The Samplers Are Here! (In a new issue of PieceWork)

A note from Kathleen: I've always loved samplers. Back in my cross-stitch days I made several. My favorite one is a Christmas tree with each branch being a different type of toy. It's really cute. I've also done wedding samplers and baby samplers for my dear friends and relatives, and it's gratifying to see these gifts hanging in people's homes when I visit.

That's why I was so excited to see the new issue of PieceWork, which is all about samplers! Here's editor Jeane Hutchins to tell you more.

Galina A. Khmeleva's knitted Orenburg samplers work on size 2 needles (left) and size 1 needles (right). (Photograph by Joe Coca.)
The grand-prize winner in PieceWork's Heart Ornament 2010 contest: Coeur de Couleur by Karen Sue Groll. Tapestry crochet. (Photograph by Joe Coca.)

We live in a time of high-speed connectivity, with hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, and newspapers online and in print, with texting, Twitter, Facebook, and patterns available for instant download. It's hard to imagine a world without them.

But long before instant communication, before printing, even before books, needleworkers had developed their own way of communicating.

Samplers—the examples that needleworkers used to remember, communicate, and preserve patterns, stitches, and color combinations before books and printing—probably were in use circa A.D. 500; some embroidery samplers excavated in Egypt have been dated to as long ago as 1250.

Allyne Holland's embroidery and smocking sampler with a Dorset crosswheel button.
(Photograph by Joe Coca.)

The July/August issue of PieceWork is packed with samplers and sample books! Here are some highlights:

—Galina Khmeleva designed the sampler shown at left (she worked it on both size 1 and size 2 needles). It incorporates the thirteen traditional motifs used in Orenburg lace knitting. It's scrumptious and actually would make a fabulous scarf!

—Jill Schwartz kept her crochet samples in a lunchbox until she decorated a pillow with her favorites.

—Elna Pughe was a college student in Colorado between 1904 and 1908. Her sewing sample book survives. Its 79 handwritten pages are her notes on general sewing rules, codes of conduct ("Each student is requested to wear a white apron"), how textiles are manufactured, descriptions of various fabrics, bed and table linens, and so on. Actual samples are in the book.

—In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, English countrymen who worked in the fields, tended sheep, led wagons, cut wood, and baked bread wore smocks, handmade, loose-fitting overgarments, most with exquisite smocking and embroidery. Our project accompanying this fascinating step back in time is a smocking and embroidery sampler, complete with instructions for making a traditional Dorset crosswheel button.

—Plus bobbin-lace and embroidery sample books, a tribute to schoolgirl samplers from 1929, and lots more!

Enjoy our special look at samplers!

P.S. This issue also brings you the winners of our 2010 Heart Ornament contest! Prizes in this annual event range from $500 cash to $200 in product from our generous sponsors; in addition to a grand-prize winner, we have four category first-place winners—needlework, lacemaking/tatting; quilting; and knitting/crochet. All of the entries were outstanding. We'll be announcing details of the 2011 contest in the November/December issue.


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