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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A New Appreciation & an Old Motto


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Hello, my friends, hello! It has been almost a week and a half since we’ve had a visit. It has been Way Too Long – I have missed you!

Today, I’m really just checking in with you, to let you know I’m still functioning. I’ll share a little something that I’ve been sort of working on. And for those who are interested, I’ll fill you in on the details about how things are going with the Eyes. I’ve had many requests for more details, coming especially from those of you who are facing the option of cataract surgery. So I’ll touch on my experiences so far.

I’ve been debating about going into detail, as it’s not really On Topic – except for the fact that, without eyes, not too many of us would be enjoying handwork, would we? Talk about essential tools!

Glad Tidings Angel embroidery

Tomorrow, I’ll be a week out from getting Eye #2 fixed, and I’m not quite comfortably-healed from that yet. But I’ve been able to do a little stitching on non-fine embroidery work.

The angel above is part of a design set conceived last year, only the set didn’t come about in time for last Christmas. So my plan was to launch it for this Christmas, only I haven’t finished stitching the models yet. Will they be ready by the end of October? Probably! There’s a lot that has to happen between now and then, but … I have high hopes!

This set fits the style of the Christmas Cheer and Let it Snow ready-to-stitch towels. It’s called Glad Tidings. It features angels and doves in a specifically-Christmas theme, rather than a more general winter theme.

Glad Tidings Angel embroidery

So far, I like it. I’ve found a few things I’ll have to adjust, but it’s been nice to be able to stitch on something. I picked it up this weekend, just to see how things would go, and with the aid of some 2.5x reading glasses, I was able to make a little progress.

I find I can’t spend a long stretches of time stitching right now, but a little is better than none.


About the Eyes

(If this information doesn’t interest you, please feel free to skip it!)

Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the US. And while my optometrist says there’s very little to worry about with it, it is still something to consider carefully, because it is surgery and you only have one set of eyes.

Most people that I have heard from or that I know personally have proclaimed that cataract surgery is the best thing they did for their eyes – at least by the time everything was properly healed and all the adjustments were made in whatever vision aid they still needed.

I was still worried about it, though, because … well, I only have one set of eyes! And even if they could still do most things, if they couldn’t do what I need them to do – detailed needlework – then there goes my livelihood.

I won’t go into detail about the surgery. If you’re considering cataract surgery, your optometrist will tell you about it.

The most notable difference for me in the outcome of the surgery is the amount of light that’s coming into my eyes and the incredible difference in color. The only way I can explain or describe the difference is this:

Imagine you are sitting at the bottom of a pond with your eyes open, looking through murky water with a warm-spectrum (that’s the really yellow / orange) LED light lighting the water. That was my vision before the surgery. It was dim and yellowed, and I had to have enormous amounts of light on to be able to see moderately well.

The new eyes are like looking through a sparkly bright window into a world lit up with over-bright daylight bulbs, with vivid color everywhere. The color spectrum seems to lean more towards blue for me now. Before, everything had more of a warm red / yellow cast to it.

Of course, I didn’t realize the extent of the dim color alteration from the cataracts until after the first eye was done. Then, I could switch back and forth between the old eye and the new eye and see how vastly different each eye was seeing things.

It’s not always about color and light, though. For many people, cataract surgery restores their vision so that they don’t have to wear corrective lenses anymore, or so that they are only subject to wearing readers.

I’ll still be wearing glasses for both distant and near vision. My distance vision was improved somewhat, but not completely. But my close-up vision is completely different. For all practical purposes, it is gone. Before, I wore progressive lenses with a very light prescription at the base for reading. Before, I could take my glasses off and hold things close and see them clearly. The color may not have been right, but I could see even the finest threads in the weave of fine fabrics.

Now, I have to hold things out beyond an arm’s length to see anything clearly, and at that point, it’s too far away to see details. So a reading prescription is essential. Keep in mind, too, though, that my eyes have not healed completely yet.

I still have some jiggling in the lens in Eye #2, so I’m getting some light refraction on the lens. This phenomenon was a huge surprise (and worry!) to me, but it is something that goes away as the eye heals. It’s almost like wearing a contact lens that has a wrinkle in it, that keeps catching the light. It does go away – it is no longer happening in Eye #1, which has been healing longer.

I’m still on drops, so I won’t be able to get the correct glasses I need until after the drop schedule has been over for a week. That will be well into October.

