grnvixen: (Stitching)
[personal profile] grnvixen
Since this is probably only going to interest the other stitchers here, going behind a cut....

So I have acquired a new toy:

it is a mid-17C sampler. Yeah, the real thing. It was in a mixed lot of items at a Bonham's auction in late November. The odd pieces started showing up on eBay shortly thereafter. Long story short, it was third time it was listed, without a reserve, the slow week after Christmas, that I decided to bid on it and voila, won! And for a few bucks under the rather conservative budget I set myself.

Now this is NOT a museum quality piece, and it is not in a condition that would interest a lot of serious collectors. It is a good piece for studying, and sharing, both of which I intend to do, and all of the above was taken into account when I decided to bid. All in all, I think I got a bargain :).

Details: it is 7.25 in wide by 17 in long. There is a selvedge at the top, narrow hem on the other three sides (this is typical and it was probably part of a longer piece that was divided to be used for two samplers, probably for economic reasons). What may not be noticeable at the bottom is a couple of bands of white work, embroidery done in linen thread that at the time (and still does, they have discolored fairly evenly) matched the linen ground. These samplers were usually worked by schoolgirls, age 8 - 12 years old, at upscale boarding schools or even local day/dame schools. The sampler would have been the first embroidered piece she worked, starting color embroidery on one end, whitework on the other, and meeting in the middle with gradually more complicated bands.

Obviously, the student did not finish this piece. I'm calling her MiMe btw. If you look you can see two initials: M I a t the top left, and then there are two extra letters after the alphabet: M E So that's her name :).

The linen is so soft, almost feels like butter. Whitework bands are definitely done in linen thread, the alphabet is silk and, here's the odd thing; the top double-running bands, look to be done in single-stranded wool. The seller noted this in the listing and a friend who knows textiles confirmed it independently. This is very unusual for this style of samplers. It could account for the reason there is so much thread loss in these sections tho. BUT, I've taken a quick look at the threads under a high-powered microscope, and these threads do not have the obvious segmenting that I understand you usually see in wool. I am going to try and get a digital pic next week to study.

The actual stitching is.....interesting :). The double-running is very smooth and even. These are worked over 3 threads btw (linen ground has uneven thread, but a fairly even 50-52 thread count, both warp and weft). I have the patterns charted out allready. The red band shows up in a lot of 17thC samplers, with a few variations. I've found one with similarities to the top green band but only one sampler with anything remotely like the second green band. The hunt will continue :). The single dividing lines look to have been worked in some variations of cross-stitch, from looking at the back one may be marking stitch. At least one is PACKED with thread, as are the stitches in the alphabet. These are definitely not simple cross stitch and are going to take some work to figure out.

As soon as I got it from the seller (folded in a piece of paper and mailed in a small padded envelope, AKK!) I made a carrying case of sorts for it consisting of severaly pieces of acid-free foam-core covered with clean cotton. Ties up neatly and has already protected MiMe on several outings :).

One last closeup is below. I'm really looking forward to learning as much as I can from MiME :).

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