Header Photo

Header Photo
American Quaker Sampler stitched by Krista


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A finish - Mary Hurst

A finish - Mary Hurst by The Scarlet Letter. 6.75" x 32.5" on 36ct with AVAS threads. Stitches - satin, detached buttonhole, rice, Queen, Croatian flat, double running, eyelet, French knots, seeding, Montenegrin, cross.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Mary Hurst

I am a few days late with my update on Mary Hurst but here she is as of tonight. A finish is getting closer.

Friday, 26 June 2015

My Progress on Elizabeth Shephard during June

stitched on 30 count linen

This month I completed the border around the rose motif and stitched all the fiddly bits around the outside of it then started the bottom cartouche.

Next month I am planning to go back to the top of the design and work my way to the left hand corner and then down.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Mastering Mary

Mary Hurst - The Scarlet Letter

Section7 - Band 2 and 3 are now complete and the notes have been updated.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Beyond the Little X – An interview with Cyndi Foore

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
This is a name tag I stitched in petit point on 40 count adapted from a pattern by Brenda Keyes.

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  

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Mastering Mary

I have just updated the files for the start of Section 7. Band 1 is completed and Band 2 has been started. Lots of detached buttonhole to keep us on our toes. ENJOY !!!

Friday, 22 May 2015

A Finish a New Start and a Tale to Tell

An Adaptation of Mary Gail - The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes, my take on Mary Gail has been finished and is at the framers as I type. I enjoyed every stitch of this bright and cheery sampler. I used AVAS and stitched it over 2 on 40ct Havana. The colour of the linen is much more gingery, the camera flash has bleached the colour out.

Martha Allis - The Scarlet Letter

I have started Martha Allis which is now available from the Scarlet Letter. She is a beauty. I am using LL 36ct Vintage Light Examplar and AVAS.

The moment I saw Martha I had to have her for my collection but I learnt the hard way and just missed out on her at auction as I had left a commission bid. Luckily I traced her to Witney Antiques after the sale and managed to secure her.

Martha's history is fascinating and I had much enjoyment researching her both online and in the records office.

On the 16th of June 1755 Martha Allis daughter of Quakers - John and Anna Allis was born in Shadd Thames in the Parish of Saint John’s in Southwark.
George II sat on the English throne and Samuel Johnson’s first  dictionary had just been published.

Martha was descended through her maternal line from Merchants who had escaped religious persecution in Europe in the beginning of the 18th Century and settled in London.
By the time that Martha was born Quakers had been able to practice their religion in England openly for sixty odd years and during this time had begun to be recognized for their integrity in social and economic matters. Many Quakers went into manufacturing or commerce as previously  they had not been allowed to earn academic degrees.
At the same time Quakers were also becoming more concerned about social issues and becoming more active in society at large. One such issue was slavery, another issue that became a concern of Quakers was the treatment of the mentally ill.

They also believed in the spiritual equality of women, who were allowed to take a far more active role than had ordinarily existed.

We can expect Martha’s family to have be hard working, affluent, religious and charitable. Martha and her mother would have been equals with her father and brother. Martha would have received an education.

In the 21st century Shad Thames is a historic riverside street with Tower Bridge (built 1886) at its west end and running along the south side of the River Thames in London. At the time of Martha’s birth it was described as:-
Shad Thames – exhibits an uninterrupted series of wharves, warehouses, mills and factories, on both sides of the narrow and crowded roadway. The buildings on the northern side are contiguous to the river, and in the gateways and openings in these we witness the busy scenes and the mazes of the shipping which pertain to such a spot. “
It was a major area for brewing beer which could be transported easily across the river to the City.

Martha’s father John Allis and Hagger Allis were brewers at Horslydown Old Stairs and were listed in “The New Complete Guide to All Persons Who Have Any Trade or Concern City of London” issued in 1770 the year that Martha stitched her sampler.

It is interesting to note that the famous English brewing company Courage was founded by John Courage in 1787 following his purchase of John and Hagger’s brewery for the sum of £616.13.11d paid by cheque on December 20th 1787.

