Monday, October 31, 2011

What We Did on Our Vacation

Did you all think we forgot to come home from our trip?  It was hard to return to the "Real" world after enjoying a week away with so many of our needlework friends. But it looks like we returned in the nick of time as they say.  Look at the wild weather they are having back east already.  We are so sorry for all the trick-or-treaters who have had their Halloweens cancelled due to snow! 

We are going to literally run you through our trip today and then as the weeks go on, we will come back and give you a more intense view of all the things we saw and experienced.  We were so wrapped up in some of our doings that we even forgot to take photos!  

We left Monday on our flight to Philadelphia, Julie, Becky, Beth and Barbara - the 4 WW's off on another excursion together.  We all had parts in planning for the needs of our trip! Beth in charge of car and driving, Barbara found the hotel and co-piloted the trip. Julie the group dinner and well, I tried to fit in as much as we could possibly do in the limited hours a day holds. It's never enough time and always means there must be another trip sometime in the future to see even more.

We were heading to the Winterthur Needlework Conference - With Cunning Needle: Four Centuries of Embroidery, but going all that way we decided to take extra days and see what other needlework collections we could find in and around the area. The link we've provided takes you to a wonderful online gallery guide provided by Winterthur.

Tuesday we started out at Stenton House with Laura Keim as our guide through their facility and needlework collection. She was a wonderful host and we so enjoyed the special pieces she had to show us. 

From there she took us to the other facility she is in charge of, Wyck House.  What a special treat to sit and be brought box after box of needlework samplers, smalls and tools to drool on!  

Of course we were running late as she led us over to Germantown where we met up with Elizabeth Solomon for lunch and our next stop of needlework to view. At the end of seeing the needlework, they brought out a few of their crazy quilts as well, but later we learned that there is a special dress with much needlework on it in their collection to see. So we may have to go see Elizabeth again on our next round.  These ladies were so generous with their time and sharing and we so appreciate it.  

Wednesday we headed to Chester County Historical Society where we met up with more friends, Candace Perry from the Schwenkfelder Library and Museum, Kathy Lesieur, and Lynne Anderson from Sampler Consortium.  
Barbara taking photos of the samplers

Ellen Endslow had brought out a selection of their samplers to share with us and also shared some of the information on their upcoming joint show with Westtown.  If you are going to be in the area of West Chester Pennsylvania you need to mark your calendar to visit, "In Stitches Unraveling Their Stories" December 2, 2011 through September 7, 2012. It promises to be a wonderful collaboration of these two facilities.  

After enjoying being up close and personal with these special pieces of needlework we all headed to the Lincoln Room for a lunch of wonderful tea sandwiches and treats with so many pots of tea, it left us floating to our next stop. Again put this stop on your trip if you get to the area, it was truly delicious and such a nice respite. 

We ended Wednesday at Van Tassel and Baumann Antiques in Malvern, PA. Ruth Van Tassel is always so welcoming of needlework enthusiasts to her shop. She has much knowledge to share and many special pieces of needlework, smalls and tools that she offers for sale. She is one of the top dealers in our country for needlework samplers.

Thursday we headed back into Philadelphia. The day was beautiful with fall colors and our fearless driver got us through a traffic jam, a wrong turn on the city streets and a goose on the freeway!  Luckily the goose in the middle of the freeway was going in the other direction.  I think they had gotten the wrong day for the goose parade! Quite a sight to see, stopping all that morning rush hour traffic.

We started this day in the Costume and Textile Study room, The Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Costume and Textiles, Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Perelman Building. Kristina Haugland was our hostess here to view a selection of samplers, embroideries, wallets and a wonderful casket.  Again, being allowed to get your nose up so close and personal to these items is so different from viewing them in photographs or online. We do appreciate all the facilities who are getting their collections up online for us to study from afar, especially since so many of the needlework is never out on view. But nothing is as good as seeing them in person. We were all like kids in the candy store.  Today, we were joined by Amy Mitten, Janice Spencer and Sandy Gaponow from Canada.  Sharing these experiences with friends of like minds is always more fun!

