Ready For More Samplers?!

Hurrah! I’ve started to catch up and get things finished-along (update in the next couple of days), so it’s time, peeps. Ready to get back to our Year of Samplers? I’m going away for a few days, so we’ll aim to start Sampler #5 around February 5th – this time we’re going to learn a little about Sashiko embroidery!

So we can start up together next week, let’s get our supplies together now!

Ready for Sampler #5?!

We won’t need much for this sampler – other than designs and the usual embroidery tools (scissors, etc), what’s pictured above is everything we’ll need. Sashiko thread, long sashiko needles, a sashiko thimble (which may or may not be necessary, but I like to try out the tools and see what’s what), and some Robert Kaufman Essex Linen (a cotton / linen blend) to stitch on. I honestly don’t know if this fabric is close to the traditional fabric for this type of stitching, but the internets says it’ll be a decent substitute. And since it’s what we embroider on for Little Dorrit & Co. patterns (it’s a lovely fabric to stitch on!), I happened to have some handy.

Other than the fabric, my sashiko supplies came from the the Cotton Patch (here in the UK).

So go hunt and gather and I’ll see you here next week to start Sampler #5!

A Very Special Gift

The Goodhart Samplers

I know it’s now mid-February, but I still want to share this very special Christmas present with you guys. I was given the extremely unexpected and generous Christmas gift of an Amazon gift certificate from some lovely friends. I was very moved by the gift because I had *absolutely* no idea it was coming and it arrived in the post on a really great day and it somehow made me feel like things were starting to come together for me.

The Goodhart Samplers

A lot to read into a gift certificate! Not to be too dramatic, it just felt really nice and was extremely appreciated. I wanted to pick something really special, something I would still have years and years from now and always remember that it was such a kind gift.

The Goodhart Samplers

The Goodhart Samplers by Dorothy Bromiley Phelan, Eva-Lotta Hansson, and Jacqueline Holdsworth (and published by the amazing Needleprint) is not an easy book to come by now and it took a while, but I managed to scoop up a ‘used’ (but looks barely touched!) copy via Amazon. It’s such an incredibly beautiful book, I can’t tell you how much I love it!

I’m extremely interested in samplers and the history of them, and the Goodhart collection is one the world’s largest. It’s got everything: band samplers, alphabet samplers, cross-stitch, canvas work, needlelace, darning … everything. The photography is crisp and clear like no other needlework book I’ve ever seen. You can see the thread of every stitch. It’s just remarkable, the whole thing.

The Goodhart Samplers

I could tell before I even opened it that this book will be an inspiration for years to come. I already have projects planned after just browsing its beautiful pages a few times. Thanks, friends, you rock!

Big Week Off: Stitching

It’s been a while since I showed off any progress on my Sajou sampler – mostly because I got so stuck on that G! After the last photo I shared, I decided to continue on that path and see how it went, but I guess my heart wasn’t quite in it. All those little angled stitches were so slow to get just right, I couldn’t quite bring myself to put in all the time and then have to rip it out again. But I really, really wanted to move on to the H and beyond, so I just dug in my heels and got on with it … (click away for bigger versions on Flickr)

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

… and it worked out pretty well in the end, don’tcha think?! Even after I’d done all those little stitches, I still wasn’t totally convinced — until I started the split stitch outline. That made all the difference. Now, after all that fussing and avoiding, I’m in love with it.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

Because that one was, let’s just be honest, a big pain in the ass, I went with something a little more straightforward for H. I first saw thick, dimensional couching like this on a William Morris piece (at the William Morris house) and loved how it made instant texture. I’m a big fan of texture-y stitches. I don’t have a photo, unfortunately, but the pattern for this H was done as a double outline. Thick couching seemed the obvious way to go.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

This is two full lengths of floss – 12 strands total – with two strands holding it in place. Couching is so fun!

Oh, and before I forget, I never did show you D, done entirely in back stitch, except for tiny bits of satin stitch and two dainty french knots. Starting this one was kind of pesty, I had to keep starting over and over to get the back stitch just right for this letter. Back stitch is so beautiful, so perfect in its charming simplicity, but it is absolutely dependent on finding the exact stitch length that is just right for your project, and then consistency in stitch length throughout. It took, literally, about seven tries to get it right.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

I really wish I could wash out the blue on this one, it’s too close to the floss color to get a really clear look. Because we’ve started using those iron-out Frixion pens, I think I will go over the grid (which is fading anyway – I don’t understand how but I find it very annoying) and then give it a goodly spray to get remove the blue for good. In the meantime, I have a few other projects that need my attention for a few days, and I’ll have to have a think on how to stitch the I.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

The flower just has to be a big lazy daisy stitch / french knot combo, I think, but I’d like the letter itself to be filled somehow. If you have an awesome idea, shout it out!

