Sunday, October 28, 2012

No, we didn't fall down the rabbit hole....

It just seems like that.  As we sprinted to the finish line to get our big project for the year - the book Imitation and Improvement: The Norfolk Sampler Tradition by Joanne Martin Lukacher - a few other things fell off our plates!  We're back - the book is at the printer and we are ready to focus on other things for awhile.

We have many new items coming in the next few weeks, so watch for news here.  We promise not to go so long between posts again!  Meanwhile, you can get a little taste of our "baby" by clicking on "Norfolk Samplers" in the sidebar - it will bring up a description of the book, and a form for you to use to be put on our list of "first-to-know" people when the book is available.  As yet, we don't know the price - shipping rates change so much in such a short time, that until they are locked in, we can't price the book - but you'll find out here first!  We are so excited about this project!  

We've done other books - the Schwenkfelder Days of Remembrance, which was a 2008 day-planner, but also the only place to find the complete needlework collection owned by the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Sampler.  As such, it is still a great reference book!  The text was written by Candace Perry, Curator of Collections at the Library and Heritage Center. Purchase of this book includes a donation to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center for the preservation of the needlework.

And Let Love Abide, a compendium of the sampler collection of Marian Soss.  This lovely little book gives you an insight into the art of collecting and the life of an extraordinary woman!  Each sampler in her collection was lovingly photographed and documented for the book.  All profits from this book go to Marian's favorite charity - Mission Hospice in San Mateo, CA.

But this book is different.  On a much larger scale, this book includes years of painstaking research by the author, Joanne Martin Lukacher.  Starting with the Vassar collection of samplers, Joanne noticed a stylistic relationship with some of the Vassar samplers and others she'd seen.  As she looked further into the connection, Joanne was excited to learn that these samplers all hailed from what amounts to the same time and place:  Norwich, Norfolk in England (and the area surrounding the town) from approximately 1790 to 1820!  What led to the development of this uniquely Norfolk style?  Joanne's research brings the answer to that question into focus, and shows us a truly beautiful sampler tradition!  In fact, we liked the sampler style so much, we did something else we've never done before:  we designed a chart for a sampler "in the Norfolk style" that will come with the book as a bonus!  In the coming weeks, we'll give you a few peeks at the finished sampler.

Meanwhile, we would like to share one of our girls with you.  We are often asked about the samplers we use in our designs, and we thought it might be nice to see the entire sampler and then see what some of the products look like that have been designed from this piece.  Sometimes our designs don’t encompass the entire sampler and sometimes we even take designing privileges and manipulate certain images into places we want them….most times I would say we try to stay true  to the piece, but depending on the items we use our creativity and work with images from the piece to make the best presentation for you we can.  You will see that in some of the borders for example, they don’t bend the same way on the sampler as they do on the piece.

Becky came to own Elizabeth Elliott several years ago, when she received a call from a lady in one of the needlework guilds here locally, called the Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild (PNNAG).  Becky's love for samplers was well-known and this lady was involved with the University Women’s group and they were preparing for a garage sale.  She didn't know much about the piece when she called, just said it was a nice  sampler and shouldn't be in a garage sale and would Becky be interested in seeing it and making an offer.  So she changed her schedule and headed to the garage sale where it was being held for her.  You can see what a lovely piece it is.  Well when Becky saw it, it was in a colored plastic frame and had a colored matting and was glued, yes that horrible word, glued to a backing in the frame!  We  imagine someone had coordinated it to their interiors in the 1970s.  Now the hard part, yes, Becky wanted it, but how much was fair to offer to this worthwhile group.  The donor had no information on the piece, which was a shame as Becky had been hoping it had come from a family member or such who knew where it had originated.  So Becky offered a sum and they were totally blown away and very grateful, so we were all happy with the outcome.

Becky wasn't sure what the outcome would be when she opened up the framing and tried to remove the sampler from the backing.  But it was most successful and as you can see, she is very happy in her new environment.

This piece is so beautiful in its wonderful happy colors.  So it has come to be known as Elizabeth’s Garden to us.  The beautiful floral motifs, deer and birds are so happy.  The unusual border reminds us of the mountains and fir trees so plentiful in our area, so we hope that Elizabeth might have been a girl from the local area. 

We create these stories in our minds about our girls.  We have not truly taken time to try and figure out who Elizabeth Elliott is, some day we may try to do that, although with nothing but a name to start with, that will be very difficult.

Some samplers are more photogenic than others, and we truly don't understand why, but we know that some just love to preen for the camera!  Elizabeth photographs beautifully, so we have enjoyed using her in several special pieces and I am sure you will see her around the site more in coming years as we create new products and find her colors and images are just right for them.  

When we look at a sampler, we don’t always look at it in a way a normal collector would.  Yes, it has to be pleasing to us, but it doesn't necessarily have to be in the best condition.  If we think it can photograph well and has good motifs and colors that call to us and ideas start coming about wouldn't that work well for this type of piece or that, then we are hooked!  Sometimes though we think they will photograph well and they end up being a devil to deal with. Ask Julie! Sometimes we do use  some lightening to the photograph to give you a better view of the image and such, but again, we do try to keep as true to the piece as possible.

We hope you have enjoyed meeting Elizabeth and seeing the pretty pieces from the past and present that are from In The Company of Friends.  (Note, not all are available for sale at this time as some are from the past)


  1. It's really interesting to see how you turn a sampler into the gifts you sell. A great rescue job too!
    Just wondering if the Norfolk book will be available via Needleprint, as that would save me postage and shipping time! I've been looking forward to this book and hoping it's not out of my price bracket by too much!

  2. Hi, Jo - we are definitely working with Jacqueline at Needleprint to ensure that the book will be available in England and the rest of Europe. Dont' have all the details yet, but you WILL be able to order it or find it in a store "over there". We are working on the pricing now - just waiting to be sure of the printer's final shipping costs before we can know for sure...


  3. Congratulations on such a wonderful book and in sharing the history behind the art!
    ~ Zuzu


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