Header Photo

Header Photo
American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Post for Barbara G - Ruthy Rogers

It looks like the fruit is ready for picking, the birds have arrived and the flowers are starting to bloom. I really like this sampler. I wasn’t sure I would because of all the stem stitching but it is a cheerful one to be working on during ice storms and such. It is also moving along quite quickly – no frogging with this one. Happy New Year to you all.

Barbara G.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

PLL Small Update

Hello All and Happy New Year!  The year seems to have flown by (a sign of age, I am sure).  Well, our son finally arrived Christmas Eve (at our nephew's about an hour away where we were all having dinner).  His car remained in Pittsburgh...and more problems have surfaced.  But, everyone arrived safely and that is all that mattered to me.

Stitching on PLL was zilch for several weeks due to baking, shopping, wrapping, baking, wrapping, more shopping..  And, then we had snow!  Enough that work was closed.  Enough that I had to shovel the drive...my husband had gone to Virginia for a week to visit family.  How convenient that his departure occurred while we had more snow than we have had in years!  Oh well, the day he arrived home there was a good 6" of ICE on the driveway -- I had tried to break it up, but to no avail.  A week later it was like summer with temps in the mid- to upper- 70's!  Then back to the cold again.  Snow Christmas Eve (so pretty) and snow today while I was out getting wine and groceries.

Well, without further ado, here are the picture updates of PLL.  The bottom is solid stitching, so it is going slowly (especially with no stitching for some time).  First an overall shot and then a closer shot of the bottom part.  It will obviously not be completed by 2014...but hopefully by the end of January?!?!?!

Sorry for all the wrinkles, but I won't iron until it is completed.

I've already made a list of all the stash I need/want to order from Scarlet Letter.  I'm not sure where my head is thinking I can accomplish so many samplers, but so many appeal to me that I cannot choose just one or two.  Once my order is placed and I receive the loot, I'll let you know what I selected.

Well, we are settling in for a quiet evening at home (hopefully some stitching).  We stopped going out New Year's Eve many, many moons ago -- too many crazy people on the roads, etc.  So, traditionally I make a crab quiche and salad for dinner...that with a bottle of champagne and/or wine and I am set.  I may have just enough time now to sneak in a little nap before it is time to roll out the pastry and start cooking.

Here's hoping that everyone has a Happy and Safe New Year and may all your wishes and dreams come true in 2014.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Rachel Jarratt - Bands 1 - 3

I have just finished the third band on Rachel and I am loving stitching her.

I switched AVAS 1441 to 1443 as that is a perfect match for one of the colours in an armchair she will hang near. Have you ever changed colours so that the sampler compliments the colour scheme of a room it will hang in?

In band 3 I substituted fishbone stitch for satin as I like the richness of this stitch when using AVAS. I did however use stem stitch where specified.

I am off now to start band 4.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Post on behalf of Maria d.V

Merry christmas everyone!

My name's Maria del Valle, I live in Alicante, Spain.  From several years, I make different types of embroidery, over all in blackwork technique. I have a blog called Alarttex.

When I found this blog,  I decide to join here for to do this beautiful sampler: MD 1660 The Unicorn Sampler.  

I bought a kit with a 35 count linen but I changed the linen by other from 40 count.  As you see I was wrong to make my purchase!  I did many tests before and here is my start. I would like to finish this sampler in your pleasant company!! 

From my heart I wish you Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with happiness and may all your dearest wishes be fulfilled.

 See you soon!





Wishing you a wonderful birthday from all of us.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

What a wonderful coincidence!  The first photo shows the parrot on the 1704 German sampler that I am currently charting, the second photo shows a similar parrot on a German sampler of 1734 that I just bought at auction.  The third photo shows some text on this sampler and I will need my German friends to help me interpret this.  There are other names and phrases scattered about this sampler that I would be grateful for assistance in interpreting.

