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American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Beyond the Little X – An Interview with Edgar!

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. 






17 comments:

Danielle said...

I loved reading this interview! I hope you do more of them in the future.

Faye said...

Edgar is a prolific stitcher~ I have had the pleasure of sewing and finishing off several of his stitched pieces and can attest that he is a masterful stitcher. Thumbs up to this fantastic interview!!

Cindy L said...

Thank you for another wonderful interview. I have always enjoyed Edgar's blog, especially his stitching and his recipes look so delicious! It is because of Edgar's beautiful Mary Ann Hutton that I had to stitch it too this past year....thanks Edgar.

Lanie said...

Another great interview, Krista! :)
Edgar's blog is always fun to visit ... from his great 'finds' and descriptions of the San Francisco neighborhoods, to his yummy recipes and of course his beautiful stitching.
Thank you, Edgar, for sharing a little bit of your history!

Mei said...

Thank you both for that interview. I have followed Edgar's blog for some time now. Love it!

Angie Burrett said...

Such an interesting interview - and love seeing all the other pieces Edgar has stitched. Would love to know what the pattern is for the lovely big colourful Alphabet - any chance you can let me know Edgar? Thank you! As you say it is fun occasionally to sew something fun and bright - and then return with delight to the traditional samplers. Variety is the spice of life!

Joke said...

Very nice interview, thank you! Of course I am familiar with Edgars work, he is an inspiration!

Carol R said...

Edgar and I started bogging around the same time and we have become friends. We have done two Round Robins and an exchange or two! He is an 'officer and a gentleman' and both a great stitcher and blogger! I love to see his pictures not only of his beautiful stitching but his 'out and about San Francisco' and his sweet little 'who hounds' ones. A great interview Nicola!

SewAmy said...

I read Edgar's blog and love it. Thank you for posting the interview, it was great to read little details about his stitching life.

Margaret said...

What a great interview! It's so great to know more about Edgar. I always enjoy his blog and am surprised to learn he started up with cross stitching again the same time I did! Thanks for the interview -- I really enjoyed it!

donnacrafts said...

Yes, thank you for another amazing interview. I really like Edgar's blog and I am a little envious of all the treasures he finds. Of course, his work is outstanding...

mommafoso said...

Thanks to both of you for this interview. It is always interesting to read of someone's stitching odyssey, especially a gentleman's

Ariadne Skyrianidou said...

So great reading Edgar's interview here!AriadnefromGreece!

Bethany said...

I had never been to Edgar's blog. Thank you for sharing the blog and the interview. So much talent, a wonderful addition and wonderful surprise as well.

Erica near Chicago said...

Thank you for sharing. I love the stitching chair.

Nicola said...

Thank you Edgar for sharing your stitching history with us. I envy you that wonderful chair and being your grandfather's makes it all the more special for you.

Kate said...

Great interview