Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Beatles Quilt, Prairie Schooler ABC, Book and Magazines for sale

I have been working on my brother's Beatles birthday quilt for the last few weeks. Had to make the deadline or I knew it wouldn't be done til next year. Love those deadlines. Found the pattern in a Fons and Porter magazine but changed it so that I could incorporate all four panels about the Beatles and the design evolved from there. It is about 72" x 72".  I am thrilled with it—as busy as it is. And I learned a lot of piecing techniques too. I'm giving it to him this afternoon. 

For some reason though I have clicked on "center" on all the pics below, they don't seem to center. The Align Left Fairy seems to be involved...

This is the upper left corner so you can see all the various fabrics—all Beatles fabric.

I sliced the panel into fourths and added the borders. Quilted the outside with black thread but used clear monofilament for the panels.

Had some left over Yellow Submarine fabric and other Beatles fabric so I used them on the back. 

This is the back of the quilt. I like to piece my backs with any leftover fabric from the front!

Have been working steadily on this for several hours every night while we watch TV. Wanted to show you my progress. I filled in the sail in "A" on Tuesday at stitch/knit. Am trying to decide what stitch to substitute for half cross on the pie crust in "B." Wished the pattern had called for a lighter blue in the pie plate as 924 just doesn't let the plate design show through. Oh, well. 

I used an upright gobelin stitch on the trees in "C."

Am going to fill in the bee hives with upright gobelin too. Much faster than all those half crosses!

Used an upright gobelin for the corn in "I" and really like the way it turned out—more realistic than half cross or cross. Still have more to do on the stalk on the left. 

Have the bare bones of kitty done. 

Not much left on the rabbit. He is done in half cross/continental/basketweave on 28 count fabric over one thread—half the time and half the size of cross stitch over 2, and I think it covers well. I use 2 strands of DMC floss.


My friend Ruth wants to sell her copy of Louisa F. Pesel's book Historical Designs for Embroidery. It is a paperback with a comb spine. You can make an offer and send it to my email address on the blog. Shipping would be added. 

She also has volumes 1–24 of the magazine Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly. The premier issue Vol. 1 was in 1991. Make an offer for the group and I will add shipping to this cost.

There are 5 older issues of Piecework Magazine sold in a group. Terms same as with the others. 

Now that the Beatles Quilt is finished, I can start on my gardening, etc. I plan to spend the weekend catching up with things around here.  Haven't even bought my annuals yet. Bill does have his tomato plants in the ground, and I have done some sporadic weeding. Of course, I'm already planning my next quilting and needlework projects. Hope to contribute to my blog again over the weekend. Haven't read any books worth recommending though I read every day. Just finished Lark and Termite recommended by our local bookstore as good for book groups. Couldn't figure out the ending which was weird. Off to have lunch and get going on my "catching up." Have a wonderful long weekend. --Nancy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

more about my Fishing Lady

I forgot to add that the fishing lady piece of mine was a kit from Kathleen Smith of Textile Reproductions in Massachusetts. I just went to her website and found that she still carries the kit. This is the info from the web page. She has lots of interesting textiles there. Check it out. Just google "Kathleen Smith Textile Reproductions."

KIT to make Reclining Shepherdess Picture 

Natural brown linen canvas (approx 20 ct), vegetable dyed worsted yarn & vegetable dyed silk thread. 
Needlework area: approx 18 x 22 inches 
Here's your chance to make an historically accurate textile reproduction yourself! The kit includes everything you need to work a traditional tent stitch picture using 18th century methods. The work is not difficult, but working the entire picture takes many hours. Pictures like this were typically made by girls in their mid teens during the 18th century--building both their skill with a needle and their perseverance.
If you prefer us to do the work, we have a finishedShepherdess picture for sale in our Gallery. 
Price: $275 

Reclining Shepherdess Tent Stitch Picture 

Vegetable-dyed wool and silk thread on linen canvas 
18x22 inches needlework; 21.5x25.75 inches overall 
Tent stitch pictures like this one were popular projects for adolescent girls during the eighteenth century. Young women often attended a school where they were instructed in embroidery techniques desirable as skills for gentlewomen. This piece is worked with both wool and silk threads in tent stitch, as well as embellished with French knots worked over the tent stitching. It is stitched in the traditional manner, i.e., in a way that results in a distorted canvas that must be stretched back to its rectangular shape when the work has been completed. The needlework is tacked to a sealed wooden stretcher frame and framed in the period manner.
We also have a few copies of the kit version for this project in case you want to make your own.