I had the impression that I would be able to get my new prescription a week after the second surgery, so this was a big disappointment. At that point, I will have been “out of vision” for almost two months, which is somewhat problematic for me. So if your distance isn’t going to be mostly restored, that’s something you need to discuss with your optometrist if it is problematic for you. Maybe there’s a solution. I didn’t think to discuss it in completely detail, as I didn’t really know what questions to ask.

This week when I head back for a follow-up, I’ll be discussing a temporary solution for glasses that will get me through the next month, if possible. They might not be perfect, but if they can give me better vision for the next month, that would be great. Then I’ll just get new lenses when the eyes are tested again in the middle of October.

So that’s where I am. Is the whole ordeal worth it? I am highly confident that it will be, once the eyes heal and I we achieve the correct solutions I need for my new vision. Certainly, when it comes to light and to color, it is worth it. It’s such a gift to be able to see the beautiful world that we live in, and to see it in full color again!

In the meantime, I’m sticking with my old motto: Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can. I’m focusing on the things I can do, work-wise, and I’m not worrying about what I can’t do.

Lots of computer work is not an option at the moment. And detailed stitching is not an option. But organization, planning, getting everything ready to put kits together (still waiting on some threads for the Stockings and the Leafy Tree kits) – I can do all that.

I’m also shipping regularly, and the ready-to-stitch towel sets are mostly all available right now, especially autumn and winter designs. So if you’ve been waiting for those and you want to get ahead on Christmas prep or you want to indulge in some autumnal stitching, feel free to check those out!

I’ve also got Willing Hands 2 back in stock, as well as the linen sample packs.

And finally, the Grapes tutorials will commence again at the end of the week, if all goes as planned. I’m putting together little bits at a time. We’ll get through with that soon – we need to move on to the next project!

See. I can do stuff! Things will be back to running normally on Needle ‘n Thread very soon.


Good to see you again! I hope you’re having a wonderful week!


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(40) Comments

  1. After my mother had her cataract surgery, she scolded my sister and me for not telling her that her lipstick shade had been wrong the whole time!

  2. Hi Mary,
    Glad your eyes are beginning to sort themselves out. Thanks also for explaining some things about the surgery. I’ve just been told that I’ll be going on the waiting list to have both my eyes done (NHS waiting list – no choosing time and place for us over in the UK). So it is good to get some idea of the after effects.
    Looking forward to you getting back to normal, as I am sure you are too.

  3. Mary, I appreciate your journey with dealing with cataracts.. Mine have not reached the surgery stage yet. I was a little disappointed when my doctor said even when I have the surgery I will still need corrective lens.. Oh well, life goes on.
    I was hoping that I could get just the patterns for the Winter designs for the towels. I have a stock of flour shacks to work on. I have done the Holly and Evergreen pattern and Fall Pumpkin which has made wonder gifts. I just love your designs.
    Hope to hear soon. Deborah

  4. Hi Mary…grateful to hear things are progressing, especially in the land of color!!!!!
    Also glad that you felt able to take the break and take care of yourself. Prayers for
    ongoing relief and recovery and daily wisdom for pacing those peepers!

  5. Thanks for the information about your eye surgery! Many of us are at that age we will need to consider such surgery!

    Your blog is always informative and inspiring!

  6. I love angels and can’t wait (but will) until you have the pattern.
    Thanks for sharing about your eyes, I have to face the same situation and surgery. This will help me plan, especially the cost of once again getting new prescriptions in my glasses. So.. be well, know we’re out here caring deeply about you.

  7. Mary, thanks so much for posting in detail about your experience with cataract surgery and how it affects your close vision for embroidery. I have been reading your posts about this subject with interest and wishing you the speediest possible recovery and improved vision. Everyone I know who has had cataract surgery has been thrilled with the result but none of them are needleworkers and knowing how the surgery affects close vision is very important to those of us who do detailed work like this.

  8. Thank you so much for the eye update. I have been worried and am so happy to know that everything has gone well and your eyes are on the way to complete recovery. You will see improvements every day. Take care and keep stitching.

  9. Just hang in there. I was told to wait 6 months before getting glasses. I do not need them anymore so I just have tons of peep overs wherever I land. I made fun of hubby for years because he did that.

