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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Needlework News Snips: March, 2020


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Good morning, my friends!

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a little browse together online through newsy needlework bits!

This is a short little list of things I’ve come across lately or that have popped up in my various social media feeds, that I find either interesting, informative, or inspirational.

So, pull up a chair and let’s have a little chat and a browse…

Needlework News Snips, March 2020


In Philadelphia, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, there’s a Lady Chapel – a chapel devoted to Mary, the Mother of God – and come of the furnishings commissioned for it in at the beginning of the 1900’s are extremely prized pieces of liturgical embroidery.

I especially love the “green frontal” designed by Comper and produced by the Sisters of Bethany, an Anglican convent in the UK.

Sir John Ninian Comper was the last of the great Gothic Revival architects and designers. Unlike designers of vestments and furnishings these days, Comper viewed a church or a chapel as “a roof over an altar” (the altar being the central focus of the church), so he designed from the altar outwards. He designed every aspect of his buildings and their furnishing to be not only beautiful, but useful. His focus was to ensure that every element worked together artistically in a way that made sense not only to the eye, but to the intellect as well.

The Comper altar frontal at St. Mark’s is glorious. If you want to take a look at it online, this flickr page has a small collection of good photos of the frontal and some Camper-designed vestments, including some close-ups of the embroidery.

You can read a little more about the antependia (or altar frontals) for the Lady Chapel in this article from the Liturgical Arts Journal. Some of the frontals were designed by Charles Kempe, one of the greatest Victorian designers of stained glass. The green frontal by Comper is the last one featured in the article.

If you want to see the green frontal in person, this is most likely the wrong time of year. If it’s out and on the altar, it would be there, I think, during the liturgical season after Pentecost.


For those who like embroidery from a little further back in history, you might enjoy this article on the prison embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots, from the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Old Charts, New Again

During the Renaissance, lace-making and needlework were pretty popular throughout Europe. This book by Frederic Vinciolo – a Venetian living in Paris at the end of the 1500’s – features several charts for needle lace. The charts can be used for woven needle lace, for cross stitch, for Assisi work, for filet crochet… oh, the possibilities! You’ll find the cleaned-up, modern versions of the charts available here. Click on the “printable” link in the column to the right of the thumbnail to save the chart to your own computer.

Jane Austen

The movie-making world, it seems, can’t let well enough alone when it comes to Jane Austen (or Dickens, or Agatha Christie, or…)!

I’m a huge fan of period films and all the attenuating costuming and filmography that goes with them, but I will admit, I’m a little weary of the latest Austen and Christie attempts.

Still, with yet another version of Jane Austen’s Emma just now hitting theaters (haven’t seen it, haven’t decided if I will), it’s perfect timing to mention that there’s a new embroidery book coming out (soon in the States, already out in the UK) called Jane Austen Embroidery: Authentic Embroidery Projects for Modern Stitchers. It’s by Jennie Batchelor and Alison Larkin. It features Regency-era embroidery on modern projects.

I don’t have the book yet – I’m still waiting for my pre-order to arrive from the UK – but I thought I’d give you a heads-up if you’re a fan of that era. The book evolved from this project that I wrote about here a long time ago.

You can find the book listed on my Amazon Recommendations page here under “Browse my Amazon Recommendations” if you want to pre-order for the May release in the US.

Just a note: I use affiliate links for Amazon, meaning that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through those links, with no added expense to you.

Floral Inspiration

I love the illustrations of artist Lizzie Harper. Her latest article featuring coastal flowers is a delight. Browse through her blog! It’s so beautiful and so soothing! If a day is gray and murky, I pull up any page on her blog for a little pick-me-up.

The Met Vault

I subscribe to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s YouTube channel, and occasionally, they post a gem of a video. This recent video from the vaults on the making of tapestries is fabulous. I hope you enjoy it, too!

And that, might friends, should afford you a few things to explore online this weekend, when you’re in the mood for a good browse with a cuppa.