I guess I'll have to take out an insurance policy on my piece! I did supplement the threads that Kathleen included in the kit with some others for the trees and sky. I wanted my trees in different shades for the leaves and wanted more blue in my sky. I also added medicis for some of the grassy area when I ran out of colors and made some of the flowers brighter. I do think it is worth all that time I put into it—but probably not $12,500! This is a reproduction of an actual piece from a museum in New England.

We only had 5 of us at Sampler Group today, but we had a nice visit. Afterwards I finished the book The Postmistress and decided that I really did like it. On to the next book adventure... --Nancy


May seems to be the busiest month of the year. Where has the time gone? My mom was released from rehab last Wednesday and is now back at her apartment in her retirement complex. She has no assistance. She's been walking the halls with her walker and going to out patient rehab 3x a week since last Friday. She is doing so well that they might have her drop to 2x a week! Go Mom!

Bill and I went to our place in Michigan last weekend. The weather was cool but we did get in a boat ride. I sat on the floor of the boat to stay out of the wind. Bill went fishing early Friday morning. I took three of my "masterpieces" up there to get them framed. The first is my shepherdess "tapestry." I bought this kit from a gal in Virginia who had started a bit on the tree but knew she would never finish it. I am crazy about it. It is stitched on a large count linen and the design was drawn on with permanent ink. All is done in tent stitch/basketweave/continental and the strawberries and sheep are enhanced with colonial knots. The threads are hand-dyed wool and silk. I had to purchase more threads and supplement what was in the kit. I also changed some of the design—sky and trees. Looked at all the Boston fishing lady pieces I could find and used their ideas to make this my own. It is large but I'll have to measure the size when I get it back from the framer.

This piece I started last October and finished it in March. It is called Nova and is a design by Genny Morrow. My photo is upside down as the red should be at the bottom. Each square is 12 x 12 threads and is a different combination of colors and stitches. I loved doing this piece. Started out with just one color throughout and then added colors. Every night I looked forward to working on it. It is done entirely in floss—Anchor, DMC and Eva Rosenstaad. It is another large piece. There are over 300 squares on 18 count needlepoint canvas. The other piece that is being framed is my Carriage House Shores of Hawk Run Hollow. I could not get the black outlines straight so sent it to the framer with the frame. Worth it not to struggle with the outlines! Can hardly wait to get these pieces back.

I rolled up my Prairie Schooler ABC on the roller bars and threw it into the car to go to the lake. I have most of the 3371 black/brown completed and am now starting on 420 gold. 

My biggest problem with these charts is that the designer did not use the same symbol for the same color throughout the design. Now when you start designing A, you know you will go to Z so make it easy for us stitchers! Also there are about 4 or 5 different red families used. Am trying to decide whether I want to stick with one family or use them all. Decisions, decisions! This is on 28 count linen over one thread. It is on 26" stretcher bars so is again a big piece. Have had the charts for years and am really enjoying stitching on it.

It's  hard to tell from these pics, but I am using a gobelin/satin stitch on the tree trunks and on the birdcage to the right (for the Parrot—P is for parrot.) If I kept to continental/half cross/basket weave stitch throughout, I would be working on this forever. In appropriate areas I am trying to incorporate stitches that take less time to complete. I'm using two threads of DMC throughout.

