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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Tool Talk: a Tool Block, a Laying Tool, and a Stork


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To tell you the truth, the stork shouldn’t be in today’s title. But I figure questions will come up – since they are scissors, after all, and needleworkers have A Thing for scissors – so I’m including them, too.

It’s been a while since we’ve done some Tool Talk! Needleworkers love their tools, so now and then, I like to highlight some tools on the market that are exceptional.

Today, I’m highlighting a tool block with its matching laying tool and a pair of stork scissors. The tool block and laying tool are made from gorgeous, hand-turned wood, so if you have A Thing for beautiful wood tools, then wake up! You’ll love these!

Tool block for needlework tools

This tool block, which features an accompanying laying tool fitted perfectly into the center of the block, comes from the skilled hands of James Carter at Stitch in Turn.

Stitch in Turn is James’s wood-working business, where he makes a variety of gorgeous wood tools for needlework out of all kinds of woods. He’ll even customize tools for you, if you have something specific in mind.

I’ve been following his wood-turning adventures on Instagram for quite a while, and I was really excited when I saw that he was experimenting with tambour hooks. It’s so hard to find nicely weighted, well made tambour hooks in the US. Mostly, we just have the cheapy little lightweight ones. So, needless to say, when I saw the tambour hook, I was… hooked.

The tambour hooks aren’t on his site yet, but I will show you mine later on (with a little project I’m working on), if he decides to pursue making them.

In the meantime, he makes lovely seam rippers, gorgeous telescoping magnets, and all kinds of laying tools. And I think the tambour hook will fit right into his line-up.

Tool block for needlework tools

Speaking of laying tools, the one that comes with this particular tool block fits perfectly into the middle of the block.

The tool block is a decoratively turned piece of wood with holes in the top where you can put your tools. There are larger holes for scissors, laying tools, and the like (even pens or pencils) and tiny holes, where you can insert fine needle threaders and the needles you’re working with.

Tool block for needlework tools

On this particular tool block, the raised ornamental center features a hole into which the matching laying tool fits. The laying tool is everything a laying tool should be – glass-smooth, nicely weighted, comfortable to hold, and, in this case, sharply tipped. There’s a little rubber tubing that goes over the sharp tip to protect it.

The whole tool block is small enough to fit easily on a side table without taking up much room, but still keeping all your needful tools at the ready. And it’s beautiful enough to leave out!

Tool block for needlework tools

I’m loving my tool block & the laying tool. I’ve been using them practically daily since they arrived.

And admittedly, I’m twitterpated with the tambour hook – but that’s a conversation for another day!

If you were at the ANG seminar in Houston, you may have seen James there as a vendor. He’ll be at the EGA Seminar in November in St. Louis, so you can look him up there. You can also visit his Etsy shop, where you’ll see all kinds of things he makes and the types of woods he can make them from. Pin cushion bases, telescoping magnets, pens, laying tools, laying tool cases, tool blocks, seam rippers. *Sigh*

There’s a turn-around time on custom orders (you indicate the type of wood you’d like and so forth), but you can communicate with him to find out what’s in stock and ready to ship, or to chat about what you’d like. As he put it, “I tell customers all the time when discussing orders that I would rather have 30 conversation on Etsy for us to get them exactly what they want, than to have someone order something that they may like, but wasn’t perfect because of 1 detail that we had not talked about.”

James has been doing this for a while, so he’s not a start-up. He’s got a good production cycle, where he builds inventory to prepare for events and takes custom orders along the way.

Those Storks

I don’t think I’ve shown you my storks before. So here they are:

DOVO stork scissors

These are DOVO storks. They’re really the only stork embroidery scissors that I’ve ever liked, and I’ve had a few storks over the years.

These have small, fine blades, are nicely weighted, and have the characteristic smooth working mechanism associated with all good DOVO scissors. They’re so very nice.

Not to mention, their two-toned plumage is really pretty!

If you’re looking for them, you’ll find the 3.5″ storks available in the States through Needle in a Haystack.

And please don’t blame me for feeding your scissor obsession!

Or your tool obsession, for that matter.

But really – what’s not to love? Beautiful wooden tools! Nice scissors! They’re perfect gifts – for yourself, or for someone you love.

And now it’s time to go make use of some tools and get this work day underway… see you soon!


