Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

So 2012 is quickly coming to an end, and we will soon be celebrating the start of 2013.  I am once again ignoring the urge to make a long list of resolutions and trying to concentrate on smaller goals. 

One of my stitching goals is to progress on a few class projects that have been languishing, most of them from 2011.  I decided that the first project I will work on is Lord of Fire from Leigh Designs

I bought this canvas in 2010 at Bedecked and Beadazzled while in Baltimore for a long weekend. Ruth Schmuff, the fabulous owner of the shop, told me that Brenda Hart was working on a stitch guide for the canvas.  I called regularly to find out when the stitch guide would be available and was absolutely thrilled when Ruth told me that Brenda would be at the shop to teach the canvas.  I immediately booked a space in the class.

Brenda's class was just wonderful, and her stitch guide is amazing.  We worked on small areas of the canvas in the one-day class, including the dragon.  I started stitching on this piece again this past Christmas Eve and finished the large red circle as well as some more of the dragon.  Brenda uses lots of beads, which is not my best skill, so the stitching is somewhat slower than usual.  But the beads add lots of glitz!  Here is my progress to date.


 You can see that not much has been completed.  But I think once I start working on it in earnest, progress will be made.  The red is Soie d'Alger silk in long stitches and the blue in the middle of the top circle is Sundance beads with Kreinik #8 braid surrounding it. 

The dragon's head is Soie d'Alger with Bijoux stitched over it.  The body is Four-Way Continental in Kreinik #4 braid; a Sundance triangular bead is attached inside the diamond shape.   The toes and strands coming out of the dragon's head will be French knots in the same silk.  We had done some of the French knots in class but I took them out this week as I wasn't too pleased with how I had stitched them.  Hopefully I can do a better job here at home.

I am looking forward to stitching on this piece.  I really love Asian-inspired designs, and have several in my stash. 
I wish everyone a Happy New Year - may 2013 be filled with joy and happiness for each of you.
Graphic from
Until next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays and a Big Reveal

I hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season.  I can't believe that 2012 is quickly coming to an end! 

We had a wonderful Christmas Day with our small family.  We are now down to just five of us - the DH, the DD, my sister and my father.  Although we are few in number, we still enjoyed the day as a family.

Since the house renovation is continuing (we have entered our third year of construction), I still can't decorate as extensively as I'd like.  But the DH and DD did a fabulous job with the artifical tree and the DD went crazy with entwining ribbon over everything! 

Christmas Tree - 2012
I am hoping that next year I will finally be able to find all my decorations and really dress the house up in style.
The Big Reveal

I have been working on Achoo by Dimensions for my sister for her Christmas gift.  I am happy to say that she loved it.  

The kit came with 14-ct white Aida.  I don't particularly like working on Aida if I can help it, and I really didn't care for the white.  I thought it was too stark.  I kept looking for the perfect linen for this kit.  I was able to purchase some Picture This Plus 36-ct Edinburgh linen in Fresco while I was at The Stitching Post outside Baltimore.  I am very pleased with how it turned out.  I think the shades in the fabric really enhance the picture.  My framer (The Framed Image) did a great job with the piece and even photographed it beautifully so that I could post it on this blog.

Design by Dimensions
Stitched on 36-ct Fresco Edinburgh Linen

For the coming year, rather than start a new project, I am going to revisit some spectacular canvas projects that were class pieces I have not completed.  I haven't decided just yet which one I will be working on first, so stay tuned ... I have the next week off so that I can mull over the canvases that are sitting around.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Stitching

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are another step closer to the end of yet another year.  I know I've said it before, but --- where exactly does the time go?

I finished one of my larger pieces and sent it off to the framer on Friday.  It is a Christmas gift for a special person, who may find her way to this blog.  So, I will have to wait until after she receives it to show it here.

I decided that I need to take a bit of a break from all of my "big" projects.  I am going to start back up on some of those class pieces that are still sitting in my stitching area - but probably not until the holidays are behind me.  Of course, I can't not stitch (that would just be wrong!) so I am going to work on some "quick" projects through the end of the year. 

