For our February interview we sit and stitch with Ilana! She shares with us her stitching story and many of her beautiful samplers, including many Scarlet Letter samplers! Lots of eye candy for the sampler love on this Valentine’s Day!
Ilana, how old were you when you first picked up a needle and who taught you to stitch?
I had just graduated from college when I began with needlepoint in 1969. I had admired the samplers in the Whitman collection, but I was not aware of any available resources for materials and charts at that time.
|Mary Ann Healy 1809 - Scarlet Letter|
It was not until 1994 that I began to stitch samplers. I was 48 years young.
What was the first sampler that you stitched?
My first sampler was by Sarah Donn. I found a book at the local library with a chart. I taught myself to do cross stitch with a diagram in that book. That sampler included many alphabets and border motifs. I changed the colors to a brighter palette.
What time of day do you stitch?
I stitch on weekends since I work fulltime during the week.
|Coraggio - Scarlet Letter|
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 use a Hinterburg quilting hoop that is tight as a drum. (Plan on getting the Millennium one of these days.) I like working on a large surface, usually an 18-22 inch hoop or larger.
|IES 1704 - in progress|
Do you have a favorite linen?
My preference is 40 ct. Italian or Lakeside linen. Since Ricamo 40 ct. linen has been discontinued, I have ordered 39 ct. Italian which I hand dye and shrink to 40 ct.
Do you use the stick and stab technique, or a sewing stitch?
Stick and stab.
|The Wind Blows - Scarlet Letter|
What is your favourite period of sampler-making and why?
17th Century English and German band samplers. I just like them.
|A german sampler from a V&A book|
|SDW a german band sampler - Scarlet Letter|
|A Work in Progress!|
Which designs appeal to you the most?
English, German, and Scottish.
|Mary Hurst - Scarlet Letter|
|JCS - Scarlet Letter|
Do you have a favorite specialty stitch?
Favorites include satin, queen, French knots, long arm cross and stem stitch.
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?
|Joyce Leedes - Scarlet Letter|
What aspect(s) of working with early textiles appeals to you the most?
The color and design.
|Ann Lawle - Scarlet Letter|
|Mexican Sampler - Queenstown Sampler Designs|
|Joanna Warren - Scarlet Letter|
Have you had any formal education in textiles?
My degree is in Fine Arts with a major in weaving and fabric design.
Do you collect antique samplers? Apart from samplers do you collect anything else?
I collect cookbooks.
What other types of hand work do you enjoy?
Any guilty secrets to confess?
I change colors and stitches all the time.
What has been your worst needlework disaster?
I accidentally threw out a work in progress!
If your house was on fire and you could only save one sampler which would you choose and why?
Jane Bostocke. Took me 10 years to finally finish. I would grab my LD sampler second!
Am I the only one who forgets that her glasses are on top of her head?
|Marie Abbott - Scarlet Letter|
Here is one of Ilana's current WIPs.....
A wonderful interview and feast for the eyes!
Thank you so very much, Ilana, for sharing your samplers with us. Your work is truly an inspiration! You have such a skill with specialty stitches that brings such beauty to your samplers. I have now added some more to my ever-growing wish list as I am sure others will also!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!