Margaret Randolph

Margaret Randolph
Margaret Randolph stitched by Jenny


Friday, 8 March 2013

My Sampler History

I was a weird kid, always very interested in times past. My mother had grown up in her grandmother's household, a grandmother born in the mid-1850s, and there were always lots of stories of times and people past. I soaked it all up--I wanted their homes and dishes and clothes. If I'd been able to find high button shoes, I'd have worn them.

A shining moment was when I got to march in a parade in a 1916 Girl Scout uniform. Actually no one else wanted to wear it. But that detail was lost on me; I loved it.

The idea of girlhood needlework captured my imagination early on. We had a stitchery piece made by my mother's grandmother in 1865, when she was 9 years old. It's wool stitched on perforated paper. I've always thought it was so charming--some of the stitches go one way, some go another, and it's unfinished. It's mounted in a little shadowbox and hangs in my home now. It's always meant a great deal to me.

In the 1970s, I was wanting vintage-look needlework, but there was nothing around back then that approached the authenticity of charts and kits now available from The Scarlet Letter and some other designers. I found this, below, kitted in a department store--on STAMPED linen. It had the look I wanted, and I labored over it for a couple years. That border is all crewel embroidery, and taught me that I never wanted to work with wool again. Check the completion date--yup, 1975.

In the mid-80s, when I was living in Cincinnati, I visited a museum in Lebanon, Ohio, that was featuring Ohio samplers. Enchanting! I could hardly tear myself away from looking at them. That's exactly where I wanted to be. 

I can't remember just when I learned of The Scarlet Letter--maybe from an ad in Threads magazine--but I do recall a feature article in Just Cross Stitch magazine (still have the issue).

My first Scarlet Letter stitchery was this one below, called The Red House, completed in 1987. This was the first of about half a dozen from The Scarlet Letter that I worked on with huge enthusiasm over the next several years. 

I was always the mom with stitchery in hand, at soccer games or at the pool.

I've done a lot of forms of needlework over the years. There was a big needlepoint period too, and I've been up to my eyeballs in quilts for the last 20 or so years. But vintage is the keyword with me.

If it's vintage, I'm on it.


EvalinaMaria said...

Lovely story, thank you for sharing.

Debbie Bauer said...

I just love this story! I even read it to my husband.

Nicola said...

Oh Kathie what a wonderful read, like Debbie I too have shown this to my husband.

Thank you so much for sharing. The threads that we stitch reach out around the world in friendship.

Fiona said...

Loved reading your story and looking at your past stitched pieces. I too love history and would love to be able to sit and stitch my day away and for it to be recognised as an achievement. It has always fascinated me how they achieved such detail in such poorly light environments.