Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Was She Thinking?

I recently finished stitching the Mary Katz 1799 sampler from the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  This was a fun little sampler!

One of the things that first attracted me to this sampler are the large flower and the woman and man near the bottom.

Look at the large parrot standing on the back of the chair!  How did he keep the chair from toppling over?

Mary stitched her sampler in 1799 when she was 17  years old.  I found myself sometimes wondering what Mary was thinking when she was stitching her sampler.  Sometimes she would run out of thread in the middle of a letter or a band and change to a completely different color--one not even close to the one with which she had started.  Then look at the strawberries in the border.  Most of them are cross stitched using two thread colors, but many of those on the top border are different from the others.  On the first one the strawberry and leaves are stitched completely in queen stitches.  On a couple of others Mary used queen stitches for part of the motif and cross stitches for the rest. Perhaps she decided she didn't like queen stitches because she stitched most of the remaining strawberries in cross stitch.  Why did she stitch a couple of the strawberries using a single thread color and stitched the others using two colors?

In the area where she stitched "Mary Katz Born January the 19 1782", she cross stitched the first letter of  the words Mary, Katz, Born, and January, over three linen threads and the rest of the text over two linen threads.

I stitched my version on 36-count Butter Pecan linen from Lakeside Linens using one ply of DMC.  I used DMC because that was how the sampler was charted.  I tried to be true to the colors on the chart but had to tweak a couple because they didn't show up on my linen.

Those of you who were in my October classes may remember my saying that I'm not fond of stitching eyelets nor rice stitches over 2 linen threads, and that you probably wouldn't see those stitches on any of my original designs.  Perhaps I jinxed myself, because when I got home and was stitching on the Mary Katz sampler, I discovered that she had used both of those stitches.  Since I'm a purist with stitching reproduction samplers, I did the same although I certainly didn't enjoy stitching those sections.

The photograph of the antique sampler and the directions show a feather stitch along the outer edge.  The feather stitches are not shown on the chart. The photograph shows them done randomly, and the directions give a stitch diagram for a counted version.   I'm still debating what to do about them.  Any thoughts?  There is no way I can make mine look like the antique since they are not shown on the chart.

I was stitching this sampler during the presidential debates and did a "double take" when a lady in the audience who asked a question had the last name "Katz".  What a coincidence!  I wonder if she is related to Mary Katz.

I plan to take Mary to be framed on Friday and will pick up some framed samplers (Mary Gibson, Janet Gibson, and two new With My Needle mini-Quaker samplers) at the same time!


ladydi47 said...

She probably changed those colors just because she wanted to mess with the mind of a stitcher who would question her thoughts some 200 years later! lol
Diana B
Jonesboro, Ga

geeky Heather said...

Ha! I love the giant parrot on the chair. Perhaps he is pictured just after landing and just before he fell with a giant CRASH! I think she just ran out of whatever color she was using and picked up whatever was close at hand!

So...if you really wanted to reproduce those feather stitches...you could photocopy the original sampler (or scan it), then keep enlarging until it's the same size as your sampler. You'd probably have to do it in pieces. Then you could use that as a pattern for the feather stitches...pierce the enlargement and pounce or use one of those water erasable pens to dot on the path. But this may just be what a crazy person like me would do. =) It'd be fairly difficult to get the enlargement the exact right size.

Kathy said...

How funny to see one of my girls from the exhibit at the Mercer.
Mary Katz was actually from Montgomery County, not Bucks. She was born in the Barren Hill area of Whitemarsh, near Chestnut Hill. Her sister, Sarah's sampler and Sarah's daughter, Ann Catharine Streeper's samplers were featured in vol. two of Finkel's Samplings. Sarah's sampler is very similar to Mary's, but her bird is sitting on her rose tree. Their father owned a paper mill on the Wissahickon Creek and was one of the founders of St. Peter's Lutheran Church. He was also a trustee of the Barren Hill School. I don't have any information on the school, so I don't know if any of the girls stitched their samplers there.

Chris said...

Fabulous finish! I need to move this one closer to the to do pile.
I esp. love the parrot.

Margaret said...

Wow! this is just gorgeous! I like yours better than the original. :D As for that border -- gosh, I don't know. I'm not good with such things. I'm sure you'll find a good way to do that feather border though. Looking forward to seeing it framed!

Laurie in Iowa said...

Gorgeous sampler. I love the wonkiness of the samplers young girls stitched and embrace it while stitching the repro samplers. I think you could wing the feather border... it might not be exactly the same but I bet you'd get it close to the original.

Barb said...

Hi Ellen, The sampler is so pretty! I can't seem to get the queen stitch so I always avoid a sampler that requires that stitch. I look forward to seeing the other samplers framed. I think I'll be doing Mary Gibson very soon.