We spent the afternoon exploring a few of the interesting shops 

Lynne tried on a new pair of shoes

leading up to M. Finkel and Daughter, where Amy and her team welcomed all who were coming into town for the Winterthur conference to a reception at her shop.  Again Amy is one to always welcome the needlework enthusiast to her shop to enjoy her beautiful collection of needlework samplers and accessories.  She spends much time researching the provenance of her pieces and has so much knowledge to share.  There we ran into so many friends that we see when attending these events around the country. Never enough time to chat and catch up with everyone, but it is so nice to have these opportunities to share our common interest.

Friday finally arrives and off we head to Winterthur for the first day of the conference, with over 250 in attendance from the United States, Canada, England, and Australia.  Linda Eaton produced a fabulous event surrounding the wonderful jacket that was created for Plimoth Plantation by volunteers under the guidance of Tricia Wilson Nguyen and Jill M. Hall.  

Becky tries on the jacket

We had daily lectures, workshops, tours and sessions. We left each day saturated with so much knowledge not only from the presenters, but those in attendance though there is never enough time to see it all or even shop! Winterthur, take note, add time for shopping pleasures and more visiting. I think instead of two days  the conference needs to expand to 2 1/2 days and the last half of the third day should be for free time to take more in, more of the galleries, more of the people and much more of the shopping!   We just need help in planning our time so we can truly take everything in to the max! 

Sunday took us to New Jersey 
View from a nearby rooftop

where Patty Hrynenko gave us a private tour of the needlework housed in Gloucester Historical Society's collection. This is one location that has it's needlework out for you to view without making special arrangements. So if you are in this area on a day the museum is open, do stop in. Patty has also charted several of the pieces in the collection that you can take home to stitch. In her charts she also includes the historical information she has been able to find about the stitcher and her family.  

Last stop of the day and the trip was at Historic Odessa, where we had made arrangements to see their needlework and also was treated to a hearth cooking demonstration and tasting.  

Not only did we taste, but they shared the yummy Apple Charlotte recipe with us. So do any of you know what a Salamander is? Not that slimy reptile like creature, a cooking salamander. We learned how this metal spatula is used to crystallize the sugar glaze on top of the Charlotte by heating it up and placing it across the sugar. Liken it to a Crème Brule topping !  

We saw two of the historic homes, The Corbit-Sharp Home and the Wilson-Warner Home. Our guide Alison was very knowledgeable of the history of the families and shared with us as she showed us through pointing out the special pieces of needlework on display. She also let us peek at a couple of the boxes in storage that held special pieces of needlework. Some that had taken ribbons at the Chicago World's fair.  

So you can see what a wonderful full trip we had, but more is to come as we come back and re-count in more detail some of the pieces we saw and enjoyed.  Remember if you are traveling it is many times possible to make arrangements before your arrival with the various facilities to view the needlework in their collections.  There are sometimes extra fees for this privilege and sometimes it is out of the goodness of their hearts to do this extra work and share with you.  Many of the facilities will take a donation that they will put towards conserving their needlework and we highly encourage you if you are able to do so.  This will help us all to continue to enjoy these special pieces from history.  Also be sure to thank them.  They do this above and beyond their regular work of the day and I know we truly appreciate the time they all gave us to let us enjoy the history that is held in their care.  

So stay tuned for more of the dark alphabet and more of our trip in the upcoming weeks! 
Happy Halloween to all.


  1. wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww so much snowwwwww..i wish we have snow in africa too..
    very lovely post..i really enjoyed reading it..
    happy halloween to you all..
    hugs from africa xxx

  2. This looks like the trip of a life-time - wish I could have been there with you - what fun I would have had! Keep shining! Love, Jacqueline

  3. Becky takes the best notes ever. the photo of me looks a little star struck. i think my brain was starting to implode. it was a great time and i wouldn't have done it without my 3WW's! thanks ladies!

  4. What a wonderful trip! I am so thrilled for you that you got to see - and do - all those wonderful things. I hope to one day see the jacket. When I last saw it everything was still in pieces. My stitching is on the left sleeve, just about at the elbow I believe.

    Thank you for posting all the great photos!

  5. Oh, lucky you to have stitched on the jacket. It's so beautiful. I know you'll get to see it one day, and it will bring back all the wonderful memories of working on it.



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