Welcome to the website of Attic Needlework & Collectibles, a retail needlework store located in Mesa, Arizona. Our store specializes in samplers, hardanger, and counted-thread embroidery.

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December 2009

December brought a new reproduction from Linda Danielson/Samplers Remembered. The incredible antique sampler stitched on a 60c linen was part of Linda's presentation in our November Sampler Symposium, and we were very excited to be able to present her exquisite reproduction as our Sampler of the Month.

This is still exclusively available at The Attic--Linda stitched her sampler on Lakeside's 45c Vintage Luna with Au Ver A Soie's Soie de Paris. The left-hand side featured a small section of the Aztec stitch, which helped to identify this as a Mexican sampler. The left half of the sampler was stitched over 2 threads while on the right it was stitched over 3.

Au Ver A Soie's Soie de Paris, a lovely 6-ply fine filament silk, works beautifully on the 45c and on the 40c as well, but if you select a 36c linen, you should choose the Soie d'Alger, a 7-ply larger diameter silk more appropriate for that linen count.

November 2009

Again November featured two samplers. On the left is The Prairie Schooler's "Christmas Eve" (model stitched on linen from Crossed Wings, but Lakeside's Vintage Midnight would be lovely too) and on the right Chessie & Me's "We Give Thee Thanks" (Jean stitched hers on 40c Lakeside Vintage Pear; not pictured)

October 2009

Two brand new "WOW!" samplers were featured this month. The first was from Erica Michaels Designs "We Are Blessed." The design, part of the Petites Collection, is packaged with 40c silk gauze. Now, please don't say "No way" until you've actually tried it! It's really not as difficult as your mindset may have you believe. BUT if you really don't want to try 40c gauze, you can substitute the fabric count you prefer. The beauty of 40c (we also have 48c if you wish) is that it is done with a half stitch (not to be confused with a half cross), either the continental (for the motifs and words) or the basketweave stitch (for the background).

The second show stopper was from Carriage House Samplings and was the latest in the Hawk Run Hollow series--"Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow." As with all needlework, it was even more beautiful in person. Jean did a Belle Soie conversion if you are interested and buy the chart pack from us.

September 2009

For the Sampler-of-the-Month Spotlight, there are always so many beautiful samplers out there to choose from, but these two have been on Jean's bucket list for some time. First from The Scarlet Letter, a reproduction from the outstanding collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum, Sarah Brignell's glorious sampler. Sarah was 11 when she completed her sampler in 1780, and what a masterpiece she had! The museum's information tells us that it measures 12 1/2 x 18 3/4 inches, embroidered with silk in cross and satin stitch. Stitching on 45ct will make your sampler very close to the size of the original.

Sarah Brignell A Handwork's Pace

Jean's Sarah Brignell A Handwork's Pace/Belle Soie

Ever since its publication earlier this year Jean has been captured by Plum Street Samplers' very charming "A Handwork's Pace" with its sampler folk beneath the tree filled with fruit and floral and fowl, and the friendly red bird perched in her hand, and by the "Be Kind and True" over one ~ but it was the verse that truly spoke to Jean. Then Paulette told her that it was inspired by something she'd written in one of The Attic's mostly-weekly eNewsletters. If you too are often captured by a sampler's message, visit the Plum Street Samplers section on Kelmscott Designs' website and look particularly at "From His Hand" ~ " . . . Tis a gift from His hand when they're plucked from the land by a child so gentle and small." Isn't that simply wonderful?! Also take a look at "A Sweeter Love," our Sampler of the Month selection from June 2007.

August 2009

Two glorious samplers of significant historical importance to America’s history of samplermaking, reproduced by The Scarlet Letter, were featured in August. Each is included in several Betty Ring books and both are still available to "visit" as part of museum collections. These samplers are both stunning in their pictorial elements and the stitches used to create them. The difficult choice for you: which one to stitch? It could depend on whether you like samplers with houses or not!

