Header Photo

Header Photo
American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Thursday, 26 March 2015

March Progress on Elizabeth Shephard

I spent last weekend working on Elizabeth Shephard and completed the top right hand brown motif with its diagonal border.  I also did a fair bit of the Two Birds motif.

Quakers are so addictive, you want to keep going until you finish another motif!  It really is inspirational.

March is also Elizabeth's month: she was the solution to the St. Patrick's Day competition and we also have a lovely new finish of her by another Elizabeth from the FB group.  She has personalised the design so it looks more balanced in the frame she had.  She notes that it throws the symmetry out but as we al know the original Elizabeth was not overly obsessed with symmetry!

You can see all the versions of Elizabeth Shephard on the Gallery blog:

FINISHED!! A Parrot A leopard A Lion

WOW.. it has been forever since I have posted here....I have been busy stitching away on A Parrot A Leopard A Lion.  Put the last stitch in last evening....stitched on 28 ct Lugana 1 over 1 with DMC.... so very pleased with the results and doing a major happy dance!!! 
thanks for letting me share! 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Feller Collection

This summer Michael and Elizabeth Feller are opening their Cotswold Manor House to sampler lovers for parties of 15 to 20 to study their fabulous collection.

This is a very special opportunity.

We are organising three tours - two in August and one in July and have places available for the July trip.

If you are interested please can you leave a comment below. 

This is a wonderful opportunity and I for one can't wait.

Mastering Mary

Mary Hurst
Mary is growing and I have just started another file for Section 4. Enjoy !!!

Mary Hurst

Introducing Ann Short a new addition to The Scarlet Letter Portfolio

Ann Short - The Scarlett Letter

Marsha has a new sampler available ANN SHORT. She is a beauty.

Ann Short - The Scarlett Letter
Ann Short - The Scarlett Letter

Ann Short - The Scarlett Letter

Ann Short - The Scarlett Letter

Ann Short - The Scarlett Letter

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Beyond the Little X - An Interview with Donna!

For this month’s interview we sit and stitch with Donna!  We get to hear her stitching story as she shares with us her beautiful samplers.  She enjoys stitching Scarlet Letter samplers and I know you will enjoy seeing them!! 

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

I first picked up a needle at age 5 or 6.  My Mother taught me how to sew a straight line to make a pillow in the evenings while we watched TV in the basement.  I then advanced to Paragon kits which were very popular at the time in NY where I was born and raised.

What was the first sampler that you stitched?

It was the Celtic Band Sampler by Homespun Samplar.  At the time I thought it was a large project and that I would never finish it.  However, I did finish it and it hung on my walls until recently.

What is your favorite time of day to stitch?

My favorite time to stitch is anytime of the day!!  I work part time during the school year, so I generally stitch in the late afternoon and early evening then.  During the summer, I stitch more often.

Jane Parish - Scarlet Letter

Do you sit in a set place and what tools do you like to have on hand?

Right now I sit on the couch.   We are currently in the process of purchasing new furniture, but I think I will still sit on a couch where I have my right arm free like I do now.   As for special tools, I have a white seam ripper that came with an old Kenmore sewing machine.  I use it to “carefully” rip out mistakes.  Even after all these years, it is razor sharp.   My scissors, hoop and needles are all inexpensive.

Do you use the stick and stab technique, or a sewing stitch?

I use the sewing method.  I turn the linen as needed so all the stitches cross in the correct direction.  It is super fast.  I would not have completed so many samplers if I didn’t use this technique.

Ann How - Scarlet Letter

Ann Grant

Do you prefer to stitch in hand, or with a hoop or frame?

Right now I am using an inexpensive plastic hoop.  It works fine and I have been using it for years.  I do have a wooden adjustable frame that I will use for satin stitch or other specialty stitches to get a tighter tension.  However, I would like to purchase a wooden one from the Scarlet Letter soon.

What is your favorite linen and thread?

