The tradition of sampler making finds its beginning in the sixteenth century in Europe. What was originally intended to be a collection method for recording patterns and motifs, gradually evolved to include religious and moral education, commemoration of deceased loved ones, the expansion of curriculum for girls, and for some, a method by which a living could be earned.
Samplers also came to include details about the lives of those who stitched them. Some samplers include local landmarks, information about their parents’ professions, or orphanages/asylums that they had been sent to until reaching adulthood. Samplers could mark the passage from childhood to adulthood. Needlework could also be a creative outlet for girls and women who had few alternatives due to adherence to social conventions of the time.
I can think of no other medium that offers such an intimate record from so long ago into the lives of women. The names that are stitched on the many thousands of surviving samplers give us the opportunity, through research, to learn about their lives and the times that they lived in. It is through that research that we are offered the chance at a different or alternative perspective from what we may have been taught.
Nashville Needlework Market is March 6th-8th. Many designers are releasing fantastic reproduction samplers. Cross Stitch Antiques – Kathleen Littleton, Queenstown Sampler Designs, Gigi R Designs, and Hands Across the Sea Samplers, all have delightful new releases headed to market! Don’t hesitate to take a few minutes to go online or visit your local needlework shop and seize the opportunity to find a new research project (or just grow your stash)!
Please don’t forget that this month we have two special events at our regular monthly meeting. We are holding our canned food drive and a special guest teacher will present our program! I look forward to seeing everyone there!
Until next time, Happy Stitching!