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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My Brainy Mittens & 40 Meters of Crewel Wool


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When I showed you this Christmas break project the other day, you might recall that I mentioned a couple times that I was glad – very glad! – that I didn’t choose a pink or coral-to-red color scheme for them.

I almost did choose a pinkish-coral-to-red color scheme. The corals were a better contrast against the gray background of the felted mittens, compared to the purples. But something in me just wanted to use those glorious purples!

And it’s a good thing.

A very good thing.

Wool embroidered mittens

The result of the meandering chain stitch in a vermicelli-style approach looks way too much a cartoon brain.

If I had done this in pinks-to-reds, it would almost be a bit weird.

Ok, it’s already a bit weird, but it would have been really weird.

Wool embroidered mittens

It would have looked like I intended the mittens to look like brains.

The choice of purple mitigates that, somewhat.

The meandering chain stitch goes all around the mitten, not just on the topside of the hand.

So far, this one part of this one mitten has eaten up 40 (yes, F O R T Y!) meters of wool.

Good grief!! What was I thinking?

Granted, I’m using two strands of wool in the needle at once (one strand was too fine – it got lost in the felt). But still, twenty linear meters of thread in that small space? That’s a lot.

So this particular method of embroidering definitely uses up a lot of thread. I wouldn’t advise it unless you have hanks of thread on hand, rather than just small 10 meter twists.

I like the look of the mittens so far, just for fun mittens. I suppose if I were a die-hard K-State fan, going to outdoor games, they’d be ideal. But I’m not. I’m just a gal who thought the purple would be nice to work with. I like them. I’m looking forward to finishing them.

Wool embroidered mittens

I love seeing the embroidery up close against that felted background. It’s hard to believe that the background was once just a regular loose knit. It is so firm and compact and fully felted!

I have another pair of mittens I’ll be felting and embroidering shortly. It’s a much, much lighter gray that is almost a pale silvery (without being metallic) blue. My plan for those is to do something a bit more artistic and not quite as “lazy.” I’ve drawn up a folk pattern and I’ve drawn up a floral pattern. We’ll see which one wins! I suspect it may be the floral, since the background color is light and almost delicate.

Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll see you next week with some tips and techniques and sneak peeks!


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(11) Comments

  1. I love these purples on grey! Looks like a meandering trail to me so perfect for a walk on a snowy day. “Not all who wander are lost”

  2. I’m currently fascinated by labyrinths, so of course I thought that was the look you were going for! They look very cozy, and hopeful-of-spring.

  3. I love purple. Your mittens look lovely! But I wonder – how do you stitch them to avoid sewing in the back side? Do you use a curved needle or a straight one?
    I live on the countryside 80 km from Stockholm, Sweden. This morning when I walked the dog, it was -21°C. That is -5.8 °F. Then you really need thick wool all around you! Or your fingers turn purple 🙂
    Happy Epiphany!

  4. The purples were a good idea indeed! If you wanted to steer even further away from the “brainy” look, it might work to add in a single line of a different color to pull focus. But I don’t think it’s really necessary.

  5. I love it! And that gray matter really makes the point. You’ve created slightly subversive mittens for discerning viewers. Cheers!

  6. Dear Mary

    You are coming along nicely with the mittens they look lovely with the purple thread and the vermicelli-style approach to the project. I’m looking forward to seeing the end result. They look lovely and warm and it’s great that they don’t have seams they will be much warmer and last longer. Thank you for sharing with us your on going stitching mittens project and for the photos. I look forward to seeing them finished and on your hand.

    Regards Anita simmance

  7. Hi Mary!
    I love how your mittens are coming out!
    This past Nov/Dec, I used a varigated sock yarn to surface embroider “crewel style” on washer/dryer felted wool, added some beading, and made a jumper that I have worn ALOT to holiday events. I love my jumper, but it has begun to pill and fluff a bit from everyday wear. I want to do more of this type of work, but will be trying a less “fluffy” yarn. Please keep us updated on how the crewel yarn on your mittens holds up with wear.
    I was inspired to make this garment after watching a 1 1/2 hour long youtube video, Les Tresors de la Haute Couture. This video is French, with no subtitles available, and I still was totally mesmerized by it! It’s all about the process of embellishing the fabrics with embroidery, beading, pleating, etc. One of my favorites from the film is the little jacket made from what looks like red/white linen dish towels, with custom buttons made to look like little tea cups and broken egg shells lined in gold. SO CREATIVE! They take us to the charming studio and watch the ceramic artist making the buttons. What could be sweeter!

    This youtube has also inspired to take a stab at making my own Chanel-style cardigan jacket, because the one worn by the film’s host(ess) is just so drop-dead gorgeous. I was able to buy an out-of-print Claire Schaffer Vogue pattern on ebay and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.
    Happy New Year!

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