AVAS versus DMC

Miss Mary Ann Bournes 1791 Hands Across The Sea Samplers

Many stitchers are now kitting up Miss Mary Ann Bournes 1791 and although the model was stitched with AVAS on Lakeside Linen Sand Dune she will look just as beautiful stitched in DMC.


We thought it would help in deciding if we showed the model with the DMC colours laid over.



Double Running Stitch – a basic and reversible stitch explored

Double running stitch is also known as Holbein stitch or Roumanian and Chiara stitch. It is a simple stitch that is identical on both sides of the fabric and can be worked in straight, curved  or zig zag  lines in traditional European embroidery and cross stitch, blackwork from Spain  or Assisi work from Italy.

Double Running Stitch also known as the Holbein Stitch, Roumanian Stitch or Chiara Stitch tutorial


It can be used effectively as a delicate outline stitch or as a filling stitch to create complex goemetric patterns.



Double running stitch is worked in two journeys. On the outward journey you mark out the design and on the return trip you fill in the empty spaces.

Double Running Stitch also known as the Holbein Stitch, Roumanian Stitch or Chiara Stitch tutorial

The stitch can be worked either by  placing the stitch made on the return journey above and below the outward stitch. This replicates the natural twist of the thread.

Double Running Stitch also known as the Holbein Stitch, Roumanian Stitch or Chiara Stitch tutorial

or by  splitting the outward stitch with the stitch made on the return journey
Double Running Stitch also known as the Holbein Stitch, Roumanian Stitch or Chiara Stitch tutorial

Here we see the outward journey followed by both methods on the return trip.

Double Running Stitch also known as the Holbein Stitch, Roumanian Stitch or Chiara Stitch tutorial

Start the stitch with a waste knot and when both journeys have been completed work both ends of the threads into the reverse of stitches laid. A sharp neeedle enables you to pierce the threads to give a professional and reversible finish.Double Running Stitch also known as the Holbein Stitch, Roumanian Stitch or Chiara Stitch tutorial



Have fun with this useful little stitch, experiment with different coloured threads and shapes to create exciting designs.


Perfecting the Satin Stitch

The Satin Stitch can be used to great effect in counted thread work when grouped together side by side as a filling stitch


There are many geometric designs but for this tutorial we will look at a small diamond shape.

Satin stitches as charted

The diagram above is how the shape would be shown on a chart when each square represents two threads.

The diagram below shows the shape when each square represents one thread. We will need 11 stitches to create the shape and cover all the threads of the linen.

Satin stitches as sticthed 2

Start with either a waste knot or pin stitch with one thread.

Satin stitches as sticthed3

Start at 1 and not the left hand side tip of the diamond shape which has be marked with “0”.  End on the 11th stitch as again there is no stitch at the right hand side diamond tip.


For better coverage stitch back from right to left.

Satin stitches as sticthed 7

Your satin stitch should be smooth and the fabric well covered. If it is not you can make another pass back through the shape.


End by burying the thread under the stitches on the back of your fabric. Done neatly this stitch is reversible.

Sometimes we need to cover a slub in the linen which causes a gaping in our stitch.


We can do this by laying a diagonal stitch on the first pass through the shape after the 3rd stitch then going back to work the 4th.

Satin stitches slub

When you make the return pass from right to left  the diagonal stitch and the slub will be covered.


We hope that you enjoyed this short tutorial.

Extraordinary Washington Family Silk Embroidery

H0019-L86957536 H0019-L86957539Coming up for auction on February 4th 2016 with James D Julia in the US

