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American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Thursday, 11 April 2013

A Stitcher's Life - Beyond the Little "X" - An Interview with Margaret Chess.

I'm sure that most everyone is familiar with Margaret and her incredible stitching and speed by which she gets her samplers finished.  If you don't know about Margaret, then where have you been??   Margaret has done some incredible samplers and at a speed that awes most of us.  Today, we're going to ask the questions that inquiring minds want to know about her.

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

I don't really remember exactly how old I was when I started stitching, but I was definitely in elementary school.  My mother did lots of crafts, mainly knitting.  She was the one who taught me and my sister how to stitch.  It was crewel embroidery I did first though.  I didn't actually cross stitch until I was an adult and in my first years of marriage.  I had some friends who taught me to quilt first.  Then I discovered that one or two of them also cross stitched and I fell in love.  

What was the first sampler that you stitched?

I can't remember what the first sampler was that I stitched.  lol!  I do know that my first love was Prairie Schooler.  But I also did those kits that seem to be where a lot of people first started.  So one of these was probably my first sampler.   

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

I stitch any time of day.  lol!  Probably way too much, really.  I am definitely the type of person who has to be in a certain place to be comfortable, or at least to have all my necessary stitching tools with me.  I have two sets of sewing tools, one for sewing quilts, one for stitching.  My stitching box has my scissors, ORT container, needle threaders, measuring tape, needles, pins, my starter square for measuring where to start, my magnifying reading glasses to go on top of my normal glasses, and of course my fibers.  And I need my good Ott or Daylight lamp in order to see.  Here are pictures of my two stitching nooks. 

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

I stitch using the sewing method, in hand.  I keep one hand underneath, so it's basically the same motion and technique that I use when I'm hand quilting.  The thread and needle stay on top at the end of each stitch.  I will be using my Millenium frame for my Manifesto piece, which is on 40ct silk gauze over one, and needs the support of a frame to keep the fabric in good shape.  

What is your favourite period of sampler-making and why?

I'm not sure what time period my favorite sorts of samplers are from.  Maybe from the 18th and 19th century?  I've recently gotten more into the style of sampler pieces like And All Was for an Appil or A Parrot, A Leopard and A Lion, which I believe is more 17th century and early 18th.

Which designs appeal to you the most (e.g. Scottish needlework, certain stitches, colour schemes, animal motifs, houses, figures, Quaker style,  etc.)?

I tend to like those samplers with a pretty border, especially unusual borders, and with a house, a field with animals or people in it, and various motifs like baskets of fruit or flower vases.  I went through a period when I stitched Quaker samplers, but I got tired of stitching them.  I love red samplers!!  I love doing all cross stitch, but I can deal with some specialty stitches if I have to.  :D  Oh, and of course my favorite motifs are Adam and Eve.  Which is funny since I hate stitching the tree.  lol!

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?.  

Being a history buff, I might have already been aware of a lot of what the lives of girls and women in the olden days were like.  But working with these reproduction samplers certainly gave me more insight into what needlework they did, and how old they were when they did it.  It always amazes me how young some of these girls were.  

Have you had any formal education in textiles?  

No, I haven't had any formal education in textiles.  I think it would be so lovely to attend the Royal School of Needlework, although I tend to stick to just cross stitch myself.

Do you collect antique samplers? Apart from samplers do you collect anything else?
I would love to collect antique samplers, but they are out of my budget.  I have way too many other collections.  Among my collections are baskets old and new, pincushions, Nicholas Mosse pottery, and one or two antique quilts.  I'd love to collect antique needlework tools.  Maybe someday.

What other types of hand work do you enjoy?
I love to quilt as well.  I've done many different types of hand work: knitting, crochet, weaving, rug braiding, and feeble attempts at rug hooking, to name some.  In quilting, I love to do English paper piecing and hand applique the best.  I also love to hand quilt, although I fail when it comes to persevering.  lol!

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 do eat chocolate when stitching.  :D  And Mia, my cat, sometimes sleeps on my lap when I'm stitching as well.