Am currently reading The Postmistress set in WWII. It is not as good as I had hoped. It does not compel me to read it, but it's good enough to finish. Finished Little Bee a week ago and enjoyed it. It's fiction about the immigration problem in England and problems in Africa as told by a 16-year-old African girl. It's not a happy book but is very good.

While in Michigan, I visited a wonderful fabric shop that is a chain of 5 or so shops in that state. They were having a terrific sale and I bought enough fabric and batting to make a king-sized quilt for my neighbor/best friend Donna's daughter's wedding quilt—30% off batiks. That was a great accomplishment. I am now in the middle of my brother's the Beatles quilt and it is pretty psychodellic (sp?) but I think he will love it. I am learning some new techniques and more about my sewing machine.

Have to go to yoga now. My Sampler Group is coming this morning when I am gone to yoga but my husband will let them in. I join them after yoga. We have started bringing our own lunch which is easy and someone brings a dessert. There might be only 5 of 11 of us today as life seems to get busier the older we get. Yesterday we had 6 at Tuesday stitch/knit and had a great time as always with good show and tell. If I don't get back on here for a few days it is because I am working on the  Beatles quilt. My brother's birthday is the 26th and I haven't finished sewing it by a long shot. --Nancy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nancy's Antique samplers, Marie Baker, Catharine Baldwin 1836, friendship sampler

It's been a busy week. My mom is still in rehab for her hip replacement and is doing very well. She hopes to go back to her apartment next Wednesday and should be able to manage well on her own with a walker. I have been working on those baby quilts and have only one left to quilt; then on to the binding and they will be finished. After that I have to get going on my brother's Beatles quilt. Bill and I went to the local garden center, The Growing Place, yesterday. It was spectacular with so many things in bloom. I picked out lots of different perennials as I want to see what does well in my garden. Since we removed 5 large arborvitae last fall, I now have lots of sun--hooray. Bill is the Tomato Man and loves growing them. He even has specific varieties that do well for him. He volunteered to plant some of my perennials and I hope he will take an interest in my flower garden and help me with it. I have also been working on the Prairie Schooler ABCs and had to rip out some of the letters as they did not show up when I filled in the background with dark black/brown 3371. It looked good on the photos. What happened? Do you suppose they did not use the colors indicated in the chart? I was not a happy camper. Hate to rip. We had 8 of us at my Tuesday stitch/knit group. Mary brought her version of Carriage House Samplings My Town and we loved it. As always Mary added her personal touch changing things here and there. Of course, we all want to start it and do it the way Mary did hers! Always looking forward to the next project!

Looks like I need to straighten some of these. We did have that small earthquake nearby several months ago! Most of these I had reframed or at least I put acid-free foam core board as a backing.


This sampler is very faded as you can see. I bought it at an auction and loved the heart border. It is American. When I bought it, it was fitted into a tray.

This is the reverse but the colors are still quite pale with the exception of the green border on the hearts.

This is the back of the tray with green felt glued on.

After I ripped off the felt, I saw the corrugated cardboard backing. It is now nicely framed.

This is a very large piece—probably 6 feet long—that I received from my Aunt Dot. I believe it is a chimney piece meant to hang over a chimney. It looks Pennsylvania to me but that is only a hunch. It is stitched on a burlap-like fabric and, unfortunately, is glued to masonite! It is as heavy as can be. There is a rainbow over the barn. Love the American flag. No name and no date.

Notice that the chickens are as large as the horse. Look at the wonderful details on the barn.

There are window shades in the downstairs of the house. Most of the threads are wool.


I also bought this sampler at auction. I think it had been cut off to fit in the frame in which I bought it. I had it reframed.  I assume it is American but have no basis for that fact. The border is honeysuckle.

Started this one by the Examplarary (sp?) and finished it in 2004. It is Joanne Harvey's own design.

Sorry for the blurry photo taken before I framed it. This is another Carriage House Samplings piece that I stitched on 28 count linen over one thread with half cross/continental/basket weave stitch. I filled in the background with probably 3 strands of the black DMC to cover. As I recall, I lengthened the bottom to add my name and town. Think it is a really cute piece and it is pretty small done over one thread.