Right now my favorite linen is from Lakeside.  I really like Vintage Light Examplar, Vintage Buttercream and Vintage Pecan Butter.  Though I do like the thinner linen from R&R and Weeks Dye Works also.  It’s all about linen color for me.  Most of my samplers have been completed with DMC; I have done others in silks too.  I have been stitching all my samplers on 40 count lately.  I really prefer large, intricate projects done on a small count linen.   I admire the ones that are done in a larger count, I just don’t enjoy stitching them.

Have you tried specialty stitches and do you have a favorite?

Yes, I have tried some specialty stitches on various samplers.  However, I really just prefer cross.  I do follow the patterns and never substitute easier stitches.

Matilda Charles - Scarlet Letter

When did you discover the Scarlet Letter?

I did not discover the Scarlet Letter until fifteen years ago.  I found the Scarlet Letter on the internet when I was doing a search for Reproduction Samplers.  I ordered Marie Abbott and was just amazed at the beauty of this sampler.  Since then I have completed 12 Scarlet Letter samplers and many from other designers.

Marie Abbott - Scarlet Letter 

What is your favourite period of sampler-making and why?

I really like Scottish samplers and samplers with people and animals.  In my opinion, people and animals give the sampler life. I have completed three Scarlet Letter Scottish samplers and plan to stitch more.

Margaret Gibson - Scarlet Letter

Marion Robertson - Scarlet Letter

I like to have a little red in most of my samplers also.  

Permin 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?

I used to think I was born in the wrong time period since I really enjoy sewing, cooking and everything to do with home and children.  I don’t like the pressure I feel today to work outside the home either by choice or necessity.   There is so much stigma for women today to do it all.   I have learned to just enjoy my life and not worry about what society dictates.

Mary Allen

Jean Rattray

How do you display your stitched samplers?  Do you frame them?  Hang them singularly or in groupings?

I have had some samplers framed and they are hung throughout my home.  The other completed samplers are tucked in a cedar lined drawer and wrapped in cotton fabric. I don’t feel the need to frame everything.  I am always looking for new ways to display samplers.

Rachael Hyde (above)
Sarah Hartley (below)

An Amy Mitten design

Do you collect antique samplers? Or have any other collections special to you?

No I don’t collect antique samplers. I am not a collector.  I really don’t like clutter in my home so the samplers I complete are the only collection I own.   I live a simple life and really just like the basics.

Charlotte Clayton

What other types of hand work do you enjoy?

I have tried many other forms of needle work and rug hooking.   I also enjoy crochet. I recently crocheted an afghan in a deep, dark shade of green.   I used a braid technique to join the squares together.  I really like the effect of this technique.   I have made numerous afghans that have either been given away or sold.

Any guilty secrets to confess?

I generally have ice water or diet soda near me.  I wash my hands before handling my needlework.  I cut off all the tails when the sampler is completed.  After I complete sewing for the day or for an extended period of time, the linen and threads go into a Ziploc bag.

What has been your worst needlework disaster?

I bought a beautiful sampler into my local craft store to get it framed.  The sampler came back with a black paint stain in the center.  I was devastated.  I really didn’t know what to do.  I was able to get the stain out with a tiny amount of dish soap and water and a q-tip in that area.  I worked very hard to get the stain out.   On that sampler I used hand dyed linen and silks.

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

The sampler that had the paint stain from the frame department….Sarah Siddall by Scarlet Letter.   I feel like the linen can make or break the sampler.  I like vintage and darker linen.  Yes. I have been known to dip the sampler into coffee to age it.

Sarah Siddall - Scarlet Letter

What Scarlet Letter sampler are you currently working on now (or other current sampler)?  What do you most enjoy about it?  

I am currently working on Hannah Lancaster by The Porcupine Collection.  I have admired that sampler for many years.  It has the components I like most, people, animals and a little red.   I generally just work on one sampler at a time and prefer large samplers.

Hannah Lancaster - Porcupine Collection

What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy?

