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E is for Embroidery

Okay, so I’m late to the party with my letter E post. So late, in fact, that two of my friends beat me to the punch with the same choice for their letter E. Nevertheless, I will show you my embroidery – which is really counted cross stitch.

I used to do counted cross stitch obsessively. Not as obsessively as I now knit, but I always had a project going. I did pillows, and baby bibs and the occasional sweatshirt. But my favorite thing to stitch was a project that could be framed. There are only two that I had framed that still hang in my house.

This is a sampler I did. You’ll note my name was different. But I still have it hung up because it was a crap-load of work, it matches the dining room, and I like it. That’s 22 count Aida, kids.


My kitchen in my old house was black and white, so I had to stitch this up. I just love the way the vegetables and letters go together. Except the letter K. What’s up with a pie for the letter K? And so what if my current kitchen is green? At least my name is still Carole.

Finally, there’s this. This is my one and only, true family heirloom. As you can probably guess, it was not stitched by me but by my great-great-grandmother, on paper no less. Her name was Anna Elizabeth Smith Jones and she actually saw Abraham Lincoln. It hung in my nana’s house when I was a little girl and she used it to teach me the Ten Commandments. After she died, it hung in my mother’s house, and then when she died, it came to me.
In this photo you can see the pencil marks for some of the designs that she didn’t actually complete.

And in this one, sadly, you can see that the paper is deteriorating. I think it’s okay in the frame that it’s in, as my mother and nana had it re-framed back in the 80s, and it’s all acid-free and stuff. But, clearly, it could never be reframed.

I love all my embroidery but this piece is truly a work of art to me.

This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. Oh, Carole, how very, very cool. I have some old pieces on paper (and some new!), but nothing quite like that. The design is FANTASTIC all by itself, but to know the provenance and that it was stitched by your own gg grandmother — well, no wonder. I’ve got goosebumps. It is a work of art and SO much more. Priceless. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    I like your other sampler, too. I’ve seen that design… The other one, hm, kumquat pie, kiwi, key lime?

  2. You might want a conservator to look at the framing. So much has changed in the art of conservation and many things can be saved and/or restored. It truly is a treasure. Perforated paper was big in during Victorian times and that is a large sampler for the day!

  3. Gorgeous embroideries, Carole. I’m with Margene on having a professional conservator look at the paper one, just to be on the safe side.

  4. Wow! Your heirloom is amazing, and I am impressed by your own work as well. I used to do some crewel as a kid (did we not all have embroidered blue jeans?) but never got into cross stitch.

  5. Very cool. I agree with Margene about finding a professional conservator or conservationist or whatever they are called! It is goregous. Kippers for the K. A Kipper pie.

  6. That mesh background is actually paper? How on earth do you stitch on something like that without it falling apart in your hands? That’s amazing.

  7. Your great-great grandmother was unbelievably talented! What a design! Amazing. Besides consulting a conservator, you might want to replicate the design in modern materials. That way, at least the design will survive, even if the original materials eventually deteriorate.

    I had no idea people ever embroidered on perforated paper–thank you so much for sharing that!

  8. Your great-grandmother’s piece is amazing. By all means, ask a conservator to take a look at it. It’s too wonderful to risk losing.

  9. What a gorgeous heirloom, Carole. (And you can recycle this post for the letter H, too! Heehee.) My only domestic-like skill is knitting. That’s it. But I love seeing the fabulous things my friends can do.

  10. Oh, to have an antique sampler hanging on my wall…. Your pieces are beautiful. I used to do a lot of cross stitch, too, before knitting took over my life. I still have cross stitch UFOs. Maybe I’ll get around to the one day…..

  11. Awesome heirloom and piece of history. I also have an embroidered heirloom sampler from the 1800’s. Ditto everyone’s suggestions re: having a conservator look at it as well as replicating the design.

  12. WOW. That heirloom piece is so cool – we don’t have any heirlooms further back than a great grandparent, much less stitchery! Heh, so you come by the fiber arts honestly.

  13. Wow. The perforated paper – love it! The 1st counted cross stitch I did was on paper. Very cool that you have something your great-great grandmother made! Your kitchen cross stitch – black & white go with green – plus there’s green in the design. Love your sampler. I’ve never done one, but I love them!

  14. I love counted cross stitch. I used cross stitch all the time, and I still sneak something in once in awhile. But between knitting and cross stitch, I have to say I like knitting best. Guess you do to, otherwise we would have cross stitch blogs, huh?

  15. Your pieces are beautiful! I have never seen one done on paper before. Want to wager a guess what my pictures I took for “E” are of? 😉

  16. That is a wonderful heirloom to have. It looks like it was a great deal of work, too. Odd to have chosen paper. I wonder what the story behind that was.

  17. Gorgeous! Not only is it amazing and wonderful to have that heirloom, but to know that you shared a hobby with one of your ancestors. Like you, I used to cross stitch alot, and sadly I have many unfinished pieces (that’s what happened when I got back into knitting!). You can see them on my website, if you’re interested.

    Very nice stitching, all around!

  18. That last one is really beautiful. How lovely to have that treasure. Maybe the pie for “k” was because Kale was too hard to stitch?

  19. Wow, what a wonderful heirloom. Definately worth spending a bit of time to see if the deterioration can be stopped.

  20. What a treasure – a piece done by your own gggrandmother’s hands! It is awesome that you have carried on the tradition, doing your own embroidery work over the years. I used to do a lot of cross stitch too. E has been fun!

  21. Thank you for sharing ALL your wonderful heirlooms Carole! The one from your GG is amazing and someday your own beautiful stitching will be admired and treasured by your great-grandchildren!

    I used to cross stitch as well and my most prized are the samplers I’ve done too….sometimes I miss it so much but there’s just so much time in a day, right?

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