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American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Beyond the Little "X" - An Interview with Bethany

This month we're going to find out about another one of our illustrious stitchers - Bethany.  Bethany does not have a blog, but does have an album that speaks of her love for samplers - Bethany's Album.  She is a wonderful and inspirational stitcher and just wait until you see her sampler wall!!  I understand from a little bird that she once had a bathroom full of Adam and Eve samplers that awed a lot of people - so much so that one woman ran out and begged her husband to get into the bathroom now!   And I also hear that she makes a mean avocado appetizer!!  So let's get to know Bethany a little better:

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

I probably picked up a needle or tried, when I was in grade school.  I had a mother who made most of my dresses,  quilted and also stitched samplers, so I watched her sew quite a bit.   Girl Scouts and Home Education in school was a place I would start a sewing project, but 9 times out of 10, my mom usually finished it for me.  At the time, I just couldn't get interested in sewing.   Sewing and/or stitching didn't stay with me, as a young girl.  I just didn't want to sit still long enough to complete anything.   I was always busy helping in our home, with three brothers and my mother and father both working.  The boys were not interested in anything that wasn't outside crawling or flying in the woods.  So most of my time was helping my mother with the family.  My mother really starting sampler stitching after my oldest brother's passing in 1973 and I watch her stitch pretty regularly.  She thought after my brother was (gone) there were only the memories and nothing left behind to show he was here on earth.  My guess is she wanted something to show for her time here and at 83 years of age, she is still going strong.   She is the one I look up to and to this day I don't think she understands how much I love sharing this special time with her.   I started stitching reproduction samplers in 1989, at the age of 31.

What was the first sampler that you stitched?

The first sampler I stitched was Scarlet Letter's, Dora Sanger.  I decided to stitch this for my mother as my gift to her, for sharing her passion with me.  Right after finishing this sampler I moved on to one for my father, another SL, Mary Baker.  I couldn't have said it better myself, what a father means...... My third sampler, was for my husband, another SL, Amelia Boice.  The three most important people in my life, have my first three samplers.  Those three samplers will always be special.   My other samplers, I keep log of (A Perpetually Engaging Diary) the date I started the sampler and the date I finished.

Dora Sanger Sampler

Mary Baker Sampler

Amelia Boyce

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 like to stitch whenever I get the chance.  Life can become so busy, before you know it, you are off and running.  So whenever I find a little free time and my hands are not dirty from working in the garden, I sit down and stitch.  The only way to finish a project, is one stitch at a time......

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

I stick and stab, I never got into holding fabric in hand.   I started with a floor stand.  I had a father and an uncle that were handy with wood, so between the two of them, my mother, aunt, cousin and I, had all different kinds of stands. I now use the Rolaframe stand and bars.  I am  a distributor for the stand and frames. 

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

It probably would be American and English samplers from the 1800's.  I love how the young girls gave us a look into their lives and families by placing their needle to fabric.  Their examples of homes, flowers, animals, people, gardens, pastures, lakes, each and every detail, comes to life and tells us their story.

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

As you can tell by my wall of samplers, any samplers with scenes remind me of a photograph, a stitched photograph of a place in time in a young girl's life. 

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? 

Of course, how could it not.  What their lives must have been like, during a harder, but simpler time.  How we take so much for granted.  They stitched with very little, because they had very little.  Today, we just hop in a car and head to the nearest stitching store, where linens, threads, needles and charts abound, just for the taking.  Could we have all sat for hours, stitching by candle light, with only one needle; shared between women,  with minimal fabric and limited threads to work with?   Today, we are spoiled.

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

How to reproduce and understand how to stitch new stitches.   I have to thank the many individuals that have posted on websites their wonderful tutorials.  They have step by step guides as to the in's and out's of making different stitches, which has really been helpful.

Have you had any formal education in textiles?  

No.  Like many others, I think we all have taken classes from some of today's wonderful designers.  Each and every class has taught me something new, from some piece of unknown history or a different kind of stitch, to add in future stitching projects.

Why do you find antique samplers appealing?

They are part of our history and a piece of our past.  They tell many stories of days gone by and how fast our days are disappearing, right before our eyes..........

Do you collect antique samplers? Apart from samplers do you collect anything else?  

I have two antique samplers. My husband and I were fortunate enough to take a trip to visit friends in Stuttgart, Germany.  Before making this trip, I decided to write a letter to Ellen Chester: designer; teacher; blogger; sampler lover, and friend.  She posted my request, in her monthly newsletter, asking anyone with information regarding places I should visit, during my travels.  Quite a few people suggested we make a trip to Celle, Germany and visit the StickMuster Museum.  So off we went, jumping trains and having the time of our lives.  We were greeted at the door of the museum by, Lorraine Mootz, who took us on the tour of a life time.  She had such wonderful knowledge and history of European stitching, we were fortunate to have her as our guide.   I mentioned a little town, near Celle that was known for selling antique samplers.  She asked, "Are you interested in purchasing antique samplers".   My comment to her, was simple, I only wish I could afford one.  She called Elfi and Hans-Joachim Connemann, the collector's and owners of this 1770 Rococo Palais (Museum), and to our surprise and delight, there were two tables with samplers placed, for our viewing after our guided tour.  Lorraine informed us, that they were samplers that the museum did not have room to display and they were for sale.   My husband and I both fell in love with, a sampler from 1812 Leipzig.    We have very dear friends from Leipzig, so to have a small piece of this history, was amazing.  It was our 19th wedding anniversary and what a wonderful gift. 

