For our interview this month we sit and chat with Cyndi Foore. As we all do, she has a true love of needlework and is wonderfully talented in many types of embroidery. It is a real treat to see her detailed work in many different mediums!
Cyndi, how old were you when you first picked up a needle and who taught you to stitch?
I never remember a time that I didn't love needlework, especially embroidery.
I begged my mother to buy me a stamped embroidery kit for some napkins at the age of 7. My mom was a Home Economics teacher before she married my dad and didn't really like embroidery but I'm certain she showed me the beginnings and from then I was on my own.
What was the first sampler that you stitched?
My very first sampler was 'Amaranth' by Shepherd's Bush. It was one of the little ones they had on cards in the early 90's. I bought the cards then the linen and was so afraid to cut it since it was $54 a yard, much more expensive than the fabric in my wedding dress! I took a class since this was my first time to stitch on linen and have been in love ever since.
What is your favorite time of day to stitch?
I prefer to stitch samplers in the morning or afternoon. If I stitch them in the evening I tend to make more mistakes and end up taking out what I did.
|Bee Skep Pincushion|
Do you sit in a set place and what tools do you like to have on hand?
I sit in the chair I use at my table for making my strawberries, everything I need is there, my embroidery scissors, Mary Arden size 26 petites, my thimble and of course a strawberry emery.
(Cyndi creates one-of-a-kind strawberry emeries... don't they look scrumptious?!)
Do you use the stick and stab technique, or a sewing stitch?
I use a sewing technique, for me, it is faster.
Do you prefer to stitch in hand, or with a hoop or frame?
When I took my first class years ago, I had my linen in a hoop stretched so tight you could bounce quarters off of it. I was shocked to learn that this was to be stitched in hand. I still stitch in hand when working samplers. I use hoops for other types of embroidery ie: crazy quilting, silk ribbon etc.
|Ring bearer's pillow|
I am also hand-piecing this fan quilt. Currently on block 51 of 66.
|Grandmother's fan block|
What is your favorite linen and thread?
Oh my favorite linen is Northern Cross, then Danish and Wichelt. I love working with silk thread and have a lot of Kreinik and Waterlilies but have also been trying some of the new overdyed threads available.
Have you tried specialty stitches and do you have a favorite?
I love specialty stitches, I think they add so much interest to the work. My favorite stitch is the Queen stitch, so lacey, followed closely by Bargello and Petit Point.
This is a pin ball made from a class taken by Margret Hogue in a bargello pattern I created...
When did you discover the Scarlet Letter?
I discovered the Scarlet Letter not long after taking that first class on linen and going to sampler seminars. I have the very first leaflet that was sent to me. I admire, like many others, the great work Marsha has done for us.
What was the first Scarlet Letter sampler you stitched?
I love the samplers at the Scarlet Letter and have to admit that I'm a great starter but struggle to finish. I'll have to check my stash to see which the first one was.
What is your favourite period of sampler-making and why? Which designs appeal to you the most?
I fell in love with 17th century needlework because of the variety of stitches and the gorgeous band designs. I have come to love the Quaker geometric for their balanced patterns, Norfolk with the sweet little trees and stags, and the stepped patterns on them and the beautiful Biedermeier samplers with their lovely floral motifs, birds and musical instruments. I do have a thing for samplers with birds on them. I designed a chipmunk to replace the sinister looking squirrel on my Mary Wigham sampler...
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?
When I work the reproduction samplers, I feel like I know these little girls and learn right along beside them. To think of where they lived and the conditions in some of the schools they attended is amazing. The story of Jane Eyre is one of them, without the sampler. The conditions in these schools went through a great change for the better as you can read in the Ackworth book by Carol Humphrey.
How do you display your stitched samplers? Do you frame them? Hang them singularly or in groupings?
I like hemstitching my pieces and framing them with UV glass in a conservation method I learned in Williamsburg. I cover an acid free board with muslin, and attach the sampler to the muslin. This is the least stressful way of mounting my work. I don't pin or lace.
Do you collect antique samplers? Or have any other collections special to you?
I do collect samplers and price does play a part in my decision but so does the quality and origin and color. I recently bought a lovely little sampler that is believed to be from Western Pennsylvania. I plan to chart her and perhaps others from my small collection.
What other types of hand work do you enjoy?
I love crazy quilting and, even more so, tatting. I am teaching a class at the Finger Lakes Tatting Seminar this spring.
Here is a basket I made for my tatting threads...
|A tatted hanky edging|
As I was an art major in HS, I enjoy drawing as well. Here is a drawing that I did a few years ago, I love trees, and of Marilyn.
Any guilty secrets to confess?
I do usually have something to drink near me when I stitch, but always in a safe location or with a cap.
What has been your worst needlework disaster?
My worst disaster is putting a sampler away to start another one and going back to it and finding I left a needle in it and it has rusted.
If you can pick just one, which is your favorite sampler that you stitched? And why?
I do love those little Shepherd's Bush samplers I spoke of earlier and Darlene O'Steen is my absolute favorite teacher. I love her designs, especially the English Sampler, but perhaps my favorite of what I've finished is the Bands of Pearls by Eileen Bennett. I finished it in 4 months. She is tone on tone but quite captivating. My favorite Scarlet Letter sampler that isn't finished is Dorcas Haynes which I was privileged to see in person in the company of Carol Humphrey at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
|An emery I stitched designed by Barbara Jackson|
What sampler are you currently working on now? What do you most enjoy about it?
I started a new SAL this year working 'A Sampler for My Mother' by Aury TM. It is designed after the geometric Quaker samplers and is a memorial to our moms. There is a lot of interaction with the group and also the freedom of planning what colors to use and who else we can memorialize on this piece, it is very personal.
What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy?
My world is stitching and as you know I have a business in needlework but I also enjoy tatting as I stated before.
|Tatted cross bookmark|
I am an amateur Mountain Dulcimer player. I do enjoy music, especially the old hymns but also classical, folk and some rock too. I love the band Apocolyptica. I have always been an avid reader, I used to read Stephen King but now I mostly read historical and Christian literature along with Bible study. I also love to cook. Here is a pear and berry salad with balsamic vinegar reduction.
I enjoy attending needlework seminars when I can and give lectures here locally on needlework, especially samplers. I have demonstrated tatting for historical societies and other venues here in Warren Ohio and PA.
Thank you so much, Cyndi, for sharing your story and embroidery skills with us all! You have an amazing talent with needle and thread and have opened our eyes to different techniques. We look forward to seeing your updates on your Scarlet Letter samplers and your new one-of-a-kind embroidered creations. To keep up on Cyndi’s future endeavors please visit her facebook group, Strawberry Fields Needlework