Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating a Sampler For Life

Most people who know me or have listened to me expound on my love for CQ know that I consider CQs a form of sampler. If they have listened closely they will realize I also have a passion for counted thread samplers. CQs provide me a canvas on which to explore a variety of various techniques not always possible to put on a traditional evenweave linen sampler. As a matter of fact, counted thread samplers were my stitching passion long before I began seriously CQing. I enjoy counted thread techniques such as Hardanger, pulled and drawn thread, Blackwork, Assissi, counted cross stitch, and many ethnic embroidery techniques. I am a member of The Sampler Life yahoo needlework group. They are having a challenge this month to create your own sampler. I have not had enough time to create a NEW sampler for this challenge so I have decided to share with my new friends some samplers I have designed in the past.

The sampler pictured below is the first one that I created on my own. It uses a variety of motifs meaningful to me. Many were supplied by a wonderful lady named Pam Darney, whom I met through EGA. Others I found on my own. She gave our chapter a workshop and lecture on how to create your own samplers. She also educated us on the meaning of certain motifs that have been used by sampler makers throughout history.

I call this HER WORK and it is stitched on 32 ct. natural linen. It is, for the most part, stitched over 2 threads. It has some simple dividing bands of cross stitch, longarm cross, Montenegrin stitch, and arrowhead satin. The alphabet and numbers are done in cross stitch with a couple of small cross motifs that include unpulled Algerian eyelet stitches done over 4 threads. The pineapple (a symbol of welcome)is a mix of over 2 cross stitch and over 2 Algerian eyelets. The EGA and the COS are stitched in eyelets done in the Dutch manner, as is the heart. The little blue and gold motif is done in rice stitch. The COS stands for Colorado Springs, where I attend EGA. The next little motif has an over 2 satin stitch cross and all the other motifs are done in cross stitch. The strawberry petit point band is done over 1. The other symbols I chose were a deer to symbolize the hunt, a beagle because we raise them, a robin for the birds I see first each spring, a bowl of fruit for wealth/plenty, a tall flower stem to symbolize the hollyhocks in my garden, and a Scandinavian star by the house because we are Danish. The heart over the house represents the love therein, the pine tree is for our native pines in the yard, a woman (who could she be?) and a traditional verse of rememberance that says to me that we are all walking the same learning curve of life. The tall flower is typical for European samplers and I am part Czech - it was as close as I could find and that I liked. The Her Work is done in 2 colored rice stitch and cross stitch. I had to add the playful squirrel and acorn because we have them in the yard all year around. The peacock is also a symbol of welcome. His tail has Algerian eyelets and he has a FK eye. The final strawberry border is a favorite of my grandmother's so it had to be included in her honor. This sampler measures 18 1/2" x 8 1/2". It was stitched in Danish Flower Threads by Dansk Blomstergarn. I love the matte look they give to the work.

This next sampler is one I designed to honor my husband's tour of duty in the Desert Storm conflict. I used a technique that Pam Darney talked about in her lecture - hidden meanings and codes in the stitching. This was an effort to give the sampler my personal spin on the history of the time the sampler represents. I began stitching on it the day he left for DS and ended it when he came home. It would have been much longer if he had stayed there longer! It is stitched on 27 ct. Glenshee linen in DMC cotton floss.

I chose to use cross stitch over 2 theads for most of the stitching. There are some exceptions. The border is an arrrowhead satin stitch, the green border under the last line of alphabet is rice stitch, the center of the for-get-me-not is an Algerian eyelet, the tail feathers of the peacock are double Algerian eyelets, the verse (which gave me confidence he would return home)is petit point over 1 thread, there are some French knots and some backstitching. The Indidan symbol is eyelet, straight and ray stitches.

Here are some of the hidden codes: The yellow ribbon border should be self explanatory, we all wore them if we had someone over there we wanted to come home. My flower barrels on the front of our house were wrapped in them as well. In the first alphabet all the light blue letters are the letters in VICTORY, which we prayed for. The light blue numbers 191 are the month and year he left to go to DS. The green dividing band between alphabets is to signify the Saudi flag. In the second alphabet all the dark clue letters spell Louie, his name. The dividing band after that is red, white, and blue for the American Flag. In the third alphabet the medium blue letters spell SAUDI, those that we were fighting with.

There is a for-gt-me-not, a red cross for the medical unit he flew with (the 1022 out of Wyoming National Guard), the American flags, the palm trees, mosques, peacocks, chestnuts, camels and amaranths that he saw while he was over there. The star symbolizes the night flying he did the majority of the time he was there. The USA map has the states of Wyoming and Colorado stitched in separate colors to signify where we lived and where his unit flew from. The phone was how we communicated (no computer then), the $ shows what we talked about because I had to take over the bill paying in his absence, the Yorkie was our little Bailey who also missed him. The mail box has the flag up because I wrote him everyday. The glasses are there to remind me that he wore them, he got them just 2 days before he left! There is also a Native American symbol for hope, a bowl of apples, which he missed, another yellow ribbon, our house with love over it. The eagle is in fighting mode with an olive branch and arrows for peace and war. I wanted it over (peace) but I wanted it to be worth the sacrifice if I lost him (fight to the end).

I hope you found this a little interesting. I have written the story of this sampler on the back of the board it is mounted on. If it should outlive me perhaps someone in another era will look at it and learn a bit.


Ruby said...

Shari, I enjoyed looking at your work. Exquisite !! I like the meaning behind the stitches. I have always enjoyed quilt history as much as quilting.


TattingChic said...

Shari, you sampler is very nice!

I am such a DORK! I had 23 comments on my blog to moderate and like a dork I accidentally clicked on "REJECT" instead of PUBLISH! SO SORRY!!!
Your comment was one of those. I so want to count you in as part of the giveaway!!! Would you kindly comment again? I copied and pasted your comment from the email alert that was sent:

"I want to congratulate you on the great job you did with your Lambeth style cake borders. I used to teach that and the little gumpaste flowers! Do you tat while the cake is baking because it takes awhile to decorate that cake with those very nicely done borders and sugar flowers. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments in addition to the blogiversary and the 100th post. Please enter my name in your drawing."

TattingChic said...

Hi Shari!

Thanks for coming back to comment! You officially counted as comment #204! Blogger doesn't show it until the second page of comments, but it's there! :)

Milly~ said...

Your samplers are lovely Shari. Just love the one you did to honor your Dad's military service. I can see why they are so special to you.

TattingChic said...

Who knew an silly mistake would result in some fabulous emails??? I'm adding you your blog to my google reader!