Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Lovely Gathering...

Hello everyone!

Thank you to all of my lovely blogger friends for your comments about my Gathering of Embroiderers trip!  Everyone wished me a wonderful time and I am here to tell you that I had a fabulous time!  Hubby and I left for Williamburg on Thursday around noon and arrived in time to check in to our hotel and quickly check out a most wonderful needlework shop, Haus Tirol.  I walked in and thought that I had died and gone to heaven!  Unfortunately, we got there around 4:00 and they close at 4:30 so I had to do some major browsing and quickly!  The ladies there were so nice and everything was gorgeous.  If you are ever in Williamsburg, VA, then you must go to Haus Tirol.  They have been in business for over 30 years and you won't be disappointed. 

We had dinner at a great little Thai restaurant that we found this past summer and headed back to our hotel where I checked in with the folks of  "The Gathering."  I got my name badge and a lovely "Gathering of Embroiderers" Pin as well as the schedule of classes and a listing of all of the people who would be in attendance along with their addresses and emails.  It was interesting to see where everyone was from.  There were people in attendance from California, Washington State, Canada, Texas, Wyoming....all over the US!    The hotel was wonderful and the rooms were spacious and the beds were comfortable.  Honestly, when I went to bed Thursday night, I could not sleep.  I was so excited about my class the next day!

Friday morning dawned and I was up at 6:00 am.  Class did not start until 8:30 but I just had to get moving!  Ate a good breakfast and then went to the meeting room where the class was being held.  There right on the front table was a stitched model of the Richmond Sampler and here is a picture. 

It was absolutely gorgeous!  As I stood drooling over the piece, the organizer of the Gathering, Jeannine came up to me and introduced herself.  She was the nicest, most welcoming person and she made me feel right at home.  She introduced me to the instructor for the Richmond Sampler class, Margriet Hogue from The Essamplaire.  I was so excited to meet my first designer and someone who produces such gorgeous reproduction sampler charts!  Jeannine then introduced me to other ladies that were part of the class.  It seemed like everyone knew everyone and it was like a reunion of sorts.  The all made me feel so welcome and any fear that I had was washed away.

We got started and Margriet handed out our linen, threads and charts.  The threads and charts were in this wonderful plastic file...what a great idea!   I had never thought to use those file folders for WIP charts before! 

I opened the file and there were the Au ver Soie silks!  They were so pretty!

Included with the instructions and charts were two life size photographs of the sampler.  What a wonderful thing to have!  Now, as I stitch at home, it is like the model is here with me!

As we got started stitching the flower in the upper left hand corner, I noticed that none of the ladies were using any hoops, q-snaps, or scroll rods.  It was official, I was the rookie coming up to the big leagues.  Every person stitched in hand so they simply rolled up the linen and started stitching.  I have to be honest, I did not want to stand out so I started stitching in hand too...which as some of you know I have been practicing.  Well, needless to say, here it was sink or swim.  I still have not gotten the sewing method, but I did master in hand "poke & pull!"  Moving along from the flower, we start on the border.  This is where it gets interesting. 

The border is almost entirely queen stitches.  I have never done queen stitches.  Little did I know that queen stitches were going to be the bane of my existence.  All of the other stitchers started flying with their queen stitches, I instead, raised my hand and admitted that I had never done a queen stitch before.  Margriet was so helpful but she only knew how to teach queen stitch through the sewing method.  So, I  learned how to queen stitch through the sewing method!  Now if only I could master those darn x's!  Well, I say that I learned...maybe I should say I was shown how.  I am still learning.  I started practicing my queen stitches around 11:00 am.  We broke for lunch at 12:00.  We assembled again at 2:00 and finished at 5:00.  Below is a picture of what I accomplished.  The flowers were stitched in about 1.5 hours while chatting away.  The practice queen stitches, in the olive green at the top are what I accomplished in 3.5 hours in virtual silence because I was concentrating so hard!

As I was struggling with those damnable queen stitches, the other ladies were flying through them.  Margriet was kind enough to remind me not to worry, that I too will master queen stitches.  The jury is still out but I love the Richmond Sampler so much that I will force myself to get them down pat!

There was the most wonderful stitchers boutique set up with vendors and their wares. I was tempted by many, especially the kits from The Essamplaire, but I was good and bought only one chart from Margriet.  It is the Mary Stourt sampler, 1760.  I purchased it because my grandmother's first and middle name is Mary Stuart.  Same pronunciation, different spelling.

