Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Blogosophere

The Blogosphere has been very good to us!  We have loved blogging and know that you must be wondering why there hasn't been a new blog post in awhile!  Life, as you know, is what happens when you're busy making other plans (Thank you, John Lennon!)  Our lives have grown hectic, what with kids growing up, going off to college, coming home, etc. for Becky and just life in general for Julie!  

We're not abandoning you!  We're not even abandoning the blog, but we won't be posting any more blog updates.  Instead - we've moved over to facebook, where we hope to keep you updated much  more often.  We're leaving the blog here so that if you want to look through the archives at any of the long blog articles we've done - they're there for you.  If you want to reprint from the blog in any of your own endeavors, please just check with us first.

We've had a great time on the blog and will now be letting go of this so we can move forward to the next phase...

Please "like" us on facebook, and we will keep you up to date with us....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Julie's Northwest Huswif, stitched in 2001

As we celebrated the 4th of July last week and the birth of our independence, my thoughts go to the early sailors and  military men as they set off to gain our independence, brought back items for trade from lands far away or carried our immigrants to this country.  Many carried the huswifs and other tokens, we so enjoy in the stitching world today.  What did theirs look like, what did they carry in theirs? Why did they carry the tokens they did?

The earlier huswif was pronounced hussif, and this pronunciation survives in the application of the word to a small case containing scissors, needles and pins, cottons.

Huswifs were popular with the early infantry men.  They were in charge of keeping their uniforms in good order.  So they were sent off with huswifs made of bits of wool or cotton. Formed into pockets and pages to hold the important needle and threads, possibly an extra button.

What  is a huswif and who used it?

 It is a small piece of cloth used to store scissors, needles and thread. Women , sailors and soldiers  often carried them.

What else did our military men carry with them to battle as tokens of remembrance of those they were leaving behind or as a comfort while they were away from home?

Perfume buttons
We learned about Perfumed buttons from Sherri of Patricks Woods, when she lead us in her beautiful Button Lovers Brag Book class. Below is information I found from a couple of button sites on the web.

It does sound romantic to send your lover off with your scent to remember you by as you go to lands unknown or into battles and difficult conditions.

Perfume Buttons were designed and manufactured in the United States in the early 1800's, incorporating fabric as part of their design - usually velvet. The ladies of the day wore these buttons on their dresses, putting their fragrance on them rather than running the risk of staining their clothing.

The story goes that during the Civil War the ladies would take a perfumed button off their dress and give it to their loved one, sending him into war with a romantic memento. Many stories are told of soldiers who died with a button in his pocket or stories that recount how this memento kept them alive during those stressful times.

Perfume Buttons were also used earlier in history in France and England

Victorian women wore specially designed “perfume buttons” to absorb perfumes too irritating to be applied directly to their skin.

What tokens did soldiers carry to war with them?
Besides the above-mentioned tokens, many soldiers did not leave home without a pocket bible, maybe a lock of hair of a loved one. In later times they of course had photos of the many family members and loved ones to carry with them.  Some would be lucky enough to have a special quilt to add warmth to their bedding in the early days.

I know a few years ago when I had a Girl Scout troop, we sent pocket flags to the soldiers and they were greatly received.  The book below is one my daughter read in high school and it also talks of various things soldiers carried with them and why.

If you had to go to war, what would you take as mementos of your family and loved ones to give you comfort?  It’s a daunting thought, how to put so much into a compact package. 

We at In The Company of Friends, have a love affair with tokens and smalls that were treasured in prior years and love trying to recreate  a few of them for our customers to enjoy.  We hope you enjoy the bits and pieces of history we find to share with you as well and that all of you in the United States have all enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July with family and friends.

More links for huswifs:

We, at In the Company of Friends have long been enamored of huswifs, and besides stitching some for ourselves, have added some of the flair of the huswif to our products.  Our latest is the Norfolk Inspired Spool huswif, that rolls up decorated pins and needles wrapped around a spool topped with a silk-covered pin cushion over-stuffed with 100% wool roving, surrounded by antiqued lace trim and adorned with an embellished pin!  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Dark Alphabet Revisited

Julie has FINALLY finished her dark alphabet!  It looks great, and she is now contemplating framing styles...  The addition of a topper with a title and a signature block gives you some ideas about finishing off your alphabet.  We've uploaded the charts for you.

An uncial alphabet for the topper seemed appropriate, and we've always loved the look of it!  The signature is an adaptation of the simple alphabet we've been using all through the piece, and of course, placement, etc. is just a suggestion.  We'd love to see more pictures from you all as you finish a block here and there.  I've heard from some people who are using one or two blocks for ornies or smalls, and we would so love to feature some of those on the blog!

