. Even though the world seems to be winding up towards Christmas rather than down, as December glides forward, I like to wind things down. I like things to be quieter. Simpler. Less complicated. And this type of embroidery project – which is easy to pick up and put down, to tote around, to “veg” with in the evening – helps keep things simple and relaxed!

And so, with that in mind, I transferred the revised design onto the corner of a flour sack towel, picked up some suitable greens, reds, and browns, grabbed a hoop, some scissors, and a needle or two, and started stitching!

I’ll be able to use the finished towel to line a gift basket for Christmas. If I don’t get around to the whole basket, I can use it to wrap up a bottle of wine. Either way, I’ll be adding a personal touch to a gift. Embroidery is terrific for that!

Holly & Evergreens Christmas embroidery corner design

There’s no pressure in stitching a project like this. You can do it while you’re visiting with friends or family. You can take it with you to work and pull it out on your lunch break. You can stitch it in the car or on the train while you’re commuting.

It’s a wonderful companion when you’re listening to a favorite audiobook or your favorite radio station.

It’s the ideal type of project if you like to stitch while watching a movie or TV – there’s nothing to count, you won’t lose your place, there are no complicated switches to new and unknown stitches!

And it’s not a project to obsess over. So what if the holly berries aren’t perfectly round?!?

And while a corner design this size doesn’t necessarily work up fast (you won’t start and end it in one evening or one day, like you would with some of my Twelve Trees for Christmas designs), it’s the type of project that you’ll look forward to getting back to in the evening, or snatching up whenever you have a few minutes of time. It can easily be finished in less than a week, if you’re an evening stitcher.

Yep. I’m enjoying the heck out of this project! I’ll probably finish it tonight. Then what?! (I might have to do anther variation!)

I’m planning to put this design and two variations together with a simple materials and stitch guide for you. Keep an eye out for it!

Crewel Kit Winner!

And we can’t forget the give-away series going on right now – A Stitcher’s Christmas is well underway! Last Friday, courtesy of the Crewel Work Company, the give-away focused on a beautiful Christmas crewel embroidery kit.

The randomly drawn winner for the crewel kit is Rosalyn Schultz! Congratulations, Rosalyn – I will drop you an email. Please look for it and reply as soon as possible!

If you have your heart set on the redwork crewel kit We Three Kings from the Crewel Work Company, you’ll find it available here. There’s still time to get it wrapped and under the tree!

See on you Friday, with another exciting installment of A Stitcher’s Christmas! Think: silk and scissors!


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(17) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    This will be lovely especially in a basket or as wrapping for a Christmas present, great idea. I love red and green and I like the different tones of colour you have used and the varied stitching it looks very relaxing. I like projects where you can relax and watch a film or listen to audio books can’t think of anything better. Thanks for sharing with us your latest project and for the photos. Sadly I didn’t win the crewel kit but congratulations to Rosalyn I hope you enjoy your prize and thanks Mary for the give-aways very generous of you.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. I can’t think of anything much better right now, either, Anita! I’m already looking forward to PJ Time tonight! I’m listening to an old favorite (Scarlet Pimpernel) read by a really enjoyable narrator. Once I get the Christmas tree & nativity up, I’ll probably opt for Christmas music or something, but right now, I can’t wait to get back to that book!

      I’m kind of jealous of Rosalyn, admittedly! LOL! πŸ™‚

    2. Dear Mary

      Scarlet Pimpernel one of my favourite books, I hope you have a good PJ time and I bet your Christmas tree and Nativity will look lovely. If you opt for Christmas music enjoy. I’m very jealous of Rosalyn such a lovely give-away. Oh well perhaps next time.

      Regards Anita Simmance

    3. Oh, my goodness! SCARLET PIMPERNEL is a favorite of mine also. My poor paperback is in pieces, it is so old and has been read so many times. I need to replace it! Audio books are a problem, since I cannot seem to multitask listening with my stitching. Congratulations to Rosalyn and better luck to all of us next time!

  2. I am loving the towel stitching! I plan on doing something similar as a gift for my Mom for next Christmas on a set of reusable cloth napkins. Looking forward to seeing the stitch guide from you! I’ve just gotten back into embroidery for the first time since childhood. Your patterns have so much variety to them, other pattern places like DMC rely very heavily on satin stitch/long and short, which is fine, just gets boring. πŸ™‚

  3. Congratulations to Rosalyn! Mary, the original was pretty but the sprigs of evergreen added a nice touch and makes it even more elegant. I see one section of the original holly I might stitch up for an ornament. I love home made ornaments and it’s been a long time since I made any. I did make one this year with my printer/photo fabric-printed a photo of my dog that passed away this summer. I put it on a foam half ball and did that folded fabric technique on the back side. Now I think I’ll do a small holly ornament. I usually have one more complex stitching item and one easier item to work on all year because I need to have a break from the harder one. To work months or years on a project can be self defeating-I need some smaller or easier projects in between so I feel like I accomplished something along the way. If I didn’t do it that way I would finally abort the harder project and probably never go back to it. I have several unfinished items tucked away that I swear I’ll finish but probably won’t. It only gets worse as I get older. I’ll start my holly ornament tonight and look forward to the revised design. I think it would be beautiful enlarged enough to make a nice little accent pillow, bordered in a nice Christmas print.

  4. Mary,

    Your article on the “Boughs of Holly” inspired me to get out my flour sack towels from Mary’s Kitchen and stitch up some Christmas gifts. Question: Do you wash your flour sack towels before you stitch or after? Thank you.

  5. I love the design, so simple yet so beautiful. You inspire me, Mary, to keep working at my embroidery skills and to find joy in it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love this! What stitch are the holly leaves done with? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before, it’s beautiful. It looks like tiny connected knots. I thought it was chain stitch at first. Thank you!

  7. Hi Mary, it’s turning out beautifully. Just one request..could you post its pic once it’s completed? I too started on this design of yours about 4 yrs back.. bit somehow got bored and kept it aside.. I still look at it, don’t want to waste it..this variation seems very interesting..maybe I could do it on my towel too.

  8. Hi Mary, Thank you for the give away. My favorite tool currently is my magnifier. As my eyes are aging it allows me to keep doing what I love and doing it correctly.

  9. Putting aside your needle, hoop or frame, and scissors, tell us about your favorite needlework accessory or tool and why it’s your favorite!

    My Stella light would be my favorite aside from those listed above. I love that I can change the type of lighting and the levels of light as well. Depending on the day and what I’m stitching on, it really allows me to see clearly while I’m stitching.

  10. Mary what stitches did you use for the Holly and Berry corner design. I new at this just do the basics. Thank you for your generously and help

  11. Next to the obvious tool you mentioned I can not be without my Daylight clip on magnifiers. I use them for any & all hand stitching.

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