I was very disciplined and only bought one more thing...these darling project bags.  The larger bag is for your linen and chart and the smaller bag is for threads.  They were so cute and much better than the old pillowcases that I have been using for my WIP's.  Besides, Richmond Sampler deserves better digs than a pillowcase!

Even though I struggled with the queen stitches, I still had a fabulous time.  Hubby and I drove home after the class was over.  I wish that I could have stayed longer since the Gathering lasts until Sunday, Feb. 28.  Maybe I will be able to stay longer next year because I am definitely going back!  It was so nice to be with fellow stitchers and see and learn new things!  I am still on cloud nine from the experience!  Now I have a wonderful sampler to stitch and through it will be reminded of a wonderful experience.  I hope to work on Richmond the next couple of days so I will try to have progress pics soon.

Again, thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm.  Knowing that I could share with such wonderful people made my trip and the sampler even more special!  What a lucky girl I am to have such great stitching friends in such a wonderful community!  Till next time...Happy Stitching!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful experience and outing you had, Valerie! I am so thrilled for you! Great memories to have!

Your Richmond Sampler is off to a fabulous start! Know you will get that Queen Stitch mastered for sure!

Love your fabric bag purchases!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Anonymous said...

Me again! Sorry, I forgot to sign my name in my haste!


Sharlotte said...

Oh what fun times you had! I know what you mean about the queen stitches. I have a few patterns , mostly from Lorri Birmingham , that require queen stitches. They're tricky in the beginning , but you'll get the hang of it! I still have times when there seems to be some sort of seperation between them when butted up to each other. Never have figured out what causes it. The sampler is really lovely and I can see ( believe it or not I do have some clear vision in this iritis mess! ) why you HAD to do this one! I'm working on knitting right now which is not as eye-straining and I happen to be a knitter that can knit while not looking at her work, which helps a lot! I also have been working a little on a punch needle, where there again, isn't as eye-straining for me. I may even post some progress on it tomorrow, who knows! Have a great day.

KarenV said...

It sounds like you had a great time! I use similar plastic pockets for my WIPs and love them :) Mine have a snap closure, but they're otherwise the same).

I also stitch in hand, using the stab method for regular xs and the sewing method for other stitches, including queen stitches. QS are fun once you get the hang of them - I love doing them, although I know a lot of people hate them. Practice will help a lot! ~Your two samplers are beautiful and I'm looking forward to your progress!

Vonna Pfeiffer said...

I'm jealous! That sounds like a fabulous time :) The sampler is gorgeous!

Margaret said...

Oh wow! I so wish I could have been there at that class -- that is one spectacular piece! Queen stitches are a pain, but I'm sure with practice you'll do fine. And stitching in hand is a matter of practice too. I love stitching in hand! Thanks for sharing your experience!

Chocolates4Breakfast (Terri ~ Boog) said...

I am so glad you had such a great time, Valerie! I would love to do the Richmond Sampler one day but an entire border of Queen stitches - I don't think so. I think I'd have to substitute them for something else. Good for you for sticking with it! Will you continue to work in hand or go back to rods? I just can't do the in hand thing; I love my scroll rods!

Your purchase of the fabric bags is wonderful - what a pretty way to store your projects.

Now - I have to wonder if we aren't in some way related.... my family has a very long link to the Stuarts in Scotland. Mary Stuart, to be exact. It's all been documented in a book that is in the Smithsonian. My brother and sister aren't in the book as they weren't born when it was published. The book is our documented link should we ever want to join the DAR or anything. All the boys in the family have the name Stuart in their name somewhere. My father and all his brothers are Stuarts (as a middle name) as are my kids. I'll have to do some checking. We come from a long line of Presbyterian ministers - one of whom served in the Revolutionary war. Who knows; but wouldn't it be something if it turned out we had a common link?
I am pretty sure there is a Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) sampler - we should do it together one day!

Great report back on your time in Williamsburg - thanks for sharing!

Laurie in Iowa said...

Wow, I wish I could have been in class with you at Williamsburg. It sounds like you had a fabulous time. Thanks for sharing with us.
The queen stitch does get easier the more you practice... and I think you'll have plenty of practice on this sampler.

Ellie said...

Hi, Sounds like you had a great time. This afternoon I am going to try the queen stitch,too. I like to learn new skills my latest is stretching. I hope some day to attend a class like yours. Happy Stitching !!! Jan

Sherri said...