    Yes the surgery give things a blue hue, but wait and let your brain adjust to the lens that they put in. I believe that if you do not have lid problems like I did that you will be fine within a month.

    I am very glad (even with the issues I had) that I had the surgeries done. I am crossing my fingers that your eyes heal quickly. We had to stay on the drops for a month I believe.


  10. Hi Mary. I’ glad you’re on the mend. I had a torn and detached retina which was fixed by surgery two years ago. That surgery caused a cataract to form, and a year later I had cataract surgery. My “good” eye had been forming a cataract also so they did that one too. Normally, patients want their distance vision corrected with the new lens so they no longer need glasses for distance. I did NOT want that and discussed with the surgeon that I wanted to maintain my close vision for crafts, and continue to wear glasses for distance. He reluctantly agreed. After the surgery my close vision was impossible. As you described, there was no sweet spot for clarity and my focal distance was all out of whack. I told my Dr. I was unhappy, and with little fuss he redid the surgery and put a lens in to allow for close work. He then did the other eye and all is well. So, if you are unhappy, and especially given your profession and need for good, appropriate sight, talk to your surgeon about a revision. All the best.

    1. Janes, I did not know that you could get a do-over! I just got new glasses, but you will bet before the next scrip change, I will bring that up. Thank you so much!

  11. Dear Mary – I too was astonished after cataract surgery by the change in color in the world. I had had no idea of how yellow my cataracts had made my vision. Such joy.

    RE glasses – I suspect you will find you need different strengths for different tasks. I use readers I buy online in strengths from 1.5 to 3.25 depending on how fine the work is that I am doing. Reading, crewel and beading all require different strengths. I have readers all over the house and spares in my purse and the car. Over time the plastic lenses will yellow and I toss and buy new ones. No need for those big magnifiers any more
    Best of luck, DArcy Walker

  12. I really enjoyed your post surgery experience information. My husband had his lenses remove/replaced to fix a specific type of glaucoma. He mentioned many of the same things you wrote about. The color changes (he also stitches) and the increased light. The bright light is still an issue for him even though it’s been a few years. Mostly when he plays pickle ball inside the gym, the lights they have in there make his eyes ache. 🙂 It will take time for the eyes to completely heal and then you’ll be on your way. Happy healing.

  13. I LOVE anything specifically Christmas!

    Thanks for the information about your eyes! We have a family member looking at this surgery and it helps to think through these questions. ( We don’t know what we don’t know!) Will be lifting you up.

  14. Thank you for your explaining your cataract experiences and your feelings about them. That is in my future and I have an appointment the first week of October to talk to the surgeon. It’s good to know your thoughts and feelings on the subject.
    Thank you. Ruth

  15. >Before, I could take my glasses off and hold things close and see them clearly.

    Yes! That is what I miss since my cataract surgery. I was told I could choose between being nearsighted or farsighted afterward, and I often wish I’d chosen nearsighted. On the plus side, I can find my glasses if I misplace them and even drive without glasses. I tried just using reading glasses but got tired of putting them on and taking them off, so I got progressives. But it seems to be very difficult to get the right focus for the close work.

    1. To Chris (and others who are concerned about choosing between near-sightedness and far-sightedness for your cataract surgery):

      I’ve always been near-sighted and planned to choose that if I ever needed cataract surgery; I can function reasonably well in a pinch without glasses if I have to but only because I’m near-sighted. However, I’ve just learned cataract surgery doesn’t necessarily have to correct your vision to be EITHER “near” or “far.” I was recently told I’ve got cataracts but that it’s way too early for surgery. He said when it’s time I can choose to have one eye corrected for up close and the other corrected for distance. I will definitely consider this because I wore contact lenses for twenty-some years and became seriously annoyed when I hit middle age and had to start wearing readers for close-up work. I tried bifocal contacts (yes, that’s a thing, or was at the time) but they didn’t work well for me.

      Then I switched to what my optometrist called “monofocal” contacts, which were just regular contacts but one eye was corrected for up close and the other for distance. I was skeptical and when I first put them in it was quite odd, but my brain quickly sorted it out and within an hour or so my vision was perfect, near and far without even thinking about it, and I tossed all my readers. My eyes are now too dry to wear contacts comfortably so I’m wearing glasses with progressive lenses, but I’m almost looking forward to having cataract surgery some day so I can go back to this “monofocal” method and not need glasses anymore.

