Header Photo

Header Photo
American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Monday, 15 December 2014

Section 1 Band 6 - Mastering Mary - the 2015 Group Learning Project

Only 16 days to go and there will be 53 of us putting our first stitches into Mary.


NOTE -  I am breaking these tutorials down to the basics (or trying to) as we have many stitchers who will be stitching these speciality stitches and reading this type of chart for the first time. Please remember that guiding others is also a first for me and as a Dyslexic it is quite a challenge explaining in the written form.


This week we are looking at the SIXTH BAND of SECTION 1.

The stitches used in this band are – faggot, satindouble running and eyelet

Let us look at the petal that makes up the flower motif that recurs throughout this band either as a full flower or a half flower. It is stitched in satin stitch.

Today we will be practicing the half flower on our doodle cloths. In the diagram below the figure to the left is one petal and each square represents two threads.

In the figure to the right each square represents ONE thread and the red verticallines represent each stitch. 


Following this stitch path with one pass will create this shape and is made up of thirteen stitches – see numbers in red (right diagram above).


NICOLA’S TIP – when I stitch motifs in satin stitch I find it easier to count numbers that relate to the squares on the chart – with this motif whilst we stitch 13 stitches (right diagram above) we are covering 7 square (left diagram above) on our chart. 

So that I know where I am I count in halves – see numbering in black (right diagram above).  So for example when I make the sixth stitch I know I have covered 3 squares –  0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3.

I will stitch the half flower motif in the following way.

I start with a pin stitch.


Then start my stitches which will cover the pin stitch.


Here the thirteen stitches have been stitched and formed a petal shape. You may like the coverage of a single pass but I prefer the fuller effect and so will make a second pass reversing my stitch path.


My needle and thread are now back at the first stitch where I began and my petal looks full without any padding.


I will now stitch the next thirteen stitches to form the second petal.


Then for the fuller coverage I reverse stitch the second petal.


Before I stitch the next pair of petals I will stitch the flower stamen in double runningstitch.

NOTE –                 count carefully as there are two stitches made over one thread not two. Can you spot them? Look at your chart and then the stamen I have stitched.

I will then work back along the curly bit to the top of the stamen stem and work the next curly bit.

Now I reverse stitch the second curly bit and down the stamen.


Next I stitch the second set of petals in the same manner as the first set.



If you have followed my stitch path and turn your work over the back of your motif/fabric will look like this.

POINT OF INTEREST -      For anyone interested in hardanger the petals are a commonly used motif and this shows how you can stitch table cloths and doilies where the front and back look equally as good.


The petals of this flower have been stitched with an alternative stitch path. Whilst covering the same threads/squares it creates a different effect. You should use the one that appeals the most to you.



In this band the flower motifs are surround by diamond shapes stitched in faggotstitch on the diagonal.



It is IMPORTANT that you follow the stitch path. You come UP on the ODD number and DOWN on the EVEN number



I have tried to demonstrate the different effect you can achieve with faggot stitch by applying different tensions. The left is normal stitching tension and the right is with a  tighter tension.

I will work the half diamond shape from the left to the right and then return from the right to the left – following the stitch path shown in the earlier diagram.

Note the different effects created just by applying tension. You should choose the one that appeals the most to you.



This is the back of the motif/fabric.


TIP –      Apply tension by pulling the thread with your fingers not by tugging on your needle as your thread will quickly break.


Next week we will look at the other satin stitched motifs that appear in this band and how the eyelet stitch is used.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Manifesto...an update.

Funny how in my head I had gone a bit further than I really have.  I started Manifesto last year when the pattern came out, on 40ct linen. Decided my eyes couldn't take it so having done the sun in the far corner, cut my losses and started again on 35ct.  Got to the sun again and then put it down to get involved in other delights that Nicola dangled in front of me....and finish Ann Medd.  Now she is known as the Mother of all Samplers but I think here Manifesto is coming up as a rival.  It is HUGE and a complete coverage.  Anyway I picked it back up again in May, and total focus this is where I am.   Slightly hampered I think by having to use a hoop as my Millennium Frame isn't big enough, I started of colouring in as I went but as you can see I have moved on to outlining for now and I will do the infill when I need times, where a pattern is a hindrance, eg car journeys.  Next year I am doing the Mary Hurst SAL, Jenny Bean as part of the other SAL, and doing And They Sinned as part of a small SAL. Manifesto will have to go in line, so trying to get as much done as I can now.

Monday, 8 December 2014


Time for another "Mary Monday" with 47 stitchers participating and 23 days to go to our start date.

I have had a couple of no-reply bloggers who would like to stitch Mary - I have no way of replying to you via the blog. If you follow the blog and have NOT signed up via Facebook for this project please email me - nicola.parkman@gmail.com. Everyone is welcome.

