Happy New Year Everyone!
Like me, many of you may already be familiar with Edgar’s blog, Blacksheep’s Bit of the Web, where he blogs about movies, thrifty finds, life in San Francisco, and, of course, stitching! Today we get to learn about how he got started as he shares his story with us…
Edgar, how old were you when you first picked up a needle and who taught you to stitch?
Although I grew up in a house where my mom did cross stitching and needlepoint I didn’t pick up a needle until I was at East Carolina University getting my Undergraduate degree. My housemate, Luanne, was always cross stitching something. Eventually my schedule let me out of class and I was home in time to catch “As the World Turns” a soap opera that Luanne was fanatical about watching. I ended up not only a big fan of the show, but picking up stitching also. I kept up stitching for years through school, but stopped watching the show. After I moved to Florida for another job, Curator of Education at the Appleton Museum, I did stop stitching for the most part and did not pick it up again until around 2006 and since then have been a stitching fool.
What was the first sampler that you stitched?
The first sampler I ever stitched was a sampler kit by Elsa Williams called “Duke of Gloucester Street Sampler.” I really enjoyed it and picked this piece to stitch because of all the time I had spent in Williamsburg during my University years. Here’s a snap –
I was even changing things then, I added the identifying info about the building.
What time of day do you stitch? 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 stitch in the evenings and at night, just about every night for a few hours. On the weekends I stitch both during the day and evening. Here’s a snap of my stitching spot….
…. As you can see I have my WIP basket close to hand, I also have a glass of iced tea (or a drink near), the remotes and the TCM guide, my scissors and glasses on the nesting tables…. and the current WIP in the seat. The Morris Chair was my Great Grandfather’s and until I have it recovered I enjoy my sheep afghan. You can just see my Ott Light on the upper left.
Do you use the stick and stab technique, or a sewing stitch?
I guess I use the stick and stab method, I use a Q-snap always (I started off using a hoop) as I like the linen nice and tight when I stitch.
What is your favorite period of sampler-making and why?
I really like 19th century samplers and some of the newer “primitive” repro’s being designed today. Why, I am not sure, it might be the symmetry or colours or some of the quirkier bits you find in older pieces, I really do not have a good answer.
Which designs appeal to you the most? (e.g. Scottish needlework, certain stitches, color schemes, animal motifs, houses, figures, Quaker style, etc)
I like traditional sampler’s especially Quaker pieces or pieces inspired by Quaker stitching. Usually it’s the color that attracts me first along with the alphabet or quote/poem. I do like samplers with buildings, but not if the building overpowers the whole piece. I usually do not care for the A&E samplers, but there are some I do like.
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?
I am often amazed at how young some of the stitchers were when they created and stitched some of these pieces – and on such high count linen.
Have you had any formal education in textiles?
When I was an Undergraduate I took quite a few classes in Textile History and History of Costume and found it fascinating.
Why do you find antique samplers appealing?
Although I do stitch some “fun” non-sampler pieces I am always drawn back to the more formal and traditional pieces – I guess the longevity of appeal that will outlast any modern fad is what keeps drawing me back.
Do you collect antique samplers? Apart from samplers do you collect anything else?
I really do not collect antique samplers – I collect 18th and 19th century transfer ware and 19th century American silver.
What other types of hand work do you enjoy?
I have tried needlepoint and really enjoyed it.
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)
There is always a drink of some sort quite close at hand….
What has been your worst needlework disaster?
… which is what caused my one and only disaster… an entire iced tea fell over into my WIP basket – if I didn’t keep each project in its own zipped up bag it would have been much worse than it was – I just had to wipe off the bags and dry out the basket and rug.
If your house was on fire and you could only save one sampler which would you choose and why?
If the house was to be on fire I guess I would save those pieces of needle work I have inherited, as I can always re-stitch anything I have made, but could never replace something stitched by my Great-Grandmother, Grandmother or Mother.
Am I the only one who forgets that her glasses are on top of her head?
Since I only wear my glasses to either read or stitch they usually sit in their case next to my chair.
Here are some more snaps of pieces …….
This piece hangs in my front hall – so I see it coming and going every day – I loved stitching this piece and l love the silk and linen combination.
This sampler was lots of fun also – as they were three separate charts I strung them together charting the bands between each myself – I like the colours and the letter shapes.
This was another really fun piece to stitch – Again I recharted some of the squares a bit, and the entire square for “Q”, I also changed up the many of the colours and all of the colorful filled in blocks.
It is so wonderful of Edgar to share some of his favorite finishes. He has also had a couple of Scarlet Letter finishes in the last year…
Mary Ann Hutton which was done in a conversion to Belle Soie silks…
And Elizabeth Shepherd 1820 done in Gloriana and Belle Soie silks…
All gorgeous finishes, each and every one. Thank you so much, Edgar, for sharing your story and stitching with us! An inspiration to us all! To see more of Edgar’s wonderful stitching be sure to visit his blog at Blacksheep’sBit of the Web.