I, Bathya (and our travels)

There’s so much to write about I’m not sure where to begin! Let’s start with the most recent events and then go back in time.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, I was fortunate enough to attend the workshop taught by Nicola Parkman on the I,Bathya sampler.  As you all know, I’ve only taken one class from the delightful Amy Mitten and worked a small bit of that sampler, so I am in NO way an expert.

I, Bathya Sampler

This workshop enticed me because Bathya stitched her sampler to be reversible. Years ago I purchased a German sampler from a reputable auction house in Germany and, when it arrived and I took it out of the frame, I discovered it was reversible. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated with how these samplers were stitched. When the chance to learn how to do this came up, I didn’t hesitate to sign up!

The Attic Needlework Shop

The workshop was sponsored by The Attic Needlework shop in Mesa, Arizona. The owner of The Attic, Jean Lea, is another one of those special people you meet in the needlework world. Her love of needlework and her customers is apparent in everything she did for us.

Nicola is a wonderful, talented teacher. She has multiple ways of explaining things so that everyone in the class can understand. I even watched her “walk out” the direction of stitching which was really helpful! She was always available to cheerfully help students during lunch time and after class. 

Nicola generously asked me if I wanted to do a short video with her about classes I’ll now be teaching in the fall. Here is a link to that video. What an honor!

Of course, what’s always the most fun in any class, is meeting all the people who are attending class with you. The group of women in our class were so friendly, helpful and funny! The room was often filled with conversation and laughter. If I needed help, I could ask one of my fellow students and they gladly stopped their own work to help. We are so lucky to be part of this thoughtful, giving community!

When doing crewelwork, silk shading, goldwork, or canvas work, I don’t usually think about what it looks like on the back side of the fabric. My threads rarely “travel” and I make the end of a thread as neat as possible, but I certainly don’t try to make the back look as finished as the front. However, that’s exactly what Bathya and many other girls did as a matter of course. 

Front of the spot sampler we worked on during class – this is Nicola’s completed one.

Band samplers were worked as an aid memoir, so when it came time to embroider for example, a ruffled sleeve cuff, the pattern was recorded on the band sampler. The embroidery on the cuff would have been viewed from both sides, hence the need for it to be reversible.

Reverse of Nicola’s spot sampler

It’s a fun brain challenge to think about what is being created on the back side as you’re stitching on the front side. I found I developed the ability to “see through” the fabric. 

Working out stitch path…

The most important skill to develop, and one I’m still working on, is planning out your stitch pathway. If you don’t pre-plan, you’ll find yourself  stuck, unable to continue embroidering reversible stitches.

In the class we spent a lot of time with graph paper and pencils thinking through and experimenting with the path our needle would take. The doodle cloth was our way of trying out our path with needle and thread on fabric. We were encouraged not to take out a mistake, but instead, to make a note of what went wrong in our stitch journal so we could refer to it later. 

It will be a little while before I’m ready to begin I, Bathya, but I know when I do begin, I’m prepared!

For those of you who want more information, here is a link to a video with Nicola and Gary Parr talking about I, Bathya. I understand the sampler will be released in the next year, so be sure to check the Hands Across the Sea web site!

Have you embroidered anything that’s reversible? Any tips for us you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below!

Mesa was one stop on what has been an astounding 4 week road trip. We traveled west from Iowa, then up to northern California, then down to Mesa and back home to Iowa.  We saw national parks, historic sites, museums, forests, mountains, and deserts. We met only warm, friendly people along the way. Most importantly, this road trip was a time for my husband and I to reconnect, relax and reflect on what this year has brought us and how well we’ve done through all of it. 

Relaxing at La Posada in Winslow, AZ

We arrive home on Friday of this week and that’s when I’ll be putting together a schedule of classes for the fall. I do hope you’ll join us in Ames, Iowa!

Next time I’ll write about a museum where I saw Native American quill work, bead work and Spanish goldwork. 

One thought on “I, Bathya (and our travels)

  1. Kathy, I really enjoyed meeting you at the workshop! Your post here makes just a happy memory and reference too! I’m looking forward to seeing your work on Bathya when you start her! And hopefully I will see you again at your own workshop in Iowa one day! 🙂

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