Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My mom had her hip replacement surgery on Monday though it was delayed 6 hours because no one had told either her or my brother or me that she should have taken 1/2 her insulin dosage that morning. All we heard was no medications. Any way, the surgery went well—1-1/2 hours and we were able to see her that night after her time in recovery. They had her up walking and sitting yesterday and will challenge her to go farther today. We also found out about a more aggressive rehab place nearby that will encourage her to get back to normal faster. She is not one for sitting around. At 88 she played golf last summer. On the way home from the hospital I checked out an antiques mall that I had been wanting to see. Nothing very exciting there. What I would love to find is a pencil post bed either single or full-size. Saw one in Early American Life magazine one time and fell in love with it. Saw some on ebay but the shipping would have been more than the price of the bed frame.

Embroiderers' Guild of America (EGA) Correspondence Course—

This sampler was designed by Ilsa Altherr and was a group correspondence course. I stitched it on linen with  DMC floss. I love stitching pieces that have different kinds of stitches and techniques. When the piece was finished, it was mailed to Ilsa and she critiqued it. We received a written critique which is nice to see and helps one learn more from an expert.


This sampler was adapted from one that was in an issue of the old Treasures in Needlework magazine. I remember adding more whitework at the bottom in addition to what was charted. This was stitched with DMC floss on linen. I like to hem my sides as the original samplers were hemmed. These two samplers are hanging in my dining room. 


Quite a few years ago my reproduction samplers were juried into the Early American Homes magazine's craftsman issue. My Graue Mill Sampler appeared on the cover of the magazine along with other "crafts." 


This sampler has neither name nor date stitched on it. It was given to the Graue Mill and Museum. We reproduced this sampler on 30 count linen. It is still available as a chart.

These are photos of the mill...and not very good ones. It is located in Hinsdale, Illinois, on Salt Creek and was a grist mill. They still mill corn there—for the visitors. It was also on the route of the underground railway. Sorry my photos are so dark—before digital photography.

Don't know if you can see the mill wheel and the rapids in the creek.

 This is the original sampler.

When I went back to retake my photo above, they had sewn the sampler reverse side up to a mat board to show the back of the sampler to the visitors.

A few drags between leaves on the borders but ,all in all, pretty good stitching. Cross stitch only. Actually, it is a relief to have a sampler with NO ALPHABETS!

The sampler had been folded to fit into a large gold frame. I don't know if they'll ever get those folds out as linen can get very brittle.

Because of this exposure in Early American Homes, I was asked to design an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree that is in the Blue Room. We had certain specifications to meet. I designed the sampler below reminiscent of the Ruthy Rogers sampler that I had seen in books. After I designed the sampler, I printed out a color page of the exact size of what my ornament would be. I taped it above a doorway at one end of my kitchen so I could see it from afar. After all, the White House tree is huge. I wanted bold, but patriotic colors. I was happy I did that as you could see my ornament near the top of the tree. 

Photos taken behind glass. I made a duplicate of the ornament for myself and have it framed in an inexpensive stock 8 x 10 frame. It's hanging in my powder room.

Bill and I were able to go to the White House in early December 1999 to see the tree and tour the White House as it was all dolled up for Christmas. It is truely a beautiful home with very high ceilings and beautiful art work and furniture. I think I loved the Red Room the best. We were able to stay as long as we wanted, and we took lots of photos. But wouldn't you have thought that Bill and Hillary would have had some coffee and cookies for us? Nope. Not a drop to drink or a bite to eat. And no Bill or Hillary sitings. 

Since we were so close to Williamsburg, I made my husband take me there. I had always wanted to see Williamsburg at Christmas. The door decorations were wonderful and we had a great time. It was a week or two before the holidays so we had the place almost to ourselves. Same with the museums in DC. We stayed in Alexandria, VA, and loved the restaurants there and the shops. It was a lovely trip that I'll never forget.  

Going to go get ready for yoga. Then off to the hospital to visit my mom this afternoon. Be back in a few days. --Nancy