In probably 1989 and 1990 my Sampler Group stitched a friendship sampler. It was very loosely organized with no rules. Some sent their thread preferences along with the fabric. We had a few problems with people not stitching their part in a timely manner but most were completed and they are all  very different. We stitched what we wanted on each piece so we weren't bored. 

Better go and get those baby quilts finished today. It's raining and very muddy in the garden so I can't finish planting those perennials I bought yesterday. Bummer! What I'd like to do is take a nap on this gloomy day as I spent some time on the couch last night starting at 3 a.m. during the thunderstorms . My big baby of a Golden Retriever doesn't like thunder and he can't climb the stairs any more so I had to sleep downstairs with him! Not fun to sleep on the couch. Be back soon. --Nancy

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I have been busy this week visiting my mom every day. She was transferred to a wonderful local rehab hospital on Friday afternoon. They do rehab 2x a day vs. 1x at other places. She is walking with a walker to and from the rehab gym—amazing considering she is 89 and the surgery was not even a week ago. She has a lovely room with a beautiful view through a large window and it is bright and cheerful there.

One of the families in my neighborhood had their third daughter this week and we got to see her while on our morning walk on Friday. She was only 2 days old. You forget how tiny they are though she was 8 pounds. I am making a simple quilt for her and one small one for each of her sisters ages 3 and 5. Was at Walmart looking for doggie bandanna fabric and found 2 different Mary Englebrite (sp?) panels for fabric books. I am cutting them apart and adding sashing strips to make them into a quilt for each of the big sisters. One is the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the other is various nursery rhymes. They are about 36" x 45".

This one is for the 3 year old. My friend Ruth gave me the striped fabric and it is perfect!

This one below is for the kindergartner. I hope she will be able to read the story soon. I will cut the pages apart and add a small border like I did to the one above. Then I'll quilt it and bind it. Will baste the backings for the three quilts together so I only have to pin two ends to the leaders of my long-arm quilting machine. Then I can quilt one after the other and not pin each quilt—fast. Hope to work on them today. Am waiting for the garden to dry out a bit after last night's rain so I can plant some anenome (sp?) and coral bells that I dug up at my mom's house. 

This is the fabric I found for the baby. Might just make it a whole cloth quilt that is reversible. Don't think I want to add another fabric to the mix. Might bind it in a red. Thought they might be tired of pink for girls since she is the third girl. We forgot to ask her name on Friday morning when we saw her. It was my neighbor Donna, her schnauzer, and me. Bought all the fabric at Walmart on Friday. Hate to hear they're closing their fabric departments. They're great for projects like this. Cute fabric don't you think.


Finished several good books this week. The first was the new Sandra Dallas book Whiter Than Snow. It was good but not one of her better stories. The story takes place in the early 1900's and is about the people in a small mining town in Colorado.

The next was Secrets of Eden by Christopher Bohjalian. It is told in four parts by various characters in the story—a minister, the prosecuting attorney, a gal who writes books on angels (still can't figure out why this was introduced), and the daughter of the victims. It is quite good and you never know "who done it" til the very end. I understand Bohjalian also wrote one of Oprah's book club books.

The one I just finished is a short book called Moments with Baxter by Melissa Joseph. Baxter is a 45 pound part Chow part Golden Retriever dog aged 18 who is a therapy dog though he never had any training. The story is how Baxter gives lots of love to the patients and their families at a San Diego hospice. You will love this book. It is the story of about 30 or so patients and is loaded with heartwarming photos of Baxter interacting with the patients by just being himself. It is not maudlin but a wonderful book of how people and animals relate especially in times of trouble. Baxter looks like a teddy bear and the photos just make you smile.

I just heard from one of my readers that the tours are $200 for 6 people. Also the Plimoth Plantation jacket is now on view at Winterthur. Saw a TV show last week—Needle Arts with Shay Pendray—where they had a large segment on the jacket. If you don't know about it, google it and you will read an amazing story of how this jacket came to be.


