Mary Maxim, craft store to the far flung Canadian woman, had a lovely little sampler for Grandparents. It had clouds for your grandkids names around the phrase 'Grandchildren are the Treasures of Life.'
In the early 80's, I was just starting to get into cross stitch. So many of us were. I crocheted, I knit a very little and not so well as I liked, I quilted a bit, I sewed a great deal for my kids. I did what needed doing. I wanted to make that sampler for my mother in law. She was not into embroidery at all, so I knew it would be the perfect gift for a very hard to gift person. She always appreciated handmade things, being a very talented craft person in her own right.
What I did not want to do, was have to buy what was then, for my household, a very expensive kit. We operated very, very lean. It was the days of high interest and low return from the farm. It was our pea soup days. There wasn't anything to waste.
So I searched through some old magasines I had and found a little motif and created this.
The fabric is Aida cloth and the work is done with DMC thread. I started using DMC thread because my mom used DMC thread and I had inherited her thread box. I consider that a stroke of luck because DMC threads had a much broader range of colours when I began doing a lot of embroidery.
You can see the outer edges of the work. They are, most horrifically, bound in tape. This was, at the time my magasines came from, a recommended way to stop the edges from fraying. Horrifying to think of it now, and it should have been removed, but the way the frame was constructed, we needed a firm edging to mount the work in the frame. I would do anything to be able to redo it now. I should have sewn a strip of bias tape around it for mounting and stretching properly. As it was, the work was tacked to the frame and that was that.
Brian had made a frame with ends of the ash he was using as he built their house and he built to the size of the fabric before I started embroidering. Once the work was complete, I washed the piece and disaster struck. The embroidered fabric shrank. I was desperate. The holidays were imminent and I had no time to rework the piece to fit the frame. I had more aida so I used the sewing machine to sew a wide buttonhole stitch around the work to connect it to the larger aida backing fabric. It turned out well enough and the picture hung in their living room undisturbed, but for the adding of three more grandchildren as the years went by.
It was the very first large embroidery piece I did. I worked many large pieces over the years. I wish I would have taken pictures of them as I finished them. There were some truly lovely pieces. Birth samplers. Lots of those. Wedding samplers. All kinds of lovely things. I don't know if anyone still has the work, but I like to imagine that somewhere, somehow, they are treasured, even if it is only in memory.