Mary Carter 1712 ~ the 2020 Queen of the May


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Each year Hands Across the Sea Samplers publishes a sampler 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 offer to you Mary Carter our Queen of the May for the year 2020.

On the 12th day of December in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and twelve Mary Carter placed the last stitch on her sampler. Little did she know that more than 300 years later, her work would be admired and enjoyed by needleworkers around the world.

Mary Carter 1712 - The 2020 Queen of the May from Hands Across the Sea Samplers

By the time Mary was taught needlework, the need to learn a great variety of stitches and complex traditional patterns had reduced. In the 1700s embroidered costumes and furnishings were replaced by extravagant woven and printed fabrics. In this century the format of English samplers was evolving, reflecting the changing perception of their purpose.

Mary Carter 1712 - The 2020 Queen of the May from Hands Across the Sea Samplers

Mary’s sampler was worked in the traditional bands of the 1600s on a long and narrow piece of linen. She used several reversible stitches, all exquisitely executed with skilled hands. However, we do not believe that her aim was to embroider a reversible sampler. The reverse of her sampler is extremely neat; Mary had pride in her work. There are no knotted starts and all her tail ends are neatly buried but her threads are visibly carried.  A variety of stitches were used (see stitch guide for full details) together with a palette of 8 glorious shades of Au Ver a Soie silks from their 100.3 range, and Lakeside Linen Vintage Fawn.

The sampler was stitched by Ilana Kaye with exquisite workmanship and our grateful thanks goes to her for the heart and soul that she stitched into this stunning band sampler.

Thread Legend

Mary’s stunning band sampler has been reproduced with Au Ver à Soie silks from their Soie 100.3 range on 46ct Lakeside Linen in Vintage Fawn. The linen’s colour is between DMC shades 3033 and 3782. The spool quantities listed are those used in stitching the model. Much silk was used in padding the satin stitched areas. We have provided conversions for Soie d’Alger and DMC.

100.3 / d’Alger /  DMC ~ Colour Description
072 x 3 / 5384 x 4 / 3766 x 3  ~ Peacock blue ~ light
080 x 3 / F07 x 4 / 746 x 3 ~ Off white
152 x 4 / 2145 x 6 / 581 x 4 ~ Moss green
154 x 3 / 3812 x 4 / 738 x 3 ~ Tan ~ very light
199 x 3 / 2223 x 4 / 166 x 3 ~ Moss green ~ medium light
222x 4 / 3045 x 6 / 915 x 4 ~ Plum ~ dark
621 x 1 / 1811 x 1 / 747 x 1 ~ Sky blue ~ very light
776 x 2 / 542 x 3 / 726 x 2 ~ Topaz ~ light
Linen Sizes

The original sampler measures 8 1/16th inches x 18 inches which equates to 58/50 ct. The closest linen to the original sampler will be 60/52ct

The design area is 230 stitches (w) x 450 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3" margin for finishing and framing.

28ct: Design: 16.43" x 32.14"  Fabric: 22.43" x 38.14"
32ct: Design: 14.38" x 28.13"  Fabric: 20.38" x 34.13"
36ct: Design: 12.78" x 25.00"  Fabric: 18.78" x 31.00"
40ct: Design: 11.50" x 22.50"  Fabric: 17.50" x 28.50"
46ct: Design: 10.00" x 19.57"  Fabric: 16.00" x 25.57"
56ct: Design: 8.21" x 16.07"  Fabric: 14.21" x 22.07"
60/52ct: Design: 7.67" x 17.31" Fabric: 13.67" x 23.31"

Stitch Guide

We do not believe that Mary’s aim was to embroider a reversible sampler. However, she did use two forms of reversible cross stitch in her sampler. The model was stitched with cross stitch as a replacement for reversible cross stitch.

Cross stitch ~ is made up of two stitches worked over one or two threads. You should make all your stitches cross in the same direction for a neat and uniform finish.

You have to be careful not to pull the thread through the intersection of the woven linen threads. The warp and weft fibres are not “interlocked” at intersections; they simply pass over and under one another. As a result, when stitching over one thread, some stitches can slip and disappear. Lay your stitches away from the direction you are working. This prevents the thread from slipping through.

A good magnifier will help you see the small stitches. Even if you have sharp vision, a strong magnifier (preferably one with a light) will reduce eyestrain and allow you to see each stitch much larger than life.


Reversible cross stitch ~ is also known as marking stitch, sampler stitch and double-sided cross. There are various ways of working a reversible cross stitch with the aim of making the stitch look perfect on both sides. Mary used two methods.

When working a marking stitch, there are no set rules as to the way we work - each letter and motif will call for a different path. It may be necessary to cover a leg of a stitch more than once while moving from one stitch to another. It may also be necessary to weave your thread under stitches already laid to move around a motif or a letter.

You might find it useful to move your hoop and frame around as you work so that you are always working in the same direction and orientation.

V.1 ~ This version produced a cross stitch on the front and back of the fabric, and a vertical stitch to the side on the front of the fabric. When turning corners, as Mary found, there will be occasions when there are vertical and horizontal lines on the back of your fabric.



V.2 ~ The front of the stitch forms a cross and the reverse a square. The first stitch will only have three sides not four.


Rice stitch ~ consists of a cross stitch over four threads and in a counter clockwise order laying a diagonal backstitch over the four ends of the cross stitch.


Algerian eyelet ~ when worked over four threads of linen 8 stitches are laid to create an eyelet. Do not tug on the thread using your needle as your thread will soon break. Instead, apply pressure by pulling on the thread close to the stitch. Even tension should be applied so each individual stitch sits well within the eyelet.


Double running stitch ~ on the outward journey you mark out the motif, and on the return trip you fill in the gaps. It is also called Holbein stitch.


Double back stitch ~ this was a very popular stitch and can be found in numerous English band samplers. It is known as crossed back stitch. On one side the stitch produces a double row of back stitches worked simultaneously along two lines, on the other side closed herringbone stitch or plait stitch. Mary laid the double row of back stitches on the reverse of her linen.

This is a very pretty reversible stitch that is easy to work once you understand the mechanics of the stitch. It can be worked in straight lines, and you can turn corners at right angles or at 45 degrees. When stitched on the diagonal the stitch is referred to as “Diagonal double back stitch”. Double back stitch works up very quickly. Start with a waste knot; a pin stitch is not suitable for this stitch.


Irish stitch ~ also known as Bargello, Flame and Florentine stitch, consists of a zigzag pattern of staggered vertical stitches. Mary worked this stitch over four threads which are staggered every two threads. Once the first row of stitches has been laid the following rows will follow the basic pattern. Always work into the previous row not away from it.


Chart Correction

Correction #01 ~ Please  note that the tops of the flowers along this row should all be stitched as highlighted below.