I enjoy exercising.  My husband recently purchased a recumbent indoor exercise bike that I have been using 30 min each day.  When the weather is warm, my husband and I walk 2-3 miles each night.   We live near the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and spend a lot of time hiking.  It is very peaceful and beautiful here.  I spend a lot of time with my 13 year old daughter doing all sorts of fun things, we are very close.  Of course, I really like researching and reading sampler blogs to get inspiration and to learn and share with others.

Thank you for taking the time to read about me this month.  I appreciate it. Sewing is a big part of my life.  It is peaceful, relaxing and gives me great enjoyment.  I really do not feel I would be as content and happy as I am, if it weren’t for this wonderful hobby!

Thank you Nicola, Krista and to all that help to maintain the Our Scarlet Letter Years blog and facebook group!!  Thank you Marsha and ALL designers for making all these samplers available for us to stitch and for all you do!!

And Thank YOU, Donna, for sharing your beautiful stitching with us!  Such an inspiration!  The peacefulness and enjoyment you get from your stitching can be seen through your words and stitching.  To keep up on Donna’s future endeavors please visit her blog, Cross Stitch Samplers.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Mastering Mary

Mary Hurst - The Scarlet Letter

Section 3 is now complete and the files have been updated.

Jeri has stitched part of this section differently (see photo below) and has shared her method with us and it is included within the notes. Thank you Jeri.

Karen has been making great progress and posted a progress shot on Facebook yesterday. Karen, as are a few others, is using Treasure Braid instead of the Silver Bullion thread. You will notice that is sits easier than mine above.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A post for Barbara G. EH is Finished.

“EH is done almost entirely in double running stitch.  There are a few eyelets and I changed the trellis stitch portions to satin because I liked the effect.  I think it gives a more solid look to the piece.  I tried the trellis but in some of the teeny  tiny areas it  just didn’t look right.  I usually don’t change anything on a reproduction but I felt this was needed here .  

I ran out of thread and I am  not sure if it was because of the switch to satin or not so if anyone is doing this sampler make sure  you have extra thread available.  The bands were not charted across the whole width and I had to do some redrawing and calculating to make them work – another thing to be aware of.  I am really pleased with this piece and even though it has only 4 colors I believe it works really well.”


Monday, 23 February 2015

Progress on Elizabeth Shephard

Happy Birthday Nicola!

As it was Nicola's Birthday this week I decided to dedicate IHSW to the gift she gave me for Christmas - Elizabeth Shephard.

I started on Thursday and completed the central motif:

Well, all except the initials because I am undecided what will go there, maybe my initials and the date instead.

Then over the weekend I continued towards the top right corner and got to add some colour.

I am stitching Elizabeth on the supplied 30count linen using AVAS silks.  She seems to be coming up quite large on 30 count but she is also quite a quick stitch.  Using mostly one colour and the repetitive nature means she is the ideal project to stitch while listening to the TV or talking to the family.

I have noticed already that "symmetry" was a stranger to Elizabeth.  Quaker symbols may appear to be symmetrical but Elizabeth frequently adds an extra stitch or moves part two squares to one side.  The middle of that top motif extends two rows above the rest of the piece.

I also noted that Marsha charted the sampler according to how it looks now, so the central motif would have been more symmetrical but Marsha has included the worn spots and not charted those symbols.

The other funny thing is that the border around the central motif is exactly the same as the one on another of my current projects - Prairie Moon Thine is the Trick and the Treat!

Haven't quite finished stitching it yet!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Mastering Mary

Christy has finished the whitework section and has stitched all of the eyelets - doesn't it look pretty ?

I have now stitched to this point and have updated the files with my notes.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Valentine's Day Giveaway ...... The winner is ..........

I am very pleased to announce that the name drawn from the hat for The Ornamental Branches book sponsored by Dawn is Theresa for her post on January 16.

Congratulations Theresa, please can you forward me your address.

A very BIG THANK YOU for to Dawn for her generous support of Our Scarlet Letter Years. 

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!!