Saturday, January 29, 2011


Am slowly getting caught up around here. For the past 35+ years I have been editing a newsletter for my college sorority chapter, Delta Gamma at Michigan State. I include gals who were initiated in the years 1946–1970. Used to also include the younger ones from 1971–75 but they never wrote so I dropped them. I send out about 450 initial letters in addition to emailing those who have email addresses. Usually I hear from about 150-200 of them. They mostly still live in Michigan, but one is married to a Dutch man and lives in Dubai, 2 are in Canada, and one in Britain. There are 60 some who are "lost" and about the same number have died. I was born in 1946 so it is interesting to see what has become of all these women over the years. When I started out at MSU, you had to wear skirts to class; and the year I graduated you could wear anything and didn't even have to come home to your dorm or sorority house at night—crazy times those late 60's were! For the initial letter of the newsletter I used to stuff a small envelope pre-addressed to me with their questionnaire. The questionnaire was already filled out by my computer, and I had to stuff all those envelopes and lick all those stamps and envelopes. Yuk! This week I decided to try the new--to me--larger 6.5" x 11" postcards. Also bought a new data base and new desktop publishing program for my newer Mac. Everything takes a bit of a learning curve, but I have the post cards finally ready to go. Luckily, my old huge trusty HP printer did not make mincemeat of my card stock. I even decided to allow the gals to pay me via PayPal if they wish, and I can send the newsletter to them in an e-pub format so that they can read it on their e-readers. Received a note today from one gal kicking and screaming about how she didn't like new technology and didn't ever use her GPS—just her trusty old paper maps! It should be an interesting journey this year!!


ANN CARTER—We found this large English sampler at our local historical society, Naper Settlement, Naperville, IL. In years past historical societies accepted anything that was given as a gift no matter its origin or pertinence to their collection. I always joked about this sampler calling it the "uterus" sampler! Love it despite the weird basket. It is a typical English sampler stitched on a fine wool ground—note the moth holes—and filled with motifs. Ann Carter also stitched the name of her school—Withy Ditch School in Dunkerton. Withy refers to willow. The sampler is on a very fine count so we decided to stitch it over 1 thread on 20 count fabric. In those days stitchers did not tolerate over one stitching. We took only a small part of the sampler to reproduce. As you can see, the border on the original is not counted but stitched with embroidery stitches in a beautiful vine. 

This sampler is in a private collection. It is also a Withy Ditch School sampler! Hard to believe. The setup is the same as the original Ann Carter sampler. Note that it is stretched on a wooden frame. I would have thought that the fabric touching the wood would have darkened, but not so.

 I think that must be Margaret standing on the roof of her house or school!

Another ADAM & EVE Sampler—

Jane Salusbury—
My friend's daughter brought this sampler home from England. It was stitched on linen with a wool thread. Unfortunately it is not dated. I call this the short waisted Adam & Eve. Love their bright pink skin!

I reproduced this on linen with DMC thread. It is cross stitch only.

We reproduced the Mary Walker sampler. As you can see, It is deteriorating very badly. I had originally thought it was a Quaker sampler, but not so. Wrong kind of alphabets.

The reverse of the sampler is below. Very neat stitcher. Hard to tell the front from the back.

Remember there were very few linen color choices in the late 1980's and early 1990's when we reproduced this sampler. I imagine many stitchers "antiqued" it when it was finished.

I can't seem to get the pics of the Eliza Low Pumroy sampler to line up the way I want. Sorry

The photo on the left is the front of the antique sampler. 

On the right is the reverse of the bottom of the sampler. It was stitched with wool and is probably English in origin.  

On the left is the front of the top of the sampler. Note the small buttonholed hanger on the top right. I think a bunch of moths feasted on this piece—lots of missing wool in the letters. 

On the right is the reverse of the entire sampler. 

Below is the front of the bottom of the sampler. Note that the piece is hemmed on all sides. 

 This is the reproduction. It was stitched with DMC floss on 35 count cream linen. The colors are based on the original wool colors.

This is the top of the reproduction before it was hemmed.

 Note the inscription above: Eliza Low Pumroy is my name and with my needle I worked the same although my age is but small twice 4 and that is all. She was only 8 years old. Hard to imagine.

Below is the photo of the gal who collected the sampler. She had worked in a dry goods store in Marshall, Michigan. At one time she was named the prettiest girl in Marshall. The man who was later her husband used to stop by to sell things to the store. He fell in love with her and persuaded her to marry him. He was from New York. After they were married, she found out that he was very wealthy. They probably traveled alot and she collected her samplers then. Samplers were her favorite thing to collect.

This last sampler is a very tiny one stitched on 48 count gauze. I designed it in the Boston style and stitched it as a project for my friend Annelle Ferguson's book about miniature needlework. 


  1. Lovely samplers! I love the name "Withy Ditch!"

  2. Another wonderful post. I am really enjoying reading about these wonderful sampler. I also love the name Withy Ditch. - Sandra.

  3. Very interesting pictures and info about the samplers. I love learning.
    Really love the story of the most beautiful girl in Marshall. Sounds like she was a wonderful lady.
    Never heard of the Withy Ditch shool. Who would have guessed at such a school you know more?

  4. That's extraordinary! I have in my collection of old samplers a work stitched by Anne Weaver from Withy Ditch School, in 1852 also, very similar to Ann Carter's except for the bottom part! If you can contact me by e-mail I'll gladly send you a photo!

  5. It's marvellous and touching to look at this samplers ! What beautiful work made by so young girls !!!! Thank you for giving us the possibility to discover such beautiful embroderies ! (and sorry for my bad english). Have a good week Clementine from Franche-Comté in France

  6. Hello Nancy! I tried to leave a comment the other day but it doesn't seem to have worked. I was very interested by your sampler by Ann Carter, for I have in my collection a sampler, dated 1852, stitched by Ann Weaver from Withy Ditch school too.They may have been schoolmate! The upper part of my sampler is similar (flower basket) but the bottom is different. I'll be happy to send you photos if you wish.

  7. Emmanuelle, I would love the see the photo of your Withy Ditch school sampler. Can I publish it with pics of the two that I know of? If so, that would be great so we could study the three of them side by side. Thank you for letting me know. --Nancy

  8. Nancy, here's a link for the article in which I present this sampler (sorry it's in French, at this time the article were not yet translated, as I do now!)
    Since then I unframed it and made better and more detailled photos. I you leave a comment or contact me directly via my blog,I'll be able to get your address and send you photos (I just do not prefer to write my address here!!). It will be very interesting indeed to see them side by side!