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Header Photo
American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Thursday, 11 July 2013

A Stitcher's Life - Beyond the Little "X" - An Interview with Carol Sims of Sampler Farm

While Carol does not have a blog, I think that most of us are very familiar with the vast number of samplers that Carol has finished and displayed at her home, Sampler Farm.  Her stitching leaves many of us in awe and her samplers are truly an inspiration to see.  Wait until you see her sampler walls!!  Carol also has a Photobucket album which she notes at the end of this interview!  

Besides the normal questions that we pose to our interviewees, I think that a lot of people wonder how the name Sampler Farm came about.  Carol says, 

"It all started with the idea that I wanted to live on a farm, but didn’t want animals or crops. The only crops I wanted to grow were samplers. Then I saw this verse which was on a sampler “ Cloth is my land so that I boldly stand, Needle is my plow so I can skills endow, Silk is my seed so I can name my deed”. Doesn’t that sound like a Sampler Farm?"  

And it does Carol!!  That is such a wonderful verse!!  

Now on with our interview with Carol!!  Wait until you see her samplers!

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

When I was 7 or 8, my grandmother gave me a dime store printed design and JP Coates floss in a tin box. After my mother’s death, I found the tin box in her closet and was excited to find that the tin box was an original Whitman’s tin from the 1940’s.

In my late 20’s my aunt introduced me to crewel embroidery and needlepoint. This was my hobby until I discovered cross stitch in 1978 and never looked back.

2. What was the first sampler that you stitched?

My first reproduction sampler was Hannah Breed by The
Scarlet Letter. I had attended a folk art show where
Marsha was a vendor and was instantly hooked.

So hooked, in fact, that I now own 154 Scarlet Letter charts, but I've only stitched 50 of them.

3. 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 during most waking hours and a few in my sleep. I do have a stitching nest and everything does have to be organized and in its rightful place.

My Stitching Nest

 The View from my Stitching Chair

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

I use both stick/stab and sewing methods.

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

I love samplers with houses on them. If the house has a yard full of animals, then it’s even better.

6. Why do you find antique samplers appealing?

To me, it’s more about the stitching than the fact that they’re antique samplers. I do like viewing antique samplers, but have never had the desire to own one.

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

I collect wooden gameboards and antique crocks & jugs. A friend once told me that if you own more than two of something then it’s a collection. If that’s true, I guess I also collect spinning wheels, Noah’s arks and cage dolls.

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

I drink coffee and Diet Dr. Pepper while stitching. My cat does keep me company and occasionally contributes a hair to my sampler. In fact, on the deaths of two of my cats, I included their whisker on the sampler I was working on at that time.

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

I tried to make a burn spot on a sampler to make it look older, but I ended up burning a large hole in it. Off it went to my finisher to be darned.

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

Knock wood! I think I would save charts and fabric rather than a stitched piece.

Here’s a sample of my stitching:

And here is the link to my Photobucket albums:

Thank you so much for letting us interview you Carol.  I know that many of us have always wanted to know more about you!!  And now we do and can all see your wonderful stitching through your Photobucket Album!!  You are truly an inspiration!!!


Margaret said...

Ah, my stitching idol!! Great interview! And OMG, I love that verse!!! Did you ever stitch that one? You should design your own sampler for Sampler Farm with that verse.

Bethany said...

I think Carol is everyone's idol. She has brighten many a day with her photo's of her samplers. I just love her story and the place she lives. Wouldn't we all love to be so lucky as to live in the Shanondoah mountains. Thank you for sharing Carol with all of us.

Erica near Chicago said...

Oh my! Thank you so much for sharing.

Poussy Stitches My Love said...

very beautiful stitching !!!!
Marylin from FRANCE

Carmen Sutton said...

Carol is an inspriation I think that the samplers on her farm are GMO's and that is why they are so prolific, oh if only I could produce so much, its some thing to strive after!
Thanks Carol

MJ Hunt said...

Wonderful interview with a wonderful lady!!!

Nicola said...

Oh a blissful afternoon - Carol you are an amazing stitcher and a huge inspiration.

Thank you so much for the many, many hours of joy you have given me through your online photos albums. I visit often.

Angie Burrett said...

What a wonderful interview, so interesting - and all those samplers! Just amazing and beautiful. The photo albums are pure inspiration.
Thank you so much for this - I will keep returning for another look!

Melissa said...

Thanks for doing the interview Deb and thanks to Carol for sharing. I've (along with most of you I'm sure) admired Carol's stitching from afar. I remembered asking "who's the sampler farmer?" Now I know.

Vera said...

Great post! Thank you Deb and Carol. I want to come to the farm and stitch my hours away!!

Anne said...

Wow! What a lovely interview of Carol. I love all her samplers and have enjoyed reading about her and her love of samplers. You are doing a great job with the interviews Deb! Seriously delightful reading!

woolwoman said...

Carol is a legend among us sampler lovers - it was fun to read the interview and see the photos and the view from the stitching nest. what awesome work - OH MY is all I can say besides thank you for letting us into your world Carol.
Thanks melody

Lisa M said...

What an inspiring interview. Carol - I take my hat off to you - your finished samplers are stunning and your stitching nest looks perfect with that view outdoors. I love the answers you gave about liking the stitching more than the history of the pieces and how in a fire your would save the fabric and charts first. I feel the same way! People ask me why I stitch 'so many' like I should be satisfied with one and stop. I tell them it's all about the process and the stitching itself. Yes it's awesome when I finish one but I'm always always thinking about the next five (or more) I want to stitch.

samplerlover said...

I am another one who had admired Carols work for many years from afar (very afar lol). I have her Photobucket Album bookmarked and quite often go and spend a lot of time looking at her beautiful work. Thank you Carol for allowing us to know more about you and thank you Deb for all the work that you have done on allowing us to know more about some of our favorite stitchers. - Sandra.

The Scarlett House said...

So fun to learn some new tidbits about someone I call friend. I particularly liked seeing your stitching chair and view. It's nice to be able to picture you there plying your needle, Carol. You are most definitely on a pedestal to us stitchers, and now I am even more honored when you choose to stitch something from The Scarlett House.

Samplings from Spring Creek said...

There are people who want to go on a cruise--I want to go to Sampler Farm/Carol;s house and look at needlework.

50 Scarlet Letter samplers--WOW And it all started with Hannah Breed who is waiting for me.

Faye said...

I have admired Carol for years and years!!! She is an amazing talent and someone to be admired.... Sharing your photos are such a great.... Thanks so much!!!

Jo Ann said...

Deb, Thanks for the interview with one of my favorite ladies. I have been in love with Carol's work for many years and always get such motivation from looking at her picturetrail. She is a special lady, as well as a fantastic stitcher. Jo Ann #2

Carol said...

I'm so glad that all of you enjoyed viewing my samplers and I really appreciate your kind comments.

brod'attitude said...

Thank you for this intervieuw

Krista said...

What a great interview. Thank you Carol for sharing your story and your samplers with us!

Tina said...

Well I just want to move in!

Love looking at the samplers farm photos and spend many hours ooohhhing and aahhhhing at which chart to buy next.
Carol is a super enabler and inspires me every time I go and have a mooch around her farm

queenstownsamplerdesigns said...

Carol is the Goddess of Sampler Making.
She is also a delightful lady. I have had the privilege of touring her Sampler Farm. I never wanted to leave.

I first met Carol in the early 1990's in Annapolis, MD at a Sampler Guild meeting. Thank goodness I sat next to her.

MoonBeam said...

A fun interview. Grandmothers had a large part in starting so many of us stitching. I am so grateful to mine.

What a wonderful group of finishes you have. Beautiful.