MH 1656 ~ My Beloved’s Gift


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The Front


The Reverse



Hands Across the Sea Samplers are proud to present to you, a beautiful reversible band sampler from the private collection of Nicola Parkman. The sampler was a gift from Nicola’s husband who knows his wife well and that antique needlework, and in particular band samplers, are his “girl’s best friend”!

The 1600’s is regarded as the golden age of band sampler making, and the sampler that MH finished nearly 400 years ago on May 23rd, 1656 is one of those very special pieces. She is a beautiful example of reverse stitching.

Nicola has spent innumerable hours studying under high magnification, every single stitch in this sampler. It has been fascinating to follow the path that MH’s needle took. This is a sampler which takes the needleworker on a journey – almost a musical journey with each of the bands having its own characteristics yet contributing to the piece as a whole. It almost seems as if MH was the conductor of an orchestra, bringing in her threads and colours at precisely the right time. She has demonstrated a mastery of melody, structure and orchestration, a command of tone, colour and harmony.

The first few bands, start off with simple stitches – a gentle meandering theme, in a slow tempo, played quite softly but with occasional louder parts to keep our interest. As in music, she takes a theme, repeats it and then starts to develop it in different ways. She ingeniously uses different colours – some lighter, some brighter, changes directions of the threads and uses different stitches. She varies the texture in some areas.

Towards the middle of the sampler, it is almost as if there is a change of theme, with the colours becoming bolder– the musical journey is developing and gathering pace. You feel as if you are being led somewhere with the introduction of a beautiful blue downward path in the middle of the sampler. You can feel the intensity rising almost as if you are reaching a crescendo. This path leads to a much louder part – almost the centrepiece of the sampler, where it seems all the orchestra is playing and taking you to new heights. MH finally leaves us with a return to a softer, more muted area to conclude her sampler. Her skill with a needle is certainly to be admired!

Band samplers were commonly stitched by teenagers either at home or in school as part of their education. Occasionally we see band samplers worked by very young children – and sometimes by older women as a personal reference. They were especially necessary for recording patterns as there was a shortage of design books and only the very rich could afford them.

A band sampler could be a series of stitching exercises that progressed in difficulty. They were usually unnamed and undated. Often the length of the sampler was determined by the width of the loom on which the linen was woven, the selvedge forming the top and bottom edges. Many of the patterns found on samplers of this period can be seen on surviving household items and on costumes depicted in contemporary paintings. At this time gentlemen’s costumes were often more elaborate than their wives.

Thread Legend

This beautiful reversible band sampler has been reproduced with Au Ver à Soie d’Alger silks based on the vibrant colours found on the reverse of the sampler today. The skein quantities have been calculated based on 1 strand on 46ct fabric. We have included a DMC conversion and a conversion for 100/3 as an extra option for those stitchers using higher count linens. Additionally, we have provided below floss usage by the inch. We have not specified a particular brand or colour of linen. However, the original sampler was executed on uneven linen that is closest in colour to the DMC shades 3045/167. The original sampler is approximately 5.25” x 36”.

Soie d’Alger / 100/3 / DMC                                                                                                       
F07 / 080 / 746 x 1            407 inches         Off white
3932 / 088 / 3770 x 1         238 inches       Tawny - very light
2632 / 323 / 3771 x 1         204 inches        Terra cotta – ultra very light
2633 / 093 / 3778 x 1          373 inches       Terra cotta – light
921 / 134 / 3824 x 1              30 inches       Apricot – light
922 / 344 / 352 x 1                82 inches        Coral – light
2625 / 682 / 920 x 1           378 inches       Copper – medium
945 / 499 / 816 x 1                39 inches       Garnet
2523 / 281 / 307 x 1           223 inches       Lemon
2543 / 149 / 744 x 1              93 inches      Lemon - pale
4245 / 492 / 680 x 1             48 inches      Old gold - dark
4525 / 702 / 167 x 1                 6 inches      Yellow beige – very dark
2224 / 022 / 733 x 1            142 inches        Olive green - medium
2134 / 647 / 3346 x 1       1052 inches       Hunter green
1826 / 549 / 561 x 1              38 inches       Jade – very dark
3721 / 465 / 369 x 1               15 inches      Pistachio green – very light
3724 / 707 / 3363 x 1           315 inches     Pine green - medium
1811 / 621 / 928 x 1                33 inches     Grey green – very light
5382 / 002 / 927 x 1            221 inches      Grey green - light
1744 / 605 / 597 x 1             246 inches      Turquoise
1444 / 646 / 3760 x 1           172 inches     Wedgewood
1446 / 313 / 311 x 1               165 inches     Navy blue - medium

AVAS d'Alger & 100/3 conversion for higher counts of linen.

LINEN SIZES The design/graphed area (2 threads per square) is 130 (w) x 929 (h). Our calculations have included a 3” margin for finishing and framing. 32ct – Design: 8.13" x 58.06" Fabric: 14.13" x 64.06" 36ct – Design: 7.22" x 51.61" Fabric: 13.22" x 57.61" 40ct – Design: 6.5" x 46.45" Fabric: 12.5" x 52.45" 46ct – Design: 5.65" x 40.39" Fabric: 11.65" x 46.39"

Stitch Guide

The sampler is executed over three threads of linen. In keeping with standard practice each square on the graph represents two linen threads. Each thread of linen the stitch is worked over is shown in the stitch diagrams below.
Whilst “MH” accurately counted out her stitches over three threads she frequently started a band off count both on the horizontal and the vertical. We have indicated this on the graph
Where you are unable to hide your starting and tail ends we recommend starting and ending your thread with a pin stitch to achieve a reversible finish. Please refer to the HATS’ website for a video tutorial.
We highly recommend you referring to Darlene O’Steen’s “The Proper Stitch” and Amy Mitten’s “Autopsy of the Montenegrin Stitch when stitching this sampler. You will find both books an invaluable resource.
Running Stitch ~ is worked in one journey, the stitch weaves over and under three threads of linen. 
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.
Back Stitch  ~ when working from left to right. Bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2, then moving to the right bring your needle up  at  3 and go  back down at 4.  Move to the right and bring your needle up at 5 and go back down at 6.
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.