Turning the Vinciolo birds rightside up on Ann Lawle is definitely the way to go, but you understand that I had to follow the original.  Elizabeth Harborne's signature need not be upside down for that matter.



Wishing you a wonderful birthday from all of us.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Ann Lawle

I've decided that Ann Lawle will be my 2014 Scarlet Letter sampler.

Last night, I started on the framework for the cutwork at the top of the sampler:

I'm going to wait until I've finished the rest of the sampler before I cut the threads and fill in the design that goes here. I've found that cutting threads out can make the rest of the linen wobbly (technical term) and I like to stitch with my linen fairly tight on the frame. I've also decided that I'm going to stitch the birds that fit in this band right side up instead of wrong side up. It may not be historically accurate, but I don't live in a house historically accurate to the 17th century either!

The plan is to work a band a month, which means I should have the sampler finished long before the end of the year.

A finish and a new start

(f you click the photo it should be clearer)

I am afraid that I could not bond with Elizabeth Simon. I had too many other gift projects which had to be finished for Christmas. For me - I build up a relationship with my samplers as I stitch them, I think that is why I have withdrawal pangs when I complete them.

I adored the satin stitched flower border which was what attracted me to her so I unpicked the two outer borders which I had stitched across the top row and added a favourite poem. I finished this on our wedding anniversary - funny how it coincided.

I know that I have not done this beautiful chart justice but at least it can be framed and enjoyed. I am going to have a double mount just touching the outer stitches which should give it more impact. It looks a little lost at the moment. I will post a photo when it is framed.

I have started Rachel Jarratt. After seeing Kate's progress with her's this shot up my to-stitch list. I am stitching her on 32ct rather than 30ct as I needed her to be a little narrower to fit where I intend her to hang.

Kate - I hope you post some more of you wonderful photos soon as I find the close ups a huge help. There are a few stitches in this one that I have not done before and need some hand holding.

Happy New Year to everyone and don't forget to claim your SL discount voucher for January.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Advent Calendar Winners

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa has been generous. Today is Boxing Day in the UK and you can either hit the shops for the "sales" or take a walk to burn off all the calories consumed on Christmas Day.

We opted for some exercise and have just come back in very muddy but revitalized after a brisk coastal walk.

It is time for me to make the draws for our Advent calendar. I have decided to use a random number generator to make it easier as their are 23 draws to make. So here goes:-

Day 1 - Lady and The Castle - 49 commentors - Drawn number 47 - Evalina Maria

Day 2 - Anniken Christense Simensen - 40 commentors - Drawn number 16 - Lanie

Day 3 - English Traditional Sampler - 48 commentors - Drawn number 1 - Mel of Merry Wind Farm 

Day 4 - Elizabeth Burrows -  32 commentors - Drawn number 20 - Jo

Day 5 -  Renaissance Pewter Thimble - 24 commentors - Drawn number 24 - Teresa S

Day 6 - A Stumpwork Picture - 45 commentors - Drawn number 35 - Barbara G

Day 7 - Jane Ogle and Eizabeth Norris - 29 commentors - Drawn number 17 - Lelia

Day 8 - Emma George 1842 - "Drunkeness" - 30 commentors - Drawn number 11 - Cheri

Day 9 - Scottish Sampler - 27 commentors - Drawn number 19 - mj

Day 10 - Mary Ann MacDonald - 31 commentors - Drawn number 16 - Vera

Day 11 - Elizabeth Rawlins - 41 commentors - Drawn number 10 - Wilma

Day 12 - Victorian Embroidery - 31 commentors - Drawn number 19 - Nupur

Day 13 - Elizabeth Topham - 33 commentors - Drawn number 23 - Jane in Wisconsin

Day 14 - Sarah Dutnel - 47 commentors - Drawn number 36 - Bethany

Day 15 - Ann How - 22 commentors - Drawn number 6 - Jonette 

Day 16 - Continental Sampler - 27 commentors - Drawn number 12 - Iguna

Day 17 - Mary Elliott - 29 commentors - Drawn number 14 - Sharon H

Day 18 - Elizabeth Inman - 29 commentors - Drawn number 25 - Carmen

Day 19 - Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery- 36 commentors - Drawn number 27 - Ann at Beadlework

