Monday, May 18, 2009

The story behind the Family Record Samplers

Having just returned from visiting our grandson, Haiden, in Chicago, today seems like an ideal day to share the story of his birth sampler.

Several months before Haiden was born, Tom asked if I was going to design a birth sampler for him. We knew that our daughter, Carolyn, was going to have a little boy, but we didn’t know his name. In fact, his name was kept secret until his birth. I hesitated a bit before answering Tom, because this was something that I had thought about but had not worked on. I knew that if I were to do a birth sampler, I wanted something classic, not cutesy--not that there is anything wrong with cutesy, but I wanted a sampler that wouldn’t seem too babyish in a few years. I had lots of ideas for a girl, but none for a boy. Tom’s inquiry got the wheels in my brain turning.

I almost immediately began work on a design that would show not only the baby’s full name, birthdate, and location but also the names of his parents and his four grandparents. In fact, by the time Haiden was born, I had his sampler all stitched except for his name and birth information.

Haiden was born a week before the 2008 Nashville Needlework Tradeshow where I was able to show his finished sampler (unframed) next to a newborn baby photo. The following week we delivered the framed sampler to him.

I stitch my own models which gives me
lots of time to think. I thought, what if someone has twins and needs to put two names on the sampler or perhaps they want to do one sampler with the names of two children to create a family record? This is when I designed the “Chester” sampler. Slight variations had to be made to the center cartouche in order to accommodate two names and birthdates. I stitched Tom’s and my names and our parents’ names along with those of our two children, Carolyn and Stephen.

As I was stitching this new version, I thought, but what if someone has more than two children? I needed a way to accommodate more names. For this version, the “Watts” sampler, I went back
to my grandfather’s generation. Papa was one of 6 children. Again variations had to be made in order to accommodate that many names. It was interesting to do the research on this sampler because I had to locate the birthdates of my grandfather’s siblings. I feel like I am honoring him along with his parents (my great-grandparents) and his grandparents (my great-great grandparents) by preserving this bit of family history.

I consider all three of these samplers family heirlooms. They hang in my office. (Yes, I had to restitch Haiden’s birth sampler since he has the original one hanging in his room in Chicago, and I need a model).

The package for the Family Record Samplers contains charts and instructions for making all three versions. Instructions are also included for what to do if you have any very long names. Each sampler records family history and would be perfect not only as a birth sampler, but also as a family record.

You may remember that last Monday, May 11, 2009, I showed the
Family Record Sampler that Anna stitched for her grandson. She personalized her sampler by leaving off the grandparents' names and adding the names of her grandson’s two sisters. As you can see the possibilities are limitless.


Margaret said...

Haiden is sooooo adorable! Love the latest pictures of him! I have this sampler in my stash -- I really want to get it stitched up sometime. I'll probably do the second version and include both my kids in it. It's such a classy sampler -- and I just love how you thought about including the whole extended family.

Jennifer said...

He is so precious!

Vaida said...

It's really a nice birth sampler - I also consider to stitch it sometime for my three chilren :). And I love the different pictures of your other samplers - it's always so interesting to see various adaptations, changes...
And your grandson is a cutie!

woolwoman said...

Ellen - I also hope to do the "family record" sampler one day - using ancestral names. Since I am an only child and have no children - I can only go back -not forward - I also had the excitement of Ellen choosing my suggestion "Family Record" for the name of this sampler. Haiden is a doll baby - I'm glad you get to see him often. Hugs Mel

Anonymous said...

Just beautifull!!!

With My Needle said...

Yes, Haiden is a real doll. Unfortunately, we don't get to see him as often as we would like.

Margaret, with your turbo needles, I bet you could stitch this in just a few days.

Vaida, you would only need to change the center cartouche to accomodate the names of your three children.

Melody, wouldn't this be a great gift for your mother for Mother's Day, her birthday or Christmas?

I hope that all of you who decide to stitch this record of your family history wil send me photos.

Lynn said...

Sweet little baby boy! Congratulations on the grandson! Thanks so much for sharing with us your designs and blog!

mainely stitching said...

I didn't realize that this sampler had so many variations. It would be great for our large family. Thanks for the additional explanation.

It's also really nice to hear that you stitch your own models. :D

With My Needle said...


Stitching my own models is a large part of what I enjoy most. They become part of me. All of my pieces are in display in my home.

andreia said...

it is beautifull!