Monday, February 2, 2015

Free Cross Stitch Chart desgin by Karen Andreola

 Free Cross Stitch Chart

Needlework - the Joy of Accomplishment

What do you do indoors when Jack Frost is nipping at your door? You take advantage of the fireplace.

You keep your hands busy. One grandson asked be be taught how to knit. He has taken to it with gusto. His cat wants to get into the act.

And you read a book that warms the heart.

I asked Sophia (the mother of the above boys) what she remembers to be the most enjoyable book of her childhood. "Caddie Woodlawn," she said. Years ago all my children read it - silently - so I was out-of-the-loop. Recently, I picked it up. Immediately afterward I read its sequel. Now I know why Carol Ryrie Brink's writing is so well-loved and won a Newbery Award. It is so pleasant to read a story where you like the characters and the author obviously does, too. We can guess the source of this mutual affection. Caddie Woodlawn is the author's grandmother. The incidents are based on what Grandma remembered about her girlhood days in the Wisconsin of the 1860s. The stories are true.

Carol Ryrie Brink writes with uplifting humor. Each chapter is a mini story in itself -  is moving, adventurous or sweet - sure to chase away the winter blues - for girls, boys and adults. Christianity and patriotism crop up naturally here and there within the life of this American pioneer family.    

When a little girl, Caddie was sickly. Therefore instead of sitting indoors cutting out quilt squares, Father convinced Mother to let Caddie run wild with her brothers.She gets into all kinds of scrapes. It does make her stronger. But when she reaches age 12 Mother is afraid Caddie will soon be passed learning how to be lady-like altogether. In a bit of a huff Mother says to Father,

"When I was her age, I could make bread and jell and six kinds of cakes, including plum, not to mention all the samplers I had stitched which anyone may see if they care to look in my marriage chest."

Father believes that it will just be a matter-of-time and Caddie will adopt womanly manners. But by chapter 21 some direct words are called for. After Caddie pulls a prank, Father sits down with his daughter in private. He gives her a serious talking-to. But Father is a gentleman. His talk is beautifully stated and worth the price of the book. Caddie receives it well. She trusts her Father. "It is the sisters and wives and mothers . . . who keep the world sweet and beautiful," he tells her. "What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it . . . " A page more of practical and inspiring words round out this gem of a speech on the strengths of womanhood. It brought a tear to my eye.    

Girlhood and Cross Stitch
I wonder if the samplers made by Caddie Woodlawn's mother were kept in the family. Or if Caddie herself ever settled down to stitching one. Samplers were first made for recording alphabets used for marking dainty linens. They were kept in a sewing basket for reference. As the 18th century progressed samplers became picturesque. Elaborate scenes were created below the alphabets.  The needlework was adorned by a border of flowers or strawberries. Watching the BBC 1995 TV Series, "Pride and Prejudice" I noticed, in one scene, patient Jane sitting with needle and thread sewing what looks to be a sampler. How do I know? A tell-tale border of strawberries edges the linen in her hands. 

Needlework in School
During the 18th century the education of daughters of the middle class was most often carried out at home with a mother or governess. Or if money could be spared, at a female academy or finishing school. Women who were unmarried set up a small school in town to earn a living. Sometimes the teachers were widowed ladies needing to provide for any children they might have. Newspaper advertisements from the 18th century exist showing the subjects taught in these schools. English, French, geography, arithmetic, writing, music, drawing, dancing, and needlework. *1

Green dogs? What was Ann thinking?

Within a decade or two after the American Revolution town schools (although with some opposition) were allowing girls. Besides studying their books girls did "regular stints . . . of knitting and sewing." This was plain sewing for the household. But they also did fancy sewing. Each girl made a decorative sampler which was expected to be a household treasure ever after.*2 Proud parents would frame the sampler and place it on the wall of the parlor.

Charlotte Mason Recommends Samplers
By the late 19th century, sampler-making was becoming less popular. Curriculum was changing. But it was given a mention by Charlotte Mason. Among the useful handicrafts, knitting and rug-hooking, etc. she recommends "samplers on coarse canvas showing a variety of stitches."*3 Today girls might start with Aida cloth.

My newest project is "Anne Anthony - 1786" - (below). The original is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All I can show you is my slow but steady progress at the top. It is a challenge in size and detail. The strange threads you see along the top, etc. are my way of marking off the tens. Among the alphabets, birds, and flowers, there is (not shown here) a blue house to be stitched soon and what appears to be a large family dressed in period clothing. The little girl holding the hand of a big sister might be Ann herself. Here's a good tip for stitching large areas. Count alertly. Outline accurately. Then fill in comfortably.

Moral Verse
Quite often a moral verse was stitched into a sampler. Stitching helped to hide virtues in the heart. Needlework was not only a skill but a reminder of Christian humility, reference, and good works. What I am showing of the antique blueberry-raspberry sampler - 1847 - (with the green dogs), are from a reproduction that I finished - by a different Ann. I changed the verse to one that is more meaningful to me than the one charted - "The Old Rugged Cross" (above)

Ann Anthony - 1786 stitched lavender strawberry buds in her border. The bird is waiting for lavender silk thread.