Day 20 - Polly Miner - 17 commentors - Drawn number 9 - Samplings From Spring Creek

Day 21 - Ornamental Branches - 21 commentors - Drawn number 5 - Elaine

Day 22 - Common Thread/Common Ground - 29 commentors - Drawn number 11 - Terry N

Day 23 - Mary Stringer - 24 commentors - Drawn number 22 - Marlene

Day 24 - A Scottish themed Discount Voucher for Scarlet Letter - everyone of us is a winner - please see Marsha's interview.

Congratulations everyone, please let me have your addresses. 

A BIG THANK YOU to Marsha and Ray for their generosity in sponsoring the prizes.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 24

Beyond the Little X – An Interview with Marsha Parker of The Scarlet Letter! 

We saved this month’s interview for the 24th Advent Day, a Christmas surprise for all of you.   We get to hear Marsha’s story and learn how The Scarlet Letter began!   After a year of us all sharing our love of Scarlet Letter samplers with well over 100 finishes we will now learn how Marsha was inspired to reproduce and create all of the beautiful samplers that we enjoy today.   

Entrance to The Scarlet Letter
Chapter One
If my eldest sister hadn't asked me to stitch a stamped sampler from Johnson Creative Arts in 1977, The Scarlet Letter probably would never exist.  I found the work tedious but, in the end, rewarding.  My sister's request, while I was pursuing my Graduate degree, was interesting despite my mother's much earlier attempts to interest me in embroidering pillowcases.  Before I was shipped off to an all-girl's college preparatory school, I spent a year suffering through an awful, under-funded public school system where my book report on Dante's Divine Comedy was dismissed as plagiarism and I was almost expelled.  (My elder sister was reading this at university and shared it with me.  I really did read it at age 13, and understood it well enough to write the fateful book report.) 

There wasn't a wide choice of curricula for young girls then; it was "Home Economics" or nothing.  Given the choice I would have chosen "Shop"- electronics, carpentry- but only boys were offered that option.  So, I suffered through Home Economics, enjoyed cooking only because it was just before lunch half hour and we were all starving, didn't excel, and then failed miserably at sewing.  The first project was a simple apron that I mangled.  The second project was a skirt and blouse that we had to model at a fashion show for the entire school, and I basically looked like what you'd retrieve from a basket of laundry that hadn't been ironed in a decade.  I have one of those upstairs, by the way.

Simply put, I was not born with the gift of sewing.

Chapter Two

My sister's request to sew the stamped sampler eventually turned into an obsession.  I must have stitched at least four "Chase" samplers before understanding that "stamping" was just not right.  They looked odd, nothing like the antique samplers that I found in antique shops in the UK, when I moved there as a young bride.  My first purchase was a pair of antique samplers executed by sisters, found in an antique shop in Summertown, North Oxford, near where I worked as an assistant picture editor at Elsevier Publishing, while studying as a university affiliate at Oxford (thanks to my ex husband, whose father was a don at Christchurch College).

Chapter Three – Q&A

How old were you when you first picked up a needle and who taught you to stitch? 

I was eight years old when my mother practically forced me to embroider the image of a chipmunk "stamped" onto the sleeve of a pillow case.  At the time it seemed cruel and I hated it.  I deliberately did a bad job and the offensive pillowcase is now at the bottom of a landfill, I hope.  However I am still using the same hoop that kept me in captivity for- what- maybe three days before the Revolution.  I have used the same cork-lined metal hoop, with springs to adjust the tension, for every piece I have stitched since then.  Maybe the Guinness Book of World Records would be interested in it, but unfortunately there is no documentation of its history, except my word.

What was the first sampler that you stitched?

