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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Oh Wow! A Passion for Needlework at the Whitehouse Daylesford


Amazon Books

Several years ago, Inspirations Studios launched a new series of books called A Passion for Needlework. Each volume is a celebration of exquisite needlework projects, displayed in extraordinary, beautiful settings.

The books are not only project and instructional books, but they are wonderful display books that are perfect for a coffee table or side table in your home. They’re a great way to share your passion for needlework with visitors, family, and friends who can enjoy meandering through the books and reveling in the beauty they present.

At the same time, they are very usable project and instruction books. The projects are, of course, inspirational in themselves. Since the first book was published, I’ve always thought that creating each project in each book would be a roadmap for an incredible embroidery journey.

A Passion for Needlework 4 / The Whitehouse Daylesford is the newest book in the series. It is also the largest – an impressive tome of beautiful needlework and sumptuous photography in 240 pages sewn into a hard cover, linen binding, gold foil, a ribbon bookmark, premium print quality, and a pocket for pattern storage.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

What a book! My first impression on opening the boxes of books that arrived here at the studio this week was Wow! These are Huge!, followed by Wow! These are Gorgeous!.

Passion for Needlework 4 features twelve needlework projects covering a wide variety of techniques. I’ll highlight the projects for you here while I chat about the book, so you can see what to expect in this glorious volume.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Each project is presented, of course, in beautiful photography. You’ll see the finished project styled in the Whitehouse Daylesford setting, with close-ups of the embroidery here and there as well.

I love this Tree of Life design by Tonia Cohen. There’s a lovely array of color, threads, embellishments, and techniques in the design – and I especially love that root and hill structure! Nice!

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

The first section of the book is a photo gallery of all the projects.

The project above – nandina & cicada – is by Jane Nicholas. Only Jane Nicholas could make a cicada look this beautiful!

Here in Kansas, cicadas are an ever-present part of summer life. (And the chickens love them!) They’re not my favorite bug by a long shot, but summer would never be the same without them – they are the makers of the quintessential sound of summer. I love seeing this elegant tribute to what I’ve otherwise always thought of as a somewhat intimidating critter.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Georgina Bellamy has brought another three-dimensional metal-thread embroidered figure to the series, with this endearing penguin.




I’ve always been a fan of this utterly awkward bird that goes all graceful in the water.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

The cover project of the book is called Reflections, by Hazel Blomkamp. It’s a symmetrical and striking stylized design, combining cleverly used needle-woven fillings, bead embellishments, and a variety of stitches, all finished into a lovely cushion.

You’ll find finishing instructions in the book, too, for those projects that are finished into items.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Di Kerchner is the designer of this charming footstool cover, which features vibrant Australian flora. The design offers a variety of techniques to explore, including some dimensional and highly textured stitches.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Susan O’Connor’s striking evening clutch is as useful as it is beautiful. I love the feet on it. It deserves to stand up on the table! No flopping around for this bag.

Again, finishing instructions are part of the content. The nice thing about finishing this type of project under the excellent guidance of an accomplished tutor in a good book is that it gives you confidence to finish other similar items and to adapt your own pieces to more intricate finishing techniques.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Trish Burr provides a stylized nature study that’s bursting with color. Like botanical paintings that demonstrate various developments of a plant, the allium here is presented in its various phases of life.

Always a master of painting with the needle, Trish’s color blending is magnificent, as usual.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Designed by Brenda Sortwell, this sumptuous cushion combines wool thread embroidery with tiny touches of beads and some very subtle metallics. Lots of techniques, colors, and design elements combined here – it’s the kind of project that defies monotony. I think this would be great fun to stitch!

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Oh my word! Fumie Suzuki’s whitework piece in this book is a Stunner! It combines traditional reticello techniques and Schwalm embroidery techniques in a delicate interpretation of both. *Sigh* So pretty!

