Friday, May 23, 2014







Every fall  I look forward to the new Witney Antiques Sampler and Antique Needlework catalog.  Witney Antiques carries a large selected stock of 17th, 18th and early 19th century English and Continental furniture, period longcase and bracket clocks, and best of all for us needleworkers, early English embroidery and needlework samplers. 

This month Witney celebrates fifty years in business with an exhibition in their gallery from June 2 -30 2014. This fall they will hold their annual Sampler Exhibition from October 20th through November 1st.  If you have never looked through a Witney catalog you have missed a real treat.  The catalogs are printed on quality paper, the large photographs of the needlework are gorgeously done and information on each piece is included.

Witney Antiques is located in the charming market town of Witney (thus their name) that is situated on the edge of the Cotswolds.  To learn more about Witney Antiques and see their delicious needlework for sale visit their website:

I heard from them recently and they offered me a great little
booklet to introduce to my needlework lovers, Historic Embroiderers.  This gorgeous, all color booklet on laminated paper is in honor of their fiftieth year of business. The pieces are taken from their exhibit for this occasion and includes eleven historic embroiderers and their significance from the mid 16th to 17th centuries. This is a great addition to any needlework reference library. Only $6.95.  When you find the code embedded in this newsletter you will  get 20% off that great price.  

Their current catalog is: "What's in a Name? People and Places" This selection of samplers looks into the legacy left by now forgotten school girls and their teachers in an attempt to find the forgotten details of their daily lives and the places they lived. The samplers in this catalog cuts across all levels of society embracing the affluent and the poor, sometimes leading us into unexpected places. 

We carry many of their back catalogs.  What we don't have we can easily get. We do have the following in stock:

      "Wrought with the Needle: Art Treasures of English Domestic Embroidery Elizabeth I to George II " - This catalog
depicts some the finest Elizabethan needlework that includes an embroidered gentleman's cap from Stanford Hall, a rare bodice panel and, of particular interest, an exquisite folio cover embroidered in silk, metallic threads and spangles on an ivory silk ground with beautifully worked images of small animals, insects and flowers. From the mide 17th century are silk and raised works of exceptional and vibrant color and featured a mirror decorated with Royal figures, Charles II wearing a cloak composed of hundreds of minute feathers. Also included are the Wilby House Casket, and of exceptional rarity, is a beadwork layette basket.  $39.95

      "Tis Education Forms the Common Mind: Schools, Scholars and Seminaries" - In this catalog when possible, they have tried to link groups of samplers together. Whilst many samplers remain, the teachers of the young embroiderers, many anonymous, are sadly long forgotten.  Here Witney has tried to link groups of samplers together.  In some cases they have added to groups which are already known and have illustrated in this catalog newly discovered and previously unrecorded examples.  $34.95

    "Paradise Revisited" - There must surely be no earlier craft than needlework, for in the third chapter of Genesis we read that Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together and made for themselves aprons. This catalog explores the Garden of Delights with all manner of plants and creatures as well as the arcadian lifestyle to which 18th century English society aspired.  41 colorful samplers and embroideries are featured.  $32.00

     "Changing Styles: The 18th Century" - The style of English samplers evolved slowly throughout the 18th century. This catalog charts this development from the emerging importance of women's literacy, moral excellence on young minds, pastoral sampler making and the growth in needlearts practiced in fashionable boarding schools for young ladies.  Included here are full-color previously unrecorded samplers and a very rare and unique group of eight Scottish family samplers.  $38.95

     "Friends: A Common Thread: Samplers with a Quaker  
Influence" - This is a guide based on a group of samplers tracing the influence of Quaker practices and religious beliefs. Charting both family histories and the relationships between the wider family of Quakers and society in general, the study of needlework can act as a primary source as well as an important historical and social record.  $29.95

     "An Exceptional Endeavour" - This catalog reflects the long tradition of both professional and domestic embroidery in Scotland.  Some samplers name the town in which they were worked.  Other samplers are identified as Scottish through elements in their design or text influenced by popular literature. To form a comparison to their Scottish counterparts some interesting English samplers from the 18th and 19th centuries have also been included.  $27.00