The Chase.  After four of those I started fiddling with my own designs.  In Glee Krueger's book about American samplers I found a picture of one made by George Parker, and reproduced it.  It's still hanging in one of the Parker houses in England- High Steps, in Charlbury, Oxfordshire.

What time of day do you stitch? 

My stitching time is usually very late in the evening.  During the day I'm busy with fielding phone calls, filling orders, farm chores, design, and cooking and caring for my Significant Other, Phil, who is disabled. 

Inside the Scarlet Letter workshop where orders are filled

A view outside the workshop

Do you sit in a set place and what tools do you like to have on hand?  Does everything have to be in a certain place in order for you to relax and concentrate on your work?

I have several favorite spots which include a cushy chair with low arms beside a window.  I could never have accomplished this volume of work without using a sewing stitch, as opposed to "stick and stab"- which does come in handy sometimes.  Having examined the back and front sides of hundreds of antique samplers I am not at all afraid of breaking the rules, the rules meaning what some teachers, as well as the EGA, consider sacrosanct.  95% of the antique samplers I've seen and reproduced were stitched randomly.  The crosses don't always cross in the same direction.  There are stitches that run three inches or more under the back.  There are some exceptions but they are rare.

My goal at The Scarlet Letter is to make this art appealing to as many artisans as possible.  Strict rules about stitching technique may discourage new people from starting.  I was the anarchist in the beginning, and remain so today.

Do you use the stick and stab technique, or a sewing stitch?

Sewing stitch.

What is your favourite period of sampler-making and why?  Which designs appeal to you the most? (e.g. Scottish needlework, certain stitches, colour schemes, animal motifs, houses, figures, Quaker style, etc)

Anything colorful, funky, unusual appeals to me. This combination often appears in Scottish samplers before 1775, American before 1750, and English C17th and early C18th.  I look for color and magical design.  I adore anything with bargello work, queen stitch, all the really annoying stitches, but in the end it's worth the effort.

Has working with reproduction samplers given you any new insight into the lives of the girls and women in the 17-18-19th centuries that you did not realize before?

The obvious: they worked during daylight hours.  Young eyes can stitch by candle light, but my opinion is that they stitched while the sun was shining.  After dark they would have been preoccupied with chores.  Upper class girls would be minding their manners at dinner.  This question is beyond my knowledge.

What aspect(s) of working with early textiles appeals to you the most? 

They are truly untouchable.  If I dare to touch an antique sampler without gloves, and I confess that I have, I can almost feel the girl or woman who held it in her hands for months.

Have you had any formal education in textiles?

My formal education includes BA English Lit and Art History major, Beloit College: University Affiliate at Oxford, then MA at UW Madison English Lit and Education.  Nothing textile-worthy.  Entirely self-taught.

Do you collect antique samplers?

I don't collect antique samplers.  I buy them, reproduce them, then sell them for what I paid.  Here is the only antique sampler I have kept. 

Apart from samplers do you collect anything else? 

I used to collect animals but since my divorce in 2002 I had to cut down on the flock.

One of many animals residing on the farm

I have an inactive collection of Portuguese Palissy pieces, and some Sunderland Luster chamber pots and motto plates. 

Collection of Palissy ware

I hoard heritage garden seeds and plant an enormous vegetable garden every year.

What other types of hand work do you enjoy?

I like to cook.  I have studied in Italy and can make some pretty good stuff, at least according to my friends who like to eat it. 

Italian weavings and embroideries collected in Umbria

We're not discussing hand work here, just other interests, and I am an avid scuba diver.

With Phil in Honduras

Any guilty secrets to confess?  (e.g leave tails on the back, drink tea or coffee whilst stitching, let your cat sleep on your work, etc)

I have a lot to confess.  I leave tails, because tails were left on the original samplers.  My cats sleep on my work so every model has cat hairs incorporated into it.  I scream when I discover a mistake and it has to be frogged (more often than not I will simply stitch over in the correct color).  Tea makes me sick, so does coffee, but to date I have not spilled my cranberry juice onto my needlework.