While I was at my Stitcher's Hideaway retreat in October I purchased a number of Pine Mountain Designs' Tie One On kits.  These are great pre-finished pillow shams that work up into very cute decorative pillows.  I finished the one called Winter Nights over the weekend.  I purchased one for each season and then one each for the months of March (DD's birthday), June (our wedding anniversary), and November (DH's and my birthdays).  Eventually I'll display them in my stitching room when the house renovation is finally done.

Winter Nights
Pine Mountain Designs
I am also hoping that, over the next few months, I can corral all my stitching projects and supplies in anticipation of finally having a space of my own.  I really need to figure out what I have (and how much) before I can decide on what storage space I need. 

Until next time, happy stitching.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The End of Summer

I realize that summer officially doesn't end until the Autumnal Equinox on September 22.  However, for me Labor Day has always signalled the end of summer - school will be starting next week and we will be returning to routines happily discarded last June.  The DD is now a high school sophomore and has selected courses that are sure to keep her busy.  The "en pointe" workshop earlier this summer was a success so she will be adding that dance class this year.  It looks like we will be very busy this school year!  It is a good thing that I have my stitching to keep me grounded.

Framed Pieces

We were on vacation the last two weeks in August (more on that in a later blog).  Just before we left I was able to retrieve a few stitched pieces that I had framed.  Some of these pieces were completed more than a year ago, but for one reason or another I put off getting them framed.  Rob at The Framed Image was a tremendous help in deciding on frames and mats, as well as photographing the pieces for me.

Florentine Fantasy was a class I completed at one of my LNS - Mrs. Stitches - designed and taught by the shop owner. 

Florentine Fantasy
Design by Anne Marek
Silks and Metallics on 18-count Canvas
Design Size 14" x 14"

Another class taken at Mrs. Stitches was a Jane Zimmerman design Florentine and Lace Sampler.  This piece was my first attempt at pulled canvas.

Florentine and Lace Sampler
Design by Jane Zimmerman
Silks and Metallics on 18-count Canvas
Design Size 7" x 19"

I completed another Zimmerman piece taught by Ms. Zimmerman through a Shining Needle Society cyberclass.

Moorish Splendour
Design by Jane Zimmerman
Silks and Metallics on 18-count Canvas
Design Size 11" x 11"

Shining Needle Society hosted two cyberclasses by Carole Lake and Michael Boren of StichPlay Designs. 

St. Margaret's Star - Red Colorway
Design by Carole Lake and Michael Boren
Silks, Polyesters, Cottons and Metallics on 18-count Canvas
Design Size 4" x 4"

Daphne Reborn - Flagstone Colorway
Design by Michael Boren
Silks and Metallics on 18-count Canvas
Design Size 6" x 6"

I also completed two pieces on linen.  The Four Seasons of Mystic is a Jeannette Douglas design that was taught by Ms. Douglas at the Stitcher's Hideaway retreat in Mystic, CT in 2011.

Four Seasons of Mystic
Design by Jeannette Douglas Designs
Silks, Cottons, Metallics and Wools on 32-count Linen
Design Size 11½” x 6¾"

And Sleepy Hollow which I started in August 2011 and completed on December 31, 2011.

Sleepy Hollow
Design by Glendon Place
Cotton, Silks, and Metallics on 28-count Cashel Linen
Design Size 12” x 17½"

I hope to post again this weekend on my current projects as well as show the needlework projects I purchased as my vacation souvenirs!

Until next time, happy stitching.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stitching During the Olympics

I usually have some DVD playing while I am stitching.  It provides some background noise for me and I generally choose something that doesn't require my full attention.  Since Friday night (EDT), I have had the Olympics on while stitching.  I am not a big sports follower, so I haven't really had to give my entire attention to the television.  Of course, Friday night I didn't really stitch much since the Opening Ceremonies were just so fabulous that I didn't want to miss anything.  IMHO, the British Olympic Committee did a fantastic job and the ceremonies were worth the wait. 

While watching on Saturday and Sunday, I managed to finish two pieces. 

Knotted Heart

This first piece is one I did for a quilt to be sewn for the World of Charity Stitching Yahoo group.  Stitchers are able to use their own colors - I chose DMC tangerines (740 and 742) for this combination.  The pattern is a free cross stitch chart from Loretta Oliver at Stitching The Night Away.  The stitch count is 45 x 45, and I used 28-count white evenweave.  I am not much of a sewer so I send coordinating fabric to the wonderful women who make up the quilts.