I have gathered my supplies and have been giving some thought to the thread for the whitework section which is charted using AVAS shade no: 111. If the sampler was just this section I would not hesitate to use it but with the stronger colours of the lower section I have been considering using no: 112 which is fractionally "bluer". PHOTO 1 shows both 111 & 112 with the other threads.

In the group we have a mixture of stitchers who will reproduce Mary exactly as charted and those who will adapt the sampler to their own taste. Where I make adaptations I will highlight the changes.

The sampler starts with SECTION 1 on the large white chart and the ROW 1 AND 2 are a satin stitched alphabet.


I will be changing mine to

A B C D E F H I J L M N O P Q 
R S T U V W X Y Z 

I will include a "J"

When I have finished the sampler I will go back and put a little something in the gap on the second row maybe the year and my initials. 2015 NP

Last week we looked at four options for satin stitching this alphabet and I have decided to go with the padded twice stitched version - see PHOTO 2 (the furthest S to the right)

ROW 3 in SECTION 1 is charted as faggot stitch which I believe when worked on the horizontal or vertical should be stitched as a Four Sided Stitch. See PHOTO 3 for the stitch path.

This stitch can be worked using normal tension or using a pulled tension for a lacy effect.

PHOTO 4 shows normal tension.

PHOTO 5 shows pulled tension.

PHOTO 6 shows my doodle cloth with rows stitched with normal and pulled tension.

You should choose which appeals to you

ROW 4 in SECTION 1 is again satin stitch with an X and a slanted and reversed S - PHOTO 7 shows this charted.

PHOTO 8 shows this stitched on the model.

The instructions on the chart state "try to run all counted satin stitches in the shortest possible direction". With these motifs that could be vertically or horizontally - see PHOTO 9 of my doodle cloth.

Note how the lay of the thread creates quite a different effect. The top and middle X's have both been stitched with the left X one thread and the right X two threads, the only difference being stitched on the vertical or horiontal.

If you find it difficult to stitch these out you can use a long stitch as a guide line - the third X on PHOTO 9. This will also act as padding.

Practice on your doodle cloth. You should choose the one that appeals and works for you. This is your sampler.

FIFTH ROW in SECTION 1 is a repeat of the THIRD ROW.

Next week we will focus on the SIXTH ROW which has some beautiful whitework motifs.

If you have any questions, suggestions or observations please ask away either by commenting below or messaging me.

**** TIPS OF THE WEEK ****

When applying tension on the four sided and faggot stitch do so by pulling the thread with your fingers rather than tugging on the needle which will quickly cause your thread to break.

Using a padding stitch will increase the amount of thread used so an additional skein may be required.

Mary is not going to be finished in a month and will be well handled by the time she is finished so we need to keep her in pristine condition.

I keep a pack of baby wet wipes on my workstation and everytime I sit down to work I routinely wipe my hands, even if I have just stood up to answer the phone. If I stitch continuously for 30 minutes I will pause to freshen my hands, when it is hot more frequently.

I have a large tea towel that I throw over my frame if I take a break during a stitching session. I never leave my work uncovered.

At the end of a stitching session remove your hoop or slacken the pressure on your roller frame.

For projects with speciality stitches I unroll the stitched area from the bars (I do not detach the fabric from the bars). I then LOOSELY roll the fabric and bars back up and pop them into a large clean pillow case for safe storage.

These are simple but good habits that do make a difference.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Kelmscott Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway


We have a very special event on the Facebook group page starting on Tuesday, December 9th to celebrate The Twelve Days of Christmas for members of Our Scarlet Letter Years. We won't be giving away partridges, maids a milking or even pipers piping but for TWELVE days we will be giving away five (YES FIVE !!!!) prizes each day.

Paula of Kelmscott Designs has 60 (!!!) of her gorgeous stitcher's accessories waiting for us to draw 60 names.

Each day you will need to keep an eye open for that day's "Kelmscott Giveway" post - as soon as you see it leave one comment for that day.  In your comment, let us know which sampler is your most favourite from The Scarlett Letter and paste in the link to the Scarlet Letter website for this sampler. This will give all of us an enjoyable way to look at more of the samplers on The Scarlett Letter’s website.

After 24 hours I will comment "this giveaway is closed" 5 names will then be drawn by a random number generator. 

I will then open the next "Kelmscott Giveway" which will include the names of the previous day's winners.

If you have won you will not be able to enter again.

What Paula will send you will be a surprise to you and to us so when you receive it we would love you to post some photos onto the group page.