What has been your worst needlework disaster?

Hang onto your chair, I have some needlework disasters that will curl your toes!

My dear friend Kathleen helps me sew samplers that I don't have time to finish before deadlines.  She finished "Martha Willkins" and returned it via UPS.  It arrived here a week later, in two pieces, with rubber marks scarred into both sides.  Apparently the UPS truck tore the package apart, and rolled over the sampler, not once, but twice.  Thanks UPS, they paid up, but we went back to square one having to stitch a new model.

The second worst disaster was a long time ago, when Kath's youngest son Scott decided to finish the Family Register sampler. (It's not on the website now, but it's still available.)  He saw her stitching the names, and when she left the room he took a ball point pen and inked in his name.

If your house was on fire and you could only save one sampler which would you choose and why?

If my house catches on fire, I will try to save my cats.

Am I the only one who forgets that her glasses are on top of her head?

This is a tough confession, but I have forgotten that my glasses are on my head.  I am quite blind, so anyone who says she/he can't sew because of poor eyesight, nonsense. I stitch naked eyed. 

Chapter Four – The Scarlet Letter Gallery

“Symmetry is calming, 
but asymmetry is exciting.” 

We all would not be here on this Scarlet Letter Year journey had Marsha not brought to life the hundreds of reproduction samplers that we are all stitching, enjoying, and sharing together.  I hope you have all enjoyed hearing how it all began. 

Thank you Marsha for sharing your story with all of us! 

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday!  xx

Monday, 23 December 2013



Wishing you a wonderful birthday from all of us.

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 23

Day 23 - Mary Stringer

Another sampler I could not find stitched. Are you able to stitch this in the new year for our gallery?

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 22

Day 22 - Common Thread/Common Ground

Taken from The Scarlet Letter Website

Early samplers and needleworks have curious and diverse ways of speaking to us, not only through the visual delight and historic material they represent, but in many other ways, far more subtle. This collection of essays, by noted scholars and specialists in the study of early samplers, underscores and amplifies that fact. This stimulating collection of essays includes three chapters by Carol Humphrey, Honorary Keeper of Textiles at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge England, covering various aspects of the Museum's vast sampler collection; a discussion of the source for pastoral and idyllic landscapes in early eighteenth century canvaswork pictures and samplers by Kathy Staples; Carol Huber's essay on architecture in eighteenth and early nineteenth century American needlework; a fascinating piece on early samplers of The Netherlands by Margriet Hogue, a noted textile conservator, Frances Failes', text titled Hanging By A Thread, regarding the care and conservation of early samplers; and an essay on rare epistolary samplers (samplers stitched as letters) by the editor, and more. Between chapters, three accomplished and brilliant poets and writers have contributed works inspired by early samplers, and those long-gone samplermakers. The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs of samplers that have never appeared in print before, in color and black and white (over 100 illustrations). A SCARLET LETTER EXCLUSIVE.

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Back with Miss Ann

I'm finally back at work on Ann Grimshaw!  The long awaited replacement silks finally arrived.  This is where I picked back up with her,,,

...and where I left off as of this morning:.

A full view - I'm so excited to have a completed row of alphabet letters in place!


I would dearly love to think she'll be finished by Valentines' Day, but I can't make any promises.  Fingers crossed, by two week Christmas staycation will yield some bounty.  Wishing y'all the very happiest of holidays! 

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 21

Day 21 - Ornamental Branches

A book for an embroiderer who has an interest in the period 1800 to 1865.

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 20

Day 20 - Polly Miner

Here is Lelia's finished Polly Miner - so pretty. I have a chart to giveaway. 

In my mind the name Polly is forever associated with Parrots. How many SL samplers  can you think of that feature Parrots?

Marsha may have to help us out on this one.

