Thursday, September 18, 2014

Light at the end of the tunnel

Ever since market my life has been a whirlwind.  For my full time job I had a critical exam that consumed any free time I had for the last five weeks.  Out of the four exams I had to pass this ONE and it wasn't making it easy for me.  There are four exams required to be passed and all of the others I was able to pass first go around.  This one I had the pleasure of failing twice - the third time was either going to be the charm or I would need to find a new career to pursue - no pressure. Fortunately, for me I have always worked well under pressure.  Before I left to take the exam I told my husband and mom if I fail it the third time then this was not the plan God had for me at this point in my life, because it sure wasn't from the lack of studying and preparing for the exam. Over the last two years the verse that always comes to mind is 

"For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, 
to give you a future and a hope" 
- Jeremiah 29:11
When I sat down to take the exam after it started - can't write anything down before then I wrote another verse that comes to mind quite often at the top of my erasable board.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 
- Philippians 4:13

It was with this mindset that I began my exam for the third time and hit the submit button - which seemed like forever to tally my score even though I am sure it was only a few seconds.  I about jumped up out of my seat when I saw the words PASS - never has one little word looked so good!  I was ecstatic to see I was able to bring up my score in two of the critical sections by approximately 30 points each.   I passed the exam with room to spare.

Now what do I get to do with my new found free time? I get to study for one more optional exam and a certification, but before beginning all of that fun I spent Friday evening and a good portion of Saturday at an amazing auction.  They were selling the estate of a collector who was more of a curator of fine antique quilts, crocks, furniture and all kinds primitive accessories.

Friday night the focus was quilts and stoneware.  My mom and husband arrived before I was able to get there and my seat when I arrived had three quilts he had already purchased for me that I had marked in my book.  As the night continued I had no trouble accumulating more.
Stack of quilts not all were from this auction
I headed out Saturday morning to Day 2 of the auction.  My husband told me to take his car since he thought I wouldn't be able to get much into his. 
By 10:00 this is what his car looked like and it was full by the end of the day. 
Beautiful sampler in blues and whites
Another wonderful sampler I had to remove from the frame
the glass was not cut large enough for the frame and
I was afraid leaving it would do more damage than good

Beautiful Victorian bed with hand carved medallions.
My husband had to make the trip out to pick this one up.
It was too beautiful to leave behind and will
probably replace Lance's existing bed.

After two days I ended up with quilts, samplers, furniture and of course I am a sucker for handmade wood boxes and was able to pick up one that is hand hewn - I don't know why I love wood primitive boxes and tools.  I joke that I must have been a wood worker in a prior life.  My mom also bought one for me which I didn't know until we loaded up because she was walking around and bidding behind me.

All of the goodies I found over the months and years are too many for just me.  I will be gradually adding many of these beautiful finds to my Etsy store for those of you who may be interested in adding to your collection.  I firmly believe each piece I find has it's own unique story and each of us are only it's temporary caretaker.  I will be including as much information about each piece based upon what I know.  I want to be able to share its history and how well it is made.  Some of these treasures only come around once since many are from the mid to late 1800's.  If you are interested in any of my finds you may purchase them thru Etsy and if you are local we can arrange pick up or delivery instead of shipping - just let me know. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Market Update

Wow - things have been really busy but I wanted to post my new designs I released at market this past weekend.  As always they are available from your favorite needlework shop or if you do not have one close by feel free to visit my Etsy store.

First up is the Holiday Wreath a very quick stitch.  May be finished as an ornament, gift bag or insert the design into a ready made Cottage Garden box to use as a "gift box" during the holiday season. 

Holiday Wreath
Threads – Gentle Arts
Linen – Lakeside Linen Meadow Rue 32 count
Model Stitched by – Stacy Diokno
Stitch Count – 47 x 45
Cottage Garden Box by Roman Inc.,

During 2013 Loudoun Sampler Guild's Program Committee offered to members a mystery band sampler as our project. Each month a member of our guild designed the mystery band of the month.  I had the honor of designing the band for the month of November.   The project was to use linen and threads from our stash.  This sampler does include a variety of specialty stitches and the materials used for the model I have included.  The inspiration for my band was based on the Adam and Eve Samplers but with a colonial twist given we were in Virginia.  The home I featured is based on a log home design and includes “Adam and Eve” in colonial attire.  November is known for Thanksgiving and included is a turkey along with a deer which run freely throughout the county.  I personally have always had a dog by my side so I felt my ”Eve” must have her favorite companion as well.

November Harvest
Fabric – Lakeside Linen, Pearled Barley 32 ct
Design Area – 200 by 100 (stitched over one)
Silk Threads – Gloriana
Model Stitched by LaDonna Snellbaker
Framing by Sherri Hubka Berkman
with Total Framing, Fairfax, VA

Early this year I stumbled across a portion of a sampler from England.  The sampler features a beautiful colors, border, floral motifs and one of my favorite sampler verses “Let Virtue be a Guide to Thee”.  The sampler portion does not include the name of the stitcher or the year the piece was stitched.  However, I was struck by how charming the sampler was and of course can’t help but wonder about the remaining portion left behind and why this portion was cut away from the main sampler.   When I was offered the opportunity to offer a kit exclusive I choose a portion of the sampler for a pinkeep.  The kit is available for thirty days from the shops who attended market.  After thirty days it will be available to all shop owners.  If you are interested please contact a shop that attended market to let them know you would like to purchase a kit from them.