Back to the Museum of Science and Industry sampler collection—

ILB 1775—
The next sampler in our tour is another German one. It is on 34 count linen and measures 10" x 42" in cross stitch only. This is the crawfish sampler and is designed in a similar manner as some of the previous German samplers. It was appraised in 1939 at $18, estimated at Sotheby's for 600-1000 pounds sterling and sold at auction for 2185 pounds. I had to cobble two photos together.

Love the lobster and the detailed peacock. 

Below is a photo of the reverse side. Note the bright colors!

CCB 1776—
This sampler was appraised at $15, estimated at Sotheby's for 400-600 pounds sterling and sold at auction for 920 pounds. It is also stitched with cross stitch only on 34 count linen and measures 10" x 41". Could the stitcher be the sister of ILB above? This sampler has a lovely large Adam and Eve with the Tree of Life, the shepherd and shepherdess with their sheep, a small lobster and a wonderful large yellow lion.

This is the reverse—again the brighter colors. Very neat stitching.

SES CFM 1780—
This sampler was appraised at $20, estimated at Sotheby's for 300-500 pounds sterling and sold at auction for 632 pounds in a group of 2 samplers. There are two large stains at the top of the sampler. It is also stitched with cross stitch only on 31 count linen and measures 9" x 46". At the top of the sampler there is an extra piece of linen measuring 5" that was added to increase the size. Again I had to paste together 2 photos.

Love the bird house. Justice is the lady in the blue dress with the scales.

From what I understand these samplers came from northern Germany which is Catholic—Jesus on the cross surrounded by various religious symbols. I once gave a talk on the samplers from the MSI and a gal told me afterward that she was very disappointed that I did not give the meaning of all the symbols on these samplers. I told her we would have been there for days and that I was no expert on sampler symbols! Can't please everyone...

SIS 1746—
This sampler was appraised at $20, estimated at Sotheby's for 400-600 pounds sterling and sold at auction for 920 pounds. It is stitched with cross stitch, satin, stem, buttonhole, chain, couching, French knots, some long arm cross, and a few eyelets on 31 count linen and measures 10" x 39". Threads are silk, cotton and some metallic. 

In this sampler the smaller band designs are at the top of the sampler rather than the bottom.

How about that Chinese "Adam and Eve?"

 The large white dog above fades from the design though you can see his collar. Is that a sea gull or a duck? Look at the little guy in the boat on the left. Wonder what the parrot means? Or do all the motifs have to have been stitched with meaning?

Isn't this magnificent? The couple in their pavilion.

I find it interesting that the German samplers sold for the most money at the Sotheby's auction. Probably it's because they are so pictorial.

I continue to work on my PS ABC and have included some photos of my progress so far. I like to set up a piece.  This one will have 9 letters across each of 3 rows. I am a little tight in the fabric department on the right side but those are 26" stretcher bars and I think I will have no trouble with framing it. Started with the brown 3371 and will do as much as I can before I start another color. Am trying to add other stitches that take up less time like slanted gobelin. This piece is over one thread on 28 count linen and I am using half cross/continental/basketweave stitches, NOT cross stitch. Half the time-half the thread-half the wall space-half the framing cost.

Anchor—Black Bird—Cow


Garden Honey Indian Corn

Next row down—Jack o' lantern—Kitty—

Doesn't seem like much now, but I have worked almost every night for at least 2 hours. Will be glad to get all those boxes done. Wanted to make sure I had enough space across and down before I filled in the rest of the motifs for each letter. Did baste with light grey thread around the dimensions for each letter area. Wanted no surprises. Will have to adjust some of the motifs as they are not all the same size. 

Better go now and work on those baby quilts. I also have a quilt to make for my brother's birthday on the 26th. It's the one with the Beatles fabric. Too much to do and not enough time! Be back in a few days. Don't know how long mom will be in rehab but I like to visit her as she has not been in the hospital since she had my brother 62 years ago! --Nancy