I couldn't tell that story without sharing this one as well.  I was working on the reproduction sampler, Grazing Sheep by The Scarlett Letter.  I was really having trouble understanding and working the inside border that went around the verse.  Marsha, bless her heart, took every email and question I had, mind you, there were many.  She even offered to send me her finished model, so I could look at it and have something to work by.  I was shocked, that someone would do this for me, not even knowing who I was, other than a person,  who orders sampler charts and kits from her.  One morning I went down into my stitching room, only to find a very large box, sitting on my chair.  Of course, my husband had a funny grin on his face.  To my surprise, he had purchase the orginal Grazing Sheep Sampler, he wanted me to have the orginal as my guide.   I have a wonderful husband, who loves what I do and he lets me know this all the time.  Both of these samplers hold a special place in my heart.   

What other types of hand work do you enjoy?

I love all things that grow from the hand.  It is truly amazing how many talented people there are and what they can create.  Not only do I stitch, I have also made quite a few utiliterian quilts for family members.  During the holidays my husband and I both enjoy sculpting and fabricating Victorian Santa Clauses.  We visit Flea-Markets and find old lace, furs, buttons, jewerly and anything that we think might look good on these little guys.

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 was told never confess anything and if you do, confess all secrets to the cat, she never spills the beans.............  And by the way, my cat Cindy wants everyone to know that her head is about to explode!!!

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

I can't think of anything that I would consider a disaster.  Each one of us, rips and frogs, that is all part of stitching.  So far so good, no loss, stains or holes.....

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

I live in Florida and we have hurricanes almost every year.  If they don't hit directly, they make you think about what to save and not save.  As long as I save my husband and myself I can always replace samplers.  Maybe not with the same, but how exciting would it be to have all new and different samplers......

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

Forget??.....  Sorry, I have already forgotten the question.

Thank you Bethany for taking the time to answer the interview questions.  I hope that now that people have the link to your wonderful samplers that they'll visit over and over again to see what new pieces you have finished.  And perhaps you'll share the avocado appetizer recipe too??  


Faye said...

Wonderful interview!! The collection of samplers are certainly impressive...

Debbie Bauer said...

What an amazing interview! You are truly an inspiration.

Erica near Chicago said...

What an amazing collection -- and what a nice story about Grazing Sheep. Thank you for sharing.

missy said...

Great interview. Such great reading to start my day off.. Thank you for sharing

Kaisievic said...

Such a fascinating interview!

Cheri said...

Lovely post, it was so nice to get to know Bethany a little more. I am in awe of that sampler wall.

Melissa said...

I really enjoyed this interview! Thank you to both of you. Now I wish I had that information when we were in Stuttgart 2 years ago!

Vera said...

Great interview!! Thank you both. And that sampler wall...oh my!!!

Nicola said...

Dear Beth

When I came across you and your mother's on line album about two years ago I was so inspired and I feel so honoured to be stitching with you on this year.

I have greatly enjoyed getting to know more about you this afternoon.

Thank you.


Nicola xxx

Bhooma said...

Great interview. Enjoyed every work of it and drooled over every sampler :)

Margaret said...

I'm so happy that you did this interview, Bethany and Deb! I admire Bethany and her mom so much. Look at that sampler wall! Wow! And your DH bought you Grazing Sheep -- what a guy! OMG! He's a keeper!

Ellen said...

Hi Bethany.

How much fun to read your interview!

Thank you for the kind words you said about me...you are truly such a dear as is your sweet mother. You are both such inspirations.

It was fun to once again see your samplers, and seeing them brings back fond memories of the time spent with you in your lovely home.

Nupur said...

Thank you so much Deb and Bethany - I really enjoyed reading your needlework stories... my husband and I also have fond memories of our trip to the Stickmustermuseum in Celle and meeting Lorraine and Frau Connemann was such a treat! I am inspired by all your samplers being framed and hanging on the wall ... instead of languishing in the drawers under 'completed work'.

Jenny said...

Bethany, I loved reading your interview with Deb. Your samplers are amazing....what an inspiration! I especially love how you share this love of samplers with your mom. It is so much fun to get to know fellow stitchers this way and it is such a joy to stitch along with you during this SL year.

Lanie said...

Lovely interview! Oh my goodness, the experiences you have had! The original "Grazing Sheep" !!! Can your husband have a chat with my husband?!! ;)
Thank you for sharing your talents with us!

Anne said...

Amazing interview to read and take a peek into Bethany's sampler filled home! I love the story about her trip to Germany and how her husband bought her the original Grazing Sheep! So romantic! I need to make my hubby read this with some serious elbow nudging and wink winking for him to get a hint :D

Chris said...

Thank you Bethany! What amazing stitching.

Cindy L said...

Bethany, thanks for sharing...a wonderful interview. Love the sampler wall!

Marsha said...

Thank you, that was wonderful.

Kim said...

Bethnay! Loved your interview with Deb! I am afraid I am way off on the number of SL samplers you have stitched. I feel so Blessed to have you and your Mom as friends and have enjoyed all the times we have spent together. Your needle work is so amazing, all those finishes!!! You have a dreamy Sampler Wall~~

brod'attitude said...

Thank you for the interview. My english is not enough perfect to understand all the interview and I am a little sad, because it is very interesting

queenstownsamplerdesigns said...

Marvelous interview. Bethany, I enjoyed learning more about you and your samplers. You are an inspiration and delightful lady.
And so is your mother, Miss JoAnn! :-) I am so glad we are friends.


Fiona said...

Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading your interview. Your sampler wall is amazing and an inspiration.