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What is a Counted Cross Stitch sampler?

In my Facebook group “Cindy’s online selling tips” (CO$T) I get it asked quite often “what is a Cross Stitch sampler and how do you define one or recognize one?”

Many believe that the samplers were made in the home when in reality they were made in schools.
Samplers are often inscribed with the name of their maker the date and many times the age of the child. Many times you will also see the school in which they were embroidered.
Many believe that these embroideries were the only exposure to formal education received by young women in the early 1700s in America.
The format of the sampler was entirely up to the teacher. She developed a pattern for these creations and then supervised the stitchers.
As education for girls in America became more widespread samplers increased in popularity.
Teachers were inclined to pick recognizable motifs and regional patterns began to emerge.

Samplers are oblong pieces of linen embellished with patterns of embroidery stitches or crosses worked in silk threads.
Samplers were first brought from England and northern Europe where they had been a form of schoolgirl Art for centuries.

Many scholars believe that the first samplers were made by young women during the middle ages as a way of recording patterns for future reference.
Through the years the definition of a sampler changed from that of a learning exercise and embroidery technique signed and dated to the finished work intended for framing and display.
Many samplers made today are not signed or dated but they are still considered samplers.
English samplers from the 16th and 17th centuries were long and narrow and always worked on linen that was cut in a thin strip across the width of the woven fabric from selvage to selvage.
The earliest settlers brought this technique with them to the new land.
Most colonial samplers that you will find will have the alphabet, numbers, the stitchers name and date and like I said before sometimes the school.
I had the opportunity a number of years ago to view a sampler stitched by my husband’s great great great great grandmother. His aunt was the owner of it at the time and it now has been passed down to her granddaughter in Texas. Someday I would love to be able to look at it and copy it and make one of my own and maybe even publish the pattern.
If you look in my eBay store at Bubbacandance.com you will find a number of samplers in our store category.
Many times samplers will have a poem or a saying along with motifs and not necessarily the alphabet or numbers but they are usually Long and narrow or just long and rectangular.

I will post a few photos below to show you ideas of different samplers.
You can see the family tree which was done and in many ways it still considered a sampler because it has names and dates.

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Counted cross stitch has the design either on a piece of paper and you count to the fabric or you do it freehand like these young girls did in schools where their teacher taught them how to design. She may have written it on a form of board or designed herself one on linen and then they copied it.

I will continue this series about needlework in the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy


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