Knotted Heart
Designed by Loretta Oliver
Stitching The Night Away

Stella Polaris

My second finish was Stella Polaris which I did in the Mulberry colorway for the DD who is a huge purple fan.  This is a cyberclass through Shining Needle Society.  The designers are Carole Lake and Michael Boren of StitchPlay Designs.  The Mulberry colorway uses Watercolors and Waterlillies in Mulberry, along with Soie Crystal, Grandeur, Elegance, Vineyard Silks, Kreinik Metallics and Bijou in complementary pinks and purples.  I have the canvas and threads to stitch this in the Savannah colorway as well.

Stella Polaris - Mulberry
Designed by Carole Lake and Michael Boren
StitchPlay Designs
I just love their geometric designs and have already signed up for the latest Vineyard Quilt Patch.

I am now stitching on Achoo! for my sister, the veterinarian.  I will post pictures once it starts looking like something!

Until next time, happy stitching.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Moorish Splendour is Finished

Last night I put the final stitches into Moorish Splendour.  This was a fun design to stitch - and I will be stitching another one in the purple colorway sometime later this year.  The colorway that is shown reminds me of paprika and is a great autumn piece.

Moorish Spledour
Design by Jane Zimmerman
11" x 11"
Hope everyone enjoys the weekend.  Here in New Jersey we are expecting record-breaking temperatures!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Begins

Somehow I missed posting during the month of June.  Where does the time go?

Family Update

At the beginning of the month we had DD's dance show which, as expected, was fabulous. Everyone did a wonderful job and had a great deal of fun. We no sooner finished with the show than school was winding down for the year. DD finished her freshman year in high school. We got her report card at the end of the month and she did a great job in all her classes.

DD got about a week off from school and then started her first summer job as an assistant in the day camp she had attended for the past nine years.  She will be working for eight weeks.  And if that isn't enough to keep her busy, she will be participating in dance workshops on Tuesday evenings for four weeks.  She wants to go up "en pointe" in ballet, so she is taking a workshop in ballet and a second in "en pointe", as well as a third workshop in jazz.  One of the days at the end of school we had to visit the dance store so that she could be fitted for the pointe shoes.  It's critical that the shoes fit well, and the teacher has to approve the shoes/fit.  I don't think in my entire life I have ever spent so much time getting shoes fitted!

Moorish Splendour

The Moorishp Spelndour class from Shining Needle Society ended but I still have to complete my piece.  I am nearing the end and had hoped to have it finished by the end of June.  Alas, it was not meant to be, but progress is certainly being made. 

Moorish Splendour
Progress 07/01/12

Moorish Splendour Detail

Moorish Splendour
Hopefully, the photos are legible.  I really need to take a photography class!

Summer Stitching

In addition to finishing Moorish Splendour and Birds on a Cherry Blossom Branch (finally), I hope to start the cross-stitch Achoo!, mentioned in my last blog.  I will also be cross-stitching a square (maybe two) for World of Charity Stitching.  And today I'm supposed to start stitching Stellar Polaris, another Carole Lake/Michael Boren piece from Shining Needle Society.  I think that should keep me busy!

Until next time, happy stitching to everyone.  And a very happy Independence Day for those who are celebrating.

Photo from

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Busy May

Another month is speeding along its way.  I cannot believe we are already approaching Memorial Day and the "unofficial" start of summer. 

This is a very busy time of  year for us; the DD takes dance lessons and her big show is in early June - this year on June 2 (also the DH's and my 33rd anniversary).  The DD dances four nights a week since she takes classes in tap, jazz, ballet and modern.  The last few weeks we have had to contend with extra dance classes in preparation for the show and next week we'll spend each night at dress rehearsals.  Of course, it is all worth it - the show is always spectacular.  It is quite the production with over 20 different dance numbers.  After10 years of dance classes/shows, she has her first wing change since two of her dances are back-to-back.  Even the wing change is rehearsed several times! 

Daphne Reborn is Finished

This past weekend I finished Daphne Reborn, the cyberclass from Shining Needle Society.  I just love geometric pieces and this one was a thrill to stitch.  Michael Boren and Carole Lake of StitchPlay Designs are fabulous teachers.  I stitched this is in the Flagstone colorway. 

