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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Somethin’ Fishy!


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As we approach spring and summer, I’ve been playing with a few design ideas for fun, relaxing, vacation-oriented ready-to-stitch goods.

One idea that has finally surfaced (every pun intended) is rather fishy…

Something Fishy: Ready-to-Stitch embroidery designs

When I was in high school, a snorkeling to the Florida Keys was the beginning of a life-long infatuation with tropical fish. Since then, I’ve always been twitterpated with ocean life, aquariums, shells, seashores, and the like. And while I’m not a tropical-sun, beachy sort (give me a Northeast or Northwest rocky seashore any day!), I love tropical fish.

I’ve wanted to try a colorful tropical fish line on my ready-to-stitch towels for quite a while. Last month, on a grey, cold, winter day, I was doodling. Suddenly, fish started turning up. So I figured why not? It would give me a project to work on during the evening hours while camped out in my temporary home.

Something Fishy: Ready-to-Stitch embroidery designs

I gathered up a rather messy amount of threads that struck me as particularly tropical in color.

My goal is nothing near realism. Just fun, stylized tropical fish, using a variety of colors and whatever stitches happen to pop into my head.

Something Fishy: Ready-to-Stitch embroidery designs

I want to give the fish a little personality as I go along, so I’m going to try to use the eyes to do that.

It always seems that embroidery featuring living creatures doesn’t really come to life until you add the eyes. These won’t be realistic eyes by a long shot, but I’m hoping that they’ll express something, whether it’s surprise, humor, curiosity – I don’t know yet.

Something Fishy: Ready-to-Stitch embroidery designs

For easy transport, I packed up all those threads into a small tin and fixed up a needle case with a pair of scissors and some needles.

Since I’m living temporarily somewhere other than home, I don’t have access to any needlework goods unless I tote them with me from work. This works out really well, because it affords me one project without distraction.

Something Fishy: Ready-to-Stitch embroidery designs

I scoured the studio for something a little more theme-ish to tote the project in. But all I had was this ugly orange mesh bag.

The zipper bag lets me pack everything away nice and tidily at the end of a session, so there’s no mess about the place. And if I happen to go anywhere that would allow for stitching on the go, I can grab it and take it with me. Very handy!

So that’s a little side project that will perhaps materialize as ready-to-stitch goods before summer. I’ve got one other design floating in my head – not fish related at all – that will emerge shortly, too.

We’ll be in production mode on ready-to-stitch towels as soon as this Stitch Snippet stitch-along is underway and we’ve got the kits for that launched. We’ll be preparing most of the designs that we already have, and then, once I finish some samples, we’ll prepare the new design sets.

I’ll keep you posted!

Embroidery hoops on Needle 'n Thread


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(14) Comments

  1. I like the design and love what I see of the color choices. I see using it to trim out pillow cases. A twist on “sleeping with the fishes”.

  2. These look so bright and charming! I’m also rather delighted to know that there’s someone else who shares my love of both northeast (or northwest, but I didn’t grow up there) rocky beaches *and* pretty colorful tropical fish.

  3. Oh, I can’t wait for this one, Mary! I’m doing our new bathroom in fish. I have a row of Mexican fish tiles in the shower, the sink and a waste basket in Mexican ceramic fish, a fish bath mat, a fish print on the wall, and a glass standing fish on the counter. And now I will use Mary’s fish for guest towels!

    Hope you are doing well, Mary, and your eye is getting better and better!

  4. Hi, I just found you. I was watching Missouri Star and she started talking about “Chicken Scratch”. She said, “to goggle it”. I did and found your 2014 articles. I agree with your thoughts on names. Just because you add a few colors or add new stitches really doesn’t change the basic of its start. I realized I was looking at a old page. I found the article list and clicked on 2023. I want to thank you for your time and effort for your work. My mom taught me to embroidery as a kid. I find peace in it. I always have some to take with where ever I go, so I’m just not setting around.
    Thank You,
    Patti Allen

    1. Thanks, Patti! I’m glad you found me! Hey, I’ve been up to Missouri Star in Hamilton, MO – that’s a pretty neat place for quilting enthusiasts! One of my sisters – an avid quilter – came to visit last spring, and we took a little day trip up there. It was fun!

      Chicken scratch is a great technique. I think it has withstood the test of time beautifully, developing along the way but keeping its roots intact!

    1. They will be! It’s part of a summer project coming soon – we just have a few deadlines to meet first, and we’ll be putting the fish together right after that.

  5. ORTS i keep them in a jar – rather colorful. Then snip them up and put them in old egg cartons. then drip the unfinished left over ends of candles in them. These become great fire starters for my wood stove. O colorful useful gifts to friends with wood stoves. Divided into 12 and several place on the wadded paper ( old bills and the like) before the kindling. They start the stove off beautifully!

    1. It will be – once we get over a few hurdles, we’ll be preparing this project and one other as “perfect for summer, grab-and-go” projects. We just need to get a few deadlines met first. 🙂

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