Julie is now knee deep in mermaid scales, as we are both tackling Amy Mitten's online class!  There's always something new to stitch!
We hit the "publish" button too soon last time - we forgot to add the cute little butterfly pin that lives on the NorfolkInspired Spool Huswif!  Here's how it looks with her lovely enhancement!  Because we hand-finish each of these huswifs, there are small differences between them - yours might not look exactly as pictured, but we do our best to make sure that each and every one is lovely!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Norfolk Inspirations...

Oh, we're having quite the Norfolk summer here in the Seattle area!  Thanks to Donna L.,  we've discovered a "new" sampler that has been charted!  Sarah Parr - 1825 is a lovely little thing, and has been available in the past as Sandra Murray has charted a reproduction.  Donna also contacted Jean Lea of Attic Needlework, and the sampler will be available again.  Contact Jean if you are interested.  This picture is from a years-ago Attic newsletter.  It shows the original sampler laid on top of the stitched reproduction.   I'm sure it will soon be featured in one of Jean's newsletters again!  (Just love those butterflies!)

To celebrate more of the Norfolk Traditions, we've added some new products to our burgeoning line of Norfolk and Norfolk-inspired products!  

We have a Norfolk Inspired Spool Huswif - we love the way the silk pin cushion is set off with the tea-dyed lace.  Doesn't it look like it stepped right out of an antique sewing basket?

This adorable Deer Token Accordion Foldout features charts of deer taken from some of our samplers.  The cover photo is another motif that reminds us of the Norfolk samplers.

The Norfolk Book Box Etui is a diminutive grain-painted beauty ready to get you stitching while traveling - in style! 

And the Norfolk Deer Etui is a lovely piece taken from our own design - The Norfolk Sampler Tradition!  Filled with scissors, needle threader and needle, it's an easy gift to slip into an envelope for a secret sister...

We know we've been quiet lately, and we hope to catch up with lots of you this summer, but now at least you can see what we've been up to in the workshop!   See all of these lovelies on our "What's New" page on our website!

And on the stitching front, Julie has finished her Dark Alphabet and has a couple of new charts to add for a topper and a signature square, along with pictures of her finished piece!  Next time!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

M. Woods

Attic Needlework and Collectibles has a new home!

One of our favorite shops (Attic Needlework and Collectibles) and one of our favorite designers (Milady's Needle) have joined forces this week to take us back to Norfolk for a moment!  You'll recognize M. Wood if you have read Joanne Lukacher's wonderful book Imitation and Design: The Norfolk Sampler Tradition.  Featured on page 113!  

Detail from M. Woods

We can attest that having your sampler chosen as the Attic's Sampler of the Month is a thrill - when our "In the Norfolk Tradition" was chosen for January, we were so excited!  And when we traveled to Arizona to spend a weekend with Jean, Joanne and a multitude of other teachers, lecturers and aficionados, we got to enjoy that thrill to the hilt!

While there, Gloria Moore, of Milady's Needle showed us M. Wood in person - she is so dainty and so lovely - no picture can do her justice!  But now to see in the latest Attic Newsletter, that M. Wood is the June Sampler of the Month!  I'm sure Gloria is pleased, and so are we to see that this lovely reproduction is ready to stitch (on lovely Lakeside Linens fabric with Gloriana Tudor Silks!)  

Rush over to The Attic's site and read the latest newsletter - you'll be so glad you did!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Pasttimes

Such a week as was!  Two days before we were due to leave on our Pennsylvania whirlwind trip, Miss Becky and fell and tore her ACL in her knee.  Relegated to a chair for the time being, plans were swiftly changed, and I boarded the plane without her!  Oh my!  Would I be able to do it all?

I have no pictures to show you of the trip, as I needed every space on the camera cards for the project we began last week!  The above picture is from an old postcard, which explains why it was labeled as "Pennsylvania Dutch"!  Today, the more accurate German heritage is usually noted.  

I will tell you now to get ready to pack your bags for next year's Penn Dry Goods Market!  What a wonderful weekend in Pennsburg, PA.  As soon as I entered the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, I met up with old friends, and made new friends!  The gift shop display of In the Company of Friends' trunk show, along with Joanne Lukacher's Imitation and Improvement: The Norfolk Sampler Tradition, were front and center.  Also in the foyer space by the gift shop was our friend Paige Todd, proprietor of The Mad Samplar! Paige is our "go-to" online store for books - and it was such a pleasure to meet both her and her mother, in person!  

