I barely know where to begin. I’m so happy to finally be posting photos of this finish, but at the same time it’s a little bittersweet. You may remember that I lost my dad last year, February of 2012. And there have been a couple of pieces stitched in his honor, one by my sweet friends and one by me. In fact I haven’t touched my Anniversaries of the Heart since completing his block. But this piece, this sampler, is his memorial.
A while back I stumbled across the chart for the John Reed 1844 sampler by Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches. And when I saw it I knew that one day I would have to stitch this sampler, because my dad was John Reed as well, but born in 1944. It took me awhile to get my hands on the chart but I finally found a shop that could order it for me. At the time I figured this would be one of those things I’d stitch and then show my dad and he’d launch into one of his genealogy stories, but be secretly thrilled that I’d stitched something for him. Unfortunately, I never got the chance.
Last year on his birthday, even though I was sitting in a hotel room in Wichita, Kansas after a long day of meetings, I started his sampler. I’d ordered the Au Ver A Soie silks that the chart called for and had tried a dozen different fabrics before finally deciding on 40 count Confederate Grey. It seemed fitting. And there was no way I was going to stitch this on the ivory or cream fabric that the chart called for. It needed something richer, something to make the colors pop, something unique.
The house itself did bring about its own set of challenges. The chart called for GAST Adobe for the house, but since it was the only variegated thread in the piece, I did want to go with silk if possible. My friend Laurie graciously offered to take my skein of Adobe with her and choose a couple of options for a similar silk thread. Out of the two she brought me I ended up using Gloriana Pecan. And it really is almost identical to the Adobe.
The other issue I ran into on the house was the color for the roof. The chart called for an AVAS that is essentially “seafoam green”. Not at all what I wanted as a roof. Of course I scoured the internet hoping for a better photo of this sampler than what is on the chart, but try as I might the only photos that come up of this sampler that aren’t the chart cover are mine. And that wasn’t going to help me. I tried skein after skein of different silks but nothing worked. Finally I pulled the DMC conversion listed in the chart and tried that. (the DMC called for was not at all seafoam green but more of a greenish grey). Unfortunately, with the color fabric I chose, that color wasn’t going to work. So, I went about three shades darker. And suddenly, I had a roof!
The final fork in the road I ran into was for the windows of the house. When I looked at the blue chosen for the windows my only thought was no way. I tried a lighter blue, I tried a pale yellow, I thought about leaving them empty. But, when I finally got the motifs stitched on either side of the house I realized that there was no blue anywhere in the bottom of the sampler. John must have known what he was doing, because it really did need that blue to balance everything out. But, I stitched the windows in tent stitch to lighten it up a tad. I’m really happy how it turned out.
When I started this piece I, of course, knew that I wanted to personalize it for my dad. The designer had done her own personalization on her reproduction of the antique, but in the chart mentions that the original said “John Reed, Brendan, Aged 14, 1844.” So, my own personalization has my dad’s name, the year he was born, and the city he was born in.
I look forward to framing it, and showing it to my mom. She hasn’t seen it in all the time I’ve been stitching on it. As I mentioned, I started it in June of last year on his birthday and it’s been pretty much the only thing I’ve stitched on this year. I put the last stitches in on September 26. I will miss stitching on this piece, it has been a good way to work through my grief and to remember him with every stitch. I hope that more people will stitch this sampler, I think it would be nice to know there are more John Reeds out in the world.
I am grateful for a legacy.