Prizes will be sent out by Kelmscott Designs via USPS first class mail. The giveaway is open to stitchers around the world but for those outside the US your prizes may take a while to reach you. Unfortunately Paula will not be able to resend a prize if it goes astray.

A huge THANK YOU to Paula of Kelmscott Designs for her generosity. I have several of her  needle minders and scissors which I love using and I know you will love too.

***** Don't forget to share news of the giveaway with your stitching friends *****

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


This is a round up of the posts about Mary Hurst in the Facebook Group Yesterday

"MARY MONDAYS" - 30 days to go and counting down.

We have had a marvellous response to the SAL for Mary Hurst and at the current time there are 41 definite participants.

I thought it would be nice if we all introduced ourselves to each other.

So my name is Nicola and I am a stitch-a-holic ��. It has been less than  24 hours since my last stash addition���� 

I am based  in the south west of England and would describe myself as a comfortable intermediate stitcher starting to explore more advanced samplers. Mary will be my fourth band sampler and the first with detached buttonhole stitch.

I have a passion for reproduction samplers but prefer to stitch adaptations making the sampler my own.

I stitch using a Millennium frame and stand and use both hands. Good tension and lighting are a must for me.

I am always happy to help other stitchers and I can be contacted by private message via Facebook, Facebook audio, email, Face time or Skype.


On previous band samplers I have found it very useful to baste out guidelines for the left and right vertical outer edges of the sampler. It is easy to stray out by a thread and repeat that error as you stitch downwards - 30 minutes spent basting before you start stitching could save on frogging later on. 

From Bethany

Nicola asked if I could post some close ups of the top section on Mary Hurst. I hope this helps and Happy Mary Monday. Nicola, I also told you I would post the area where I did my queen stitches, but they are my interpretation.


As it is Mary Monday and feeling very inspired after seeing Bethany's wonderful close up photos of the whitework section I thought that it would be interesting to practice "SATIN" stitching some letters on our doodle cloth.

The first row of Mary is charted with letters such as the "S" in Photo 1

Now let us look at photo 2

All four S's (excluding the middle S) are stitched with the thread going in the shortest direction.

The first from the left is one stitch pass, the second has been stitched twice.
The middle S shows a padding stitch being laid.
The next S has been stitched with one stitch pass over the padding stitch and the final S being stitched twice over a padding thread.

All four are correct and down to personal taste.

Try them all and decide which is for you.

My third post for this week's Mary Monday.

Originally I referred to us stitching Mary Hurst as a SAL but this is causing confusion with the group's 2015 SAL which is Mary Gail, Elizabeth Shepherd, Mary Ann Michell and Jenny Bean.

We need to come up with a new name

This is learning project for us and an exploration and analysis of a band sampler and speciality stitches.

Can you all have a think and leave some suggestions.

The favourite name so far seems to be "Mastering Mary - A Group Learning Project"

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The 2015 SAL!

What an exciting vote for the 2015 SAL!

All of the votes from the facebook group and the blog have been tallied and it was a VERY close race, especially for the top 4! As there has been much excitement over these samplers we will have all 4 as SALs for the New Year! You can choose to participate in any one or more. 

It will be a very fun year stitching together!

Mary Gail - 72 
Elizabeth Shephard - 70
Mary Ann Michell - 61
Jenny Bean - 58
Sarah Siddall - 47
Abigail Gould - 38
Emma Lerch - 27
Rachel Allen - 24
Elizabeth Wisler - 23

When thinking about supplies, please look over the details on the Scarlet Letter website and plan accordingly. www.scarlet-letter.com  For instance, Mary Gail is listed as 25 count over one so if you choose to stitch on a higher count over two make sure you take that into consideration.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A "MILLENNIUM" celebration and giveaway

I hope everyone has now visited the Facebook Group, it is good a good place to meet new stitching buddies and bumping into old ones too.

It is so nice to see such a broad range of stitchers there from members discovering samplers and The Scarlet Letter for the first time to those who already have many stitched pieces hanging on their walls.

Besides sharing an interest in the designs of Marsha Parker and The Scarlet Letter the new Facebook group is a place to learn about and to share our love and knowledge of needlework and  antique samplers.  

Somewhere to come when you need help with a stitch, a piece of equipment, fabric choice or just to spend some social time.

You will find it much  easier to "chat" and post. It is so much more interactive than blogger allows. 

There will never be a stupid question in the group and don't be afraid to post and share.

We now have two SAL's planned for the New Year - the 2015 SAL for a small sampler which is currently being voted for and the Mary Hurst SAL. Everyone is welcome to join in with one or both.

This weekend we zoomed past 1000 Facebook members and to celebrate we have a very special giveaway - have you guessed what it can be. The clue is in the heading.