My tea is but a memory at this point, and it’s time for me to get to work!

I’m playing with beads and ribbon today. I’ll show you next week!


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(13) Comments

  1. Mary, thanks for all the ‘snips.’ You are so right about Austen and Christie. I had much rather watch the older versions that bear a closer resemblance to the books. I am hampered by having read them all. Joan Hickson was Miss Marple, David Suchet was Poirot, and there were several Austen movies from the 70’s and 80’s that were true to the spirit of the books. The newer versions just don’t cut it for me. I just found Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) adaptation of Dr. Thorne for this weekend while I work on finishing WIP’s!

  2. Have to disagree with you Mary on the re-makes. Every generation of film makers seem to like to re-visit the classics — look at all the versions of LITTLE WOMEN for example. I really enjoy seeing how directors, actors, screenwriters, cinematographers and costumers re-interpret a book by Austin, Alcott, Agatha Christie and so many others. If you don’t want to see the re-makes heaven knows there is plenty of “new” stuff to choose from but please don’t disparage the next generations taking on the classics.

    1. ps Mary –> have you seen The Jane Austin Book Club ? it is a wonderful movie – romantic, funny, focused on the women in the club and a great ensemble cast – it is so charming and you can see traces of Jane throughout : )

    2. Oh yes, I loved Little Women – I think it’s the best adaptation of Alcott’s classic yet. In fact, no previous adaptation lives up to the book at all, comparatively.

      I prefer accurate, well-researched adaptations that do real justice to the author and the era of history, and unfortunately, many today don’t.

      But Little Woman was extremely well done!

  3. Hi Mary, I have been in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church when I worked in Philadelphia being that I am an Episcopalian. A beautiful church in the Gothic Revival. Now the church grew in, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chester, PA, was established in 1702. The communion pieces were given to the church by Queen Anne. Only used on special holidays.
    Not sure I’m going to see Emma either. They never seem to get the Regency period right. I am going to watch Little Women when it comes on cable later this month. It won an Oscar for best costumes.
    Have a lovely weekend!

  4. Ah some interesting links here Mary! I will check out the Mary Queen of Scots article next. I will also be very interested to see your review of the Jane Austen embroidery book mentioned. I have seen that and have it on my wish list. I was slightly confused that there seems to be two volumes coming out within a few months of each other by the same authors with slightly different titles. Although I notice one is hardback and the other paperback, so maybe they are the same text inside. Anyway, I will be looking forward to reading your thoughts on it.

    Regarding the new Emma: I have seen it and thoroughly enjoyed it and I am quite fussy about my Austen adaptations. It can be unsettling if you feel particularly attached to a previous version, but there are so many complex layers to this novel I think it bears revisiting, with each adaptation often dwelling on different nuances within the original text. This one chooses to focus less on the detective elements of the plot and more on the emotional journey of Mr Knightly and Emma and it succeeds really well in that. Because the reader sees the story through Emma’s eyes, it can seem as though Mr Knightly suddenly changes towards the end of the novel but I enjoyed how this version allows the viewer to see the progress of his feelings to which Emma is oblivious. The Jane & Frank storyline is abbreviated but Harriet is very well cast and Miranda Hart and Bill Nighy are fun to watch. It’s quirky, beautifully shot and plenty to enjoy. I’m looking forward to the DVD coming out and watching it again!

  5. Dear Mary

    I really think the frontals of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on the flicker page are absolutely beautiful to look at and the article of Mary Queen of Scots is very interesting. The Jane Austen book of embroideries would be interesting to look at, but I don’t know if I would invest in it. I glanced through the black and white video of the making of tapestries it’s so interesting. Thank you for sharing your snips with us and for the links to the various embroidery websites. So interesting.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  6. Hi Mary — so you didn’t like the 1994 Susan Sarandon, Wynnona Ryder adaption ? I thought this was the best. I too like historically accurate films but don’t expect the book to just get turned into a film – it’s Hollywood after all and don’t we all love the magic of film ??

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