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 Snips & a Quick Catch Up


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Goodness gracious, Happy Saturday! I don’t normally pop in on a weekend, except when I want to share a few links and online explorations that have to do with needlework.

So that’s what we’re going to do today – take a short little stroll out into the ether of the interwebs and explore just a few needlework-related links.

So grab a cuppa (tea for me!) and let’s kick back for a little meander!

Needlework News Snips April 2020

Bobbin Lace

I’ve come across some interesting videos and resources on bobbin lace lately. The art of lace-making with bobbins is an utter fascination to me. It’s something I’ve tried (with very tentative and unremarkable results), and I even have a slew of custom-made bobbins that my sister gave to me. I always said that I’d use them some day. And I do use them – for various decorative things – but unfortunately, not for bobbin lace-making. It’s on my List.

If bobbin lace is a fascination to you, too, you might enjoy this excellent and instructive video on the core stitches in bobbin lace.

You might also find this little list of bobbin lace stitches – each linking to a simple animated demo – helpful.

Speaking of Lace

Alençon lace (point d’Alençon) is a complex and beautiful needle lace from the Normandy region of France. This fantastic video gives a very thorough overview of the making of Alençon lace. It’s in French, but subtitled with English.

Interestingly (I think, anyway), Zélie Martin, the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, operated her own Alençon lace business in the last half of the 1800’s. It was essentially a cottage industry. In their homes, women who mastered a specific set of lacing making skills worked in almost “assembly line” fashion to produce the exquisite lace. The lace piece would move from house to house, to each woman skilled in the next step of making it. This was an efficient way of working the intricate lace, in fairly large quantities (for hand-make goods of this caliber) and it allowed many women to work. Zélie coordinated the women in her employ, kept the pieces of lace moving between them while overseeing its quality, all the while taking orders, organizing the works, and balancing the books of a business that was quite successful and contributed to the support of her own family as well as many families in the region.

She was a pretty incredible woman for her time!

Oh, Huck!

Huck work has come up recently again online, and I can always tell when this happens, because this article on huck embroidery (or Swedish weaving, or any of the other names it goes by), ends up getting several visitors who are searching for information on the subject.

The latest article on embroidered huck towels is from PieceWorks.

Did you know that PieceWorks Magazine is operating and printing again? It’s better than ever, actually! I loved the magazine before it briefly disappeared after a period of slight decline. It’s back – it’s been back for a while – and the coinciding online information published by the folks behind the magazine is also very good. Worth subscribing!

In any case, huck embroidery. And toweling!

Recently, I was really really excited and pleased as punch to come across some really nice linen huck towels that would be ideal for creating exceptional quality huck embroidered towels. In my excitement, I ordered a couple right away – only to find out that the towels are hemmed so that the backside of the towel is where the huck weave (essential for huck embroidery) is situated. I have to take the towels apart and hem them so the right side is forward, if I ever want to use them for huck embroidery.

Obviously, in that case, the toweling is being sold for what it is – an absorbent weave of linen for making towels – and not necessarily for making embroidered towels. Too bad!

Anyway, I found the linen towels through Ferguson’s Irish Linen, where they sell the huckaback linen fabric by the meter, too. It is not inexpensive, and it is finer than most cotton huck fabric you can find these days. But if you’re looking for some really classy fabric to do huck embroidery on – maybe you want to make some very special towels or the like from it – it’s good to know there’s some beautiful huck linen available out there!

Cotton huck is much more affordable, but today, it’s hard to find a nicely woven cotton huck. There is a lot of industrial toweling fabric available, but it falls way short of decent quality stuff for making something beautiful.

Many folks use Aida for embroidering huck designs, but the results are not quite the same. The Aida fabric doesn’t have the same level of absorbency, and the look is quite different from traditional huck embroidery worked on a huckaback fabric.

Sea Side

Ok, I’ll tell you a secret. Right this very minute, if this year had not gone the way it has, I would be on the Oregon coast, where my sisters and I (six of us) were supposed to be meeting up for our biennial week-long hangout. We’ve been planning this week for the past two years – budgeting, finding the perfect place to rent, making lists of places to see and things to do… you know the drill when you’re excited about a get-away! But of course, that’s cancelled. I’m not crying over it or anything – in the scheme of things, it’s not that important. But it is a little disappointing!

Perhaps this is why I had such a deep yearning to work my Jacobean design in sea-related colors?

But whatever the case, I love the ocean in all its personalities. And I love seeing it represented in embroidery in various ways.

If the ocean draws you in the same way, you might enjoy perusing Elisabetta Sforza’s recent design developments of a coastal nature. I’m hoping-hoping-hoping this comes out as an embroidery book, like her In a Wheatfield book (which I wrote about here) last spring. Browse backwards through her blog to see the development of this line of designs. If you happen to visit Elisabetta on Facebook, you can scroll through her photos and see the designs develop there, too.

