Saturday, March 21, 2009


This morning I decided to sit down and finally decide just what I needed to do to get started on this sampler project. I need to determine how wide my fabric needs to be and I can't do that until I make a few foundational decisions. One major decision that I thought I could leave until the end is the border. So I'm a bit slow. If I want a wide fabulous floral border that one might find on Scarlet Letter's Jane Atkinson I need to definitely plan for that. It's not a fly by the seat of the pants kind of decision and in all honesty I haven't put a lot of thought in the border as I've been so absorbed with what information I want to include on the sampler. Another option is the viney type of border one can see on the Examplar Dames - And They Sinned. Click on the image to make it bigger.
Since I'm from Tennessee the vine border might be more appropriate as I've been informed over that years that all the kudzu one sees along the highways and byways of middle and west Tennessee, choking out all the indigenious vegetation, was planted by my great-grandfather and a couple of great uncles. The state of Tennessee supposedly paid them to do this. I have no proof of this other than my Mamaw's stories, but it seems as though a nice lush vine border resembling kudzu might be a nice tribute to my great grandfather James Sparks(1884-1967). So I guess I'll be googling up kudzu and seeing if I can manage to chart off a section of vine to test stitch.
Another vexing issue is what to put across the top of the sampler. I've been thinking about something along the lines of the angel that Anna stitched here:
But I'm also partial to several others, the angel at the top of Kathy Barrick's Sarah Hook:
Carriage House Samplings - Old Favorites--scroll down for a look at Sarah or
Primitive Needle's Hornbook Angel or those wonderful funky angels at the top of Primitive Needle's The Dampy Sod. I'm a bit partial to Dampy Sod angels and may end up using them but at the same time, are these images being true to who I am? I'm not exactly a church goer. So I pulled out my handy dandy copy of Sampler Motifs and Symbolism: Patricia Andrle, Lesley Rudnicki: Bo and it says and I quote, "Angel: the messengers or attendants of God. In recent time, the angel has become a symbol of guardianship."
This is definitely something to ponder. Since I haven't set foot in a church for anything other than weddings or funerals in the last 20 something years maybe an angel across the top sends out a different message about who I am. On the other hand, there is something so comforting about the idea of the angel or angels at the top of my sampler because even though I don't attend church, I believe very deeply in angels and the spirits of those who have passed on being nearby. In the case of using the Dampy Sod babes I would like to think of them as representing my cousin Amy who was killed on her wedding day by a drunk driver and my Mamaw, who passed away a couple of years ago watching over my life. Amy was taken too soon and my Mamaw had a long life, in my opinion she was also taken too soon but since she was in her 80s when she died it's hard to argue that point.
I think the symbolism for me, the stitcher of this piece, the connection with loved ones that have passed on might make the angels work from the "angel as guardian" aspect.
This weekend I'll be researching good old kudzu and angels and other ideas for the top of my sampler. I need to make a solid decision on these points so that I can then make a decision about fabric width and type. I'm leaning towards using good old flax but there's this part of me that aches to use a cut of Days Gone By or Relic. I am planning the length of my fabric to be a linear yard of a 36ct, the width to be detemined. Flax for me is definitely more budget friendly and I could also opt for a cream and then coffee or tea stain it myself. Of course while I am usually a bit of a rebel and my philosophy is my stitching is for me right now and I don't care if my needlework survives 10 years or 100 years for this project I think I'm going to try to be as archivally responsible as humanly possible.


  1. Melissa, that's so cool about the Kudzu and your great grandfather! I love it -- I think the idea of putting kudzu vines in the border is perfect. As for angels, I'm not a churchgoer either, but i have angels all over my house. I love angels, and I too find the guardian angel type thing very comforting. I would go for angels if I were you, but that's me. That's so sad about your cousin. And I hear you also on your Mamaw. No matter how long a life somone lives, it would always be nice if they were still with us. Anyway, I think the beginnings of your sampler sound just wonderful! I'm so enjoying hearing about it!

  2. What a neat story about your great grandfather and the kudzu. I lived in Florida for 7 years and I remember those kudzu vines along with the Spanish Moss.

  3. Kudzu! It's everywhere now. But I have seen nice baskets made from its vines.

    I think angels would nice, especially since your drawn to including them. Maybe angels also had special meaning for those you love and are remembering in your sampler.

  4. Ultimately the symbolism is what they mean to you. Did every stitcher in the past use every angel to mean the same thing? I doubt it.

    If you are using overdyes, using Week's Kudzu for the border would be very cute. Kind of an inside joke. And I am deeply in love with the border on ATS. I changed mine slightly (check my blog I know I've got shots of it there) I'm using a leaf stitch instead of cross stitches to make up the leaves in the border. I'm still using regular cross stitches for the vine part.

  5. That's a wonderful story. And so many good ideas, too. I'm still stuck on layouts. lol