Header Photo

Header Photo
American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Beyond the Little X - An Interview with Ilana!

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.

Martha Mulford

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

Dutch Beauty
JCS - Scarlet Letter

Do you have a favorite specialty stitch?

Favorites include satin, queen, French knots, long arm cross and stem stitch. 

LD 1602

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.

Russian Firebird

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?

Some knitting.

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!

Jane Bostocke

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!!


Nicola said...

Ilana you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your beautiful needlework with us. I am on cloud nine this afternoon.

Heritage Hall said...

What a gift of eye candy for this
St. Valentine's Day.... Ilana
triumphant... so gifted, skilled
and inspiring.

ilana kaye said...

Thank you. You are so gracious and know how to make everyone feel special

Elaine Wimberly said...

Your work is perfection. Thank you so much for sharing those with us!

queenstownsamplerdesigns said...

Bold. Beautiful. Color.
That is Ilana.
You strike up the bands with your gorgeous works.

The perfect interview on Valentine's Day. We all ♥ your samplers!

Theresa said...

So inspiring! love the many varied samplers and stitching portrayed in these! thanks so much for sharing, I will be revisiting this often! : )

bettyxstitch said...

That is both jaw-dropping and inspirational. I could not be more impressed!

Patricia said...

Ilana you are an amazing stitcher. Love what you have done. Thanks so much for sharing with us newbies and I couldn't be more impressed.

Debbie Bauer said...

Thank you , thank you IIlana! Your work leaves me speechless ! There are no words to describe the beauty of these samplers!

samplerlover said...

What a wonderful interview. I throughly enjoyed reading it. So many beautiful band samplers. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

samplerlover said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scarlet Letter said...

Your choice of frames is very impressive as well as your skill with the needle.

Leona Sweeney said...

Oh my goodness! These samplers are amazing! Congratulations Ilana. I have looked and looked at the photos and am in awe. They are masterpieces.

Leona Sweeney said...

Oh my goodness! These samplers are amazing! I have looked and looked at the photos and am in awe. They truly are masterpieces. Congratulations Ilana and thank you for sharing them with us.

Serena B said...

What a wonderful interview,gorgeous samplers..amazing!

Vera said...

Wonderful interview and inspirational stitching. Thank you so much for sharing.

marly said...

Remarkable collection of samplers. Gorgeous!

JoAnn said...

Ilana, what beautiful stitching and framing. You truly are an artist. I especially loved the clock frame that embraces your SDW. JoAnn

Bethany said...


Your samplers are lovely and getting to know more about you, is a special treat. A perfect day to share your interview with so many of us. Your a true inspiration.

Erica near Chicago said...

What wonderful work. So inspirational. Thank you.