Ode to European Reproduction Samplers: Preparing for Papa

About six months ago I opened my big mouth and said, “Papa will be my birthday present to myself.  I will start Papa by then or on my birthday.”  Well my birthday is in just a couple days.  And I’ve been getting ready!

I purchased Papa probably four years ago when I discovered Sabine Taterra-Gundacker’s  website “Alte-Mustertücher-nachgestickt.”  Since then I have spent hours and hours looking at the patterns and at the gallery of Sabine’s works and collection.  I personally think everyone who stitches should have one of Sabine’s patterns in his or her repertoire.  Personally, I want them all!

Where do the ideas for these patterns come from?  Sabine finds interesting samplers in museums and in private collections.  She then sets to recreating the original works, documenting threads she uses, trying to match to the original as much as possible.  She includes the errors as well as the beauty and the history, counting every old thread.  I have come to respect her skill even more having been working on the Martha Stones Sampler.  I struggle with “do I correct the spelling or leave it as is?”  I’m leaving it.

Another of my favorites is Erna Schuppelius.  I love how Sabine’s photos included the finishing done on this piece and plan to add the crochet border and ribbon trim to mine.  The alphabet is charming and I will use it in work that I may design myself or for personalizing other works because I love it so.

I have learned so much about samplers from perusing Sabine’s online shop.  And I have come to love samplers from a variety of cultures and can even now begin to identify origins when seeing an unlabeled sampler.  I have several other patterns in queue from Sabine and another that I have started that is purely a labor of love.  (IFAKHS 1817)

Before I seek your input on my color choices for Papa, let me show you how Sabine packages her products for you.  It’s like getting a birthday present in the mail when you open it.

Now here is my dilemma.  I have the fabric it’s a 32ct Wexford linen in blue with grey and charcoal markings.  You’ll see it in the photo gallery following.  I had chosen Threadworx Deep Blue Sea to outline the “pages” of the pattern and Crescent Colours Lobster Claw to do the pattern design using the Threadworx for any accents.

I’ve been testing the Lobster Claw against the fabric in a blackwork SAL.  It’s not bad.  The problem is Jeff hates orange.  It’s not absolutely important that I avoid orange, but I do think he is more likely to help me frame and hang it, it the colors are pleasing to him, too!  And I don’t want to give this one away.  After all it’s a birthday present to me!

Jeff like brown.  He love the colors in my Quaker Virtues.  He has suggested a reddish brown, not too red.  I found a currant color that he likes.  I like it too.  But how will it look on the fabric?  I don’t want to have to wait to get the thread.  That means I’d have to start after my birthday has passed.  And then there is the question of what color should I use for the outlining?  I think the darker blue will be too much dark.  I thought about using the Lobster Claw.  But I don’t know.

What do you think?  Check these pics out and let me know what you think.

February TUSAL

It doesn’t seem like it’s been so long since I posted my January Ort photos for the Totally Useless Stitch Along (TUSAL).  No matter—I still have added quite a few snips and strings to the container.

Remnants of stitching history

Kind of pretty aren’t they!?

And then I dropped the container in the dogs’ bed, so everything got shaken up and turned around!

February TUSAL

What was the top is now the bottom!

But here’s a new one for you.  I have a good number of orts still on the fabric!

Orts in progress

All the color you see represents orts not yet in the jar!

I was working so diligently on a model that Sabine Taterra-Gundacker will soon be posting as available at her sensational e-store, European Reproduction Samplers.  This one is a reproduction of the sampler created by Martha Stone in 1840  when she was young, but exact age not certain (that I know of.)

It is a simple but charming design representing two young girls in their fancy dresses with what were typical toys of the time.  A couple cupids add to the charm.  And the whole thing is surrounded by a continuous strawberry border.  I’m thinking the girl didn’t clean and cut up too many strawberries because her color gradation is backward.  And the right side and the left side are not symmetrical—that kind of bugs the perfectionist in me.

But for heaven’s sake she was just a kid!  Imagine yourself at 7 to 9 years old and no pattern to stitch from.  You sit down with some fabric and thread and “color.”  When you think if it that way, this kid was a prodigy!  Shoot, many of us adults don’t do as well!

Original Martha Stone sampler

Photo from European Reproduction Samplers.
This is the sampler Sabine is creating the chart from.

The hard part, well actually two…

The first hard part was not correcting what I perceive to be her mistakes—changing the gradation of the berries and making the border symmetrical between berry groups.

The second hard part was realizing after 17 hours of work that I made a mistake back in hour two of work.  I was off one stitch.  It affected the left and bottom borders, one that I had already completed and the other had a good start on.  So, I started unstitching.  (Some call this frogging because you “rip it, rip it, rip it!”)  The more berries I ripped out, the more uncomfortable I was with the idea of continuing with the fabric.  The red thread (DMC 304) was discoloring the white fabric slightly.  Because I really thought it would show, even just a little, I started over completely.

See how red runs

See how they run!

But the new work is looking beautiful and I am happy with how it looks.  I am triple checking my count because I don’t want to go through this again.  And I want my piece done when Sabine is ready to post the finished instructions.  So, I’ve set all my other work aside temporarily.

Martha Stone coming along

So far, so good.

Don't like running colors or threads.

I don’t like running colors or threads…this is the back

So why did this happen and how can you avoid doing the same thing?

Let me say that most of my stitching during my stitching life has been when I lived alone with no television and no pets.  NO DISTRACTION!  It’s a lot like meditation.  Very easy to be peaceful and calm when you’re isolated and have no interruptions—when you have total control of your environment.  Not so easy when you’re folding clothes in the laundromat on a Sunday afternoon.  Not so easy when you’re walking down a sidewalk of Washington D.C.  when all schools in the country have sent their school children for their spring trips.  Not so easy when your dogs are barking (i.e. screaming) at strangers walking by or jumping on your knee indicating it is time for a walk in the wilds.  Not so easy when your partner decides—just as you get that empty mind thing going (i.e. counted the 30th  stitch of 42)—it’s time to talk about where we want to retire!

It is time to learn to meditate/stitch in the middle of living.  It is an incredible challenge.  But that’s living.  It’s a challenge to walk and chew gum.  It’s a challenge to move from left to right brain in milliseconds.  It’s a challenge for a vegetarian to live with someone who doesn’t eat beans, cheese, or rice!  These are the sorts of things we choose to and that also that we must do sometimes.  And we do it.  And I will learn to stitch with distractions, just like when my monkey brain jumps into the calm pool I can get it to sit still.

In stitching terms, this mean I must:

  1. recognize I’ve been distracted
  2. determine when the distraction began
  3. go back to where I was at in my stitching when the distraction began
  4. recheck my work
  5. when I pick up my work anew, recheck from the beginning to ensure dealing with my distractions didn’t distract me further previously and contribute to unrecognized mistakes!

It’s all about recognizing, accepting, and assuming one’s place at the baseline to continue.    Pretty simple.  Right?!

Until then, there’s the Totally Useless Stitch Along.  Which is a lovely piece of art in progress.  (And so, not so totally useless!)  And when my jar is full, all those scraps will be turned into Prayer Flags!  More on that later!  Until then love the froggy green!