Sunday, April 25, 2010

HANNAH ALSOP, QUILTING, trip to Winterthur

Have been sewing in my basement sewing room or "studio" as the quilters like to call their work room, for the past two days. My neighbor Bev is quilting a king sized quilt on my Innova long arm machine. She is making it for her sister who is in her 40's and getting married for the first time. Her sister, Donna, loves purple, and this quilt is all kinds of purples and mauves. Bev has to either send or take this quilt to Skagway, Alaska, in May for her sister's wedding there. She fears that the post office will be too slow, and what about the price of carry on baggage for the two air lines that she has to use to get to Skagway...Will they both charge her for an extra bag? Well, last night we pinned the back of the quilt to the leaders of the machine and basted the batting to the backing and then basted the front to the top of the batting. She was over here at 8 a.m. this morning to start quilting. She is doing a kind of large meandering that looks really good. She had wanted to do a pantograph (where you follow a pattern with a laser light) but to her surprise, the free-hand quilting is a lot faster and more fun to boot. I sent her home last night with a white dry erase board to practice various designs. I am working on my ABC jackets while she quilts. Have mine all quilted. Now to put it together.  Bev only has one more row to quilt, and then she can take it home and put on the binding and tie off the threads--where one bobbin ended or the thread happened to break. We used a new to me lovely shiny thread in a fantastic mauve color. Bev volunteers for the breast cancer hot line from 3-5 today and will be back at 5 to finish up. Long arm quilting can be very fast depending on what kinds of designs you quilt.


This is a photo of the photo of the reverse. She was a good stitcher though she didn't finish her border. It seems I don't have a photo of the front of the antique sampler... but you get the idea.

Hannah Alsop is one of the samplers that we reproduced. It is a simple marking sampler with a tremendous family history that I include with the chart. Hanna was from Middletown, Connecticut, and one of many children. Her mother was a prosperous woman who ran the family businesses when her husband was in Maine looking for land to purchase.

This is a photo of Hannah in her later years.

These are black and white photos of Hannah's grandmother and her mother, Mary Wright Alsop. They are photos of two paintings in the collection of the art museum of the Smithsonian. Notice the lovely lace in their clothing. They were wealthy women.  Mary was an only child.


I love this queen stitch pocket book. Mary was such a good needleworker to stitch both her name and date on her piece. I hope you mark your work with your name or initials and the year. 

As you can see above, Hannah's mother, Mary Alsop, was a talented and prolific stitcher. Many of her pieces of stitching and knitting are in the textile collection at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Notice how Mary stitched either her own name or the name of the person who was to receive the piece on each purse or man's pocketbook. These are photos from Winterthur's stock slide collection.

I was lucky enough to twice take a tour of the Winterthur needlework collection. The first trip was via the Embroiderers' Guild of America. Five of my friends and I went to a sampler symposium at Winterthur where we heard lectures and were shown textiles by the curator Susan Burroughs Swann. Susan Swann has written two wonderful classic books about the needlework at Winterthur. One was called Plain and Fancy.  I think the other was the Winterthur Guide to American Needlework. You can also go and see the needlework collection at Winterthur. They have group tours for a special rate, and you get to roam all over that huge house/museum and see the textiles (with a guide.) This is one of the best museums in America for viewing American textiles, porcelain, furniture, wall paper, etc. If you ever get a chance to go there, run... but call ahead to find out about the special needlework tours. I hope they still have them. And they were a reasonable rate.

A few years after we went to the  EGA sampler symposium at Winterthur, my friends Ruth and Marcia and I were in Middleltown, Connecticut, where Hannah Alsop grew up. We asked around and were told that this was Mary Wright Alsop's home. Later while reading the literature we picked up there, we found out that this was once a home of one of her son's, not Mary's. It was a fraternity house at one time and is now an art museum. 

There are several trompe l'oeil paintings on the outside of the house. 

While in the Philadelphia area for the Sampler Symposium, we took a tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection of samplers. Mostly we saw black and white photos of them. These samplers were from the Whitman Collection—like the Whitman chocolates with the sampler designed boxes. 

We had dinner with the gal who used to reproduce samplers under the business name of Simply Samplers. 

We visited the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, PA, and saw samplers there. This was before the days of the internet, and I had written to numerous people and places in the Philadelphia area to see samplers. The curator there at Chester Cty HS asked what samplers we wanted to see so I looked through all my sampler books and picked out every sampler that I could find from their collection. The curator brought out only the samplers I asked to see—not any more--puleese! They do have lovely samplers in their collection that were a treat to see.

We went for a tour at West Town School which is located very close to West Chester, PA, and saw their map samplers and the samplers that were hung on the walls of all their offices and then we were taken down to the storage area where they had put out many more samplers for us. One had been decoupaged into a tray—a crying shame as it was one of the geometric ones. Who would decopage a sampler! For Pete's sake! They have a wonderful huge painting by Andrew Wyeth's father. I can't think of his name. It is in the cafeteria and is a picture from one of the children's classics that he illustrated. 

We also went to Malvern, PA, to visit a woman who had lovely huge gardens there. She lived in a wonderful house full of antiques and exquisite crewel work curtains that she had stitched when she and her husband were out on their boat. The gardens were wonderful, and she served us lunch in her home. I remember nasturtiums on our plates. There have been articles in some of the needlework magazines of her curtains. I remember one in Threads Magazine years ago. I can't remember her name. A long time ago I found the notebook of this trip and all the letters I had written to the Philadelphia area to find things for us to see and do while we were there. I would have had her name in the notebook. 

