Trevelyon’s Garden Pin Cushion – Finished!

This beautiful piece of silk on silk embroidery has been safely rolled up for months, waiting for me to find the time to finish the project. I started it way back in March, 2020 . Here is a link to the first post I wrote about the pin cushion.

I was inspired by three different historical references. First and foremost is a petticoat thought to have belonged to Queen Anne of Denmark held in the collection of the Burrell Museum, Glasgow. Having seen and photographed the petticoat years ago when I was in Glasgow, I had access to close up photos that I had taken. This helps enormously when I’m working on an historically inspired piece.

Secondly, a painting of Elizabeth Vernon, the Countess of Southampton, which shows a large  pin cushion her dressing table. Granted, it isn’t an embroidered pin cushion, but it is a very important part of getting dressed every day. Much of a woman’s dress, such as the one she is wearing, was held in place using pins. Just look at how many pins are in the pin cushion!

Thirdly, I again used botanical drawings from the Trevelyon’s Miscellany of 1608. It’s one of my favorite sources for designs as well as history.

In my imagination, the embroidery was meant to replicate a small piece of the petticoat that might have been found and turned into a pin cushion as a way to preserve the scrap of beautiful embroidered fabric.

It’s now been made into a pin cushion, filled with crushed walnut shells, trimmed with gold twist and ribbon tassels at each corner. It looks just as I imagined it would look. However, I’m not sure I’ll be putting any pins into it – ever!

Prince’s Thistle – a new crewelwork project!

I’ve been visiting the past more often during this time when we can’t go anywhere else with 100% safety. Through books, podcasts and research, I’ve travelled back to Tudor and Jacobean times and, on one of my travels, I came across the beautiful silver traveling canteen below. Isn’t it just stunning?

If you want to know more about the canteen and Bonnie Prince Charlie, a good place to start is here, at the National Museums Scotland website.

It’s believed that the canteen was a 21st birthday gift to Charles Edward Stuart. He brought the canteen with him to Scotland in 1745. The Duke of Cumberland captured the canteen on the field after the battle of Culloden in April, 1746. Cumberland then gave it to one of his aides, George Kepple, who kept it in his family until 1963. It was acquired by the National Museums Scotland in 1984, after a successful fundraising effort to ensure it remains in Scotland.

It is a beautiful object, with an association to one of the most romantic figures in Scottish history. (Sadly, the reality is less romantic by far…) Nonetheless, the thistle on the cup inspired me to created a new crewelwork design entitled “The Prince’s Thistle”.

Above is a color rendering of the design. As you can see, the stitches include my favorite – laid and couched lattice on the larger leaves. I’ll be using Turkey work for the top of the thistle, as have many other designers. There will be touches of silver in the design as a nod to the silver canteen and the workmanship of Ebenezer Oliphant, the silversmith who created the canteen.

The threads I’ll be using are my all time favorite threads from Catkin Crown Textile Studio – Heathway wool. I just love these colors! It’s going to be fun watching this come together over the next few months.


Mary Parsons 1780

A new venture and a shop on my site (look up at the menu at the top of the page) …but first, the background as to why.

Way back in 2016, Steve and I were in Witney, England and stopped by Witney Antiques. At that time, I didn’t know much about samplers other than I was interested in the history of them and their makers. We spent a wonderful couple of hours with Jill, learning about samplers and choosing three to purchase. The one pictured below is the first sampler I purchased. I was drawn to it because of the saying on the sampler.

The second sampler I chose that day was the one you see Jill and me looking at in the photo below. I’ve enjoyed having samplers hanging in my studio and loved looking up the girls who stitched them on ancestry web sites. It’s another glimpse into the past and how embroidery connects those embroiderers to us today.

As much as I loved my samplers, I never was interested in learning how to do that kind of counted work. I’ve done blackwork and enjoyed it, but stitching samplers just didn’t interest me.

Until now…

When we returned to the USA from Germany and I joined the Cedar Valley Chapter of the EGA, I was surrounded with embroiderers who did beautiful, complex counted work. Some of them stitched on reproduction samplers during our meeting and I got very interested in those. A friend encouraged me to take a class taught by Amy Mitten with her and I loved it.

Since then I’ve become more interested in samplers and their history, as well as learning how to reproduce the samplers I own. About two months ago I purchased a computer program and spent the most wonderful week charting my first sampler. It was completely absorbing – just what I needed during the early days of Covid 19. I discovered that studying a sampler and charting it gave me an insight into what the little girl did as she stitched. I found myself saying things like “Oh, you silly Mary, why did you make that “s” a little higher than the rest?” and “Oh dear, you’ve run out of space here and had to squish the letters together!”

The sampler I chose to chart was the same one my friend wanted to stitch. (The friend who encouraged me to go to Amy Mitten’s class). I’ve now finished the model and she’s currently working on it using her own colors. I’m so looking forward to seeing how hers turns out!

You can purchase this sampler chart and learn all about Mary and her sampler in my new “Shop” link at the top of the page.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be doing my traditional historic embroidery anymore – quite the contrary! I’m working on finishing up the Trevelyon’s Garden pincushion and I have two more traditional projects in the design and development stage.

It’s fun to spread your wings and do something new, though! I have more samplers that I want to chart and share with anyone who’s interested, so watch this space in the future.