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

And then there are these wild flowers by Alison Cole! Gosh! Aren’t they sweet?! They sing spring to me! Cheery and happy – you must make them and put them somewhere for all to see!

Actually, I could see incorporating these somehow into a wedding something-or-other. Maybe on the ring pillow? Aren’t they beautiful?

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

Di van Niekerk brings a lovely pot of silk ribbon wood anemones to the project line-up. They practically burst out of the frame with realism!

A Passion for Needlework 4: Whitehouse Daylesford

And finally, Forty Winks by Anna Scott – a cozy wool and cashmere blanket embroidered with wool. It’ll keep you warm in style, from fall through spring!


After the gallery in the first part of the book, we get to the instruction.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Instructional Section

The instructional section is divided by project, with many pages devoted to each of the twelve.

For each project, we have a complete materials list…

A Passion for Needlework 4: Instructional Section

… with a thorough explanation of how to work the project, accompanied by explanatory text, tips, diagrams and photos.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Instructional Section

Some projects are presented in step-by-step photos, while others rely on diagrams and explanations, with reference to the techniques section further on in the book.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Instructional Section

After all the projects are thoroughly presented, there’s a stitch & techniques section, with step-by-step photos of the various stitches and techniques encountered in the various projects.

A Passion for Needlework 4: Instructional Section

Inside the cover at the end of the book is a pull-out pattern folio, tucked into a pocket.

In a Nutshell

The projects in A Passion for Needlework 4 are diverse in technique and materials and really, really beautiful! Even if you don’t make them all, they’ll provide you with hours of inspiration, pleasure, and instruction as you browse through this glorious, gorgeous book!

There are no cons to the book – it’s well made, very pretty, a great addition to your stitching library but also a wonderful display piece on its own. It is a collector’s book that you’re going to want in your needlework library. If you have the previous three books in the series, it’s a must. If you don’t have the previous three books, start with this one and work your way back. They are worth it, for anyone with a love of beautiful needlework.

If you’re shopping ahead for Christmas, these will make a showstopper gift for the needlework lover in your life.

Definitely get it while you can – you won’t regret it!

Where to Find It

Right now, I have a limited quantity of A Passion for Needlework 4 / The Whitehouse Daylesford available here in my shop. The book ships to US addresses only, via priority mail, with insurance and tracking.

For those outside the US, you can find the book available from Inspirations Studios in Australia.


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(5) Comments

  1. Wow, the cicada, the free-standing bouquet, the ribbon embroidery! So many examples of gorgeous work! I love the detail put into the penguin (would love to try making something like that someday!).

    And speaking of trying things, I do very detailed hand-embroidered work that is also quite small (most of my pieces are under 4″). I would really like to try embroidering on linen, but I’m not sure where to find high quality linen that is thin enough/close enough weave for what I do.

    I know I need a high thread count, but many suppliers do not list the thread count or what weight the fabric is. And after I searched your website, I only found posts from years ago (some from over 10 years ago!). Some of the suppliers you mentioned don’t seem to be active anymore.

    Do you have any recommendations for wear to find light-medium-weight, very closely-woven linen?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Andrea – I write about linen all the time on the blog, and I use a variety of linen for small pieces. Both the white and natural linen fabric sample packs have a couple linens in each of them that are higher count and suitable for small work. That might be a good way to sample some pieces and some different weights, to see if you actually need a super high count (you don’t always, even if the piece is small).

  2. WOW!!! I LOVE Inspirations mag & their emails are amazing eye-candy. BUT the books is astounding!! Even better than I could have dreamed!! Thank you for the rapid and careful posting. MOST EXCELLENT!!

  3. Dear Mary

    What a lovely book and the projects are beautifully created and embroidered. The bug and the penguin are my favourite they are just delightful. The book would certainly be a great talking point in any home with friends and family over coffee and cakes. Thank you so much for sharing with us A Passion for Needlwork book, which it certainly is and for the photos which are just so beautiful.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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