      Note: there may be an issue with finding the right correction for middle vs far distant vision for that eye, so be sure to take this into consideration when discussing with your surgeon. I’m sure there are probably other issues that will determine whether this method is a good choice. Do some research and find what’s best for you.

  16. When you talk to your optometrist, **INSIST** on keeping your close vision. They won’t like it very much, but insist on it. Get **ugly** about it if you have to! One eye is about 8-10 inches (maybe 12), and the other is past arms length. I would recommend getting them the same focal length.

    And, if I had it to do over again, when he said “you don’t want that [the really short focal length]” I would have said “YES, I DO!!” And fought for it.

    My phone is currently about a foot from my face. And that’s a comfortable distance for me.

  17. Thank you for sharing your experience with cataract surgery. I don’t have cataracts yet, but my siblings have them, so they may be coming to me as well. Prayers for a quick recovery, and good vision up close!

  18. Mary,
    I have been going through cataract surgery right along with you and have found my recovery pretty much identical to yours. I too found the color perception fascinating, and just as you described it. Fortunately, my distance vision was restored to 20/20, so I only need readers for close work. I could have recieved multifocal lenses, but considered that useless since I use a number of different strengths of magnification depending on the work I am doing. I am finding that the readers that are bifocal–plain glass in the top, magnification in the bottom–are fantastic. Best wishes as you continue to heal and see better.

  19. Good luck with the healing, I hope it all goes well. Thanks for the summary, I have to have my eyes done (but the doctor says not yet) and I was wondering about seeing colors differently. Also thanks for the heads up on the healing time, I did not realize it would take so long, I will be prepared!

  20. Mary,
    Glad to hear that most of your eye ordeal is over. I had cataract surgery 4 years ago and, like you, was astounded at the difference in color and light in the “before” and “after” eye. The clear colors made it all worthwhile. As you said, it takes a while to completely come out the other side, but you will. I recently learned that one eye needs a little adjustment. They say that isn’t unusual. Haven’t gotten around to scheduling it yet but I will.

    Keep on stitching!

  21. Mary, you’ve been in my thoughts and prayers ever since I first learned of your surgeries. So thankful that you are experiencing a good outcome. and that you continue to recover fully. Looking forward to reading about your upcoming stitching adventures!

  22. I had my first eye done on March, the second two weeks later. As an avid reader, quilter, needlework person, I was really unhappy with my first eye results. There was a lot of swelling and edema, and cornea damage. I’m happy to say that now every thing is resolved, and the lenses I’ll be getting for glasses will be very mild.
    After the first eye was done, I also was shocked at the difference in clarity, color and brightness. I explained that it appeared as the second eye had a sepia tone to all colors, like old photographs. While it was scary and nerve wracking, I’m glad I had it done! Good luck!

  23. My thoughts on cataract surgery… seven years ago I was 51 and I had cataract surgery. I was advised to get mono-vision, that is the ability to read close up in one eye and far away in the other. I wore contacts for distance vision before that, now I only wear cheap readers. I honestly hated it until I read your post today. I experienced the same yellow vision and still can’t believe the difference. I also suffered from floaters that started to occur a few months after my surgery. They told me they would eventually “go away” although when I persisted I was finally told they don’t really go away, you just eventually get used to them and don’t see them. Seven years later I still see the floaters, they still annoy me but I live with them. I’m thankful I no longer wear contacts, that’s my biggest gift. I just make sure I have good lighting when I embroider, I usually do my best work outside in good sunlight. I pray that you heal quickly and are happy with the end results.

    I noticed you mentioned the Leafy Tree kit. I will definitely purchase one if I’m lucky enough to catch the announcement when you put them up for sale this time. I’m ready, I’m confident in my ability now thanks to your guidance.

  24. Your experience with your eyes pretty much mirrors mine. I was 8 weeks before I could get my new glasses and it was a very long eight weeks without being able to see to do needlework, read or work on the computer. Like you, I was astounded by the suddenly brilliant colours. I find now that I really need sunglasses when I’m outside in the sun because my eyes have been left more sensitive to light….a minor detail in the scheme of things. My long distance sight improved somewhat, but I lost a great deal of my closeup vision after the surgery. Glasses take care of that though and now I’m back to seeing much better. Been thinking about you and hoping you’re doing well.