Daphne Reborn
Completed 05/20/12
I have already signed up for StitchPlay Design's next offering through Shining Needle Society - Stellar Polaris.

Moorish Splendor Progress

I must admit that I am behind in stitching Moorish Splendor.  I was so focused on finishing Daphne Reborn that I neglected this piece.  I am still working through Lesson Two although Lesson Three has been issued.  I hope to catch up this weekend since I have three days to stitch. 

Unfortunately all the pictures I took of my progress so far are pretty bad.  I hope to have something better to show after the weekend.

What's Up Next

Aside from finishing up all those projects already started, and starting on Stellar Polaris in mid-June, I am going to start a cross-stitch piece for my sister, who will be 55 this year.  She is a veterinarian and keeps Dalmatians, so I have chosen Achoo! to stich for her. 

Achoo! - Dimensions::Brett_Longley Pattern
Design by Brett Longley

Until next time, happy stitching.  And please remember our troops this Memorial Day.

Photo from The Apron Blog by Home Depot

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Suprise, A Finish and An Award

This past week was Spring Break for our school district.  The DH, DD and I traveled to Boston for a few days’ R&R.  While there, we also visited several college campuses.  Although the DD is still a high school freshman, the preparation for college is getting so complicated that we have decided to start the process now.

The Surprise

I previously wrote about the Winter Smalls Exchange that I took part in through the I Love Cross Stitch Yahoo group. Since my package took so long to arrive we thought it had gotten lost in the mail. So Denise sent me a second package, which I opened when I returned home this weekend. Once again the “small” is spectacular – a wonderful needlebook – as well as very cute magnets. I will think of Denise every time I use it.

Winter Smalls Exchange


Needlebook Inside

The Finish

Yesterday I completed Anasazi Spirit, a cyberclass through Shining Needle Society taught by Carole Lake and Michael Boren.  This was a fun class and a great design to stitch.  I already finished Anasazi Dream and will now have to work on Anasazi Song to complete the trilogy.

Anasazi Spirit
Finished 04/08/12

The Award

Last week I received emails from two blog readers who advised me that they were each passing along the Liebster Blog Award.  Thank you to Jane of Stitching in My Garden and Nancy of A Lil Bit of Stitching.  I really appreciate you both reading my blog.

The origins of the Liebster Blog award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it originated in Germany, "Liebster" meaning favorite or dearest, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to five more blogs of note.
Here are the guidelines:
Thank the person who gave me the award and link back to her blog.
Once again, thank you to Jane of Stitching in My Garden and Nancy of A Lil Bit ofStitching.

Post the award on my blog.
Proudly posted above.

Pass the blog award to five other bloggers.
I have sent emails to five other bloggers advising that I am passing along the Liebster Award to them.

List the bloggers to whom I have passed the Liebster award and let them know by commenting on their blogs.

Denise at Stitching at Grandma’s House
Shaunterria at Ca110pe’s Reviews and Stitching News
Lisa at The Social Cross Stitcher
Mab at Mab’s Stitches and Crafts

All of these bloggers are, like myself, new bloggers and have great stories to share.

Share five random facts about myself that people do not know about me.
Okay here goes:
  1. I am a Civil Engineer by degree.
  2. My husband, Steve, and I will be celebrating our 33rd anniversary this year.  We have a 15-year-old daughter, Nora.
  3. My mother and paternal aunts taught me embroidery, crocheting and knitting when I was about 10 years old in the days before 24/7 television, computer games, and iPods.
  4. I love reading mysteries, historical fiction, and biographies.
  5. My goal for retirement is to be able to attend needlework classes and seminars.
Thank you all for reading my blog.  I appreciate your interest and comments.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Is It Really Spring Already?

I swear I don't know where the time goes!  There are days and weeks that seem to drag, and then all of a sudden - wham - it's the end of March.  The house renovation has resulted in a few days of no computer as the floor finishers managed to cut off the room with the computer. 

