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!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Time and the Living Is Easy

It's about to snow again. . . . a real picture of a gloomy mid-West winter day. . .and BOY is it hard to get anything organized or properly finished.  So no, I have no interesting stitching to show you. . . although I assure you, I have EXCELLENT intentions.

Others in the household have excellent intentions too. . .focused on much more easily attainable goals:  RELAXATION!

Consider my two beautiful Siamese, Oscar and Fiona.  Here they are on their favorite radiator in the bedroom.  Not only do they lounge on radiators through the deep winter months, they seek to maximize the experience by letting as much of their bodies as possible hang over the edge, where it's even warmer.

Meanwhile, in the study, here's the baby of the group, Glinda, sacked out on her radiator.  No worries here.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the house (nope, no photo here), I am struggling to get together my stitching for the coming months.  Recently Spinster Stitcher (who despite her protestations seems to be really organized, and seems to have almost FINISHED a lovely stitched piece this January), posted about how she chose a selection of projects and grouped them together for easy access.  My plan is to do the same. . . soon. . . very soon.  In the meantime, perhaps there's some extra room on the radiator.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


At long last my holiday stitching is complete and in the hands of the intended recipients! 
After working the lacis ornaments, I decided to experiment a little more with the technique, and decided to try making sachet bags with initials decorating them.

I finished a set of two for my new voice teacher before Christmas.

The remainder were stitched mostly over the holidays and finished and ready to go just in time for my belated holiday lunch with the ladies I work with.  Hope they like them!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's almost time to exit the whirlwind holiday season and get back to real life.  I'm trying to decide whether to even try to make any stitching-related resolutions.  Past attempts have failed spectacularly.

But before worrying about all that, I'm enjoying the afterglow of the Christmas holiday.  As our gift to each other, my DH and I spent two days in Colonial Williamsburg after Christmas.  This is one of my favorite places to visit, and we both remembered a Christmas-time trip years and years ago. 

While we were at my Mom's outside Washington, DC the BIG post-Christmas snow storm hit the east coast.  While the Washington area got almost no snow, Williamsburg was hit pretty hard, so we were able to enjoy a very Christmasy looking. . . if icy couple of days.

Since we've been to Williamsburg many times, we mostly indulged in special holiday programs and tours, including a VERY cold ghost tour, a fancy dinner in one of the colonial inns, and a candle-lit concert at the Governor's Palace. 

I have no photos of those, but do have some from our tour of the Christmas decorations.  Each year Williamsburg holds a decorating contest, with the requirement that all decorations be made with materials that existed in the 18th century.  Here's a typical example followed by the wreath outside the milliner's shop, which includes a lot of fruit shapes created out of fabric!  All great fun!

So as the new year settles in, I wish you all a happy and productive year!