Needlework knows no boundaries of time or space.
Take a sampler, stitched in Scotland in 1836, the launch of a new design company in 1981, a gathering of cross stitchers in the 1990’s, the search for a long lost stitcher in 2011, the 2015 re-issue of an OOP (out of print) publication, and just yesterday, the re-uniting of two needlework professionals who live hundreds of miles apart.
Here’s what happened.
Way back in 1981 I decided to transition my hand painted needlepoint business into a cross stitch publishing career. Thinking about the subject for my first publication, I thought of a family piece that hung in my in-laws dining room. I hadn’t paid it much attention, sad to say. I had a ways to go!
It was a sampler stitched by Jannet Irving in 1836. A little conversation and a little more research and I discovered that Jannet was born at Raeburnhead, Scotland; married George Farish; had a son, James; and emigrated to America. They settled in what was to become Linwood, New Jersey. James married into the Somers family, for which Somers Point, New Jersey is named. And Jannet ultimately became the great-great-great grandmother to my daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth.
So, Jannet’s sampler became the first cross stitch book published by Jean Farish Needleworks. (The naming of my company wasn’t so much as an ego trip. It was a short cut and a cheap way to making sure I wasn’t infringing on an existing company name. There was no Google in 1981.)
Fast forward to 199o and the launch of my cross stitch enthusiasts’ wonderland, known as the Spirit of Cross Stitch Festival. As it developed (way out of proportion to anything I imagined) we had SOCS Festivals in North Carolina, New York state, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas, and California. Little did I know just how prescient a sentiment I wrote and stitched on one of the Festival Commemorative samplers would be. And somewhere along the line I met someome named Terri.
In 2011, a friend of Terri’s unearthed a sampler and passed it on to her. Being the person she is, she launched a search for the owner. Though that search proved disappointing, Terri decided to stitch her own sampler and added a post to her blog asking for help in locating the chart for it. In that blog, she mentioned that “E & M Harkness” was stitched on the sampler and wondered about it. One of Terri’s readers responded and, yes, it was my Jannet Irving Sampler!
She cleaned up the “found” sampler, framed it and it is still displayed in her home. Terri decided to stitch her own sampler on linen with silk fibers. It remains a WIP but she has renewed interest in finishing it because …
As I was putting the finishing touches on the re-issue of OOP Jannet, I decided to take advantage of the internet and did a search for “E & M Harkness” which was the only part of the sampler that remained a mystery to me. If I could find out why Jannet stitched it beneath the building which is the centerpiece of her sampler, I wanted to add it to the revised publication.
Imagine my utter shock to find just one hit … Terri’s blog post from 2011!
I knew who Terri is … she’s the Dixie Samplar! Moments before, I had just added her company as a source for fabric in the new version! Not remembering that we had met … not knowing she had started her own Jannet Irving. Not knowing she had a friend who found some else’s copy of Jannet Irving.
So I did what anyone else would do. I posted these strange happenings on Facebook. And Terri did what anyone else would do. She sent me a PM and asked me to call her. And I did. And we had a wonderful, warm chat all about found samplers, and fabric, and festivals! And she paid me the highest compliment. See, Terri started The Prim Stitcher’s Society and sponsored a retreat last spring in Williamsburg. She said that her experience at SOCS was an inspiration. Wow.
I’m so glad that The Jannet Irving Sampler was OOP and I had to re-chart it to create a PDF download and a printable chart to sell in my Etsy shop. And decided to research a mystery inscription. Just look at the amazing chain of events.
And now Terri has the revised Jannet chart and promises to finish hers. I can’t wait to see it!
When you’re not busy stitching, please “like” the Jean Farish Needleworks Facebook page, too! This is the best place to make comments about this blog as I get way too many spammers if I allow comments here.
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