Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Finally, I've gotten started....

Here is my Mary Wigham progress so far.

I've had a heck of a time just getting this far. If you want to read all the gorey details, you can do so at my blog, I'm not going to recount it all here. But I did want to repeat the part that I think we can all relate to the most.

The 'mistakes' in the pattern. I have tried really, really hard to follow the actual pattern as it was downloaded (yeah, I know...don't follow the color choice, but pick the design to be puritanical about), but the inconsistencies are driving me crazy. I'm fixing the errors as I see them and as I go. And while I realize Mary was only nine when she did this, as I picked out that first motif for the seventh and final time, all I kept (ungraciously, I know) thinking was: where was her sewing instructor while little Mary was making all these mistakes?

One of my pioneer ancestors at 11 years old was given a journal the day before her family set off from the East coast to the West. Now, we know this because she, quite bitterly (yes, I do come by it honestly) and with a vocabulary better than most high school graduates, recorded receiving this stupid journal, which she now had to write in each and every day, while her brothers got pocket knives, boots, hats, and in one case, a rifle, i.e. the "good" gifts.

What stands out in my mind was the entry she made regarding her mother's method of schooling. She had to do it in cross stitch. Here's this very smart and very disgruntled 11 year old, after traveling was done, having to then do all this needlepoint instead of being able to play with her brothers and peers, and she's recounting--very, very bitterly--about trying to hurry and finish her stitching just as fast as possible so she could play, too. And her mother caught her doing it and smacked her hands. Five times. Each. And then, not only did she have to rip out everything and start all over again, but she had to do it with hurting hands AND it was dark before she finished so she never did get to play. Not with anyone. She had to go to bed instead. Stupid journal. Stupid stitching. And she was going to "lose" them both in the first river they came to.

I don't know about the stitching, but fortunately, she changed her mind regarding the journal. :) Have a good week and may your stitches all be neat, straight, and properly, unhurriedly placed.


  1. OMG I love your colors. Would never have thought them up myself but they really fit. The story is precious. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Dear Maren, Thank you so much for the great little story. I could just see your darling little ancestor's studious and disappointed face over her stitching piece. Poor dear. We can hardly hold it against our dear Mary if she fudged a stitch or two, can we?! I love your style and would love to keep hearing how things are going for you.

  3. Hi Maren,

    Wonderful progress on your sampler and I love your color choices!

    I always think it's funny what bothers us as stitchers. What would bother one will not bother another. I know that I'll be "self correcting" the pattern as it will bother me to have it not be stitched "correctly/properly". And yes I know that's how she stitched it but those motifs need to be balanced! :-)

    I also enjoyed reading the story about your ancestor and I'm so glad that she didn't "lose" the journal. What a family treasure!

    I'll think of this story the next time I'm muttering to myself that I don't have time to stitch. :-)

    Windy Meadow

  4. Maren, loved your story re your ancestor. Very interesting and somehow puts our Mary into perspective for me.

    Your colors are great - off to read your blog now!


  5. Love the colors of your sampler. They are quite striking.

    I am usually a very precise person (just ask my poor DH!!) but I felt I needed to stitch Mary's sampler the way it was charted. Sort of making it "original" but with my colors. So I have not "balanced" anything and I am very satisfied with it. That's just my opinion.

  6. I had to re-chart that first motif. So far that is as far as I have gotten (just about ready for the next one). It was driving me nuts. My analytical self could not handle all the errors. I needed balance! Someone asked me once to describe myself in one word. It tok me all of 2 seconds to say "meticulous"!
    Great color scheme. Your story is wonderful. And now I am also off to look at your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi Maren, I had the same problems so i have recharted some of the motifs, the ones that cannot be earily made symmetrical as you stitch, you can find them over at my blog (links in sidebar)When I stitched my versions I noticed on one of the motifs I had missed out two stitches, I will go back and upload a correction later

  8. What A great story, that poor girl with her stinging hands having to re do her stitching ! Oh how the girls musta hated a craft we all hold so dear !

    I adore your colour choices. I think your Mary will be breath taking.

    As for the mistake stitches, I was having a problem as I am a model stitcher and my job is to look for mistakes and fix them. However, I also find the Mary story so enchanting and getting to relive the stitches one stitched so many years ago really touches my what I've decided to to fix the mistakes that come naturally to fix ( the ones that are blaring and I wont be able to relax the whole rest of my life if I leave them) and then leave the rest of the mistakes, because I DO find them quite sweet and charming. What I'm trying to say is the mistakes add to the sweetness of the story.

  9. I know what you mean about the frustration of stitching a reproduction sampler as it is charted. Most counted thread stitchers are pretty anal retentive (which is why counted work appeals to us) and those mistakes drive us crazy. But I've gotten used to it after many years of stitching repros and I just go along. But everyone should stitch it however it makes them happiest. Because if it's not fun, why are you doing it?


  10. I had to do some tweaking when I stitched "A Quaker Christmas". If it bothers me, I fix it...if not, I leave it!
    Beautiful color choices!!!

  11. Your coloring is lovely...The young stitcher in your story was so believable. I could envision things as I read! Where I cherish every moment I get to stitch, an 11 yr old from long ago may have not. I like your writing and your beautiful cross stitching. Keep up the good work!

  12. Thank you for the story, i loved it. Your color choice is just beautiful, may i ask what colors you picked. Is it similar to Cathrines in Francew color choices? I just pulled her colors to save to do another sampler in. I wanted to use them now but went back to the original colors. Look forward to your updates.

    jeanie b

  13. My colors were 841, 321 and 310. I'm so glad everyone likes the colors. I wanted bold contrasts, and I think those showed through nicely.