Wow, sounds like you had a great time! You have a lovely sampler to stitch and I love the project bags. I say "queen stitches, yuck" but maybe I'll get the hang of them someday, too.

Katrina said...

I don't know how I haven't found your blog before now. The trip sounds wonderful, I am green with envy :-). I actually lived in Hampton for several years, so I have been to Haus Tirol several times, it's a wonderful shop.

The samplers are all fantastic and practice makes perfect on queen sttiches. I love them but it took me a while to get there, LOL.

Tanya said...

Just found your blog! Loved seeing
your work. Your trip sound fabulous and the sampler is gorgeous.

Deb said...

Oh Valerie - what a wonderful time you've shared with us. I'm so envious! That sampler is going to be so beautiful when you're finished and don't fret too much over those Queen Stitches - I used to hate them, but with practice, I actually enjoy them now, and I'm hoping that you will too.

You made some wonderful purchases, things that you'll always look at with memories of the wonderful time you had!!

Glenna said...

Oh my goodness, I now have extreme sampler envy! I want the Richmond Sampler--I so hope they sell it after the class sometime. And you go, girl, on the stitching in hand and the queen stitches!! I stitch in a Q snap, and my queen stitches aren't fast either! What a wonderful, fascinating stitchy post!

Glenna said...

Oh, and I totally agree about Haus Tirol--they have great stuff!

Kellie said...

Hi Valerie,
Sounds like you had a wonderful time and got a great start on that beautiful sampler. I love the project bags and the other chart you purchased too. :) Those plastic envelopes are a neat idea for WIPs.
Glad you had such a great experience. :)

Siobhán said...

Valerie, I am so glad that you had such a good time! :) It sounds amazing. This sounds goofy, but thanks for explaining what Huas Tirol is. I have heard of the shop but didn't know it was a LNS. YGG on the in hand stitching! I think you'll find that it comes with practice. Same with the sewing method. You'll get into a rhythm and after a week or two of doing it, it'll come naturally to you. I always say that it's like learning a new computer operating system or program. It's weird at first and daunting but within a week or two, it's second nature. Anyway, I'm glad you had such a good time. :)

Juels said...

What a gorgeous sampler! Just keep practicing that queen's stitch and soon you will be an expert. Glad you had a wonderful time. I think I have to check this event out for next year.

Anonymous said...

Valerie, WHAT A GREAT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel as if I were there too thru your description. I have never been to a stitchers gathering and would love to attend some day. I would have been the one with my hand up also. I've never done queen stitches either!

Lois said...

As someone who is not a Queen stitch lover I know exactly how you're feeling about them! I have been known to avoid charts where there are lots of QS to be done! Sounds like you'd a wonderful time, your purchases are lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing your progress on the Richmond Sampler.

Real Live Woman said...

It sounds like a wonderful weekend. I tried to get to Haus Tirol when we were in Williamsburg for a few days this summer, but the early closing hours didn't work with our schedule and I never made it. I'll have to try and get back there.

Kajsa said...

What a beautiful sampler! It sounds like such a great experience, and a wonderful class to take

Susan said...

Valerie -

So glad you enjoyed your time in Williamsburg! My mom and I were sitting in the row behind you in the Richmond sampler class. We both love the sampler - I've been attending the seminar for 14 years now and this is one of my very favorite pieces!

I agree with you about stitching in hand - I am putting this piece on scroll bars as soon as I get another pair that is long enough, and my Mom always uses a hoop. You'll find the queen stitches are easier once you've got some tension - I do not use the sewing method - I'm a stabber but you can figure it out if you just follow the diagram. Put the long stitch in but leave it a little loose so that you can see where to come up for the tie-down stitch. Once you've brought your needle up then pull to tighten before you go down to finish the tie-down. A little practice and you'll have it down pat.

I hope to see you again next year!

Nicky said...

Valerie, it sounds like you had the most wonderful time. That sampler is amazing - and enormous! No doubt practice will make perfect for your Queen stitches. I've had a lovely time looking at your blog.
Nicky, New Zealand

OldRound said...

My mom cross stitched for years. At least 40. She used hoops and those new plastic thingamajigs so the worry to use or not to use them must be equal to the knitterly worry of whether it is better to knit english throwing style or continental. : )

OldRound said...

I should add that there were times when she stitched without a hoop. I suspect it had to do with the type of fabric used.

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