We are so lucky to have a Millennium Frame to giveaway for the our members courtesy of Needle Needs which is a small family run business,  specialising in handcrafting beautiful, bespoke, heirloom products that totally transform the stitching experience. 

I am a huge fan of their quality products and would be quite lost without my frame and stands.

Please visit their website needleneeds.co.uk to learn more about their products.

This is a very generous prize and the waiting list for the frames is long as demand far exceeds supply.

If you would like to be entered the rules are (hopefully) straightforward :-

1. You need to be a member of Our Scarlet Letter Years
2. You need to have told another stitcher or stitchers about the Facebook Group and the giveaway.
3. Comment on the Facebook  post about the giveaway - stating how you passed on the news - own facebook page, blog, facebook group, guild, craft class,needework store etc.,


4. Introduce a stitcher to the Facebook Group leaving a comment with that stitcher's name. Every stitcher introduced will entitle you to another entry.
5. A name will be drawn by a random number generator on December 31st.
6. The giveaway is for worldwide shipping with despatch by me on the first working day of the New Year.


If you need some help accessing the Facebook Group please see my earlier post 


Monday, 24 November 2014

"Mary" Mondays - Mary Hurst SAL

Checking in on our first “Mary” Monday I would like to bounce some ideas around with the group.

Sometimes SAL’s don’t suit everyone’s work loads and standing commitments so I think it would be nice not to have fixed deadlines.

Stitching is all about enjoyment not pressure.

How about if we try and work on Mary at least once per week whether that session is just putting in just one strand of floss or a few hours of work - we all have a pace we like to work at and a SAL is not a race to the finish.

The important thing is that in a few weeks or month’s down the line she is not at the bottom of your WIP basket forgotten about and that momentum is maintained.

Mondays will make a good check in day when we can share our progress and tips about Mary. 

Originally I was thinking to start the SAL in the middle of January but I understand that there are quite a few who like to start a project on New Year’s Day. What are your thoughts about a start date?

The stitchers I have for the SAL so far are:-

Kay Lynn
Mj (as a possible)







If your name does not appear and you would like to join in you would be very welcome - please can you leave comment.

If you have an ideas about the SAL please let me know.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Elizabeth Cox - A finish

Elizabeth Cox is finished. 

This sampler is an important milestone for me.

The very first time I visited the Scarlet Letter website I spotted this sampler and thought "WOW" quickly followed by "I will never be able to stitch that"  but a few years later I have !!!

Being part of the online community has taught me so much and knowing that there is always someone there to guide and encourage has given me the confidence to try.

Thank you to my "pin" pals there is stitch in this one made by each and every one of you.

Vote for the 2015 Scarlet Letter SAL!

Hello Everyone!  As we near the end of the year it is time to start thinking of what is to come in the New Year so we have started a vote for a SAL stitch-a-long for 2015!

Here are nine samplers to choose from, all which are primarily cross stitch and a few with a sprinkling of specialty stitches.  For this first round of voting please comment on this post (or on the facebook post in the group here!) which samplers you have an interest in stitching, you can choose more than one!!!  example: 1, 4, 6, 9 etc.  ****DUE TO OVERWHELMING INTEREST the first round vote will end November 30th at Noon EST**** and the three most popular samplers chosen will then go to a final vote!  For details on each pattern please go to The Scarlet Letter website.

Lots of great samplers to choose from!  So hard to choose just one!  

Looking forward to us all stitching together into 2015!  xxxxx

Dona Dorothea - top half done!!

Hi Everyone,

Where has the Fall gone?  It sped by me it feels like overnight.  I finally managed to finish the top half of Dona Dorothea.  The ground seemed to take forever…and the little motif on the far right over one (my husband calls it a Genie Lamp) was a bear to stitch on 38 count fabric.  My eyes are not what they used to be.

Here’s an overall shot and a close up of the “lamp.”

Sorry the lamp is a little blurry.  It's not the best day for photographing and I am not the best photographer!  I hope to start on the next section this afternoon.

Reading the blog and the Facebook page, so much happened while I was in CA.  I’m seriously considering joining those who will start stitching Mary Hurst in the New Year.  It would be fun to have some specialty stitches to do along with the cross stitch.  On the other hand, I have so many charts in my stash…then there will be the Facebook SAL…plus all the other things I would like to do.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is this Thursday!  Yikes!  We have been planning to drive out to Pittsburgh to see our son, his girlfriend and my brother and SIL.  Now some things have come up and we won’t know until Monday afternoon if we can go out or not…keep fingers crossed for us – we haven’t seen our son in too long. 

Hope everyone in the US has a fabulous holiday…and here’s hoping the snow is not too bad where you are.