On April 18th 1780 at the late age of 25 Martha married Nathaniel Hartland at the Friends Meeting House at Horslydown London.

The Hartland and Allis families were closely interconnected with numerous marriages between cousins in generations before and after Martha and Nathaniel union and we can presume that they grew up knowing each other.
Nathaniel and Martha Hartland lived in Church Street Tewkesbury which overlooked the Abbey (see plan of area by Nathaniel in 1807)

They had eight children - John Allis, Reeve, Anna, Nathaniel, (No Given Name), Nathaniel, Sarah and William.
Their last child William was born on September 15th 1797 in Church Street Tewkesbury.

Martha died the same day as giving birth to William at the age of only 42 and her baby William 3 months later.

The Friends Meeting House in Tewkesbury

In 1803 Nathaniel married his second wife, Rebecca Wilkins, in a Quaker ceremony in Cheltenham. Nathaniel went on to found a bank in 1809

Nathaniel died in 1830, and in the following year his eldest son John Allis, a banker like his father, was married at Tewkesbury Abbey. His bride was his first cousin, Anna Maria Allis, daughter of Martha’s brother Jacob Allis.
Martha’s sampler probably passed on Nathaniel senior’s death to his son Nathaniel junior who also followed his father into banking. He was married twice, first (in 1816) to Ann Summers Harford, daughter of Ebbw Vale Iron master Richard Summers Harford. Nathaniel and Ann had a son, Alfred Harford Hartland, born in Worcestershire in 1817. Ann must have died in childbirth, or shortly afterwards: she was buried at Evesham in 1818, aged 24.
Nathaniel junior married his second wife Eliza Dixon, daughter of physician Thomas Dixon and his wife Sarah, in Evesham, in July 1825. Nathaniel and Eliza had five children: Theresa Gales, born in 1827; Frederick Dixon, 1830; Emily Rosa, 1834; Anna Louisa, 1842; and Ernest, 1843. The first three of these were born in Evesham, the last two in Charlton Kings, near Cheltenham, where the Hartland family can be found living – at ‘Oaklands’, together with half a dozen servants –  in 1841, 1851 and 1861.

Sir Frederick Dixon-Hartland, M.P.
Nathaniel Hartland died in 1866 at the age of 75. His son Frederick Dixon-Hartland (1832 – 1902) would become an antiquary, banker and Conservative Member of Parliament for Evesham and baronet.

It is recorded on the reverse of Martha’s sampler that it passed in June 1920 to Anna Louisa Coulson nee Hartland, Sir Fredrick Dixon-Hartland’s sister and her Granddaughter.
Anna had married Walter John Coulson an eminent Harley Street surgeon in 1862 but they had no children.
In 1921 at the time of writing her will it is recorded that Anna was staying  at Ridgebourne on the Hergest Estate in Kington. Hergest was the home of her sister Emily Rosa Banks nee Hartland.
Anna’s will and subsequent codicials left many bequests but the bulk of a considerable fortune including furniture and personal effects went to two spinster nieces – Maude Ethel and Mary Constance Coulson.
They in turn left their estates to the same nieces and great nieces and it is believed that the sampler passed into the ownership of Margaret (Peggy) Balliol Scott who became a Beagley upon marriage.
Peggy Beagley died in 1996 in Mersham Kent.
The sampler reappears when it is sold at Auction in 2015 by Dreweatts in Newbury and was purchased by Joy Jarrett of Whitney Antiques.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out more about Martha and her sampler's journey down the generations.

I hope Martha Allis will now stay with me at Trewoon for many decades to come where it will be love and admired every day.

A Birthday Giveaway

We have a VERY special giveaway for FIVE (!!!!) $20 gift certificates for the Scarlet Letter which have been donated by a stitcher who is celebrating a milestone birthday this month.

Our generous patron wishes to remain anonymous but we can still offer our heartfelt birthday wishes.
Celebrate well and thank you from the group.

For details of the giveaway which takes the form of a photo quiz please click on the link.