Taking them in alphabetical order, "Betsy Davis" has been part of the textile collection at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts since 1945 (see it here), but it's been a part of American sampler history for over 200 years. As The Scarlet Letter's Marsha Parker says, "this sampler is a superb example of the work done at Miss Mary (aka Polly) Balch's school in Providence, Rhode Island in the late 18th and early 19th centuries." Polly opened her school in a rented house on Constitution Hill around 1782 with her only assistants being her mother Sarah (Rogers) Balch (1735-1811) and her brother Timothy, who was known for his beautiful penmanship. She moved and opened a boarding school on George Street in 1801, which appears to have stayed open through 1826.

Original Reproduction

Betsy Manchester's work is dated a few years earlier but obviously made under the guidance of Ms. Balch. Elizabeth was born in Providence in 1782, the daughter of John Manchester and Elizabeth Potter. On May 29, 1800 she married Israel Arnold, and they had four children. One son, John M., born in Providence in 1810, married Caroline Cadmus in 1838 and moved with her to Chicago, taking his mother's sampler with him. Betsy died in 1837. Her granddaughter, Charlotte Manchester Arnold, was born in Chicago in 1840. Charlotte inherited her grandmother's sampler, and in 1858 she married John Chester Welles and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their daughter, Frances Bradley Welles, donated her grandmother's sampler to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1944 (see it here). Again, thanks to Marsha Parker for including the provenance for this sampler.

Original Reproduction

The most distinctive elements of this group of samplers include Providence architecture that can often be identified, a three-sided border with filled-in, tapestry-like backgrounds that surround beautiful queen-stitched flowers emerging from vases on either side. There may also be bands of queen-stitched strawberries and strawberry blossoms. The verse is "announced" by trumpeting angels, stitched over one, and the samplers frequently include elegantly dressed men and women strolling leisurely on their estates with their animals

July 2009

This month's project was a brand-new design from our Linda Vinson of Needlemade Designs, and will be an Attic exclusive until the St. Charles Market in late September where it will be officially released. Linda provided two versions of the verse to accommodate everyone's stitching preference. Jean stitched the verse over one, shown on the left (on Lakeside's 40ct Vintage Sand Dune with Belle Soie)and in the middle. On the right is the over-two verse. The design size is 88 x 144, a perfect size for this Seasonal sampler.

The left half of the design as well as the border was over two threads. Jean chose to stitch the over-one verse in the continental/tent stitch, which filled in beautifully on the 40ct linen.

June 2009

Our first project for June was "A Patriot's Sampler" from the Midsummer Night Designs. Within 30 minutes of this sampler's arrival in our mailbox Jean had taken her first stitches! She said "These words have a real ring of familiarity to Americans, more so since 9/11--some taken from our Declaration of Independence, some first spoken by Benjamin Franklin, some by Thomas Jefferson--but the first one I don't think we hear enough: Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions--it only guarantees equality of opportunity. Amen! I love it all, including the central vignette showing the flag waving over the house and the willow trees and the sheep in the pasture with the shepherdess close by."

Jean stitched our model on the right in Belle Soie on a 40-count blue linen from Lakeside.

June's second project has a special place in America's history of sampler-making. As recorded by Marsha Parker of The Scarlet Letter in her introduction to this exquisite piece, Elizabeth Hudson worked her sampler under the instruction of Elizabeth Marsh and her daughter Ann Marsh, and as such this sampler is part of Philadelphia's earliest identifiable group of samplers, made between 1725 and 1740. Many of the pattern bands that Ann worked on her own sampler appear almost identically on Elizabeth Hudson's. Elizabeth Marsh was the premier schoolmistress who was instrumental in setting the trends and fashions in Philadelphia's elegant schoolgirl embroideries. Ann probably began teaching alongside her mother in 1737 or 1738, so either woman could have guided Elizabeth Hudson in the execution of her sampler.