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 19

Day 19 - Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery

Scrumptious - a wonderful introduction to stitches and techniques used by seventeenth century needlewomen. This is a book well worth having in your library.

The Elizabethan period fascinates me on so many levels. If you could time travel which period would you visit and why?

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 18

Day 18 - Elizabeth Inman

A charming A & E sampler which is recommended for any skill level. Primarily cross over one with counted satin stitch. On 30 count it will measure approx. 14.25 x 16". So much appeals. 

Would you like this on your sampler wall?

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 17

Day 17 - Mary Elliott

Have you done all your Christmas shopping? I find it much easier to shop for others that to decide what I would like for myself when asked.

Do you have any SL samplers on your Christmas list?

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Back with a bit more Sarah

I've been off taking care of lots of other projects. Nice to get them done, but I have been missing Sarah.

I started the a new motif on her the other night. The stitching will be slow during the holidays, but it is nice to be back with her.

The Wiinner of The Monthly Draw is ......

Oh guys I am so sorry - how could I get the date wrong this month when the Advent calendar is a HUGE reminder !!!

I am going to blame it on the weather. Yes the weather !! As a lot of you know I live in a very exposed position and we take the full force of the wind coming directly off the sea. We have had a weekend of very strong gusting winds (100 mph was forecast) and on Saturday afternoon I was literally blown off my feet landing against a stone wall.

I managed to hit my head, shoulder, elbow, hip and knee. The bruise on my hip is a corker.

Anyway I the painkillers made me groggy yesterday so I think that is why Day 15 of the Advent Calendar failed to register with me.

I woke up at 3.30am thinking ****** !! Ray thinks I have totally lost it doing the draw in the early hours but I could not have gone back to sleep.

To cut a long story short I am very pleased to announce that the winner this month is Teresa.

Well done Teresa, please email with your choice.

Next month's prize is a Millennium frame so keep your progress posts coming.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 16

Day 16 - Continental Sampler

This is a beauty but I could not find an image of one that had been stitched other than on the SL web site. Would you like to stitch it for our gallery? It is recommended for any skill level.

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Ann Medd

Well I was hoping to post my progress on Ann Medd, but for some reason my pc has stopped downloading photos from my phone.  So while I get this sorted, with the aid of the image from the Scarlet Letter Web site I can tell you that I am about 2/3rds the way through.

You seen the middle couple?  Well the lady is done and the lettering down to her feet and on the other side the lettering down to the deer and the deer and the bottom of the tree.  See it is so much more fun when you use your imagination!!!!

Ann Medd

Have a lovely stitching Christmas everyone and I hope that 2014 gives you all the year that you would wish



Scarlet Letter Advent Calendar - Day 15

Day 15 - Ann How

Not long now to Christmas. In England we traditionally have turkey or goose for lunch, what do you have for your family Christmas lunch?

If you would like to win today's giveaway please leave a comment below. The draw for each day will take place on Boxing Day, you may enter each day.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

I'm back...

Hello! I'm back. I've added a bit more...can you see the snake? I'm glad I've gotten back to this piece. It's just a lot of fun seeing the picture develop.

Gardner's Pocketbook

Here is my very limited progress on Gardner's Pocketbook to date.  It has been a lovely relaxing stitch while work has been extra crazy with the run up to Christmas.

But I have 2 weeks off over Christmas, my shoulder is on the mend and we don't have any major plans outside the normal festivities so I'm hoping to get this finished and back to Parrot, Leopard, Lion.  And I can't wait to have a break!  The sun is shining and the birds are singing here in Wanganui, New Zealand this morning so we are hoping for more of the same over the holidays.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas and holiday break.

Slow progress on Ann Wimp

Hello everyone!

Here is my modest progress on Ann Wimp. I was hoping to finish her by the end of this year, but now it looks like I will not manage. One more reason to continue The Scarlet Letter Year in 2014 :)

Thanks for watching!
Merry Christmas and happy New Year!