Not G after all.


So, hi everyone! I know there’s quite a few more of you out there now, after the so-very-exciting (for us) Feeling Stitchy post about our Little Dorrit & Co. patterns. That was pretty much amazing! No matter how long I’m involved in it, I’ll never get over how supportive and encouraging this crafty community of ours is. It’s just too dang awesome. So welcome, newcomers, it’s great to have you here!

It’s been psychotically busy around here for the last few days, but I just wanted to give you all a little update on my Sajou sampler progress. That is to say, my non-progress. This G is making me crazy! I fussed for days over how to stitch it, then finally decided on a backstitch fill, only to find that the way I was doing it made such a thick, dense underside that I worried it might cause a framing problem down the line. It was also causing the fabric pucker – just a bit, but enough that I didn’t want to risk it getting worse. So out the stitches come.

So, um, I’m kind of stuck! Any thoughts on what stitch to use to get this G done in the two colors shown? I’ve been puzzling over it long enough on my own, I’m open to suggestions! Can you see in this Instagrammed-up photo the way that the pulled-out teal stitches left a sort of speckled effect behind them? I’m intrigued by that, it’s like very fine seeding – I wonder if there’s something in that?

Sajou Sampler: B, C, and E

The very, very few of you that have been reading for a while might remember that back in – oh dear – October, I introduced a new long-term project I’d be working on: the antique Sajou sampler. As predicted, Christmas ate everything in its path like The Langoliers, and then I went on an unexpected knitting binge. Now things have sort of normalized, craft-wise, and I’ve finally gotten into this one properly. (Click through to see bigger versions on Flickr, if desired.)

Sajou Sampler - B & C

It’s so weird that I love this project so much, because I’m really not a lace-and-tiny-flowers kind of girl. But sometimes I find it’s the things that really aren’t your style that end up being your favorite. I have always disliked red as a color, especially on me, but my favorite nail polish lately is a flaming 40s-y bright red. Go figure. Anyhow, here’s B and C — only 24 letters to go! Oy. I do love a large project to really get into though. I suspect I’ll go through phases, like now, where I get really obsessed with it and stitch, say, 5 letters or so. Then I’ll get sick of it and put it away for a month or two. Just a prediction based on past behavior.

Sajou Sampler - B

In the true spirit of a sampler, I’m trying to make sure I do something different with each letter, with the end goal of expanding and exhibiting my needlework skillz. I did the B quite delicately – a lot of satin stitch, some outlined in split stitch, and a wee touch of french knot fill in the leaves. I love the texture contrast between the french knots and satin stitch – very touchable. Normally satin stitch and french knots are stitches I really struggle with doing well, so I was careful and slow with this one and I’m very pleased with the result. The whole point of a sampler was to practice and improve, after all.

Sajou Sampler - C

I kept the C a little simpler, so it wasn’t too much next to the detail of the B, especially since it’s quite a large letter. Just simple chain stitch (maybe my favorite stitch, it’s very pleasing to work) in two shades of pink.

Sajou Sampler - E

I couldn’t quite picture how I wanted to stitch the D, so I skipped ahead to the E. Not much done there yet, just a touch of split stitch again for the thin lines, and my colors for this letter picked out. I think the feature stitch, for lack of a better term, in this one will be lazy daisy stitch, another one I tend to have trouble with. All those little petals and leaves are just demanding it, dontcha think?

Sajou Embroidery Knife

And, in the most perfect timing ever, something happened yesterday that allowed me to open this beautiful, charming little box. Little Dorrit & Co. sold an embroidery pattern! Our very first sale! (Was it you? If so, thank you!) It was crazy exciting. So I took this box off the shelf, where it had been sitting for about 6 months, wrapped in tissue paper.

Sajou Embroidery Knife

My very generous brother bought this Sajou embroidery knife for me as a surprise no-reason gift when we visited Loop in London last summer. I’d already mentally chosen this knife as the treat I’d buy myself if my hobby became, as I’d been hoping it would, officially more than a hobby. The Brother bought it for me ahead of time, but I saved it for our first sale anyway. Waiting to use it somehow makes it even more beautiful. Thanks, Brother, you rock.

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