Friday, March 5, 2010


When we first started our business, Threads Through Time, it was difficult to find antique samplers to reproduce. I sent out a letter (no email in those days) to all the historical societies in the Chicago area searching for samplers in their collections. Always wondered if the person who read my letter even knew what a sampler was. I only received a few responses. One was the from the Downers Grove Historical Society in Downers Grove, Illinois. Their Hannah Kennedy sampler is not local to the area but was donated to the organization. They have no idea as to the history of either the sampler or Hannah. It is a small marking sampler stitched in blues and golds.


Above you see the antique sampler and also it's reverse. I have found that many of the backs of antique samplers are just like this—though Hannah's does look a bit "angry" doesn't it! While stitching samplers, the girls learned their alphabet, numbers, and sometimes a moral verse, but no one seemed to be monitoring the actual stitching. So, dear readers, this is a message for you:  loosen up. The backs of your work don't really need to be so perfect. The stitching police will never give you a ticket for a messy back on your piece. Just make sure the mess doesn't show on the front! Enjoy your stitching and relax too. I have known stitchers who agonize over every stitch...and they don't get a lot accomplished. When I turned 60 four years ago, I kind of panicked and recognized that I didn't have a "lifetime" to get all my projects completed. Now I work on one project every night for several hours until it is done. I know that that technique does not work for everyone, but it does for me. With only one project in the works, I can concentrate on it and get it finished as fast as I can while enjoying the process and the piece. Every night when I pick up my stitching, I know exactly where I am and what thread to use and how many strands, etc. I seem to get a lot accomplished this way. 

Back to Hannah. This is her small marking sampler. When we started the business, we took on any sampler that we could find—not just the beautiful ones. You have to start somewhere. As the business grew and we built a reputation, we discovered other wonderful samplers to reproduce. At a Questor's meeting where I gave a slide show on antique samplers, we learned of two nice samplers that were owned by a local woman. I'll tell you about them tomorrow after I get home from a quilt show in Hinsdale. I'm going with my mom who turns 89 in a week and who still plays golf and bridge. She used to stitch and sew, but now concentrates on mainly bridge—regular and duplicate. I'd rather be stitching!

I recently finished the Carriage House design of the houses by the sea. Can't remember the name of it but you know what I mean. Stitched it on 28 count linen as I recall with DMC floss. Decided to change the layout and add a verse that I found on the internet and adapted and I changed some of the colors. All these changes added to my stitching time, but the piece is finished and waiting to be framed. I have the frame and tried to pin the piece to the acid-free mat board but didn't have the patience to wrestle with the black outlines. I think I'll take it to someone who can frame it better than me. It was a fun piece to stitch. I stitched it using continental and basketweave stitches over 1 thread of the linen—like needlepoint. Half the stitching and half the time and half the size.

You can see that I did not work this entire piece in half cross stitch (continental or basket weave). I started getting bored with the same old stitch so part way through the stitching I added some needlepoint stitches to the mix. Decided these also gives it some needed texture. You can see them on the large gold moon and especially on the red house. I also stitched the sails in satin stitch to make them stand out. Should have used a darker linen to make my threads stand out but didn't realize it until I had spent too much time to go back.

It is finally beautiful and sunny here in Naperville and the old dingy snow is slowly melting. Even the daffodils are starting to emerge from the cold soil though it will be a while before we see their blooms. Spring is coming to the midwest and it can't come too fast for me! 

No comments:

Post a Comment