Elizabeth Harding 1791


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Nine-year-old Elizabeth Harding finished her sampler on March 11th in 1791 during the reign of George III.  Sadly, we have been unable to trace Elizabeth, as there are many Elizabeth Hardings born around 1782. However, we do know that the Harding name has its origins in Scandinavia and Germany.  It appears to be an old Nordic/Teutonic term for “tough guy”, and is still used as such in Sweden and the Hardanger Fjord in Norway, where people are still called “Hardings” or “Hardinger”.

The original sampler was stitched in silk on fine linen and has maintained its vibrant colours over the centuries. A Georgian red brick mansion house with checkerboard steps proudly takes centre stage and is guarded on either side by pine and apple trees. The doves in flight and the dovecote are a charming feature. Dovecotes were built by wealthy Georgians to supply the household with a luxury food, the tender meat of young pigeons. As dovecotes were always associated with a luxurious way of life, they came to symbolise high social status – or high social aspirations. For this reason, they were prominently situated, usually near the main entrance road to the house.

Elizabeth filled the four sections of her sampler with parrots, squirrels, birds, a small black dog and flowers. The two sprays of roses in bloom and bud in the bottom section of the sampler are particularly beautiful and glow with colour. There are two verses. The first is based on the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15: 11-32, and appears in a book published in 1720 called “New Guide to the English Tongue in Five Parts” by Thomas Dilworth, an English cleric.

Christs Arms do still stand open to receive

All weary Prodigals that Sin do leave

For them he left his Fathers blest Abode

Made Son of Man to make Man Son of God

To cure their Wounds he Life s Elixir bled

And dyd a Death to raise them from the Dead

Dilworth’s books were widely used in schools in England and America.  Noah Webster studied this book as a child and it inspired him to create his own spelling book and Dictionary.  Abraham Lincoln also used Dilworth’s book, and it was also mentioned in Charles Dickens’ “Sketches by Boz”.

The second verse is a poem attributed to John Dryden (1631-1700).

Fragrant the Rose is but it fades in Time

The Violet sweet but quickly past the Prime

White Lillies hang their Heads and soon decay

And whiter Snow in Minutes melts away

Such and so with ring are our early Joys

Which Time or Sickness speedily destroys.

Dryden translated it from Theocritus’s “The Despairing Lover”.  Theocritus was an Ancient Greek poet who was born in Syracuse, Italy (300 – 260BC). John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator and playwright and was a dominant and influential person of his age in the literary world.  He was England’s first Poet Laureate in 1668 and heavily influenced many in the literary world including, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, John Keats and TS Eliot. He is also mentioned in Henry Fielding’s “Tom Jones”.

Dryden translated many Ancient Greek authors such as Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Theocritus and Homer.  Before he died in 1700 he modernised Geoffrey Chaucer’s book, “The Canterbury Tales”.  He is buried in Westminster Abbey in Poet’s Corner.

Elizabeth Harding 1791 has been reproduced in collaboration with Bethany Gallant. At the very core of Hands Across the Sea Samplers is a team of needleworkers who are passionate about antique samplers and being able to share those samplers with you.

Stitch Guide

The sampler has been rated as suitable for a confident beginner as there are a variety of stitches, however, the project is still an excellent choice for those just starting to explore samplers. The stitches used are cross stitch over 1 and 2 threads, satin stitch and eyelet over 4 threads. oie_transparent-86oie_transparent-87Cross Stitch - is made up of 2 stitches worked over 1 or 2 threads. Make all your stitches cross in the same direction for a neat and uniform finish.     oie_transparent-88   Satin Stitch - run a straight stitch between each thread of fabric in the direction shown on the chart. Use 1 thread making repeated passes until the desired coverage is achieved.       oie_transparent-89   Algerian Eyelet - Enter your needle at 1, go down at 2, up at 3, down at 4 and so on until your eyelet stitch is complete. With each stitch pull the thread slightly so that the fabric distorts slightly, as it's this tensioning action that creates the holes in the centre of each stitch.     Hands Across the Sea Samplers are on hand to help those stitching our charts. If you need assistance or have any questions we can be reached via the contact page on our website. Our website has stitching tutorials which can be found in the “sewing basket/tools” section.

Thread Legend

The sampler has been charted with Au Ver à Soie d’Alger silks and the skein quantities calculated based on 1 strand on 36ct fabric. We have provided a DMC conversion based on 2 strands on 36ct fabric. The model was stitched on 40ct Lakeside Linen Vintage Sand Dune. The sampler has been rated as confident beginner.

Soie d’Alger / DMC 4624 x 3 / 221 x 3 - Shell pink - very dark Noir x 1 / 310 x 1 -Black 2645 x 2 / 347 x 2 - Salmon – very dark 4245 x 2 / 420 x 2 - Hazelnut brown - dark 5024 x 2 / 501 x 2 - Blue green – dark 5023 x 1 /  502 x 1 - Blue green 3834 x 1 / 640 x 1 - Beige gray – very dark 3815 x 1 / 680 x 1 - Old gold - dark 2212 x 1 / 734 x 1 - Olive green - light 3741 x 3 / 739 x 3 - Tan – ultra very light 525 x 1 / 830 x 1 - Golden olive – dark 2756 x 1 / 927 x 1 - Gray green - light 3733 x 1 / 3012 x 1 - Khaki green - medium 1845 x 1 / 3362 x 1 - Pine green - dark 1844 x 1 / 3363 x 1 - Pine green – medium 4623 x 1 / 3721 x 1 - Shell pink – dark 2233 x 1 / 3822 x 1 - Straw - light 3434 x 1  / 3863 x 1 - Mocha beige - medium


The design area is 367 stitches (w) x 425 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3” margin for finishing and framing.

30ct – Design: 24.47" x 28.33" Fabric: 30.47" x 34.33" 32ct – Design: 22.94" x 26.56" Fabric: 28.94" x 32.56" 36ct – Design: 20.39" x 23.61" Fabric: 26.39" x 29.61" 40ct – Design: 18.35" x 21.25" Fabric: 24.35" x 27.25"  

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