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(13) Comments

  1. Good morning, Mary,

    What a pleasant surprise to read about James Carter’s woodworking! I purchased a tool block from him about two years ago – in a wood similar to yours. It is beautiful and keeps everything at the ready! I’ve communicated with his wife, also. Together they make a very good business team. I was also happy to read on his Etsy site that he will be “turning” full-time now. Terrific news for needleworkers!

    Warm regards,
    Sandy Frye

  2. I can’t believe I only use some plain metal scissors to trim embroideries. Those storks are so beautiful, Mary. I don’t know why I have the feeling that I would feel more elegant and refined using a pair like that, haha.

  3. Love the tools! I’ve been searching for a pair of embroidery scissors that have a gold color pineapple-I’ve only found a bright green pineapple. I’d also love a pair of those Mother of Pearl Swan scissors but they’re a bit pricey for me. I love my little expensive Dovo scissors and would love the storks but can’t afford another pair at this time and I’m happy I have that one pair-they were worth every penny since they’re so sharp and I have a nice pair of Kai scissors for my wool applique-not that expensive but they’re nice and cut wool all the way to the tip-an important feature. I think Mr. Carter’s wooden items are reasonably priced. I did some turning on a lathe in my younger years and it was so fun and turns out so beautiful. Have a great day!

  4. Now I have a very serious case of covet-itis!! I love wood and beautifully made wooden pieces like this are something I drool over, but never buy for myself. Putting them on my Christmas list is a thought, but I have to convince anyone who buys for me to actually CHECK the list (hasn’t happened yet!!).

  5. How beautiful! I’m still figuring out how to keep a tiny pair of ex-manicure scissors on or about my person for snipping orts. Currently they’re stuck to a magnet in my pocket (which also holds a darning needle for weaving in ends). I feel I can probably beautify this solution to some extent from materials to hand, though obviously not to the extent shown above!

    Looking forward to hearing more about the tambour hook! I find tambour fascinating (reading up online is how I found NeedlenThread), but pretty much all the resources I can lay my hands on are about the beading side of it, which doesn’t interest me so much.

  6. Since this is the first time I comment let me thank you for all the incredible information that you provide to us. Love your website, your videos, your embroidery and your books (I got a few). Thank you for teaching us so much.
    This tool block is beautiful. I love tools and have quite a few, particularly scissors. A while back I bought a couple of shaker style wood boxes to keep most tools, including embroidery scissors and laying tools. For larger scissors and other sewing tools I have been using wood pipe holders. Got the idea from a book and the pipe holder from Ebay. Love them!
    But after seeing this block I am tempted to add to the collection.

  7. I bought a tekobari case from him just recently- had to wait a bit as he had just quit the general “workforce” and was playing catch up, but it came out beautifully. Just need to get a true tekobari for it now. Bought one on Ebay and it was most definitely NOT a true tekobari- too long.

  8. This is a beautiful tool Mary! I’ve just been marvelling at the beautiful grain in the wood and how nicely polished and pointy the laying tool is. Wooden tools do have such a lovely feeling in your hand and are a pleasure to use. 🙂

  9. I am just beginning to explore tambour so I can barely wait for your future articles on this. I am particularly inspired by the Aari thread work that I saw in India a few years ago. I understand that the use of a hook for embroidery in Asia significantly predates its introduction to French couture uses. If you have any information on the history of the technique, I think it would be a very interesting article. As always, thank you for your generosity in sharing such a wide variety of excellent information!

    1. Hi, Rose Mae – You might check out any of the books I’ve recommended on the technique. If I recall correctly, a couple of them have short histories in them.

  10. The tools are lovely and it is hard to choose just one. I choose the magnet because as I age I seem to have more trouble holding on to things. Having such a lovely tool would make it less of a task and more of an opportunity to use the magnet.

  11. Hi Mary, These items are beauitiful so I went to the two links in your message associated with James Carter and there is a message from April 26, 2020 that reads: “Monday April 20th James was in an accident involving his table saw. He will be fine long term but unfortunately, he had to have a finger amputated. The doctors have given us a good prognosis for him being able to continue to wood turn, but it will be six to eight weeks before he is able to work. As of right now James is still passionate about wood turning and does not want to give it up, so I expect he will be back out there as soon as I can no longer keep him from it. This does mean that we have to fundamentally change the way we do business. We had been planning on updating our Etsy store to include items we already have in stock in order to decrease shipping times. Now it has become necessary, keep your eyes out for new items that are ready to ship and we will keep you informed as things change.”

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