Hens and Chickens

Hens and Chickens

Friday, 30 November 2012

Blue Ribbon Sampler, Week 1

I am quietly pleased with my progress on my BRS this week.  I have completed a third of the left hand border, working from the amended chart, with no major hiccups.  I did learn though not to stitch when I am tired, because that is when I make silly mistakes.  I had to unpick a flower and a leaf which I had placed incorrectly, but in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn't a problem.

Then it was on to the top border, and that is when the headaches began!  The first flower is charted on the amended chart for the top left border.  The rest of the top border is charted on a separate page (page 56) and it soon became clear to me, after placing ten leaves, that four of them were in the wrong place.

This is due to the top border chart not carrying on where it should from the top left border chart.  If you stitched the chart as seen, you would end up with two pink flowers both the same at the beginning of the border, and three light green flower bases in a row, when you should have one light green, then one dark green flower base alternating across the top of the garland, and the same on the bottom of the garland of the top border.

The top border chart doesn't affect the placement of the dark green garland at all.  However, if you follow the chart as seen, some of your leaves will be in the wrong position, as are mine.  The difference in placement and pattern is a very subtle one, so subtle that I can't help but wonder if that is how Olwyn really intended it to be, or if it is a charting error. There is also a stitch missing from the second leaf on the chart.  On the fourth flower on the top border chart there is what appears to be an extra stitch but again, is it or isn't it?  And in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?  

My lesson learnt this week is to carefully study the chart before I start to stitch.  I am lucky I only have to unpick and restitch four leaves.

Ms Divers x

Friday, 23 November 2012

A Scarlet Letter Challenge

I am tremendously excited and inspired today!  A couple of days ago I found a wonderful blog which inspired me to unpack my Blue Ribbon Sampler and continue with it, in the hope that one day very soon, I will be able to hang the completed work in my home.

That blog was Nicola's Stitching by a Cornish Seashore.  This morning when I went to see if there were any new pictures of her Blue Ribbon Sampler, which she is also stitching, I found a new post, inviting readers to a Scarlet Letter challenge.

To participate, Nicola asks that you start or resume one of the many wonderful Scarlet Letter Samplers, as seen here and available from here in the UK, between now and February 20th 2014, and regularly share starts, progress and finishes on a new blog which is being set up now. 

I have never felt so inspired in my life as when I found Nicola's blog along with all the many photographs of her completed work.  I have spent the last three evenings plodding on with my Blue Ribbon Sampler and I have enjoyed every minute of it.  I am now awaiting my Millenium frame and Necessaire floor stand, both of which I hope will speed up my stitching, as presently I am stitching in a fiddly hoop, which is not at all convenient when working with such a large amount of fabric.

So I have decided that I will (bravely) take up the Scarlet Letter Challenge, not only that, but I am resolved that this will be my first sampler stitched with silks.  I love a challenge so much that I have decided to stitch "Dorcas Haynes".  

Dorcas Haynes Sampler

According to the website, this 1720's reproduction sampler is the most symmetrical, balanced counted thread sampler....and also one of the most satisfying, challenging and beautiful samplers in the world.  I hope I aren't being too ambitious....

Ms Divers x

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Olwyn Horwood's Blue Ribbon Sampler

Olwyn Horwood's Blue Ribbon Sampler
This is a photograph of Olwyn Horwood's famous Blue Ribbon Sampler.  This is a huge piece, worked from several charts, mostly in cross stitch but with some nice filet work in a couple of the panels.  It is not for the faint hearted!

I bought Olwyn's book many years ago, with the intention of one day stitching this beautiful sampler for myself.  Time and tide wait for no man though, and in the blinking of an eye, twenty years had passed, and I still hadn't started it.

Last winter, whilst enjoying a respite from garden work, I finally resolved to wait no longer, and I started the piece on 36 count raw linen.  Ten years ago, this would not have been a problem for me, but now, in my diminishing years, my fading eyesight meant that I needed a very strong magnifying lamp to stitch on such fine linen.  Inevitably this led to very slow progress on my sampler. 

Summer came and my sampler was packed away, thanks to my all consuming garden which takes all of my attention in the warmer months.  But along with November, dark nights and dismal weather came the opportunity to unpack and restart my project - inspired by this lady who is also stitiching the Blue Ribbon Sampler. 

I realised immediately that a hand held circular frame would not do, in fact it complicated my stitching so much that I resolved to treat myself to a Millenium frame and Necessaire floor stand, which would enable me to stretch the whole expanse of fabric evenly whilst I stitched. 

Millenium Frame

I can't wait for it to come so that I can set up my sampler properly and share a photograph with you all.

Ms Divers x