     "Diligence, Industry and Virtue" - This catalog takes us into 300 years of social history reflecting the feminine ideals taught from early childhood. The verses recorded on samplers are designed to inculcate these ideals. Included are rare punishment needleworks and a series of three samplers with 'The Golden Verses of Pythagoras.'  29.95

    "When This You See Remember Me" - The needlework featured here was intended to be given as gifts, to record friendships or commemorate family events.  Also this catalog includes a rare embroidered letter, collections of needlework specimens, miniature dresses and a hair sampler presented to a Prison Governor by an inmate among other pieces.  $29.95

I can't leave Witney Antiques without making mention of Rebecca Scott's wonderful book, "Samplers" in which she provides a record of the lives and skills of the women who worked them, whether produced for educational, religious, or purely decorative purposes. She provides a detailed social history of samplers and their various roles in women's lives since the 17th century.  Full color.  $19.95

When This You See Remember Me ............

The above line was taken from a sampler but I think it really expresses what handwork is really about.  Lots of work and study go into an embroidered piece and whoever did it should be admired and remembered.  

When I view samplers my mind immediately envisions young girls bent studiously over their embroidery, learning stitches and trying to make their needle and thread behave, their little feet wiggling impatiently, their eyes intent on the fabric, ideas floating about in their brains.  I flipped through some pictures of children of earlier centuries and these little ones seemed quieter than children today, able to concentrate on a gentle craft like embroidery for long periods of time.  I'm sure they took pride in such accomplishments. How could they ever imagine the work of their little hands commanding high prices and beloved by future generations. How could they imagine their lives researched and written about? Could embroiderers today even imagine that?

Actually, we should.  The art of embroidery will never be out of style and antique needlework will always be valued by those of future generations.  They will want to know about you and your needlework the same as we want to know about the embroidery of the past.  We can make their research easier if we write something about the pieces of needlework we've done and stitch them onto the back of the piece or if framed, on the back of the frame.  I know, I know it is hard to imagine future generations wanting our needlework but remember those little girls they didn't believe that either.  So do your best stitching because your work will be around for much longer than you can imagine.

What to stitch?  Something you love.  Perhaps you'll want to create your own sampler or maybe you have a favorite old sampler you would like to reproduce.  It doesn't matter what type of needlework you create for your essence will be sewn into that fabric. 

But back to samplers.  If you want to create a reproduction of an old sampler or a new one, Brenda Keyes, in England, has literally created a myriad of great samplers both antique reproductions and samplers she's designed herself.  Her company is rightly called The Sampler Company and was formed in 1989.  As she writes, "samplers are my all- abiding passion'.  Cross Stitcher magazine named her "Undisputed Sampler Queen". 

Below is a "sampling" of her samplers available.  We happily stock her most all of her designs.

The Sailor's Wife Sampler - this decorative sampler tells the
tale of a sailor's wife's description of her husband's journey at sea with all it's trials and tribulations.  Size: 26 1/2 x 8 inches.
Stitch count: 422x128.  Fabric: 32 count cream Belfast linen.  Skill level: Intermediate.  $19.00

Providence Sampler - Verse: "Heaven is our hope and 
providence our guide." This Sampler a typically English country scene, complete with sheep in the meadow, flowers, trees, shrubs and country folk going about their business. Worked in subtle shades on cream linen.  Size: 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches. Stitch count: 232 x 232.  Skill level - Intermediate.  $18.00

Nancy Collins Sampler - A lovely sampler with the alphabet and letters inside a flower and vine border. Includes two women, birds, two rabbits and a verse: 'f female arts in usefulness the needle far exceeds the rest. In ornament there's no device Affords adorning half so nice.' Originally stitched in 1809.  Skill Level: Beginner.   $18.00

Birds Sampler (by Brenda Keyes) - She calls this sampler an exuberant and joyful celebration of birds!  Who could disagree?  Size: 10 1/2 x 13 1/2.  Stitch count: 159 x 209.  Fabric used: 32 count Belfast linen.  Skill level: Intermediate/Advanced.  $18.00

Mystery Corner 

We all love a good mystery!  That's why all those "who did it?" true life mystery shows are so popular.  We want to know what drives people to commit the ultimate act of murder.  In fact, I have a Date Line show playing right now. 