Virtue be a Guide
Fabric – R&R Reproductions St. Valentine’s Blend, 30 ct
Threads – The Gentle Art
Model Stitched and Finished
by LaDonna Snellbaker

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Susanna Riticor

I have to begin by apologizing for such a long post, but I really couldn't bring myself to split it up into a few posts.  Like many samplers this one is special and has a story which I am now ready to share with you.  First some background - I am a native Virginian who grew up outside of Washington, DC in Herndon, VA which at the time was still a very rural area with farms all around the town and roads that were in many places one lane and dirt.  Growing up in a place where so much history transpired resulted in me having a deep appreciation of the history and bucolic countryside of the area.  Thanks to my grandmothers and mother I also have a love for anything handmade and old.  My mother always has something she is making in her hand.  My father's mother was an interior designer which is where I am convinced my love of color comes from and my ability to find the center of a wall without measuring or using a level (drives my husband crazy).  I also have ingrained in me an appreciation of my ancestors and I enjoy finding out as much as I can about them.  The same way I love to research the stitchers of the samplers I have acquired.

Needless to say the town I grew up in soon was engulfed with high rise buildings, dense housing and plenty of traffic.  When my husband and I decided to return to the area we moved further out to what I always considered farm country and thought we would be safe from the growth being experienced to the east of us.  Our neighborhood is even designated by the Commonwealth as conservation land which requires buffers around the property.  However, seven years later the growth is quickly once again heading our way (now that I think about it maybe I should go into Real Estate investment).

When we first moved in we were probably the 17th house in the neighborhood and the market here had halted to say the least.  Fortunately, our neighborhood stayed pretty quiet which allowed us to explore the land and surrounding area.  One day my boys came home and told me about the chimney the kids had found.  Me being one for adventure decided to explore with them.  Up over the hill we did find a chimney still standing and a cleared area where a house had been.  The kids really enjoyed finding the hole in the ground which was the cold cellar for the home.  At that point I thought I really need to do some research and see if I can find out who owned the home.  Due to time and other distractions I didn't really give it another thought.  However, one of our neighbors was intrigued enough to spend some time at the town library and did research the property.  In his research he was able to find out who owned the property and contacted family members still in the area to obtain photos which he has shared with the neighbors and continues to do so as he stumbles across additional information.

The home which goes with the chimney still standing was built in the 1840's about twenty years prior to the start of the Civil War.  The family owned hundreds of acres and worked the land - we can still see cotton sporadically pop up in the open fields of the neighborhood.  The first spring we were here after the discovery of the chimney we liked to walk up and check it out every once in a while.  Imagine my surprise when we walked up the hill to look at the chimney and in the open area where the second chimney would have stood were daffodils blooming to welcome spring in.  The same daffodils that have bloomed for over 150 years.
Daffodils that bloom every year in the area of the homes second chimney
Daffodils are in the area of the second chimney just beyond is the chimney that is still standing
Susanna Riticor Sampler
Fabric - Lakeside Linen, Vintage Pear 32 ct
Silk Threads - Needlepoint Silks International
Stitch Count - 336 x 191
Model Stitched by - Marnie Kopera and LaDonna Snellbaker
Framed by - Sherri Berkmann of Total Framing

My new design is in honor of Susanna Riticor (January  3rd, 1815 to October 26th, 1885) who along with her husband lived here until her death.  Every spring one of the first signs we enjoy are the return of her lovely daffodils planted so many years ago.  The sampler design is based on the photos of the original home my neighbor was able to acquire from the family along with the fact the home's color was light yellow. 
Photo is of the front of the home which was surrounded by several varieties of trees.
I believe the chimney to the left is the one still standing today.
Front porch of the Riticor home which I have attempted to capture as accurately as possible
in the sampler all the way down to the screen door's wood trim.
The verse stitched on the sampler is from William Wordsworth (1770-1850) last two lines of his Daffodils (1804) poem, which I believe is very fitting for the sampler based on our annual daffodils.

"And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

Seems Susanna loved everything to be bright and cheery.  In addition to the daffodils planted near her home same neighbor made an additional discovery about a year ago of what appears to be a former slave cabin with yet another set of daffodils. 
In the foreground of the photo appears to be logs stacked in the formation of a small log cabin
and just beyond the logs around the base of the tree are once again carefully planted
daffodils blooming many years after originally being planted.
Another view of the daffodils in bloom
This sampler has been in the works for a while, my husband kept asking me when I would start the sampler.  However, I could never get the design just right.  Finally everything came together for me and thanks to my wonderful model stitcher Marnie Kopera who stitched the majority of the sampler for me the model was stitched.  When I picked it up from my framer Sherri Berkmann of Total Framing I could see that everything had come together perfectly.   However, I must thank most of all my neighbor Gary for his persistence in discovering the true history of the land our neighborhood is now located on, for sharing his information and photos he took with me.  Gary also took the time to coordinate an introduction with Betsy the wife of Susanna's great-grand son Paul who gave me permission to share the family photos here and the additional photos that will be included with the chart.  My distributor should have the charts in a couple of weeks, but I couldn't wait to share Susanna's sampler.

I hope you enjoy my tribute to Susanna and
her annual daffodil reminder to let your heart 
with pleasure fill and dance with the daffodils.