MK Map Sampler WIP

Map Sampler WIP

Sorry the photos are kind of crummy today, it’s raining – shockingly – and they look terribly lumpy but although I’d like to retake them, you’ll see a lot of this project over the next weeks, so there’s no need to get them perfect this once.

This December, the local branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild (of which I am branch secretary, don’cha know) will participate in an exhibition that will showcase embroidery of all types, as far as I understand. I haven’t been a member for very long, but apparently the branch sets a challenge every year, a theme or project type, and everyone creates something to share at one of our meetings. This time, we were each given an 8-inch canvas, the theme of our city and told to pick a place that inspires us and go with it. The challenge pieces are usually just seen by the branch members, but this year, all of our pieces will be exhibited together as part of this local exhibition.

Well, the thing is that I’ve only been here for a couple of years and don’t feel like I know it well enough yet to have a place I find ‘inspiring’. To be honest, I’m not even sure I’ve found places (as in, specific locations) I like yet and, in the long-run, I suspect this is probably a temporary stop for me. There are people I absolutely adore here, but I wasn’t about to embroider my friends on a tiny canvas. That would be creepy.

Map Sampler WIP

So I had to approach the project a little differently – Milton Keynes is kind of like a patchwork town, made of all these tiny areas that were joined to make a whole – though they all have their own identity, in a way. So I saw it like a sampler of sorts, and decided to create my own take on the traditional map sampler. I traced a map of the different parishes or neighborhoods or whatever-you-call-em over and over until the shapes were simplified, then traced that onto my fabric.

Now I will fill each neighborhood with a different stitch, based on blackwork fill patterns. This sampler:

Blackwork samples

is a sampler in the earliest sense – literally a sampling of blackwork fill patterns I re-created from Elizabethan embroideries I analyzed at the Victoria & Albert museum in London a few years ago. I took a whole mess of photos, then charted as many patterns as I could make out, then stitched them up. I really use it like a reference, though my mother is forever saying I should have it framed. Anyway, it’s proving very useful with this project, though I’m not using them as strictly as I might for another project. I’m allowing my stitching on this map sampler to be a little more freeform-y and relaxed.


The stitches will be all in blues of all sorts – unity in color, individuality in stitch. When it’s all filled up, I will stitch all the boundaries in, I think, a fat chain stitch, maybe in white or cream. Something that will frame each area and pop against them, kind of like quilt sashing. But I won’t get ahead of myself, I have less than a month to finish and I’ve got an awful lot of fill to work on.

(By the by, have you entered my giveaway for a copy of the new Scandinavian Issue of &Stitches?! It’s open until midday Wednesday, go enter over here!)

8 Comments on MK Map Sampler WIP

  1. elephantjuice
    October 23, 2012 at 17:15 (6 years ago)

    I love this idea, it sounds like such a great spin on the theme! It’s going to look wonderful when it’s finished :)

    And your blackwork sampler is gorgeous!

  2. RMW
    October 28, 2012 at 20:39 (6 years ago)

    Where did the box come from? I like it. :-)

    • julie
      October 28, 2012 at 21:37 (6 years ago)

      Thanks! It’s a beautiful box – it was bought for me as a gift from a small yarn / embroidery shop in the Netherlands when I lived there. Sadly, the shop is no more and there’s no branding at all on the box – I assume it must’ve been handmade by someone locally! I’d love another, our floss collection has outgrown it!

      • RMW
        October 29, 2012 at 04:29 (6 years ago)

        That box seems more for yarn than floss since the bobbins are so far apart, but I don’t blame you, it’s nice, and i’d use it for floss too. :-)

        • julie
          October 29, 2012 at 08:03 (6 years ago)

          Could be! But it works well for us – if we stock up on an often-used color and buy two skeins, the bobbins smoosh into each other and get too tall to close the drawers! :)

          • RMW
            October 29, 2012 at 13:55 (6 years ago)

            Drawers? So there are more of those boxes in a group? My (in skein) floss stash is in a danish (I think) accordian style box that my granma gave me after her arthritis got so bad she could no longer sew, she was only in her early 60’s. It is waaaay too big to be a tote, so it is floss storage. I tried to find the comany on line but they either don’t have one, or it isn’t in english, or the company no longer exists. Did you know that DMC mentioned this map project on thier blog?

          • julie
            October 29, 2012 at 19:24 (6 years ago)

            Oh yes, the photo here is of the blue drawer – there are five drawers together. Stick around and I’ll blog a photo this week to show you! I did see the DMC thing, that was amazing!!!

  3. RMW
    October 29, 2012 at 19:42 (6 years ago)

    Hehe, blue drawer. They should have provided 8. That is at least the number of colors you get in a box of crayons your first day of pre-school. :-) I will stay tuned.


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