Estimated Price: $18,000 – $22,000

Description: Second half 18th century, probably Fredericksburg, Virginia. This silk work wrought by Mildred Gregory Washington (1777-1805), daughter of Charles Washington and niece of General George Washington. Mildred Gregory Washington, second wife of Captain Thomas Hammond of Charles Town, Jefferson County, Virginia was married until her death in 1804/05. Capt. Thomas Hammond then married Nancy Newton Collins in 1807, retaining the silk work within their family. Their son, George Washington Hammond married Sarah Ann Taylor, retaining the silk work in their family. Their daughters were Florinda Jones Hammond (1846-1922) and Mary Mildred Hammond (1836-1933). Mary Mildred Sillivan (nee Hammond) took stewardship of the silk work. Subsequently she gifted the silk work to her niece, Elizabeth Tilford Keferstein (1874-1941), daughter of Florinda Hammond Tilford and John Boyle Tilford, Jr. A family quilt exists, fashioned over a period of 6 years by the three wives of Captain Thomas Hammond including Mildory Gregory Washington and Nancy Newton Collins. The silk and chenille embroidered picture depicting a young woman in a fitted pale blue jacket with dark trim, with a brimmed cap, wearing a blue and gold striped full length skirt and black shoes, holding a hay rake in her right hand. She is facing a young man in blue jacket with white trousers and leggings, black shoes with buckles and seated on a haystack beside a seated dog, holding a pitchfork, all on a grassy foreground. They are positioned beneath a large central willow tree, a bird flying within. The middle ground with spotted pig, fence, and small farmhouse. Rendered overall in muted and subdued tones of golds, silvers, greens and blues. This rare folk art rendition with similarities to the rural themes seen in the “Fishing Lady” embroideries of Boston and also with regional characteristics of rural Virginia, Frederick County in the 18th century. References: The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Collection of family documents from the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Room, Handley Regional Library, Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, Winchester, Virginia. For additional background information of the the family see “Uplifting of the South” by Kathleen Curtis Wilson and “Mary Mildred Sullivan (Mrs. Algernon Sydney Sullivan) A Biography” by Anne Middleton Holmes. Accompanied by a typed history titled, “EARLY AMERICAN SILK EMBROIDERY Ð A Family Relic”, documented and written by George Hammond Sullivan, son of Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Hammond Sullivan, New York, September 1, 1923. It is our opinion that this is a rare and superior example of 18th Century Folk Art needlework worthy of any serious collector’s attention with extraordinary potential for appreciation. SIZE: Sight 15_ x 12-1/4_. CONDITION: The silk work in very good structural condition. The foundation now a medium brown from age with some deeper discoloration in area around the young woman’s torso. There is also some fraying to the foundation along the borders of the work, outside the borders of the stitching. The colors are somewhat faded, but present a pleasing overall tonality.

Grand Sampler Tour of Southern England 22 September – 5 October 2016

Mary Hickmott is organizing a grand sampler tour of Southern England and will be exploring some wonderful collections, many of which are not on general public display and will be brought out of storage especially. For full details please CLICK HERE
The Itinerary sounds so interesting.

Muller House Museum The history of the wonderful George Muller and the orphans he helped. Samplers are part of the display.

Gloucester Folk Museum Here they have 70 samplers they will get out especially for us!

Museum of Somerset Samplers here are not on display but we will be able to see them!

Wells Museum Here are just a few of the samplers to be seen in this little room. We shall go behind the scenes to see yet more.

Wells Cathedral Wells has a cathedral. It is outstanding. Also, there is the Bishop’s Palace and the gardens, where the feeling of well-being is amazing. Do not miss the Vicars’ Close, which is very near the museum, or the town itself with its medieval market place.

Fashion Museum Here they have canvas work samplers and stitch samplers that they will show us. They are not normally on display. The museum is part of the Assembly Rooms and close to other places of interest in the city.

Montacute House The house itself is wonderful! That it happens to be the home of the Goodhart Collection of samplers is our good luck. Also on show, on the top floor, are portraits of the English kings, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, as well as some fine pictures featuring people wearing lace. It is a National Trust property.

Georgian House This fine house is of considerable interest in its own right. That it is the storage place of samplers, not normally on display, is yet more good luck for us. We shall be taken, in small groups, to see these samplers at the top of the house, which is not usually open to visitors.

Ashmolean Museum In the heart of the city of Oxford, this wonderful museum is home to many pieces of interest. There may be time for a quick look around the city too. We shall take a special tour to see samplers and some items from the Feller Collection and will also take a full gallery tour.

Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge itself is very old indeed and, of course, houses our oldest university. The samplers are usually displayed under the stairs. This is nothing like as cramped as it might sound but is an excellent place to see them whilst they are kept away from natural light. The collections in the Fitzwilliam include many items other than embroidery. I especially love their china and porcelain rooms. There should be time to see the city too, I hope.

Guildford Museum Only six or so of the samplers are on display in the museum itself. We shall see more of them ‘behind the scenes’.

