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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Flaking About: Color, Variety, and Workspace


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Whenever I start playing around with a new project that I’m excited about, I tend to jump right into the experimental stage without any rhyme or reason, grabbing this piece of fabric, that skein of thread… just to “play” with the initial idea and see how it works out.

Once I decide that I like the idea, I try to take a more organized approach with things – especially because I usually write about or publish the projects here on the website, which means that the supplies I’m using can’t be too far out there (as in, no longer available or too hard to find).

I also make sure that I document the supplies and stitches I use as I go along.

When it gets to this stage, things slow down a bit – especially if I have to take progress photos. Wow. Progress photos can really slow things down! But worse than slowing down to take them is forgetting to take them altogether – which sometimes happens. That just means I have to stitch the thing over again. Heh heh.

I mentioned week before last that I was doodling about with snowflakes. Well, what started with a concept and some simple doodling has turned into a serious flaking adventure!

Snowflakes in hand embroidery

You might remember the red snowflake in that previous article – which I have not abandoned!

But I agreed that it deserved a try in blue.

And because my niece was the one who wriggled and hemmed and hawed over the red, I suggested she stitch up a blue sample to illustrate the Worthiness of Blue. So she did.

And it just so happened that I had some perfectly matching tiny blue pearls that worked to dress it up.

In this case, Soie d’Ager was the thread of choice – one single strand was perfect for most of this overly stylized and floofy flake.

I loved the outcome, and Anna did a fab job on the stitching.

Yes, I think she sold me on the blue, too!

Snowflakes in hand embroidery

Several of you wrote in to ask about the icy blue set of metallics from Au Ver a Soie. This is the set. I don’t know if I’ll use all the colors, but I know I’ll use at least four of the colors from the set.

Aren’t they lovely? When I first opened this box, I wanted to dive into it and splash about!

As I mentioned before, this particular set of metallics is available through French Needle. It’s called “Ice Blues.” They’re sold out now, but I contacted them, and they’ll have more in soon.

Snowflakes in hand embroidery

Whenever I start exploring a stitching concept in earnest, my work surfaces start collecting a lot of stuff.

I use two six-foot folding tables in the main room of my studio, one of which is on risers to make it easier to cut fabrics and to stand at while working. The other is typical table height, for sitting at.

When real work is in full fling, I find it easier to work at a table, where I can have supplies within reach all around me, where my cameras are close at hand so that I can take photos quickly, and where I can move about between the two tables to find thread colors or cut fabric or what-have-you.

Beads, threads, tools, fabric … incoming mail… it’s all part of the general aura of the work area!

Snowflakes in hand embroidery

Once I decided that yes, I think snowflakes deserve some focused attention, it was time for some color selections.

If I’m going to develop a series of designs like these, then I want to test them in a number of color schemes and thread types. It’s not enough to just say “blue” or “red,” and have done with it.

So there are several color schemes on the block: frosty blues, bolder blues, golds, silvers, reds, even wintery greens. Lots of scope!

Snowflakes in hand embroidery

And while I’m really enjoying the outcome of the silks, I know that, to be really accessible to more stitchers, there have to be other thread options as well.

So I’ve got plenty of cotton on the table… and I might even mix in different weights of cotton on the samples. We shall see.

I love projects like this! They’re all about variety – variety in design, in color, in threads, in fabrics, in embellishments, in stitches, in finishing ideas.

So that’s what’s happening over on this side of the computer screen!

I flaked about all weekend. I’m still working on the uncounted flakes, too – they’re a separate project altogether, and I find that the samples I’m stitching up are perfect evening stitching exercises. It’s very satisfying to have something to do with my hands at night, without having to think a whole lot about it.

I hope you had a magnificent weekend and that your week is off to a great start!


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(11) Comments

  1. Oh Mary, this was such an inspirational blog to read. Mentioning all the different threads that could be used for just a start got my creative juices flowing, and with only one or two simple stitches there can be so many different looks to one design, especially if you start adding beads to the mix. Do I need another project to work on? No. Do I want to start another project? Yes, and I’m excited about the possibilities.
    I might have to skip Thanksgiving projects and move straight into Christmas ones.
    Happy stitching ~ Brenda

  2. Hi Mary,

    Have you tried satin stitching with the Au Ver a Soie metallics? If not, would you think it would hold up to satin stitching?

    1. Hi, Beth – the finer weights would, I think. I’ll give it a try on one of my samples and see how it goes. If it goes well, perhaps I’ll write about it!

  3. Mary
    These little snowflakes look perfect wee presents for Christmas πŸ™‚ – maybe little ornaments to hang? – or the red ones on a tea towel with Christmas goodies wrapped inside.
    sweltering Downunder

  4. Hi Mary,

    I really love the blue flake. The red one is fine, it just reminded me of red work, but the blue has so many possibilities. So inspiring reading about the different threads. I don’t think I have seen the metallics from Au Ver a Soie, do you use them on their own or with the silks or cottons?

    Thanks again for such an inspiring blog.
    Cheers Judy
    SE Queensland,

    1. Hi, Judy – Thanks! The metallics can be used on their own or you can use them in projects that also have other threads. It just depends on the look you want! πŸ™‚

  5. Dear Mary

    I love the development of the blue snowflakes with the beads they are lovely and the metallics from Au Ver a Soie are lovely, I don’t usually like metallics but as you have used them and they are not difficult to sew with like other metallics then I would definitely invest in them as they look so pretty. I really like your work surfaces you are a very busy bee with all the threads, hoops and other accessories, you ready for stitching and discovering new concepts in embroidery. Look forward to your discovery, Thanks for sharing with us your current projects and your work room look forward to the progress on this.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  6. Thank you for sharing some of your design process Mary. It’s really interesting seeing how an idea comes to life and the journey from inspiration to reality.

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