Friday, August 18, 2017

Jane Austen's Cross-Stitch Sampler

Long before Miss Jessica and I created our Jane Austen crafting exchange for the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice I had made another Jane themed present for her. I had ordered two of the Jane Austen's Cross-Stitch Kit Sampler from The Jane Austen Centre in Bath. I have always had a love of embroidery and cross-stitch from a very early age when at a friend's birthday party I was given a little kit to cross-stitch a Scottie dog. I was hooked. I even started making my own patterns and designs, much to the delight of my grandmother, as I was her only grandchild who showed an interest or aptitude in a home art that she excelled at. What I love about vintage embroidery is that someone slaved over it and even a hundred years later it's still around, the home arts preserved for generations. What's more, if you are recreating a sampler that was made by someone you know or admire, either a family member or an author, doing the same task unites you across time.

At least that's the joy I anticipated when The Jane Austen Centre released their first two kits. Jane and I would be connected through this task! The other kit was a portrait of Jane, and personally, it wasn't the best design. But this design? It's taken from a sampler Jane herself worked probably when she was about twelve years old but adapted here to fit an oval composition. I'd never worked a kit bought from England before, so I didn't know if this is common or not, but they use a different amount of embroidery thread. Usually when cross-stitching, at least stateside, you double the strand so that it doesn't disappear against the ground of the fabric. The kit said to use only one strand. I did try this, but just as I knew would be the case, the thread just disappeared against the background. Luckily I had ordered two kits, so I had double the thread. Which means if I ever get around to making one for myself I seriously need to do some DMC color matching or order myself two more kits, which seems a bit of a waste of money.
  But I seriously love how it turned out. I love that center of flowers and while not a religious person, knowing that Jane is the daughter of a rector growing up in parsonage the religious overtones are to be expected for various reasons. What I really love though is the use of very light yellow and cream threads that give the piece depth while at the same time not making the composition feel crowded. I had it simply but very elegantly framed by my friend Chuck at Meuer Art and Picture Frame Company. In fact Chuck framed it perfectly, with that silver frame being just the right counterbalance to the green matte and the colors in the piece. Complimenting but not overpowering. Also, an interesting note for those who want to get any cross-stitch framed, firstly look online for how to iron it, it's tricky but really works. But more importantly, because the fabric used is porous due to the nature of cross-stitch, make sure you get it stretched over a board that compliments the colors of the piece. If I had used a dark colored board behind the work, let's just say that it wouldn't have that airy elegance that it does.


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