For the first time in her memory Jean used a combination of silks to recreate this sampler (our model on the right). The border is being stitched in Belle Soie in gorgeous shades of greens and red. But for the lengthy verse, stitched over 1, as well as the genealogical information at the bottom and the queen-stitched strawberries Jean chose Au Ver A'Soie's 100/3. It has a very tight twist, and she loves it for over-one stitching. The over-one stitches are being done in a continental stitch, and as you can see from the photo of her progress, on 40c the letters are sufficiently "filled in" with this version of a half cross-stitch. Jean will be using Au Ver A'Soie's Soie d'Alger for some of the satin-stitch dividing bands. The dividing bands are all stitched in satin stitch, so those will be saved for later.

May 2009

"Abundance" from the European Crosstitch Collection caught Jean's fancy when it was first published last year, and she'd been wanting to stitch it ever since. Jean loved the birds and the flowers and the graceful border and, most of all, the sentiment. In today's world where negativity abounds, it seemed important to focus on what we have and not what we don't have. In the words of the designer, "This word 'abundance' reminds me that while there are always more material things to gather, if we take a moment to step back and look at our lives, we can find the abundance that is already there. Sometimes I find myself so caught up in the details of day-to-day life that I forget to take a breath and be grateful for all that I have. I decided to create a series of designs with positive words . . . as a reminder of all the little things I may be taking for granted that truly make my life abundant."

Our model (above right) was stitched on Lakeside's 45c Vintage Mourning Dove with, you guessed it, Belle Soie. This beautiful linen, of course, comes in any count you desire, 45c, 40c, 36c, 32c, or 28c. The designer used 3 silks for her model ~ Jean wanted the birds to be a different color, so she made them blue. This would be equally lovely stitched monochromatically in your favorite color!

April 2009

Two absolutely charming samplers that we saw at Nashville, one a reproduction and one a new design, captured April's SOM spotlight. From With My Needle came the reproduction "ES's Floral Sampler ca. 1840." The cover model was reproduced on 36c Light Sand Edinburgh with NPI silks. Jean loved the colors, the graceful border, the gorgeous central floral motif, the fact that it's not symmetrical, and the fact that it's SMALL! On 36c the design size is 6.3w x 9.1h; on 40c, it's 5.7w x 8.2h, and on 45c, Jean's chosen fabric, it is 5w x 7.3h.

The shop had some lovely standard 45c Chantilly Creme from Lakeside Linens, but Jean prefers vintage linens, especially for samplers, and most especially for reproductions, so she "vintaged" it with Distress It! She's pleased with the bit of aging that it added to the linen. No surprise--Jean's stitching the sampler with Belle Soie. There are a number of vintage Lakeside linens that it would look absolutely beautiful on (left to right NPI colors on 40c Vintage Strawflower with 40c Vintage Chantilly Creme on top; on 40c Vintage Lt. Examplar with 40c Vintage Examplar on top.)

The second sampler was Just Nan's "Harmony." Nan called it a harmonious combination of seasonal color and texture. Her model is stitched on 32c natural Belfast with Thread Gatherer silks and, for the season divisional titles, she used #8 Pearl Cotton. She has kitted her limited- edition design with 4 colors of the Thread Gatherer silks, 4 antique gold charms, and 4 colors of beads in the seasonal shades.

Jean stitched her model above on Lakeside's 40c Vintage Wood Smoke with 4 seasonal shades of Belle Soie similar in value to those in the kit, using the same for the seasonal divisions.

March 2009

This beautiful reproduction is one of seven from Hawkins House, a new sampler reproductionist that was exhibiting at the Nashville Market, and we were thrilled to find them there. This sampler is from a private collection, and the cover model was stitched on 32c cream Belfast in DMC cottons, matched to the original sampler, "which was worked with silks on fine linen." So . . . we are stitching ours in silks on fine linen. And this month you will see two models in progress. Debra fell in love with this one and is stitching hers on Lakeside Linen's 40c V. Maritime White with NPI silks. She started on the left and is making fabulous progress. I'm stitching mine on Lakeside's 40c V. Maple Sugar with overdyed silks, Belle Soie + 2 skeins of Gloriana.

Debra's done with the bottom part.

Jean's progress in March.

