A special connection

I’m sure a little Victorian girl could never have dreamed that her work would be held in such high regard and inspire so many projects today.

Don’t you love it when your favourite things connect? In my case, a very favourite sampler and my lovely friend Kate Bowles have made the perfect connection. 

Kate is a book binder extraordinaire. I send her pieces of my stitching and prints of special samplers and she simply creates treasures. I say ‘simply’ mainly because I don’t know really know how she does it but I suspect a magic wand may be involved! 

The mini notebook you can see is the marriage of Kate’s magic and prints of my beloved Catherine Archer sampler. Each book is slightly different but all stand 3.5in (9cm) high. Not just a notebook, the back page incorporates an old-fashioned needlepaper folded to hold three of my signature gold-plated needles. And it doesn’t stop there… Kate has also fashioned the perfect matchbox for the notebook to live in and found me the very tiny pencil and covered it in hand–printed pieces of Catherine Archer’s sampler. (The tiny vintage button on the end of the pencil makes it easy to extract it from its home in the spine.) All Kate’s makes are limited editions but I am pleased to have some of these glorious notebooks to share with you.

You can read more about my very talented friend here and take a look at her Folksy shop too. Kate doesn’t stop at book binding, she is also the inventor of my Raspberry Thread Waxer.

As for the Catherine Archer Sampler that inspired the notebooks, you may like to know a little more. I feel privileged to say that it is a sampler I own and I love using bits of it – just like a sampler used to be! It is what’s called a Müller Sampler.

Muller samplers are much sort after and if you are wondering about the name, Catherine Archer was the little girl who stitched it. An orphan, she stitched this sampler while she was living at Ashley Down Orphanage, one of the Müller orphanages in Bristol, UK. As was often the case with the alphabet samplers stitched by Müller children, Catherine’s design includes dozens of complete alphabets, her classmates’ initials, border motifs, keys and a Bible. The stitching is quite breath-taking, with around 45 stitches to every inch. You can read more about Catherine and the Muller Trust here.

I’m sure this little Victorian girl could never have dreamed that her work would be held in such high regard and inspire so many projects today. 

Image courtesy of Kate Bowles

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