Progress – Rebecca Blake’s 1809 Ackworth Sampler

One motif down, many more to go

Blake, Rebecca. Sampler. 1809. Wool plain weave embroidered with silk. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/sampler-409487

Blake, Rebecca. Sampler. 1809. Wool plain weave embroidered with silk. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I’ve been working on Rebecca Blake’s Ackworth School sampler on and off for a few years. I realized that the main thing keeping me from working on this piece (besides the overwhelming enormity of the thing) is how cumbersome it is; there’s so much fabric!

I borrowed a scroll frame from my sister, who is more into knitting than stitching lately, and I’m pretty happy with it. It took a while to set up (and I didn’t do it quite correctly) and the fabric isn’t quite taut, but I do like it better than a hoop for this project. It’s also nice to just start stitching without much preparation.

Scroll frame set up

I love all of the floral motifs and the variety of pattern in this piece.  I also love that the type of stitch dictates the design; that is, because only cross stitch is used there are no curved lines or soft edges and rather than trying to soften the edges the designer embraced the squareness. Pixelated is the best word I can find to describe this.  Each stitch is like a pixel that is still visible even when the motif is viewed as a whole.  And it should be; each stitch in a sampler is practice, effort, and marks the passage of time.

~L

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