Spring Is Here

We in New Jersey experienced a very mild winter this year.  We had no snow to speak of since the Halloween snowstorm that took everyone by surprise.  And summer made an unusually early appearance this year - we had temperatures in the 70s for much of early March.  You do have to understand that although we have four seasons in the Northeast, spring is generally about two weeks long.  We usually go from freezing cold to our two-week spring (somewhere around late April/early May), followed by really hot weather that lasts into September. 

Our mild weather this year caused all the trees and flowers to bloom early - and I have the watery eyes and runny nose to prove it!  Because of the house renovation (still a sore subject around here), we have no landscaping to experience the wonders of spring.  Perhaps next year ...

However, I have been stitching quite a bit so I do have some progress to share.  But first, a tribute to another stitcher.

Winter Smalls Exchange

The I-Love-Cross-Stitch group held a Winter Smalls Exchange.  Everyone stitched a "small" project - ornament, pin cushion, needlecase, etc. and sent it, along with two skeins of "wintery" threads, to her/his partner, who was not the same person who would send a similar package.  The person who sent to me was Denise in Saudi Arabia!  My package apparently took a little vacation along the way and everyone was getting a bit anxious that it had gotten lost.  However, it finally arrived and was well worth the wait.  Denise stitched a pin cushion that is exquisite.  The pin cushion was accompanied by two skeins of silk - one from Dinky Dyes and one from Madeira as well as some buttons and a very pretty card.  I have never stitched with silks from either of these companies, so I am just thrilled to have the opportunity to do so.  Because of the delay in receiving the package, Denise sent me two more skeins of Dinky Dyes silk direct from 1-2-3 Stitch.    Thank you so much, Denise!

Winter Smalls Exchanged
Received from Denise in Saudi Arabia
I sent a package to Shaunteria in California.  The pattern is from The Gift of Stiching December 2006 issue and is called Snowed In by Something in Common.  But, of course, I forgot to take a picture.

Florentine and Lace Sampler (a finish!)

This is a Jane Zimmerman design that I took as a class at one of my LNS, Mrs. Stitches in Mendham.  We started in April 2011 and met four times before the summer.  Over the summer we were able to finish off the stitching we had started.  Then we picked up again in October.  I couldn't make the last class, which was the last band in the sampler.  For some reason it sat around the house over the holidays.  I finally finished it in early March.

Each student chose her own colors and I really went out of my comfort zone on this one.  I was concerned when I first started stitching that it was just way too bright - but I really like the color combination now that it's finished.  It is stitched on 18-count mono canvas with Kreinik metallics and Au Ver a Soie's Soie d'Alger and Soie Perlee.  The Soie Perlee is used on the cut and drawn canvaswork. 

Florentine and Lace Sampler
Designer:  Jane D. Zimmerman
Design Size - 7" x 19" (approximate)

Close-ups of Bands

Patterns of the Orient

I am trying to finish this wonderful design from Tony Minieri this year.  I have been concentrating on Area 9, which is Kreinik metallic couched with Au Ver a Soie silks.  This past weekend I finally managed to finish the area - hurray for me!  Area 9 is the diagonal band of turquoise and red (with some green and purple accents).

Patterns of the Orient Area 9 Finished
Designer:  Tony Minieri
Anasazi Spirit

Here is my progress on Anasazi Spirit through Lesson Three.  The outlines are cross stiches with Kreinik metallic.  The outside of the stars are oblong cross stitches and straight stitches with Watercolours in Arabian Nights.  The inside is a Walneto stitch in Impressions and Tied Plaited Rays in Elegance and Kreinik metallic around the Walneto.

Progress as of 03/25/12

Close-up of Walneto Stitch
Lesson Four, which I have started but not yet completed, is a Double-Fan-Double in the center diamond.

Moorish Splendour

For those who haven't already nodded off, here is the first lesson in Jane Zimmerman's Moorish Splendour.  The center area is a trellis pattern over alternating satin stitch diamonds.  The diamonds are stitched in silk while the trellis is in Kreinik metallic.  The silk is actually a pumpkin color - it looks a bit pink in this photo.

Progress through 03/30/12
Lesson Two, which I'll start this weekend, is a variation of a Japanese filling pattern using silks and metallics.

Until next time, enjoy the spring and happy stitching!

