Embroidery newsletter provides free designs, source of inspiration

Posted Oct. 08, 2012, at 11:03 a.m.

Nearly every day, Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread Newsletter shows up in my email inbox. Each time, the missive delivers tips, tricks and great resources for hand embroidery.

Receiving the newsletter is like having my own video stitch library right in front of me. Corbet, who lives in Kansas, recently posted video demonstrations on how to do certain stitches, including Colonial knots (looks a little like a French knot), raised stem stitch, shisha mirror embroidery stitch, and a roster of embroidery stitches by name from A to Z. It’s like attending my own private embroidery class.

I learned that the French knot is about wrapping the thread several turns around the needle, which can decline into a fight to keep the proper tension on the thread — too much and it’s difficult to pull the needle through the wraps, too little and the knot will sprawl in a most ungainly way. The Colonial knot also is about wrapping the thread, but it’s done in a figure-eight pattern, making it a bit easier to maintain the correct tension.

Raised stem stitch, I discovered, involves rows of vertical stitches across an area, such as a border, then making stem stitches, without piercing the fabric, over the vertical stitches, giving a sculptural effect.

Shisha stitch is used to hold small mirrors, usually round, in place. However, Corbet uses the technique to hold down items other than tiny mirrors, including circles of paper cut from pretty greeting cards. The instructor for this stitch, on YouTube video, is none other than the ultimate stitcher’s guru Erica Wilson, who died a few months ago. Corbet included the link in her newsletter. Go to youtube.com/watch?v=U_fgZD960Xo to access the video. When Wilson was filmed many years ago demonstrating the shisha stitch, she was unable to find small mirrors. She improvised with circles of mylar fabric and circles cut from cardstock wrapped with aluminum foil.

Another nice thing about Corbet’s newsletter is that it provides many free patterns and links to other web sites where more free patterns may be obtained.

With all this instruction and freebies at my fingertips, I did a lot of embroidery this summer. I especially enjoyed stitching a leaping bunny designed by Betty DeKat of http://primitivebettys.blogspot.com/. I found the design at http://freecraftarticles.blogspot.com/2010/05/easter-and-bunny-stitcheries-and.html. The bunny design is free for personal use, but not for monetary gain.

One aspect of Corbett’s newsletter I find especially interesting is when a piece of vintage embroidery comes her way, she attempts to dissect how it was created, what stitches were used and what materials.

In her newsletter, Corbett often reminds readers there’s more than one way to solve an embroidery problem, and that “rules” don’t necessarily apply. She encourages stitchers to think of embroidery as a way to play with thread and cloth.

To subscribe to the Needle ‘n Thread newsletter, visit needlenthread.com, where you will find how-to videos, tips and techniques and free patterns.

Snippets

Old Town Knights of Columbus Craft Fair will take place 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the K of C Hall, Gilman Falls Avenue. Local crafters will sell their specialties, a food table will be sponsored by the Daughters of Isabella, and the kitchen will be open for lunch.

Memory Makers biennial quilt show will take place 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct.14, at the Penquis Higher Educational Center, 50 Mayo St. in Dover-Foxcroft. The show theme is “UFOs and Beyond.” The event will feature dozens of quilts and quilted projects, door prizes, several vendors, a quilt raffle, Ye Olde Quilt Shoppe, a Mason jar raffle, and the Linus Blanket and Book display and contest. On Saturday, a luncheon and scissors sharpening will be available. Admission is $3. A portion of proceeds will benefit Project Linus, the Womencare pillowcases project, the quilts for oncology patients projects, Thayer Parkway Recreation Center, the Penquis Higher Education Center Scholarship Fund and other local charities.

The University of Maine at Farmington annual Arts and Crafts Show is seeking artists and crafters from across Maine to exhibit original and creative work in the show. The event will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, in the UMF Olsen Student Center on South Street. For information or to book space for the event, call the UMF conference and events office at 778-7344 or email Doris Tutlis at doris.tutlis@maine.edu.

Crafters are wanted for a craft fair 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at Sunbury Village, 922 Ohio St. in Bangor. For information, call Renee at 942-0802 or 262-9600.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com. Don’t forget to visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.

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