Friday, January 14, 2011


What I need is two weeks with nothing on my calendar. I finally sent out my Christmas cards yesterday. The kicker is that I couldn't get my old but good color laser printer to work with my "new" Mac computer. They may not be compatible though I downloaded the latest printer drivers at least once. So frustrating! This kind of thing gnaws at me, but I don't have time to troubleshoot now.

Have been taking care of baby Ryan, my grandson almost 6 months old, for the last two weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Finally got him to take somewhat longer naps this week though he must have caught a cold at day care last week and I know how hard it is to sleep with a stuffy nose. It seems the minute I get into something around here, he wakes up. He is so cute and smily and good, but my schedule is not the same any more with him around--though I won't give him up. Grandpa even helped quite a bit yesterday.

The Ann Rayner Sampler—
Am trying to get out several orders today so I can take them to the post office tomorrow morning. Wyndham Needleworks still carries my miniatures and reproduction samplers in charts, and I also have an order for In Stitches in Alexandria, VA. The Ann Rayner  1839 sampler continues to be popular. It must be the bright colors.

This is a terrible pic of the terrific original sampler. Remember there was no digital photography when I took these pictures! The original sampler was stitched with wool thread on a wool ground. We do not know any history on Ann as she stitched no town or school names on her sampler. Her border is quite unusual.

Ann Rayner closeup. The lambs are stitched over one thread. Notice the hemmed edges.

The sampler is in very good shape. 

This is the reproduction on 30 count tea linen with DMC floss. When we reproduced our samplers in the 1980s and 90s, there were very few choices of linen—cream, white, natural, tea. 

You'll never be bored with this sampler!

We reproduced some samplers from the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago. The collection had never been documented, and as I told you last fall, I made a notebook of all of their samplers. Look carefully at this sampler below...I would say that the shepherd/shepherdess/sheep motifs are the same as those in Ann Rayner. This sampler was stitched in 1824 vs. Ann Rayner in 1839. I was astounded when I saw the similarities. The border on the Ann Rayner sampler is the border below Eliza Himsworth's name. Eliza was 11 years old when she stitched her sampler. It is a large one at 22" x 21.5". She used 27 count linen with silk threads. I did not reproduce this sampler and it is now in a private collection somewhere as the Museum sold their entire collection of samplers at Sotheby's in London.

Love the raccoon-eyed cats sitting on their silk cushions—complete with tassels. 

In order to get the entire sampler in my pic, I had to fold over the top. Note the nail holes in the edge of the linen. When looking at the back of the sampler, you'll notice that Eliza was a neat and tidy stitcher.

Looks like there was some moisture problem at one time as the green dye of the grass seems to have bled upwards.

Speaking of Rayner samplers, my friend Genevieve owns the Mary Rayner sampler. As far as we know, she is no relation to Ann Rayner, and the samplers are very different in style. Mary stitched her sampler in 1850 at the time samplers were going out of fashion. This is a large sampler. The original measures 24.75" wide x 16.25" tall. It was nailed to wooden stretcher bars when framed. It was stitched with wool thread which has remained quite vivid.

I think the sampler was still under glass in its frame when I took this photo! But you can still see the stitches quite well. I love the bright reds in the prickly roses and the little rosebud border.

Don't know what the bright blue fruit/flower is. 
Any guesses? 
I always thought of it as egg plant though that is more purple than blue.

I stitched the reproduction on 32 count linen. 
It is about 21" x 14.5" finished. 
Mary used no other stitches than cross stitch. 
I like the pine trees and daffodils/tulips too.