What has been your worst needlework disaster? (Loss, stains, holes)? 

I managed to get a very small chocolate stain on one of my pieces.  I'm hoping it is in the border where it won't show.

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

This is a hard question.  I suppose it would be Jane Atkinson.  Somehow Jane has become my favorite sampler of all time.  I just love her so much.

I also love Rebecca Robinson and Ann Maria Clarke (The Richmond Sampler) from The Essamplaire.   

There are also Ann Smith and Charlotte Clayton from the Northwest Sampler Guild.  

I really couldn't say why these are my favorite samplers.  But they definitely are.  They were a pleasure to stitch and they appeal to me in so many ways.  I wish I could be more profound, but that's it -- they are beautiful.

Another sampler that I love is Mary McCallister by Needlework Press:

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

I am afraid I don't put glasses on top of my head.  lol!  I don't think my head is the right shape.  :D

So there is most everything you wanted to know about Margaret!  Thank you Margaret for agreeing to this interview so that all of us can learn a little more about you.  And if you'd like to see more of Margaret's incredible stitching, check out her blog at Days of a Sampler Lover.  We can't wait to see what wonderful sampler you finish up next Margaret!!


Chris said...

Lovely interview!

Kevin said...

Great interview. I loved seeing the pics of Margaret's favorite samplers - each is more beautiful than the next!

Lanie said...

Thank you Deb for this interview and to Margaret for graciously agreeing to share a little of yourself with us! Maragret's blog was one of the first blogs I followed. Her beautiful stitching and the speed in which she finishes her samplers inspires me everyday! :)

HollyXSing said...

I love Margaret's work! She is so very talented!

After reading the interview...we have so much in common!

I love following Margaret's weekly posts to her blog!

Thank-you for sharing an insight to one of my favorite stitchers!

-Holly in VA

Miss Pants said...

What a great interview! It was lovely getting to know Margaret a little better since I love her blog so much.

Margaret said...

Thanks to Deb and Nicola! I'm so very flattered to be asked for an interview, to be thought worthy of any such notice. And thanks everyone for your comments too! I love being a part of all this!

Cindy L said...

Margaret, I have loved reading your blog and seeing all your beautiful samplers!

The Inspired Stitcher said...

How fun to get to know a dear friend better. Wonderful interview!

Jennifer H said...

Thank you for such a great interview - it was so nice to get to "know" one of my favorite bloggers in the cross stitching world! :)

Margaret's work is very beautiful and I so enjoy seeing pics of her sampler walls and WIP's.

She is also an inspiration and a serious enabler by virtue of Blogger.

Thanks again!
Hugs and Love,
Jennifer H

Jenny said...

What a wonderful interview Margaret and Deb! It is so much fun to get to know fellow stitchers. I love Margaret's blog and her samplers are just amazing. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

Nicola said...

Thank you Margaret for the interview. I hope one day that we can enjoy an afternoon stitching together for real.

Carole W. said...

I'm a huge fan of Margaret's (although she probably isn't aware of all her fans) ever since I found her blog....in fact, her little snippet of "Jane Atkinson" at the top of her blog is the reason I'm obsessed with it now!
It's an absolutely stunning piece and I'm really grateful to her for
its exposure on her site. Margaret's pieces never fail to make me think "how in the h___ does she stitch so fast!" Thanks to both Margaret and, you, Nicola, for posting the interview.

Krista said...

What a great interview. I am such a fan of all of Margaret's stitching, such an inspiration!

Fiona said...

Great interview.

C Street Samplerworks said...

It was so much fun to read about you, Margaret, and to see pics of your beautiful work!

Peace & Love,

Anne said...

What a wonderful interview with Margaret! She was the first person to inspire me to stitch a sampler!!

Annette-California said...

I loved reading the great interview with Margaret. And getting to see all the photos of her samplers - fantastic. Well done:) love Annette

Silkstitcher said...

I really enjoyed reading Margaret's interview! I found it on the Facebook Manifesto page, which I just sent a request to join. I saw Niola's post about Margaret's interview. I am glad I saw it!