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Happened to February

I was sitting here minding my own business when all of a sudden I realized that there are only nine days left in February - NINE DAYS!  What happened to the month???  It seems to be true that the older I get the faster time passes.  This was the year that I was going to get my needlework organized, lose weight, yada yada yada.  As I sit here on February 20 I realize that I have barely made a dent in all those laudable goals.  Perhaps with the coming of Spring and the promise of additional daylight (during the Winter I leave for work in the dark and get home in the dark), I will be motivated to try a little harder.

World of Charity Stitching

This year I joined the World of Charity Stitching Yahoo group.  This group stitches quilts, tote bags, therapy pillows, and bookmarks, as well as other items, to give to children in need and the elderly in nursing homes.  Since I spend a lot of time stitching, I decided that I could use that time to help make something for others.  I just finished my first contribution - two squares for a quilt that one of the other members will put together.  The design is a bird that is stitched in DMC thread on 14-count white Aida.  Each stitcher picks her/his color choice resulting in a veritable rainbow of birds.  Since I am not a sewer by any stretch of the imagination, I sent coordinating fabric along with the squares to the talented lady who will put the whole quilt together.  The design was downloaded from the blog Gazette94.

Design Size 4" x 3" (approximate)
Other Stitching

I don't have too much else to show on the stitching front.  I am working on a few unfinished class pieces.  I thought I would finish Birds on a Cherry Blossom Tree by now but I ran out of the thread for the background.  I only have a few stitches to complete the darn piece so I'm waiting for my LNS to put in an order.  In the meantime I have picked up my Patterns of the Orient, which was a class last year with Tony Minieri.  I love this design but it does require some concentration.  It is stitched on 24-count Congress Cloth.  As you can see there is a lot of "spaghetti" with this piece.

Patterns of the Orient
Tony Minieri
Design Size 11.5" x 8.5" (approximate)
Overall Progress 02/20/12
I am currently working on Area 9, which is an adaptation of a Japanese obi design.  The pattern is developed by couching two strands of Au Ver à Soie silk over Kreinik #8 braid.  It is really testing my eyesight!

Patterns of the Orient
Tony Minieri
Close-up of Area 9 02/20/12
Despite my best intentions, I did sign up for two cyberclasses through Shining Needle Society.  On March 1, I will be starting Anasazi Spirit by StitchPlay Designs, LLC (Carole Lake and Michael Boren), which is stitched on 18-count French Blue canvas.  I've already finished Carole's Anasazi Dream and have Anasazi Song waiting to be stitched.

Anasazi Spirit
StitchPlay Designs, LLC
Design Size 6.2" x 11.3" (approximate)

And then on March 8 I will start Jane Zimmerman's Moorish Splendor.  (What was I thinking?)  I am going to do it in both the Paprika (my favorite) and in Wine (my DD's choice). 

Moorish Splendor - Paprika
Jane Zimmerman
Design Size 10" x 10"

Moorish Splendor - Wine
Jane Zimmerman
Design Size 10" x 10"

House Renovation

I know that I have not mentioned that we are living through a major house renovation.  And I mean major - new siding, roof, windows, kitchen, bathrooms, and HVAC system.  There is not a room in the house that is untouched.  We are coming up on two years with this construction and I can't wait for it to be over.  Aside from the fact that we will basically have a brand new house (this one was built in 1960), the really good news is that I will finally have a needlework room!  The room is the original family room (complete with fireplace).  At some point in the past, a screened porch was incorporated into the house and it has become our family room.  So the adjacent family room will now become my space.  I have been poring through magazines and websites for ideas for this room.  Stay tuned for what I finally decide.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Betty Ring Samplers

To someone who aspires to the title "needleworker" the name Betty Ring is synonomous with "samplers".  She is, after all, the foremost authority on girlhood embroidered samplers.  Her landmark work Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers and Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850 is a magnificent reference on the genre.  When I first obtained my copy almost 20 years ago, I spent countless hours leafing through the pages just looking at the pictures of samplers worked hundreds of years ago.  I marveled at the designs, some intricate and some quite simple, and the beauty of the stitching, all accomplished without electric light.  Many of the samplers were completed by girls younger than I was when I first put needle to fabric.