Have to go and finish up my order. Am going to the library tomorrow morning as the DAR is coming to help members with genealogy questions. I am in the process of becoming a member--as I love history--and I do have 2 relatives who served in the Revolutionary War--a husband and wife in Virginia in the 1780s. I can trace myself back to them, but I really need help looking for my paternal great grandfather, John Bitzer, who lived at least his married life in Cincinnati, Ohio and who died there too. I have his death certificate but no birth certificate or any idea of where he came from. I'm also looking for my paternal grandmother, Frances Lena Seiler, who was born in Iowa. Iowa has not opened up its records to the public, and I can't seem to locate a birth certificate for her. I know the names of her parents but have come to a dead end with them too. Genealogy is a fascination for me. It really sucks you in to keep looking for those long lost ancestors. Just one more search, just one more search...and there you are hours later still sitting at the computer. Wish I had more time...Talk soon. Nancy 


  1. Thank you for the opportunity of seeing the original Ann Rayner up close. It is such a beautiful sampler and it is in my kitted up sampler collection.
    I always find it quite interesting when a sampler is found with similar pieces to another. It always makes me wonder about the girls who stitched these wonderful pieces.
    I am also hooked on family research. I know what you mean about finding it so frustrating when I come to a complete dead end. = Sandra.

  2. Thanks for writing, Sandra. I make the photos XL so you can get a great view of the piece even when the quality of the pic is not great. Hard to believe that I could have stumbled upon two samplers from very different owners that are so much alike! Also found interesting the different color ways and how they worked in each piece. Red in Ann Rayner and golds in Eliza Himsworth. -Nancy

  3. Thanks for sharing these samplers. I loved seeing them.

  4. Like Sandra, Ann is in my to be stitched soon pile. Thanks for showing close up pics of her sampler! I loved seeing the similarities in the other sampler, too.

    I'm fascinated with genealogy, too. I can't find much information on my own family, but Ireland just put the 1901 and 1911 census records online, and I found a lot of my husband's family. Before my FIL died in December, I was able to tell him the names of his paternal grandparents and show him their signatures on the census forms. I think my fascination with genealogy is tied to my love for stitching--leaving something tangible behind in the hopes that I won't be forgotten.

    Have a great weekend!

  5. I love those cats in Eliza's sampler!

  6. Thanks for a very enlightening post about all these samplers. I've actually just ordered Ann's sampler from Wyndham but it seems Mother Nature is going to confound me and I'm sure the Post Office is throwing some bad mojo in as well. Cannot wait to see it!

  7. I have stitched Ann Rayner (for my mother). I love it, and so does she.

    It's such a treat to see the original sampler

  8. HI there,
    I believe I'm very close to proving a relationship with the family of the Rayners.
    My well documented family The Haylcocks and Lavenders owned land in the 1700 and 1800's in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. I descend from them. On a map of 1844 that i have a copy of, the Rayners own land next to the Haylocks. I haven't found a marriage directly between Rayner and Lavender famil'es but maiden names were often used as first and middle names of children then. This Rayner family also spells it Rainer, Ranner, Reyner in the earlier years.
    William, Henry and also Sarah Lavender Rayner were listed as land owners on the map of 1844 in Ely.
    I have seen a sampler come up for auction in 2002 (pic online)done by Sarah Lavender Rayner in 1834 and I only dicovered the picture online this year, 2011. In the same Auction, Feb 2002, were a sampler by a Mary Rayner (Which she has embriodered the word Ely) and also one by a Rebecca Rayner. Search online for Sarah Lavender Rayner Sampler and also Mary Rayner Sampler Ely. I don;t know what has happened to them since not selling at Auction.
    Needlework schools taught the same motiffs and styles, that is why samplers are similar and using similar borders and pictures in similar geographic areas. Sometimes the girls were taken as a school exercise to draw a building in town then they all had to chart it and embroider it into their samplers, so buildings are often no their own houses, but one in their town somewhere.
    There are Rayner gravestones at Ely St Mary church, but when i visited 2005, I was only recording Lavender and Haylock ones !!

    Heather Witmore
    Melbourne, Australia
    My grandmother was a Haylock.

  9. I don't know if you still read your blog, or respond! But I hope you will fill your orders for the reprint of the Ann Rayner Sampler chart soon. There are many of us eagerly awaiting the reprint. I am on the wait list at both In Stitches (my local needlework shop) and also at Attic Needleworks. To receive your chart would be the best Christmas present EVER!

  10. Hello Pam,
    Yes, I am currently working on my large order of charts from Attic and In Stitches. Still have a lot of photos to cut and paste by hand on to the charts but hope to mail the order tomorrow or Tuesday if all goes well. Nancy