Bolin, Janet - Night of the Living Thread: A Threadville Mystery - Willow Vanderling, owner of the chic machine embroidery boutique, In Stitches, must follow a trail of glow-in-the dark thread, delve into ancient Egyptian curses, and creep through a haunted graveyard to unearth a killer - before she becomes the next fashion victim.  Includes an original embroidery project.  $7.99

Clement, Blaize and John - The Cat Sitter's Cradle: A Dixie Hemmingway Mystery - Spotting an exotic bird far from its indigenous habitat, Florida pet sitter Dixie Hemingway uncovers sinister forces behind the bird's displacement before a client is murdered and a new friend goes missing with her baby.  $7.99

Howell, Dorothy - Evening Bags and Execution: A Haley Randolph Mystery - Haley is set up for disaster by her nasty new boss after she's assigned to plan a Beatles-themed bash for high-maintenance Sheridan Adam's A-List charity auction. The baker hired to create a six-foot yellow submarine cake is killed - and the police are eyeing Haley as the killer.  $7.99

Lee, Amanda - Thread End: An Embroidery Mystery - Embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer can't wait to see the new exhibit of the Tallulah Falls museum on antique tapestries and textiles. But her enthusiasm turns to terror when, the day after the exhibition opens, she discovers a dead body behind her store.  $7.99

Parra, Nancy J. - Engaged in Murder: A Perfect Proposals Mystery -  This is the first in a new series. Event planner Pepper Pomercy is arranging a surprise for her sister, Felicity Warren. Felicity's boyfriend, plans to propose on a private jet and whisk her away on a romantic vacation. Everything goes according to Pepper's plan until she finds a dead body. $7.99

Sefton, Maggie - Close Knit Killer - Springtime in Fort Connor, Colorado, is a breeze until a veteran con man shows up in town. Everyone - including the House of Lambspun knitters - is up in arms, and once again its up to Kelly Flynn to untangle the threads of a complicated crime.  $7.99


Annie's Attic - Learn Huck Embroidery on Monk's Cloth - Learn Huck Embroidery on Monk's Cloth - The author teaches you the easy steps needed to create these lovely patterns. Pick a pattern, then stitch it  on a small project like a hot pad or a larger project such as a runner or throw. Follow the color step-by-step charts and in no time you will be a Huck embroiderer.  $12.95

Collinet, Clementine - A Beginner's Guide to Machine Sewing: 50 lessons and 15 Projects to get you started - Learn how to get the most out of your machine with this easy-to-follow guide. There are 15 great projects including cushions, shoulder bags, soft toys and quilts. 3 full-size, fold-out patterns accompany the designs and 50 illustrated step-by-step lessons will guide you through all you need to get started.  $24.95

Greenoff, Jane - Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers - She includes over 30 cross stitch designs inspired by traditional samplers in this lovely full-color book.  This is the 30th anniversary edition of this book and includes new charts and designs.  It says cross-stitch but includes blackwork, hardanger and other techniques. $24.99

Kennedy, Katherine - Learn Swedish Weaving and Huck Embroidery - This book from Annie's Attic is filled with step-by-step photos, color stitch charts, and informative drawings. Learn to create projects from simple bookmarks, jar cozies, table runners, decorative towels, gift bags, and even an afghan.  $12.95

Murata, Noriko and Noriko Komurata - Teeny Tiny Menagerie -  Put your imagination to work using these 380 enchanting animal embroidery motifs. Using traditional embroidery, cross stitch, and applique techniques create motifs, borders, alphabets and more.  $21.95