Diagonal Cross Stitch  ~ The stitch comprises of a long vertical and horizontal stitch and a short diagonal sitch. When the stitch path is travelling downwards work the stitch upwards. When  travelling upwards work the stitch downwards.

Diamond Upright Stitch ~ The stitch comprises of a long vertical and horizontal stitch and 4 short diagonal sitches. When working downwards start your stitch at the bottom. When  working upwards start    your stitch at the top.

Reversible Cross Stitch Version A  ~ The stitch comprises of a vertical and 2 diagonal stitches.
Reversible Cross Stitch Version B ~ The front of the stitch forms a cross and the reverse a square. The first stitch will only have three sides not four. Not all the diagonals will cross in the same direction and a fourth diagonal will be required at times.

Montenegrin Stitch ~ The stitch comprises of a long oblique stitch, a short diagonal stitch and a short upright stitch. Compensation stitches are required at the start and end of a row to give a neat finish(A- B and C-E).

Turning Corners

Diagonal Montenegrin Stitch 

Transition from the diagonal to the straight

 Merging Diagonals

The outline of a leaf (blue)shown below has been taken from the graph. The leaf is shown on the graph with each stitch segmented. The stitch path for the leaf has been drawn out in the diagram below (red). There are varying ways to merge and turn. This was the path Nicola chose.   
It helps when working out the stitch path for a combination of twisting and turning Montenegrin stitches, to draw out the motifs using these boxes   They represent a diagonal and a straight stitch, and a merging point . Plan your stitch path within each box. This will assist you in planning your route.                   


The Stitch-a-Long

Video 1 - chatting about preparation and experimenting
Stitch Diagram Row 1

Yesterday evening we had a discussion in the Facebook group about the stitch path for the first row. You need three separate passes. You can work them from right to left or left to right.
You CANNOT carry your thread on all three passes. With certain combinations you can carry your thread once. This is due to how you need to finish the stitches at the beginning and end of the row to replicate MH's stitching.

The dotted grey line represents the stitches automatically laid on the reverse as you lay the stitches on the front.
The second diagram shows the back if you turned you work over horizontally rather than vertically.
I found starting and ending with a minute pin stitch the easiest using 100/3. Video 2 - Finishing stitches where there is no laid stitch to hide them AND a BONUS clip at the very end. A sneak peak of a gorgeous and vibrant antique sampler that HATS will be reproducing. PLEASE NOTE: there is a difference in visibility between the two pin stitches. The one that the needle has split the laid stitch on the front is a much better finish. The other one has pushed the laid stitch to the side. Practice and play around with how your manipulate your needle. This is nit picking but there is a slight difference that I feel is worth going the extra to achieve. Please click HERE   November 1st 2018 The stitch-a-long has officially started. Thank you to all who are sharing this journey with me. Month 1 - Band 1 - Graph Rows 0 -21 In the lead up to this month we have discussed stitch paths and how we would be stitching this band.     December 1st, 2018   As the month draws to a close our thoughts turn to December’s band. The two green dividing rows were tricky ones and it took Linda Vinson, Robert L Harris Jr and myself to solve how MH stitched these. When you have stitched out the first dividing row and see how textured it is you can understand why MH would want to record the pattern on her band sampler for future use. I expect she went on to stitch this many times in her life to adorn her and her families clothing. Band samplers were a storehouse for motifs and embroidery techniques. They illustrate the tradition of handing down designs from generation to generation. Making a sampler was not just a way of practising and experimenting, it produced a visual catalogue of stitches. Band samplers were valuable and practical items that could be kept, compared, reused and passed on. It is not surprising to find that they are mentioned in various documents such as inventories and wills. January 2019 - the third band In this band we use Double and Single Running stitch, and Satin stitch. We use the skills we have learnt in the two bands above. The part that made me stop and think “HOW” were the single running stitches - the most simplest of stitches!! The question is how do you travel back maintaining reversibility?
There are two options both entails doubling up on the outline stitches. With hindsight I wish that I had chosen the following method:
  • When laying the first/outward journey on the double running stitched outline, branch off at each run of single running stitches.
  • Lay the run of single running stitch.
  • At the end of the run double up a stitch or catch a stitch over a single thread in the outline.
  • This will enable you retrace the single running stitch back to where you branched off from the outline.
  • This will give the single running stitches added texture.

Chart Corrections

Correction 1 - Page 1 Row 04/Column 51 - DRS 2528/307 should read 2523/307
Correction 2 - Page 3 & 4 Row 93/Column 32 & Row 93/Column 86 please include the highlights DRS in 1446/311

Correction 3 - Page 9 Row 375/Column 23 the satin stitch filling should be executed with 2523/307

Correction 4 - Page 1 Row 66/Column 57 the satin stitch filling should be executed in 2543/744

Correction 5 - Row 210 to 218 omit a stitch in each repeating motif marked by red circle

Correction 6a & b - Row 268-306
Correction 7 - Rows 408 - 437

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