Maidstone Museum Home to a beautiful and unusual beadwork tray and Elizabethan/Jacobean woman’s jacket featuring pea pods, this museum is full of surprises. Their search button on this site reveals very little!

Witney Antiques A place I have been in touch with for years but have not visited for some time. I cannot wait to get back there. You could buy a sampler while you are here perhaps. Click on the ‘samplers’ button on the menu to see ones currently in stock.

Favorite Scissors


Scissors create great excitement amongst needleworkers. Collecting them can become an addictive hobby.

Monsieur Jean- Marie Roulet from Nogent in France makes very special scissors. He is probably the greatest scissor maker in the world.

We only know of one online outlet for these scissors The French Needle.

We think that these have to be our all time favorite.

They come in a custom made oak case unique to Monsieur Roulet.


Another talented French scissor maker is Emmanuel Jammas and although we are not aware of him having an online store he can be contacted via email emmanuel.jammas@wanadoo.fr


As Sandra is Australian we cannot fail to include Scissoroo. These scissors feature the iconic Australian kangaroo.


For every day use Nicola uses an inexpensive 2 ½ inch pair of scissors (far left) that are sharp and practical.

Do you have a favorite pair of scissors that you can share with us?


Ann Clay 1797


A package arrived shortly before Christmas from an auction house and on unpacking the sampler “Ann Clay 1797” we were intrigued to see a small plaque attached to the back that hadn’t been mentioned by the auctioneers.


If someone said Roddy McDowall we would think Lassie with Elizabeth Taylor or even Planet of The Apes not antique needlework.

A search on Google revealed that in 1969 Roddy McDowall directed his only film The Ballad of Tam Lin also known as The Devil’s Widow or The Devil’s Woman, it was released the following year. The leading lady was Ava Gardner.

It seems that the sampler was a gift from the cast/crew of the film.

You never know where needlework is going to take you next but for this sampler it is off to be cleaned and conserved.


An interesting point – Ann Clay recorded not only her name but the name of her boarding school and its full address. Old Street is a suburb of London.


‘Peacocks & Pomegranates’ exhibition at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace

An exhibition of colourful international embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework Peacocks and pomegranates have long been used as motifs on embroidery in a wide range of cultures. Running from January until July 2016, the ‘Peacocks & Pomegranates’ exhibition will feature pieces from the Royal School of Needlework’s Textile Collection. It will include objects from China and India, as well as from Western Europe, which either take these icons as their central motif or feature them prominently.

From The Vain Jackdaw designed by Walter Crane

From The Vain Jackdaw designed by Walter Crane

The peacock represents a range of meanings: in the Christian world these include resurrection from the annual renewal of his feathers and immortality from the belief that the peacock’s flesh did not decay. In the east there are interpretations of nobility, protection and integrity. All cultures seem to recognise a sense of beauty, though some show that when taken too far, this becomes pride. Peacocks may be depicted with or without the tail feathers displayed.

Pomegranates on a 19th century sampler

Pomegranates on a 19th century sampler


The pomegranate represents fecundity in many societies because of the almost uncountable number of its seeds. In the Christian church it was taken to represent the number of the faithful, again a number too many to count. This is why it is usual for the pomegranate to be shown partly open, revealing the hidden seeds.

Peacock panel with peacock in metal threads and tail features in stitch and tiny red beads, from India

Peacock panel with peacock in metal threads and tail features in stitch and tiny red beads, from India

Visitors will see some exquisite pieces and some fun objects, including peacocks, worked in a variety of threads, beads and metal threads from India. The design for the central panel of The Vain Jackdaw by Walter Crane will also be on display, along with pieces which represent the beauty and pride of the peacock. This is seen in examples of attire, for instance on two 18th century men’s waistcoats and on a selection of accessories.

Small panel peacock with stylised leaves and tulips

Small panel peacock with stylised leaves and tulips

There will be about 100 pieces in the exhibition representing a variety of materials and techniques. How to book: The Royal School of Needlework ‘Peacocks & Pomegranates’ exhibition runs from 27 January to 22 July 2016 and is generally open one week per month to groups and private individuals.

To book, go online to http://www.royal-needlework.org.uk/shop/index/60 or contact +44(0)20 3166 6932