Limited Edition – Sarah Braizear 1829, the 2018 Queen of the May


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May Day and the crowning of the Queen of the May has deep mythological roots in English culture going back to our European ancestors and even to the ancient Classical world. The May Queen was chosen, for her beauty, from the pretty girls of the village to reign over the May Day festivities. Crowned on a flower covered throne, she was drawn in a decorated cart by young men or her maids of honour to the village green where she was set in an arbour of flowers. Through the ages it has been many a young girl’s dream to be chosen as the May Queen and today it is still considered to be a great honour to be crowned the Queen of the May. Each year Hands Across the Sea Samplers will be choosing a sampler from our collection which we consider to be not only beautiful but outstandingly so and worthy to be crowned our Queen of the May.

We are pleased to present to you Sarah Braizear 1829 our Queen of the May for the year 2018 ~ a 44 page limited edition release celebrating the Kings and Queen of Great Britain

Sarah’s sampler, a particularly charming and striking one, is worked  in softly coloured silks predominantly in cross and satin stitch. There is so much to delight the eye. The sampler constructed in two sections is contained within a distinctive and unusual border. Sarah made good use of her linen and her sampler is crammed with: numerous pots, baskets, shrubs, trees, flowers, all kinds of birds including peacocks, butterflies, squirrels and deer, all charmingly out of scale with one another.

The main point of interest in this whimsical sampler is the magnificent hart that rests under a beautiful bower. The word “hart” is not now widely used, it is an archaic word used in medieval times to describe a red deer stag more than five years old and comes from the Old English heorot, “deer”.  They are gentle and timid, noted for their branching horns, for the elegance of their form, and for their surprisingly swift and graceful motion. The stag is a symbol for Christ, who tramples and destroys the Devil. Early bestiaries describe the stag as a relentless enemy of snakes. Because the snake is a symbol of Satan, the stag’s war against them made the stag a symbol of Christ. In the Old Testament King David makes the stag a symbol of the soul’s longing for God: “As the hart pants after the fountains of water; so my soul pants after thee, O God” (Ps 42:1). Due to this passage, in Christian art the stag and deer became associated with the soul’s desire for purification through Baptism and it is often found on baptismal fonts, communion rails and chalices.

Sarah’s bower can be directly compared to two other samplers in our collection. One of those samplers, Elizabeth Farr came with an extensive family history and we know that she was born in the village of Sawtry, Cambridgeshire, England. Focusing our research on this area we found the maker of the second sampler in Sawtry and Sarah Braizear, daughter of William and Martha, being baptised in the village of Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire. Sarah can be found in the 1851 and 1861 census returns in middle age, unmarried and living with her parents.

Sarah records after her name “Mills” and this could have been the colloquial name for the village Milton. It seems probable that all three girls stitched their samplers under the same teacher at one of the schools that flourished in and around the market town of Huntingdon.

Sarah stitched her sampler with cross stitches over 2 threads and straight satin stitches. The lowercase letters of her name, date and short verse are stitched with cross stitch over 1. There are 2 eyelet stitches. Whilst a large sampler with some 70,000 cross stitches (we haven’t counted the satin stitches!) she is suitable for all levels of ability.

Sarah Braizear has been brought to you in collaboration with Jacqueline Morris who has lovingly stitched the model. 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.

Thread Legend

Sarah’s sampler has been reproduced 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 Zweigart 40ct Newcastle linen in Summer Khaki. Soie d’Alger / DMC  2578 x 1 / 407 x 1 ~ Desert sand –  dark 3816 x 2 / 420 x 2 ~  Hazel nut brown - dark 1845 x 4 / 501 x 4~ Blue green – dark 1844 x 1 / 502 x 1 ~ Blue green 3822 x 3 / 676 x 3 ~  Old gold – light 2542 x 3 / 677 x 3 ~ Old gold – very light 4245 x 2 / 680 x 2 ~  Old gold – dark 2145 x 2 / 730 x 2 ~  Olive green – very dark 526 x 1 /  829 x 1 ~  Golden olive – very dark 3745 x 3 / 830 x 3 ~  Golden olive – dark 3815 x 1 / 833 x 1 ~  Golden olive – light 4126 x 1  / 838 x 1 ~ Beige brown – very dark 4525 x 1 / 869 x 1 ~ Hazel nut brown – very dark 3726 x 1  / 934 x 1 ~ Black avocado green 2226 x 1  / 3011 x 1 ~ Khaki green – dark 3725 x 2 / 3362 x 2 ~ Pine green – dark 3724 x 1 / 3363 x 1 ~ Pine green – medium 1745 x 2 / 3768 x 2 ~ Grey green – dark 2912 x 1 / 3779 x 1 ~ Terra cotta – ultra very 4536 x 1 / 3781 x 1 ~ Mocha brown – dark 1812 x 1  / 3813 x 1 ~ Blue green – light 2543 x 2  / 3822 x 2 ~ Straw – light 4524 x 1 / 3828 x 1 ~ Hazel nut brown LINEN SIZES The design area is 487 stitches (w) x 482 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3” margin for finishing and framing. 28ct – Design: 34.79" x 34.43" Fabric: 40.79" x 40.43" 32ct – Design: 30.44" x 30.13"  Fabric: 36.44" x 36.13" 36ct – Design: 27.06" x 26.78" Fabric: 33.06" x 32.78" 40ct – Design: 24.35" x 24.10"   Fabric: 30.35" x 30.10"

Stitch Guide

Sarah stitched her sampler with cross stitches over 2 threads and straight satin stitches. The lowercase letters of her name, date and short verse are stitched with cross stitch over 1. There are 2 eyelet stitches. Whilst a large sampler with some 70,000 cross stitches (we haven’t counted the satin stitches!) it is suitable for all levels of ability.

    Cross 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.     Satin  Stitch  ~  run  a  straight stitch between each  thread of  fabric in  the  direction  shown on the chart. Use one thread making repeated passes until the desired coverage is achieved.     Eyelet – Bring your needle up at 1, go down into the centre hole, up at 2, down into the centre hole and so on until your eyelet stitch is complete. With each stitch if you pull the thread the fabric will distort slightly, it is this tensioning action that creates the holes in the centre of an eyelet. Sarah did not apply any tension to her eyelets     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.    

Stitched by Marianne Hogeterp

Stitched by Rose Heck

Stitched by Michelle Bartholdt


Chart Corrections

Co-ordinates 197 x 448 and 201 x 448. The two circled squares. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenienced caused.

  Co-ordinates 145 x 315 - circled square. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenienced caused.

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