As the days wore on, our friends had to leave. Marcia and I were the last to stay and we visited the Schwenkfelder Museum and then went up to Allentown to look at samplers there. Lastly we went to Lancaster and wen to the Landis Valley Museum and the farmer's market. It was a wonderful trip that none of us will ever forget. This was in the late 1980's.

Better go. Bev is coming back to finish her quilt. My 89 year old mom is having hip replacement surgery tomorrow at noon so I don't know how busy I'll be this week with her. Have to scare up some knitting to take to the hospital where the lighting is never great. Hope to talk soon.  --Nancy

Friday, April 23, 2010


Been catching up around here as I have no scheduled events today or tomorrow. Took two orders to the post office this afternoon and finished reading Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt. It was a sweet book, and I liked it. Wanted to get out in the garden and weed and transplant things but never got there either yesterday or today, and now it is supposed to rain all weekend. It just started, and we do need the rain.

BEATLES QUILT and aphabet jackets—
Finally figured out how to work the computer quilt designing program EQ6 and was able to print up a pic of my quilt and the cutting instructions for the blocks. Now I have to decide which Beatles fabric to put in each block. They are all somewhat alike so I will emphasize all the different fabrics and not worry about the general design. It is for my brother who has always been a Beatles fan and I'm sure he won't care about a fabulous design! Also have a flannel jacket pattern laid out on my table. My friend Edie had some of that older alphabet/colonial houses flannel fabric left over, and I am going to quilt it to some sweatshirts that we have taken apart. Was going to quilt them on my long arm machine, but decided it would actually work better on my regular machine with a walking foot. We're making jackets. Want to get that project done.


I purchased Jane Anderson from an auction quite a few years ago. Loved the bright reds on this sampler.  It was framed in a gold frame and had a red velvet ribbon glued to the border. She was stitched with wool thread on a linen fabric. I have done no research on her and have not charted her. Love those strawberries on the border.

Note the peacocks and trees and flower basket motifs—typical Scottish motifs. Also family initials.

A MC ALISTER 1835 sampler—

This sampler is owned by my friend Genevieve. It is stitched with wool thread on a linen ground. I started charting this sampler but never finished it as I recall. I might have been getting serious with designing my miniature samplers then. The five little cherry trees under the house were stitched over one thread. Note the twill tape sewn around the outside of the sampler. This was a common practice before framing. The twill tape would get holes punched in it from the nails in the frame not the sampler.

Note the family initials.


Janet Irving is in a private collection in Chicago. It is owned by a family member. Janet stitched her sampler with wool thread and some silk (upper alphabets and initials and signature line at the bottom of the sampler) on a linen ground. Note the initials JI JI and FE SE. They are stitched in black and are Janet's grandparents who must have been dead in 1845.

I did reproduce this sampler, and did include the family history or as much of it as I knew then before the days of the internet. Though I stitched it with medicis wool, I do include a color code with DMC floss.

The sampler was glued to a mat board, probably because of the deteriorating linen ground, but the wool thread did not fade as silk would have done. So I matched the wool to the colors on the front of the sampler.

Janet stitched the name of her school (Hillfoot School) in the signature line of the sampler. I love the bright lively colors.

This is the reproduction. In the flesh it does not have that bluish tone. I took the photo in the shade years ago when I didn't know much about photography.

Robina Drysdale Jack Sampler 1850—

This is a sampler that I reproduced and mentioned in an earlier post. It is Scottish. The first photo is the antique and the second is the reproductiion.

Reproduction below.


This is the final Scottish sampler that I can talk about. I purchased this sampler at a local flea market a few years ago. It is large and came in a wonderful frame. My friend Donna reguilded the frame with gold leaf. In this photo it is lying on my wood floor on a mat board. I have not reproduced this sampler.

There are some wonderful motifs on this sampler. It is stitched with silk, not wool. Note the familiar peacocks and the smaller version of our tulip flower arrangement below them.

I think Eve is a bit taller than Adam...or is it her hair?

A wonderful ship with eyelets. Note how tightly Margaret pulled her cross stitches.

LOVE the cat!

These lozenges with the family initials inside are kind of like the "Boston" lozenges. Love the little dog with the blue eye and collar. Again note how tightly she pulled her stitches in the green lozenge.

Very nice flower basket. I think this picture belongs above the previous one.

