The Needlework Sampler – 1811 A.D.

I am so excited!  I am embroidering my very own sampler.  Creating the border around the outside edge has been excellent practice getting used to the needle and thread.

What a shame, though, that there are so many daily chores to be done before I am allowed to work on my sampler!  I wish my little brother would help out a bit more.  However, I must remember that Mother and Father work so very hard and we must do our part without complaint.

The border is almost finished.  I have mastered this simple first stitch.  I love the stiffness of the cotton fabric. The silk threads feel heavenly to touch but are annoying when they get tangled. Too bad the colours weren’t brighter. Mother says it’s more important to learn the stitches.  She’s going to teach me a lot of them – the cross-stitch, the slipstitch, the whip stitch, the satin stitch and even the French knot! I can’t wait!

Sometimes it’s difficult to pay attention during weekly classes at school.  The headmaster tells us that James Madison is our President and that we have 15 stars and 15 stripes on our flag which represent all our states.  The British are restricting our local trade and making our young American men join their Royal Navy. Imagine that!  And the Indians…is America ours or theirs?  It’s very hard to be a good pupil when I’d rather work on my sampler!

I’ve started on my alphabet letters now.  Capitals first and then the lower case ones.  They are quite tricky and take a lot of patience.  Oh, how I wish I had more patience!  But Mother says that I am doing very well and that some girls are two or three years older than I am before they start their samplers.

The other day, my brother put a huge beetle in my sewing basket!  Ewww! Why do boys have to be so silly? Maybe if he did more chores, he wouldn’t have time for pranks!

Numbers are wonderful. Stitching twelve numbers is much easier than all those alphabet letters – twice around!

It’s hard to believe the number of stitches that I’ve done already but there are many more to go.  Much patience is required.

…and less chores!  Just think how quickly I could finish my sampler if I didn’t have my daily chores!

Hurry! The daylight won’t last much longer and it’s getting difficult to see my stitching with the dim lamplight.

I am working on my name now.  I like my name.  Mary House.  It looks and sounds very neat and tidy – like a row of my very best stitching.

Beside my name, I am adding the date.  It takes a while to create a sampler so the only dates that are sewn are the year: “my eleventh year” and 1811 A.D.  “My eleventh year” sounds so much grander than “ten years old”.  I know A.D. stands for the number of years since the death of Jesus.  Ah! Maybe I should pray for more patience.

My stitches are improving and I haven’t had to undo as many lately.  Undoing stitches is almost worse than doing chores!

I’m working on the poem next.  It goes like this:

                          When I am dead and laid in grave

                          And all my bones are rotten

                          When this you see remember me

                          Lest I should be forgotten

I wonder who wrote this poem.  It makes me sad.  And can you imagine someone admiring my sampler after I die?

Finished at last!  Mother praised me saying that I did a very fine job indeed.  I am thrilled with it and will store it safely under my bed.


Mary was my 3x great grandmother. She died in 1830 at 29 years old.  Her sampler hangs proudly in our home.  She is not forgotten. 


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