My first item of business was a class with Theresa Baird of Heart's Ease Examplar Works.  Her design of Mary Sophia's Pennsylvania German Sewing Set is lovely, and we received kits and instruction for the stacked biscornus from that set.  Gorgeous! 

Lunch was provided by local cooks who provided us with wonderful taste treats from Pennsylvania German traditions!  We ate outside and enjoyed the fabulous weather, then wandered in again for lectures, antiques shopping - many antiques dealers had set up on the first story of the building - it was a treasure-trove of needlework and other ephemera!  I made some small purchases, but there were many wonderful samplers to look at.

Between other activities, there was a beautiful exhibit of the Schwenkfelder samplers to peruse - it was hard to do everything, but I did my best!

It was a wonderful weekend, and I enjoyed it all so much!

Trips such as these are a great chance to meet with friends in the sampler world and find out what's going on everywhere!  Our friend, Lynne Anderson, of the Sampler Consortium, and the Sampler Archive Project,  is in the midst of last-minute activities for her Delaware Sampler ID Days!  This is the first of a series of sampler days the Sampler Archive Project is sponsoring at various museums and historical societies.  The idea is to have people bring in samplers and have them photographed, registered, identified and documented by the museum staff and other experts.  It's a wonderful opportunity if you have samplers or antique needlework and would like to know more about it.  It also allows the Sampler Archive Project to document samplers.  To read more about the project, go to:

Lynne wrote a wonderful article on this subject for Samplings, Amy Finkel's online sampler magazine: 

Hannah McIntier, New Castle Ctyl, 1790.  Winterthur Museum Collection.  Photo courtesy of University of Delaware

Documenting Delaware’s Needlework Samplers
Three Events, Three Locations

Newark, DE - May 15, 2013 – The University of Delaware’s Sampler Archive Project invites the public to bring their antique American samplers to one of its upcoming “Sampler ID Days" so they can be registered, documented and photographed.  Three Sampler Identification and Documentation (ID) Days are scheduled: June 8 at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington, June 15 at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, and July 18 at the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes.  People living in Delaware and neighboring communities are encouraged to participate in this new statewide initiative, funded in part by the Delaware Humanities Forum. 

Mary Orr, Brandywine Hundred, New Castle Cty., 1835.  Courtesy of M. Finkel & Daughter

Antique samplers are the product of needlework instruction provided to girls and young women in America up until the middle of the 19th century. Although samplers are diverse in shape and color, they were most often stitched using silk or wool thread on a piece of linen fabric. Girls frequently stitched rows of alphabets and numbers, and sometimes a verse or two. It was traditional in America for girls to sign their needlework projects with their names, and sometimes these stitched signatures also included details such as age, location, and even the teacher or school. In addition, samplers often display decorative elements such as colorful motifs, bands, and borders. More difficult pictorial embroideries were stitched by older girls using silk thread on silk fabric, and often depict scenes from the Bible or classical literature.

The Sampler Archive Project is a national effort to develop an online searchable database of information and images for all known American samplers and related schoolgirl embroideries from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.  Launched with two years of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, the Sampler Archive is under development, and will make its online public debut in early 2014. Recent additional funding from the Delaware Humanities Forum is supporting the project’s efforts to locate, document, and photograph historic samplers and related embroideries in Delaware’s public and private collections. Because this includes family heirlooms that may have been passed down from generation to generation, the public is encouraged to bring their antique samplers to one of the three Sampler ID Days scheduled for this spring and summer.

Event Details

Who: Anyone in Delaware and neighboring communities
What: Sampler ID Days
June 8  -- Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington
June 15 -- Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover
July 18 -- Lewes Historical Society in Lewes
When: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Morning hours are for individuals with appointments. Afternoons are for both appointments and drop-ins.
Why: An opportunity to talk with experts about your sampler, have it documented and photographed, and submit it for inclusion in the Sampler Archive.

NOTE: Due to the time it takes to document and photograph these wonderful historical objects, appointments are required for anyone bringing three or more samplers to a Sampler ID Day. Call 1-877-909-2525 or email to make appointments.

Katherine Wallace, Wilmington, c. 1818.  Courtesy of the DAR Museum

The Sampler Archive Project and its initiative to locate and document Delaware’s schoolgirl embroideries are supported by a large number of organizations. In addition to the Delaware Humanities Forum, these include the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware, the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) at the University of Oregon, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Sampler Consortium (

For more information, or to make Sampler ID Day appointments:

Phone: 1-877-909-2525

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Home to unpack and re-pack!

