Lucia de Moranza
Ealdormere Pentathlon A.S. L
Many people are familiar with the embroidery samplers that were very popular and common during the 19th and 20th centuries, done by schoolgirls nearly everywhere. The orderly bands of letters and numbers with neat motifs and careful placement of names and dates to mark the occaision. Samplers have, however been found much earlier than that, dating to the 14th or 15th century. (V&A http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/a-history-of-samplers/) Earlier samplers are less orderly, spot samplers rather than band samplers, with chunks of embroidery of all kinds, often tossed on wherever there is space. Multicolour threads are quite common, probably using up threads on hand, rather than purchasing special for the piece. It makes each sampler truly a personal piece of doodling and / or remembering for later rather than a show piece as they became in later centuries. Dates and names are very rare, as are alphabets.
|Figure 1 Linen sampler by Jane Bostock, England 1598 VA T.190-1960|
As I was gathering up materials and inspirations to take some embroidery on vacation with me, I realized that I had a stack of little scraps of paper and printed out of bits of blackwork and cross stitch patterns that I liked enough to want to keep track of, basically exactly what a sampler accomplishes. Most of my patterns are from period sources, but there’s a smattering that are modern interpretations, or other pieces that spoke to me as the embroiderer. I felt comfortable in leaving these in, as it kept with the spirit of the original samplers, to be my record, my notes, my examples and my doodle pad. The linen is 36 count evenweave linen, well marinated in my embroidery stash. The vast majority of it has been worked over a single thread, although there are a couple blackwork pieces that were worked over two. All of the thread used is silk, also well marinated in my embroidery stash.
Blue oak leaves and acorns: 1 strand needlepoint silk over 1 thread, running stitch, modern pattern from Blackwork Archives (http://www.blackworkarchives.com/bw_flwrs.html)
Purple roses: 1 strand needlepoint silk over 2 threads. Pattern from an Italian sampler, dated 16th century in the V&A (T.14-1931) as charted by Elizabeth Bennett. (http://www.dragonbear.com/sample1.html)
All five critters: 1 strand needlepoint silk over 1 thread, tent stitch. From: Federic Vinciolo -"Singvliers Et Novveaux Povrtraicts" First published in 1587, this is from the 1606 edition. (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/vinciolo/)
Red leaves: 1 strand needlepoint silk over 1 thread, tent stitch. From Giovanni Ostaus’ “La Vera Perfezione del Disegno”, 1561. (https://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/books/og_lace.pdf)
Red blackwork: 1 strand of needlepoint silk over 2 threads, running stitch. From a 16th century Italian sampler (V&A T.14-1931) as charted by Elizabeth Bennett. (http://www.dragonbear.com/sample1.html)
Grey cross blackwork: 1 strand of needlepoint silk over 2 threads, running stitch. From Ensamplario Atlantio: Being a Collection of Filling Patterns Suitable for Blackwork Embroidery by Countess Ianthé d’Averoigne (mka Kim Salazar) (http://string-or-nothing.com/2011/06/25/ensamplario-atlantio-blackwork-filling-collection-pdfs-for-download/)
Gray and gold blackwork: 1 strand of needlepoint silk over 2 threads, running stitch. From Tissus d'Egypte Témoins du Monde Arabe VIIIe - XVe Siècles. 1993. Musée d'art et e'histoire, Genève & Institut du monde arabe, Paris. #189 (http://heatherrosejones.com/egyptianblackwork/)
Museum, V. (n.d.). History of Samplers. Retrieved from V&A Museum: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/a-history-of-samplers/
Speelberg, F. (2015). Fashion & Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution 1520 - 1620. New York: The Metropolitain Museum of Art.