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American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Beyond the Little X - an Interview with Karen!

For our August interview with we sit down with Karen to learn about her stitching story.   I have been in awe watching Karen's stitching over the past couple years. She is a lover of samplers of all sizes, especially BIG samplers, many to admire and aspire towards!

Karen, how old were you when you first picked up a needle and who taught you to stitch? 

Not sure exactly how old I was when I started.  I do remember being very young - maybe 7 or so - when my mother taught me how to knit.  I remember my stitches being so tight that even she could hardly get them off the needle.  I got very good at making squares.  A little later I learned how to do Huck Weaving and remember my grandmothers and aunts all received towels that year for Christmas. I did do some stamped cross stitch but as a young girl that didn't stick with me very much.  I did not like how the stitches did not line up so for many years I stuck with knitting.
In 1972 when I was working at a State Hospital a co-worker introduced me to counted cross stitch. She brought some 22 ct hardanger fabric to work one day and said  "you should try this"  So that is where my love of stitching began.. On 22 ct fabric over 1 I stitched charts of the four seasons that was in a Good Housekeeping magazine.  I did cross stitch for many years and gave most of my work away.    

Then in the late '80's I opened a shop in my home.  I took some classes with TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) in counted thread embroidery.  I had to design a sampler as part of the course and for that I was awarded their silver thimble Merit Award. Unfortunately, for several reasons, I had to close the shop in the early 90's and go back to working as an R.N. but my love of needlework continued.   I mainly did hardanger for many years before coming back to the world of cross stitch.

What was the first sampler that you stitched?

I stitched my first sampler sometime in the early '80's.. have no idea anymore what the name of it was but here is the picture… 

What is your favorite time of day to stitch?

My favorite time to stitch -- In a word – ANYTIME!   Since I retired last year it has been a total joy to stitch whenever the mood strikes and let me say that is most of the time :)  

That is why one of my favorite sayings is: 
"The only place housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary!"

Do you sit in a set place? 
I have 2 places that I sit to stitch.  One is in the living room…

Quaker Sampler Wall with Ann Grimshaw (top row 2nd from right)

 and the other is here…

If you can pick just one, which is your favorite sampler that you stitched?  And why?

Wow! this is a tough question.. I have so many favorites. I love Jane Atkinson - love that border and it was such fun to stitch and I stitched it as a SAL with my stitching Buddy – Donna.  All of those that we stitched together are special to me.

Sampler wall with Jane Atkinson in center

Mette Putfarken - holds a special place in my heart because when it was finished I sent it to Sabine Taterra of European Reproduction Samplers and it was displayed in the Textile Show in Berlin. 

Mette Putfarken

Vierlande Sampler Wall

 And the Sampler that I am most proud of is one of my own design.. I was working in a long term care facility at the time. The President/CEO of the facility passed away from Ovarian Cancer. The community center was renamed in her honor and I designed and stitched a memorial sampler that still hangs there.  

Memorial Sampler

What Scarlet Letter sampler are you currently working on now?  What do you most enjoy about it? 

My current projects by Scarlet Letter are Ann Medd - She was the project that brought me to the Scarlet Letter year challenge - she was put aside for a time till I decided how I wanted to do that last section and thanks to Nicola and Deb I decided on stitching it over 2 rather than in the called for tent stitch.. yikes!  Then I found I had a mistake and was off by several stitches after having a lot of that bottom section stitched.. so she did not see the light of day for a while again.. now I have found the mistakes.. ripped most of the verses on the right side and restitched them and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.. hope to finish in the next few weeks.. I just love everything about this sampler. I will post a pic as soon as she is finished.

Manifesto is another in progress.. I started it on 40 ct over 2.. had it about half finished...then..... wondered what it would look like over 1 .. so I stitched a test.. loved it much better than the over 2.. AS a result my over 2 version has found a new home and I am now stitching it over 1 on 28 ct and loving it.

Manifesto in progress

Also have a small start on Hannah Carter .. but she is going to be waiting in the wings for a while..love the colors in Hannah... I think that green background really makes the picture.

Hannah Carter in progress

What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy? 

I enjoy listening to audio books when stitching.. right now I am listening to "The Way of Kings" by Brandon Sanderson.

Karen has also had some beautiful finishes during the Scarlet Letter Year Challenge…

Dear Aunt

Matilda Charles

And, more recently, the now finished, stunning Ann Medd!

Ann Medd

Thank you so very much for sharing your journey and beautiful samplers with us, Karen!!  How amazing to have your work displayed half way around the world in Berlin!  Your love of samplers is a joy to see and an inspiration to us all!!  


Bethany said...


What a lovely story and wow, what a wonderful group of samplers. You have challenged your self, it looks like from the very beginning. I think we sampler lover's, should all design a sampler of our own. I think about this all the time, maybe after my next SL, I will think about this. I have a sampler my mother designed and it is one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing.

queenstownsamplerdesigns said...


Your works are gorgeous! I loved learning more about you. You have accomplished so much and all is done so beautifully.

I was thrilled for you the other day when you won the QSD raffle on Norden Crafts Facebook page.

Thanks for putting a big smile on my face, once again.

Winderwoodfarm said...

I think your stitching is just wonderful! Ann Medd is in my stash,she will need to come to the top of the stash! Your finished pieces are beyond any words. Thank you for sharing, bob

Theresa said...

I love these interviews and the variety of stories and backgrounds...and all the stitching! Gorgeous sampler walls! thank you for sharing.

Tina said...

Lovely interview,love your sampler walls!
Have added a few more to ever growing wish list and I think Ann Medd should go to the top.
Wish I could buy time as quick as I can buy charts lol

Thank you for sharing these interviews with us


Lanie said...

Another fun interview ... thank you, Krista!
And Karen ... WOW! ... your collection of needlework is amazing and so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. Can't wait to see more of your beautiful 'Manifesto'.

Vera said...

What wonderful sampler walls. What gorgeous stitching! Thanks for sharing your story Karen and thanks Krista for the interview.

brod'attitude said...

I love your sampler wall. Thank you for the interview

Cindy L said...

Karen, thank you for sharing such a wonderful interview and photos. Your samplers are gorgeous. I also love the memorial sampler you did.

zenuwpees said...

all the embroiderys so beautiful Marie-Claire

Lynn said...

Great interview with the best stitcher I know!