What Are You Stitching?
17th June 2022
Samplers were originally stitched to learn and practise a particular stitch, but also to act as a reference piece. They consisted of different motifs, different types of stitches and different techniques. Historic samplers often included verses or proverbs that were also meant to be contemplated.
Nowadays, samplers remain popular projects mainly because of their beauty, however they are still an exceptionally good way to learn new stitches. Today we bring you two types of samplers with two very different stories. We hope they bring you inspiration.
‘Here’s my variation of the Eleanor Parr Reproduction Sampler from The Scarlet Letter. It is stitched on 46ct Vintage Sand Dune with Gloriana threads. I do feel a bit guilty about leaving her name off, but there is a story behind it.’
‘I love birds and I wanted to stitch this sampler from the moment I first saw it. However, I did not feel the verse fit, so I went on a quest for something more pleasing. I read poems, prayers and promises all winter long until I found an old print of an Alice Cary poem on Pinterest and fell in love with it. But it had no title.’
‘I found out what I could about Alice & Phoebe Cary, American sisters who were both successful poets in the 1800’s. They had published several volumes of poetry, so I bought book after book, but couldn’t find it. I finally found the title, ‘In the Dark’, but was still lacking the full poem. It took a third book purchase, and I finally found it.
I started my stitching on January 11th, 2020. When the pandemic hit in March it didn’t affect me much, except missing my stitching time with friends. I continued to stitch every afternoon.’
‘By May 5th I had completed the border and had hand charted the verse. However, that morning, I suddenly couldn’t read names flashed up on the TV screen, as all I could see were the last few letters. I thought I had rubbed my itchy eyes and disturbed my cataract replacement lenses. I couldn’t even see the buttons on my phone to call my doctor! I looked in the mirror, and shockingly I could only see one eye and half my face.
An MRI showed I’d had two strokes, affecting sight and memory. It took a while to be able to read again, and I struggle to remember names of designers or the flowers in my yard. But, I was very lucky to get my sight back, as bad as it is.’
‘I missed a week of stitching before I forced myself to try again. I was so bored! I had trouble following the pattern so I started with my beautiful poem that I had hand charted on huge graph paper and did the best I could to keep it centred. I used real hair on the girls; mine and my daughter-in-law’s. My photos don’t show how pretty it is.’
‘I was going to figure out a way to include Eleanor’s name at the bottom of the poem but decided to sign it myself and add 2020 right after. It’s my code for ‘eyesight’ as well as the year. I don’t want to pay homage to the pandemic other than that.
The point of my very long story is this:
Do the hard thing, the beautiful thing, and then finish it. Our tomorrow is not guaranteed.
If I lose my sight my hobby is gone. My stitching is my legacy, and I feel humble to be part of a wonderful stitching community. And didn’t the poem I chose eerily fit what happened to me?’
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, Barbara. It is incredible to read about your resilience and persistence and to hear how stitching got you through. We wish you well in your continuing recovery and hope that you enjoy many years of stitching ahead.
‘With what’s going on with Ukraine and with Easter just past, I thought I’d share a sampler that I taught as a class a while ago. There are three of them; one is whitework; another is on white bridal satin and the third is on black dupion silk.’
‘As I dug out these three Ukraine Eggs, I also found my teaching piece. I used it in class to show students how to do some stitches. It was unfinished so I sat and finished it up to send in to All Stitched Up!’
These are lovely samplers, Bunny. They are gorgeous in the range of stitches and techniques and look like they were a lot of fun to stitch. Thank you for taking the time and effort to complete them and send them in so we can all enjoy your wonderful work.
Do you love stitching samplers? Do you like making up your own samplers? Or do you like to stitch reproduction samplers, either precisely or with personal touches and additions just for you? Or are there other projects you like to stitch?
Whatever it is you like to stitch, we’d like to see it. Send us a picture of your work with a bit of information about the project and your stitching journey to firstname.lastname@example.org