If it seems like we don't blog very often any more, there's a reason - we don't seem to be in town much these days!  Whether it's vacation (Becky and I each spent some time in Hawaii recently) or work trips (Arizona, Vancouver, WA, and now, Pennsylvania) - we have been on the go!  Our last trip for awhile (at least for me - Becky has two kids graduating this spring, one from college and one from high school, so she's still got graduation ceremonies to attend, moving out of college housing, moving another into a dorm room, etc. - she's busy through the summer, I know!)  But I ought to be staying put for a little while very soon.

But first.....  Our last work trip for awhile is a doozy!  We've been looking forward to the Penn Dry Goods Market days!  This will be a wonderful opportunity to visit old friends and make new friends, take some classes, and shop at a wonderful Antiques Fair with booths from so many wonderful places, featuring needlework and other areas of great interest to us.  We can't wait!  Joanne Martin Lukacher will be on hand to do a lecture about the Norfolk Sampler Tradition, so if you are in the Pennsburg, PA area May 17 and 18, do drop in to meet her, have her sign your copy of the book, and please say hello to Becky and I - we'll be around all weekend!

Since I've been home from Hawaii, we've spent a few days in the workroom getting things together for a trunk show for this event - and we are so proud of some of the lovely things we created from the Schwenkfelder collection, we just had to show you!  If you don't know the Schwenkfelder needlework collection, you are missing out!  In 2008, we published a daybook calendar featuring wonderful photos of the samplers and other pieces - it's the only publication in which you can see the collection.  While it doesn't work as a calendar any more, it's still a wonderful keepsake and documentation of this beautiful collection of Schwenkfelder needlework!  We still offer it for sale, and it will also be available at the gift shop at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center!  The price is $21.95 and a portion of all sales goes to the Schwenkfelder needlework collection for preservation of the samplers.

There have been one or two additions to this wonderful collection since then, and we had such fun making some new items up out of familiar pieces, as well as new!  Here's a sneak peek!  As you can see, these are not the pretty, staged photos we like to do for our website - these are straight from the workroom!  (A little secret - we send off prototypes for approval to different clients, and we take a few quick snapshots before we send them away, so we can remember later what we put in them!)  These photos were actually taken with my phone, so they are really not the kind of pretty photos we like to do, but we thought you'd be interested in seeing our "process" as they say!

Here is the Elizabeth Bechtel Spool Etui all ready to be packaged up and sent off - the cost for this little beauty is $18.50, and you will find it in the gift shop during the Penn Dry Goods Show.

The Salina Schulz Horn Book

The Lydia Yeakel Horn Book

Both these horn book needlebooks are $3.00  - a perfect gift to bring back for your stitching friends!

The OEHBDDE Accordion Foldout Book - this features the lovely motif found on so many Pennsylvania German samplers.  We have charted the motif for you and on the back is the explanation of the meaning of the letters!  $6.00.

The pretty Townscape by Phebe Kriebel  makes a pretty magnetic bookmark - $2.50.

The Lonestar Quilt Button Box is so lovely - $7.50.  Inside this grain-painted box of peach and gold is an assortment of mother of pearl buttons in special shapes and sizes.  A lovely keepsake with a photo of a very special quilt.  

Salome Kriebel's lovely sampler looks stunning as a shoe etui, doesn't it? Under the toe flap is an assortment of pretty bejeweled pins and a needle, and the heel of the shoe is an antiqued gold colored thimble.  $10.00

And the pièce de résistance is this gorgeous Caspar Iaeckel Wallet - fashioned from the photo of a very special piece in the collection - it opens up to reveal an etui inside including silk threads, bejeweled pins, a thread counter and needles all nestled in wool felt.  Lovely!  $16.00.

You will also find, in the gift shop there, some of our past items based on needlework in the collections.

Flying Geese Bookplates $8.50 for a set of 10

Field of Roses Bookplates  $8.50 for a set of 10

Flying Geese Magnetic Bookmark $2.50

Patriotic Magnetic Bookmark $2.50

Lone Star Wearable Pin $5.00

Flying Geese Scissors Fob/Ornament $10.00

Sunflower Scissors Fob/Ornament $10.00

All of these items are also available by mail order from the Heritage Shop in the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center - you can fill in the form and mail it with your credit card information or a check, or call and place your order by phone (the number is on the form).  You can even pay by PayPal if you prefer.  Be sure to put the name of the item(s) you want on the form,  as well as mentioning that they are from the In the Company of Friends Trunk Show!

The time is short before we jet east - we can hardly wait!  We hope to meet lots of you there!

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