This is probably the best sampler that I own. I have not reproduced it. Been there. Done that. I guess I'm into other things now. When I hit 60 some years ago, I realized that I had a lot to finish up in my life—like several drawers of things to stitch, knit, sew, etc. I want to stitch Dutch Beauty. I want to finish the Prairie Schooler ABC's. I want to make quilts and knit sweaters. Don't have time to reproduce more samplers or design more miniatures. I am on to new things and other people's designs and am having a great time though it is great fun reminiscing about things on this blog.

Better go and eat dinner. I have the other half of the vegetable lasagne that I ordered when we went out to eat last night. Why do Italian restaurants serve so much food in one portion! I have the DVD of Grey Gardens to watch while I stitch. I think it won an Emmy or other award and is about some of Jackie Kennedy's wierd relatives. Will let you know what I think of it. I think Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore are in it. Gotta go now. See you later in the weekend. --Nancy

P. S.  I started this post earlier in the afternoon and left it a bit as I uploaded a bunch of the photos. Then when I came back to work on the blog,  I hit a wrong button and the photos were deleted so I had to do it over again. This is why I say I'm going to eat. It's 6 pm here in Chicago and I have cut out some of the sweatshirt jacket pieces for both jackets. Bye...

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Finally sitting down to write after a busy week so far. Have yoga on Monday and Wednesday mornings and my stitch/knit group here on Tuesday mornings, and my Sampler Group of 25 years met here yesterday. I had a pile of papers to go through on my desk and was able to plow through them at last. So much for a paperless society! On Sunday I went to my mom's house, which we are trying to sell, to help my brother clear out the debris from the crawl space. We are under contract for the 3rd time and want the inspection to go through with no problem. It is an interesting time in real estate these days.

Finished reading both Zoya and Jewels by Danielle Steele. My friend Zeena had recommended them, and I think they are better than her newer books. Read her for a non-thinking experience. Decided I don't like her detached style. She really just observes the characters and doesn't get inside their heads. But they are a diversion. Have now started Saving Cee Cee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman. Like it so far. It is about life in Savannah and an "orphaned" girl and the characters she meets when she goes to live there with her Great Aunt Tootie. I have found that I really love many of these books that take place in the South.

I'm still working on the Prairie Schooler ABC. The problem is that they are not all the same dimensions! So I have to adjust here and there. Makes life interesting.

There seem to be a lot of Scottish samplers out there. This is one from a private collection. Eliza Jones came to the US from Scotland. As is typical of Scottish samplers, she stitched the names of family members. Her sister Mary must have died because her name is stitched in black. I would imagine that the braided hair at the bottom of the sampler might be Mary's. Eliza's father went to California to the gold rush but got sick and died. He never returned home. I love the way Eliza labeled her parents, brothers and sisters.  Sorry the first photo is blurred. I took it years ago. You can still get the idea of the layout of the sampler. It is on a very fine count linen. We did not reproduce this sampler. Didn't know where to get the hair!

Love the "continued" under the right basket! Look closely at the rosebuds in the border. I think that they were overstitched with a red at a later date. What do you think?

The flower below the basket is similar to Quaker flowers.

 The hearts on either side of the hair "trellis" are done in queen stitch. I think that the gold color on the large flowers and flower basket was also added at a later date.


Agnes Brown is in the collection of my friend Genevieve. Notice the various sets of initials on the sampler. I started charting the sampler but never finished it. Found that more stitchers prefer a pictorial sampler and are tired of stitching the ABC's.

Genevieve took this photo while laying the sampler on her vinyl kitchen floor. That is what the reflection  at the bottom of the sampler is. The peacock, trees and large flowers and vase motifs are typical of Scottish samplers. As I recall, the sampler was stitched with wool thread on a linen fabric. 

More floor reflection on this photo. Love the large red grape vine border. Notice more family initials.

My BETTY KEY 1807 sampler is also Scottish.

antique sampler—————reproduction


Genevieve also owns Elizabeth Traill. This is a lovely Adam and Eve sampler. It is stitched with wool thread on linen. Note that all the samplers either have selvedges or hemmed edges—no excess linen. 

The large elaborate letters at the top are the initials of her parents.

When I chose the color for Adam and Eve and had the sampler stitched by Marge Gaebel, I thought I had picked the correct color. But when I received the sampler from Marge, I decided that the pink was too purple. Poor Adam and Eve looked cold! I took out the stitches and restitched them myself. It is not easy taking out one's own stitching, but another's—not fun!

Because Elizabeth stitched all these wonderful initials on her sampler, I was able to find out some information on her and her family. I did reproduce this sampler and her family history is included with the chart.

Typical Scottish trees.


speckled snake and speckled dog

I have a big order to get out. Better get going on it. Also want to do a bit of gardening as we are supposed to get a lot of rain here this weekend. If you like my blog, tell your sampler/stitching/quilting friends about it. I love receiving your comments. Bye for now. --Nancy