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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Goldwork Progress: Moving on to the Sparkly Parts!


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Oh golly. It’s Friday! Hurray!

Here in my small hometown in Kansas, it’s the last weekend of the Flint Hills Shakespeare Festival (Othello this year – spoiler: everyone dies). And that means that it’s going to be another busy weekend!

Next week, with that yearly milestone behind us, we will settle down again to some Big Progress here in the studio. We’ll be focusing on two things this coming week: 1. organizing, reducing, and packing supplies up for the eventually-imminent studio move; and 2. Goldwork. Goldwork. and More Goldwork.

We’ve been making some progress on the goldwork altar cover, I’m happy to say. Anna has been plugging away at the couching – which is finally all finished! – and I’ve started the chip work on the tiny tail of one letter.

Goldwork Altar Cover lettering

There are different types of chip work in goldwork embroidery. This particular approach that we’re using is somewhat like seed stitching, only we’re using tiny cut bits of #10 gilt bright check purl instead of seed stitches.

The bright check purl is cut into tiny chips that work like beads. Using a waxed thread, we’re sewing through the little cut chips, randomly placing them to fill the area.

Now, you could scatter the chips a bit more, it’s true, but I have a tendency to want to really Fill an area when doing this type of chip work. I prefer a thoroughly solid filling that covers all the felt, if possible. There are always tiny spaces that might not get entirely covered, but that’s the reason the felt is yellow. You can’t tell, and you definitely can’t tell from afar!

The sparkle achieved by this type of filling is – ooooooooooh! – *very* sparkly. Bright check purl, because of its faceted nature, does the whole light-reflecting thing really well. And it provides a marvelous contrast to the more subtle, steady gleam of the couched rows of passing thread.

So you get both sparkle and texture with this chippy filling. And it is good!

But there is a drawback.

Goldwork Altar Cover lettering

Yes. There is a drawback.

Anna doesn’t like this type of chip work. In fact, she doesn’t like “random” in stitching. She likes the regularity of couching the pairs of passing thread.

I, on the other hand, find this random chip work fun. I love it! And couching pairs of passing thread drives me half mad.

We both, however, love the results of both the chip work and the couched passing threads, and we both agree that they look great together. So we’re happy with the combination!

But… there’s still a drawback. It is this:

Never ever has an inch of filling taken so long! Gooooood grief, it is time consuming. I forgot how time consuming it can be. We will need to really focus and get some dedicated stitching time in on this, in order to move the chip work along.

So that’s the plan next week. Three days of the work week will be devoted almost entirely to goldwork. Two days will be devoted to studio packing. And hopefully, by next Friday, there will be enough progress on both big projects to give me some peace of mind and to dispel that slightly looming cloud that’s starting to make me feel a wee bit nervous.

Goldwork Altar Cover lettering

Incidentally, it’s always nice to have two people working on a project this size. Anna often sees what I don’t, and I sometimes see what she doesn’t.

For example, I somehow completely missed the serifs on the two A’s. How can you miss a whole chunk of a letter?!

So she got those finished, too.

Everyone needs an Anna!

Coming Up

While Anna was diligently couching, I was putting together the next installment of Autumn Fire, coming next week. Don’t miss it – it’s the colorful part!

I’m also working on the fourth and final Stitch Snippet of 2022, which will launch in November. I’ll be revealing that before the end of October. There’s a little twist to it: it’s not my design or my kit. But oh, I love it! I can’t wait to tell you about it!

And, between those two projects, I’m toying with a silk comparison sampler of sorts (just a wee thing) to share with you so we can talk a little more about silk threads and see how they work, especially weight-wise.

We’ve also been taking inventory, ordering supplies, bringing in more books, kits, and needlework goodies from around the globe. Gosh, it’s been a fairly busy September.

Hope it’s been a good one for you and yours!

See you in October!


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(3) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    Such beautiful work you are both producing, I would be so daunted by such a huge project, but thank goodness you have the ever supportive Anna, what a treasure and it’s nice that you both like tackling different sections of embroidery. Thank you for sharing with us the latest update on the goldowork project you are both involved with, and for the update on your move. I look forward to your views on silk comparisons.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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