Taylor, Lesley - Ready to Stitch Flowers - 74 floral motifs with accompanying iron-on transfer sheets for embellishing, upcycling and revamping clothes, and accessories. Simply chose a design from one of the 32 stitched samplers provided, transfer it to your item using the corresponding iron-on transfer sheet, and add hand stitching following the instructions. With just ten simple embroidery stitches to choose from, all with clear, step-by-step diagrams, even those new to stitching will be able to tackle all the designs provided.  Clear instructions accompany each motif, with information on the DMC thread colors and embroidery stitches used. The floral designs include: tulips, daisies, roses, daffodils, pansies and roses in a broad range styles.  $24.95

van Niekerk, Di and Marina Zherdeva - Little Flowers in Silk and Organza Ribbon - Using a combination of thread, ribbon embroidery, stumpwork and other techniques, you can produce gorgeous poppies, sweet strawberry blossoms, delightful daffodils and a ring of daisies. Or enjoy creating magnificent wild roses, chamomiles, and meadow grass in 3D, with butterflies and ladybirds and so much more. Lots of information and many new techniques, this book will inspire every silk ribbon enthusiast. All projects are smaller than A4 size and templates of the designs are included, with easy-to-follow instructions on how to layer the embroidery and stumpwork to achieve an exquisite 3D effect. Many step-by-step photos and a complete gallery of stitches make it virtually impossible to go wrong.  $24.95  Due in August - can be preordered.

Hoorah These Titles Available Again!!!

I'm so happy that two incredible needlepoint books from The Little Shoppe are now readily available again:

Stitch Landscapes - This is an amazing seller all by word of mouth and considered a must for every needlepointer's library.  As you can see from the cover - Elaine covers the stitches you need to do landscape elements even clouds! She is a marvelous designer and shares her knowledge in this neat spiral-bound book.  $39.95

Ins and Outs - This is Elaine's second book and again a winner.  Hard to keep up with the demand for this book.  The stitches she teaches you are not every day stitches so you will add to your stitching library.  Learn to do architectural details both inside a dwelling and out.  Again, this spiral-bound book is called a must for a needlepointer's reference library.  $39.95


I love to uncover "off the beaten path books" so I've included several here for you to peruse:

Dinah Fried - Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals -  I was driving my car and listening to
public radio when this book came up for a discussion.  I pulled over and wrote the title down on the back of my shopping list while I listened to the review.  As soon as I arrived home I got to the computer and ordered it.  This book serves up a delectable assortment of photographic interpretations of culinary moments from contemporary and classic literature. Showcasing famous meals such as the tea party in Alice in Wonderland, the watery gruel from Oliver Twist, the lavish chicken breakfast from To Kill A Mockingbird, the stomach-churning avocado-and-crabmeat salad from The Bell Jar, and the seductive cupcakes from The Corrections. This book pairs each place setting with the text from the book that inspired its creation.  Interesting food facts and entertaining anecdotes about the authors, their work, and their culinary predilections.  Yum! Yum!  $19.95

Dagmar, Klos - Overdyeing with Natural Dyes (DVD)  - This dyeing book comes as a DVD which to me makes sense in learning this process.  Just as primary colors - blue, red, and yellow - combine to produce the rest of the color wheel natural dyes can be combined or modified to produce a full color palette.  Building off the principles discussed our author demonstrates how to create a full range of hues and tones using the process of overdyeing. By dyeing the yarn multiple times with varying colors, you can create new and vibrant results.  $24.99

Griffins, Sandy - Pewter Jewellery - Another great title in the great "20 to Make" series.  If you want to try something in
jewelry besides beads try these 20 simple, easy-to-make jewelry pieces, including brooches, necklaces and bracelets and requires very little material since pewter is a soft metal. The pewter is combines with semi-precious stones and beads; glued to other materials such as wood, plastic, and little scraps of fabric and coloured with glass paints, giving the finished work a bright, colorful, contemporary feel. Plenty of clear step-by-step instructions, color photo of each finished piece, lists of materials and equipment needed; and templates (when needed). Two versions of each project are included.  $9.95


I love nothing better than a good historical fiction writer and I've met a super one in Lynn Cullen through reading her marvelous book, Mrs. Poe, I mentioned last month.  Lynn has done several previous historical novels so I'd like to introduce her first. 