  25. Dear Mary

    I have missed you it’s been quite strange not to have your blogs pop into my emails. I’m glad you are making progress with your eyes, I will have to have this done soon and not looking forward to it, sometimes my vision is like a film over my eyes and getting worse I must go and see about it. But on the positive side the future outcome of catarrh operation really improves the sight, especially with colour and brightness. Thank you for sharing with us your new Christmas project it looks lovely and I can’t wait to see the whole project. Thank you for sharing your update on your eyes and I do really hope you get better soon as you say you only have two eyes and they are so important. I do like you positive motto and I will remember this when I have the same operation. Take care and look forward to seeing you soon.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  26. I used to have excellent super close vision (about 6″ from my face) also. My eyes have changed at different rates over the last 20-ish years, now each eye has different focal points. Since getting bifocals, I also have the problem of things being far enough away to be clear, but too small to see issue. So I too keep various readers and magnifiers at the sewing machine and stitching chair, thankfully so far reading is OK without them. So it sounds like I’ll need to decide if I want distance or near vision and then glasses for the other after cataract surgery. This will be interesting, as I’ve never had either good enough to be functional without glasses since I was about 8, unless I was reading. It’s highly interesting that people had to fight the doctors to keep very close vision. One thing I had heard about was the color and light – there are times I wonder if I should be picking fabric and thread colors. But I do anyway, at least if I end up wondering what I was thinking, I can blame eyes, not bad taste.

    Thank you (and your commenters!) for sharing your recovery and what you’ve learned. Eyes and vision are definitely stitching related. I’m glad your recovery is going well and you’ve started back to a bit of stitching.

  27. So pleased to read your update Mary, have been worried! Hope everything improves as expected so you can get back to your embroidery full time! Just think of all those lovely coloured threads waiting for you!

  28. I had much similar experiences to what you describe. It was fun “playing” with the color when one eye was done, and one wasn’t! Someone described cataracts as “looking through teabags”…. Sure enough, when they were gone, the cool colors were much more intense. I still remember the sky!!! Wow!! Blues and purples were the most noticible.

    I was told to wait as long as I could to get my new perscriptions as the eyes may go through quite a long period of change. I think I finally couldn’t hold out anymore after 4-5 months, but think I STILL had to change even that perscription
    just a few months later. I suppose everyone’s eyes go through the process differently — but that was MY experience.

    But when it is all said-and-done, it was a good thing to do.

  29. I’m so glad to hear your eyes are healing, Mary. What a blessing to have the full color spectrum back, and to be on the road to recovery!

  30. Mary, so glad you are getting better and I want to thank you so much for the timely Retro Christmas Angel. She is so cute. I mentioned timely as I have a 3 year old granddaughter who is just starting Montessori school and cries every day when her mother gives her to her teacher. I’ve prayed that angels will attend her, throughout her day, to give her comfort and peace. I had thought of making her a small cloth angel to put in a pocket or pin on clothing, so she would have her angel to watch over her. Lo and behold your pattern came out today. Per usual I’ve had problems getting to your angel, I knew my password, but have had it forever and needed a new one, but was always too lat, link had expired etc. I was wondering if you have any ideas for a stuffing the sweet angel? I have Macular Degeneration and I can totally understand the need for two good eyes. I use 5X magnification and grateful for that. If you have any ideas i’d love to hear them. I know this is a long comment. My eyes are tired as I know your’s are too now. Thank you Mary for your talent and great help. Here’s to eyes whatever condition we find ourselves using for as long as we can.

  31. God bless you Mary. Good to know you are alright. Glad to have you back completely recovered.

    Thank you for posting about your experience. I have to get my dad’s eyes checked for the same operation. you have answered a lot of points I had wanted to ask. Now I can take him for his check-up. Thank you

  32. I’m so glad you are healing well.

    Thank you for the information about cataract surgery. I have cataract surgery in my future – the optometrist says not yet – the cataracts that are forming are yellow in colour according to the optometrist, so I’m wondering what colours will be like when I finally get them removed.

  33. First, Mary, wishing you much good fortune as you recover from the cataract surgery. Thank you for sharing this journey and your experiences for “The Eyes.” They are our tools.

    An additional thank you to everyone who are sharing their experience and knowledge. For those of us facing this surgery this is a godsend. I did not know about the loss of close vision or my ability to insist on maintaining my nearsightedness. Now I better understand what questions I need to ask.

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