Betty Ring's own collection of samplers is now on display at Sotheby's New York in advance of its sale by auction this Sunday, January 22.  The exhibit/auction is entitled Important American Schoolgirl Embroideries: The Landmark Collection of Betty RingI was extremely fortunate in being able to visit the exhibit yesterday and all I can say is - WOW! There are more than 200 pieces in this exhibit and each one is a gem of its own.

Many of the needlework on display are "mourning pictures" which generally are embroidered on painted silk.  It is amazing to see the beauty of the stitches while realizing that girls and women undertook these as memorials for family members who had passed away, many of them babies and children.

Traditional samplers also abound and, since these are more to my taste than the mourning pictures, I was truly in heaven as I wandered the gallery soaking in the beauty.  These pieces range from simple Quaker designs to complex band samplers, from small pieces (about 6 inches by 4 inches) to large (34 inches by 28 inches).  I was awestruck by the accomplishments of all these women who had come before me.

This picture is one of the samplers on display.  I want to thank Emily Bergland in Sotheby’s Press Office for providing this image to me for use on this blog.

Lot 516
Fine and Rare Silk Embroidered Sampler, Abigail Prince,
Newburyport, Massachusetts, dated 1801, Abigail Prince
This piece is worked on a linen ground in silk and measures 15¼ inches by 21¾ inches.

If you are in the New York area and are as fascinated by samplers as I am, I highly recommend dropping everything and getting over there tomorrow.  The auction is scheduled for Noon on Sunday.  Perhaps this is your chance to own a piece of history.

By the way, there is an exhibition catalogue available.  I purchased mine in advance of the exhibit and so had it available while viewing the pieces.  The catalogue itself is a wonderful addition to my needlework reference library.  I am planning on pulling out my copy of Girlhood Embroidery along with the catalogue so that I can reacquaint myself with the stories of these wonderful pieces.

The catalogue is available through Sotheby's website.  Links are also provided to Betty Ring's Girlhood Embroidery Volumes I and II and American NeedleworkTreasures.

I'm going to close this post with two quotes from Colin Eisler's review of Girlhood Embroidery published in Magazine Antiques in September 1994.  "Only recently have art historians begun to appreciate the key role of the pictorial embroiderer - whether that of the individuals who stitched the Bayeux tapestry in the eleventh century or of Mary, Queen of Scots, in the sixteenth century."  He continues "After a century of snobbery, the decorative arts are seen, once agin, for what they are - the staff of life." 

How satisfying that our hobby, what we love to do, continues that history.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 First Finish

Hooray - I have my first finish for 2012!  I put the last stitch (actually the last charm) on The Four Seasons of Mystic on Friday night.  I just love this design; it's so nice to have a piece that is seasonal yet can be displayed year-round.  The specialty stitches added some "pizazz" as did all the fabulous threads that were used.  The border is done in Gloriana Threads Lorikeet, which is an overdyed 9-strand 100% Australian wool.  I've never used this thread before, but will be considering it in future pieces.  It was a joy to stitch and provided a very nice offset to the silks.

The Four Seasons of Mystic
Jeannette Douglas Designs
So, what next to stitch?  Well, my New Year's stitching resolution is to finish some of those class projects that have been languishing.  My next project is going to be a painted canvas that I started two years ago - Birds on a Cherry Blossom Branch - which was a class at Ridgewood Needlepoint with Gretchen Viggiano, who created the stitch guide.  The canvas is from HP Needlepoint Designs.

Birds on a Cherry Blossom Tree
HP Designs
Design Size 6" x 9"
I don't really have much more to stitch on this piece, primarily French knots. I can hear some of you asking why I didn't finish them at the time. Unfortunately, as I was finishing this piece, I managed to fracture my left humerus in two places just below the shoulder. I did this during the extremely dangerous activity of crossing the street while out on a walk during a long weekend getaway. (Who says exercise is good for your health?) This severely restricted my ability to stitch with two hands. Considering the amount of trouble I have with French knots on a good day, there was no way I could attempt them with one hand! So this canvas went into the "to be finished" pile. I've decided it is finally about time that I just finish the canvas and be done with it!

I will also be working on a small cross stitch project for the Winter Exchange through the I Love Cross Stitch Yahoo Group.  I won't be able to post that piece until after it has been received.