Saturday, January 29, 2011

Now where were we....

When last I blogged about the jacket tour, we intrepid travelers were motoring about the English countryside in search of ever more lovely antique embroideries. One highlight was our stop at Whitney Antiques for a private viewing of Wrought with the Needle, an exhibit of absolutely stunning 17th century embroidery.   You can get a little taste of the treats we enjoyed from the cover of the exhibition catalogue (well worth buying!) and a promotional piece. 

And you can find excellent accounts of the exhibition by fellow jacket tour traveler Viking Sparrow here, and Beth Lea provides an excellent account of her visit to the exhibition here.  Both are so good that I'm not going to try to match them.  Needless to say, if I had had an extra $50,000 to $100,000 of mad money tucked in my back pocket, I would have left with some major purchases!

But I did come away with a very special experience. . . . when I saw this sampler right there on the wall in front of me.  Look familiar?  (Sorry about the photo quality. . . no photos of the exhibit were allowed, so this is a picture of the photo in the catalogue.)

It's a fraternal twin to the Jane Turner sampler!  Down through the wide band with the lady flanked by trees, the two samplers are virtually identical EXCEPT this sampler has only the double-running shapes, while Jane has added a lot of decorative surface embroidery to hers.  The stitcher of this sampler did not provide her name or a date. . .which means, I presume, that there's no way to learn how this sampler might be related to Jane's.  (What a shame!)

But I did find it absolutely fascinating to compare the two.  Here's the wide double-running shapes band from the Whitney sampler. . . and the same band from my restitching of Jane's sampler...first with the underlying double-running. . .then embellished with surface stitches.

This was really exciting for me because I had been wondering about how Jane's sampler came to have a lot of rather elaborate surface embellishment.  Seeing the Whitney sampler clearly shows how these samplers were indeed taught to multiple young stitchers. . . but comparing the two doesn't satisfy my curiosity.  Why did Jane add more stitching while her fellow stitcher didn't?  Was Jane a more accomplished stitcher?  Or is her sampler "finished," while the other is really a UFO?  Or did Jane's daddy just spring for extra silks and extra lessons beyond the basic sampler?  Darn it!  I sure would like to know who the two girls were. . .whether they knew each other. . . are these samplers a 17th version of a stitch along. . . were they at school together. . . and if so where. . . or were they sisters, or cousins, or close friends "sharing" a governess or stitching teacher. .. and so on. . .and on....

Well. . . we'll certainly never know.  But the Whitney sampler is proving to be a great help in formulating my plans for what will be the last band on my Jane Turner sampler. . . the "lady and trees" band.  I never was really crazy about some aspects of Jane's band (shown here in photo of the reproduction from The Essamplaire):

And the Whitney sampler's corresponding band provides what I think is a nicer outline for the lady:

So. . . my great plan for completing MY Jane Turner sampler is as follows.  I will try to sketch out an outline for my lady based on the Whitney sampler. . .  I want to use this band as practice for several techniques I need to master to complete some other pieces.. . .   Soooooo.... I am going to try to stitch either fully detached or semi-detached clothing pieces using detached button hole stitch.  And for the face, I am going to experiment with the padding technique Tricia recommends for the mermaid face (see earlier posts), and use altar linen for the top layer.  All this will give me the option of tearing out multiple tries if needed. . .before taking the big plunge on my mermaid (for whom I have VERY limited amounts of satin fabric for her face and torso).

Great plan!  Wish me luck.  Wish me time to stitch!  I will need both!


  1. Wow! How cool!

    And replacing the lady you aren't quite comfy with, and going stuffed face/needlelace - I'm eager to see it! I prefer flowers to animals and people, but I still would like to know how to do people.

    That is just so cool that you found (and got) a 'sister' sampler!

  2. Megan - I love the flowers, but am really entranced by the people and animals. . .esepcially lions (I am a cat person, after all). I am in the process of going through all my trip photos and pulling those of lions and mermaids. Hopefully I will be inspired enough to get my mermaid done and a lovely lion started.