February 2009

Long Dog's "Scarlet Ribands" was February's special feature. The sampler had been in Jean's to-do basket since its publication, and it seemed like the perfect choice for February, "the month of Love"! Jean loved many things about this design and its motifs but the Lily of the Valley motif was really what captured her ~ and the adages/axioms/aphorisms ~ ending with "Love conquers all" at the bottom center. Our model was stitched in Belle Soie's Tulip on Lakeside Linen's new Buttercream, or you could choose your own favorite Belle Soie/hand-dyed linen combination.

During February save 15% on your purchase of the following: chart ($31) ~ hand-dyed linen ($28 - $46, depending on the count and the margins), ~ Belle Soie ($45.50 - ???, depending on the count and the ply required). On 40-count with 2-inch margins the linen is $27 and the Belle Soie $45.50. All of these prices are before the discount.

For more information read the latest Newsletter.

January 2009

"Sarah Moore" from Reflets de Soie was the beautiful sampler in January's spotlight. Jean was captured by the luscious shades of lavender/purple and the greens ~ and the motifs in this well-balanced sampler ~ and intrigued by what the French verse said. Looking inside the chartpack, she found a verse in English. That led her to the Reflets de Soie web site which provided this explanation (translated from the french) "This sampler has been redesigned to offer more fresh colors and a poem in place of the verse of the Bible." The original English Biblical verse included in the chartpack retains all of the whimsical charm of an 11-year-old's language/spelling skills: "See the kind Sheperd Jesus stands - With all engaging charms - Hark how he calls the tenders lambs - And fold them in his arms. Sarah Moore Aged 11 Years." The french verse translated to "Sun, bronze, gold, and silver - Ray of life, thread of light - Beautiful embroidery, the color of time - A chain (stitch) and a (ground) thread love and brighten each other" (thanks to ASU professor and Attic customer Helene for the translation!).

Our model (on the left, in progress) was stitched on 40 ct Days Gone By with Gloriana silks; the Belle Soie conversion on Lakeside's Vintage Sand Dune is on the right:

December 2008

December was another two sampler affair from Blue Ribbon Designs. The first, "Peppermint Twist" was stitched on Lakeside's 40c Wood Smoke with Weeks Dye Works. Our model was stitched on 40c Vintage Wood Smoke with Belle Soie.

"Countdown to Christmas" was stitched on Lakeside's 40c Magnolia with Gentle Art Sampler Threads. It also had red birds and deer and pine trees ... AND gingerbread men and candy canes and ornaments and much, much more. What a wonderful Advent calendar for your children or grandchildren! But all would make perfect ornaments if you chose not to make the calendar.

November 2008

November's sampler was, coincidentally, "November" from The Prairie Schooler . I stitched our model over 1 on Lakeside's 32c Vintage Autumn Gold with Crescent Colours Belle Soie. I stitched the sampler with a continental stitch, except for the verse, which I didn't like in the continental, so I cross-stitched the letters. It's a very doable size (75h x 90w) for this busy time of year. Sandy stitched the larger sampler over 1 on 28c.

Priscilla's Pocket frame

October 2008

October's spotlight was on a tiny (62w x 51h) whimsical design from Tracy Riffle/Hands to Work called "Forbeare Not Sowing." Our model on the right is stitched on Lakeside's 40c hand-dyed linen with six colors of Belle Soie and finished in a hand-grained frame from CathyCampbell/Primitive Traditions. Cathy had a bit of this moulding stock remaining from her previous life and we were able to get some frames made for this design to accommodate both 40c and a very few in 36c. Please remember to specify linen count when ordering.

September 2008

Sandra Sullivan's "Virtue Samplers" from Homespun Elegance was one of September's featured pieces. Our framed model on the right is stitched on 40c Days Gone By with Belle Soie, and the hand-grained frame is from Priscilla's Pocket.

In remembrance of 9/11 we also chose the Tracy Riffle/Hands to Work design "One Flag." Our model is stitched on 40c Vintage Sand Dune with, what else, Bell Soie!