Lynn Cullen was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, one of seven children but now she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her daughters.  In an interview she said she wrote that she got the idea to write about Poe when her husband suffered from a serious illness and long recovery leaving her the sole earner. Edgar Allen Poe popped into her brain.

During research she stumbled on the story of Frances Osgood, his mistress who was a known  writer and married to famous portrait painter, Samuel Osgood. This charming womanizer left Frances with two children, no income and into the arms of some wealthy society woman he's painted.  Of course he'd come home after a dalliance but that's another story.  This is her story.                  Frances Osgood

Edgar and Frances meet at a literary meeting she attends with her married friends who have taken her and the girls in.  His poem, The Raven, has become a triumphant success and he is being honored for it.  But Poe isn't the kind who makes friends easily, in fact, he's made enemies by writing scathing reviews on others writing publication.  (code: rkju)
Frances knows a few things about this dark mysterious man who captures her interest.  He married his thirteen year old cousin, Virginia ten years back and lives in a poor tenement with her mother, his aunt.  Virginia is not well, in fact, suffers from T.B. a very common a death threat in the 1840's. The rest is for you discover through the wonderful writing. 
                                                                                   Virginia Poe

Lynn Cullen knows how to get into a character's head and most personal feelings, the time period and the history of that period.  Wonderful reviews fill the pages in the front of this book.  As NPR says, "Nevermore will you wonder what it was like to be in love with Edgar Allen Poe.... Mrs. Poe nails the period." Poe was dark but not the drug fiend and crazy person we've been lead to believe.  There is another side and you get to experience both in this book.  Women swooned over Poe.  But she captures his young wife, now 23 years old and him in his mid-thirties.  A triangle develops between Frances, Edgar and Virginia.  And we all know this never works out well. 

I couldn't put the book down.  At some point down the road, I will read it again.  Yes, there is an ending but getting there is as important.  If you never read The Raven, the entire poem is showcased in the beginning of the book.  As a young girl I memorized his Annabel Lee and can still recite it today.  I read his scary stories and had a few nightmares.  Somehow I always felt sorry for Poe and after reading about his life I still do.  No matter what you feel about Poe, he, his wife, and Frances Osgood make wonderful subjects.

Lynn Cullen has several other books in-print: 

The Creation of Eve - A great novel based on the true but little-known story of Sofonisba Anguissola, the first renown female artist of the Renaissance.  In 1559, a young woman flees a scandal involving one of Michelangelo's students, and is taken to the Spanish court, where she becomes the young queen's confidante and lady-in-waiting. Through her keenly trained eye, you watch a love triangle unfold involving the queen, the king, and his halfbrother - a dangerous gamble that risks the lives of the queen and those who keep her secrets. This was named one of the best fiction books of 2010 by the Atlantic Journal.  $15.00

Reign of Madness - One of the greatest cautionary tales in Spanish history comes to life as Cullen explores the controversial reign of  Queen Juana of Castile - as known as Juana the Mad who came to reign after Queen of Isobel.  What a fascinating story.  $16.00 

More next month!

Ordering is easy!  Call us at 1-800-429-5075 and use your Master Card, Visa, Discover, or American Express.  If you want to send a check:  Ruth Kern Books  P.O. Box 35366, Phoenix, AZ 85069.

If you have questions just call us Monday thru Saturday between 9 am to 5pm Arizona time (In the summer we are the same as California.)

MOST IMPORTANT!  Look for the discount code (four letters) somewhere in this blog and receive a 20% discount. 
This can be used for any book you order from this blog, past blogs or any book you'd like to order. 

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Look forward to hearing from you. 








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