And That!

And that, my friends, is that for this morning!

On Monday, I’ll share an update and some tips on my Jacobean Sea Glass piece.

Oh, and the scroll designs! You’d be surprised what you can get done, when you can’t go anywhere!

If you missed out on the Thousand Flowers materials kits from my Thousand Flowers miniature silk gauze designs, I’ve got a few in stock these days. It’s a great way to have all the threads and the silk gauze on hand without having to source from various places! Keep in mind, the charts are sold separately. You can find the materials kit and the charts available in my shop.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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(10) Comments

  1. As a bobbin lacemaker (prefer point ground laces like Buck’s Point, Tonder, Lille) I apprecieated your link to the Alencon video. What a beautiful quick-look at this fabulous lace. You always find the most interesting things to share with us.
    Hope you get your sister trip later in the year. The Oregon coast is so glorious!

  2. Okay, Mary, leave it to you to post the most beautiful and informative stuff for us to peruse through! The bobbin-lace links are so cool! I plan to go through them (all) !

  3. Thank you for posting about lace Mary! While I haven’t given up on embroidery, I do spend a lot more time making lace these days. If any of your followers want to supplement online lace tutorials with face to face (mask to mask?) help, there are many chapters of IOLI, International Organization of Lace Inc., who would be happy to assist. Lacers of the Lake – LOL, a chapter near Warren, OH, offers a try it pillow & lots of friendly encouragement at their meetings. Meetings are open to the public, held at libraries in Cortland & Howland & their schedule is posted on Facebook. Liz Allen, a reporter for the Erie Times News (Erie, PA), learned to make bobbin lace in two hours with LOL members. Other chapters offer similar help & may be found online at internationalorganizationoflace.org. As soon as the quarantine is lifted, we’d love to help.

  4. Handweavers frequently weave huck, it’s fast and easy, attractive and traditional, and also lends itself to easy lace patterns. If you want huck suitable for embroidery, talk to a handweaver!


  5. Mary,
    This isn’t a stitching related item but I had to comment. When you do get to re-plan your trip to the Oregon coast, please be sure to include visits to each of the Lighthouses. My husband and I drove a portion of the coast in 2012 and it was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the trip. We toured 7 or 8 Lighthouses.

  6. I have a few suggestions regarding any future bobbin lace attempts…

    There is a two part book available on archive.org “The Art of Bobbin Lace” and it’s ‘supplement’ (author L&R Tebbs). The book is over 100 years old but it’s very ‘readable’ and gave me confidence to try making bobbin lace because of its common sense advice and explanations.

    Since bobbin lace thread was not easy to find in the pre-internet days, I used 100% cotton sewing thread instead. Since a spool of thread is inexpensive I wasn’t worried about making mistakes (which in turn gave me more confidence to try). I used the same number of bobbins and my results looked just like the photos! I made medallions and a handkerchief edging.

    I didn’t have a ‘proper’ bobbin pillow so I used an old chair seat cushion (the kind that had layers of foam instead of one large chunk). You need something that is very solid in order to hold the pins in place. I covered the cushions with an off-cut of fine blue coloured cotton.

    Finally, find a pattern that you really like so you are more inspired to finish the piece! Bobbin lace is mostly weaving and not as intimidating as it might appear. As with embroidery, stay focused and stop when you get tired in order to avoid any major mistakes (little mistakes really don’t matter)!

  7. Thank you so much for posting the link to the Alencon lace video. Such beautiful, beautiful work! As for bobbin lace, about a year ago I finally accepted that I would never get around to learning even the basics, so I tracked down a teacher of bobbin lace and gave her all the books and bobbins I’d accumulated over years of dreaming. She was happy and so was I.

  8. I really enjoy all the little bits of this and that. The link to Elisabetta Sforza’s beach designs took my breath away. The colors and tiny details were superb.

    I am so sorry you can’t make it to our coast. Zipping over for a day trip to one of our Oregon beaches is what revives me. Now, when I need to hear the gulls and the surf, go hunting for unusual agates or shells, we’re not allowed. Our neighborhood bushes and trees are in their Spring splendor but it’s still not the same. I feel your pain. 🙂

  9. So Piecework has improved? Thanks, good to know. I was once a subscriber but the quality became so poor that I stopped; I didn’t even know that it had ceased publication. Will check it out again.

  10. Hello Mary!
    I saw the Piecework article you mentioned yesterday and got inspired to pick it up again. I bought a pattern book and then searched high and low for fabric. For good quality cotton Huck yardage and toweling I recommend the Monk Cloth Lady. I was able to speak with her and she has high standards. She is a Huck Weaver and teacher herself.

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