Here is a verse stitched into the antique sampler of Martha Perry in 1800.

Are not the sparrows fed by thee,
And wilt though clothe the lilies and not me.
Begone distrust! I shall have clothes and bread,
While lilies flourish and birds are fed.*4

I'm taking my time with "Anne Anthony - 1786." I'm in no rush. I mustn't be. That isn't the way a sampler is created. For Ann it went slowly, too. It took a year to complete most likely. She worked on it dutifully, probably before she would be allowed to play. But the hours she worked on it couldn't have been all grim. The months it took to complete produced the satisfaction of work well done - the joy of accomplishment that is earned by self-discipline.

Free Cross Stitch Chart

A Mini Cross Stitch
Free Cross Stitch Chart I like small projects, too and in hopes of encouraging beginners I designed one for my blog friends and their daughters - "A Bleeding Heart Spring."

Free Chart

Click to download: 
A Bleeding Heart Spring.pdf
I include instructions (scroll below) for beginners.

One of my first - Aida cloth - with glass beads
End Notes

*1. Rebecca Scott, Samplers, Shire Pubs. pgs 43, 44, 45. (I enjoyed reading this well-written history of needlwork in England.)
*2. Clifton Johnson, Old Time Schools and Schoolbooks, pgs 141,142
*3. Charlotte Mason, Home Education, pg 315. (Her word "sampler" popped out at me as you may imagine.)
*4. Patricia Ryan & Allen D. Bragdon, Historic Samplers, Little Brown, pg 160
Caddie Woodlawn was written in 1935. (for grade 5 - up). After receiving so many letters from children urging her to write another book about Caddie, Carol Ryrie Brink finally did - ten years hence - Caddie Woodlawn's Family - formally Magical Melons

Happy Stitching,
Karen Andreola

Stitching in the sunny parlor.

Four holes on Aida cloth will accommodate one cross. No hoop is needed if stitched gently while snugly. DMC floss has 6 strands. Separate the strands to use two in a size 24 tapestry needle.
Start with a 5-inch square (at least or larger) of 14-ct Aida. I used linen. My picture is less than 4 inches square. You can start with the flower a couples inches from the top of your cloth. Outline and fill-in. I started with the rabbits while I worked out the design. Use any color floss you like or those I listed on the chart.

Trace a 4-inch square around your finished picture. Sew a quarter-inch seam, leaving an opening for stuffing. Under my linen I used a fabric interfacing but Aida will not need this. Choose calico for the bottom. Stuff pincushion densely. Lace at the seam is optional. One of the Christmas gifts I received was tied in bright red chenille rick-rack. Wanting to use this darling stuff up is what gave me the idea to make my pincushion and up-the-brightness of the thread color of the bleeding heart to match it.    


  1. There's nothing like a sampler to add a touch of personal warmth to a home. These are lovely.

  2. Beautiful stitching, Karen. Caddie is one of my favorites.
    Enjoy your day!

  3. Beautiful! Also, I must read Caddie Woodlawn now. Both of my children read it, the "talk" by her father brought tears to my eyes.

    I was watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow where someone had an old sampler. It turned out to be worth something like $17,000 as it was from the 18th century. I had to smile, wondering what the young girl who worked on it would think if she knew it existed today and how much it is valued now.

  4. Thank you so much, Karen!! I have printed it already as it is perfect for my daughter Bekah. She loves bleeding hearts (they bloom in time for her April birthday every year and we see them on her birthday nature walk) and my little pet name for her is Bunny. This sampler has her name written all over it and I think she'll enjoy stitching it.

    I love that your grandson wanted to learn to knit...and that you were his teacher! What a delight!

    Oh how we loved reading Caddie Woodlawn together! I copied the very same passage you shared. It is full of inspiration!

  5. Confession - I have never read Caddie Woodlawn! I must now!

    Your stitching is lovely. And your pattern, as a gift to us, is sweet! I am going to print it too.


  6. I have a great-niece who is always willing to learn something new. The manageable size of your design should be just right for her. I'll download it and gather supplies for a snowy-day project. Many thanks, and happy stitching!


  7. Hi Karen
    I enjoy your blog very much! I find it very peaceful and relaxing. I love to do needlepoint but I notice that craft stores carry less than what they used to. Do you download all the patterns? Also where do you purchase the linen? Fortunately the craft stores still carry thread, I would love to make a sampler.

  8. Thank you for sharing your interest, Ladies.

    Needlepoint is still popular in England and crewel work. They can both be found online.

    About Samplers:
    You might like Heartstrings Samplery. Beth Twist features Christian themes. She has a slide show on her blog: twistfamily.blogspot. Her designs are inspired by antique sources. She likes muted colors and tightly woven fine linens such as (to me) an intimidated 40 stitches-per-inch thread count. I am using 30ct with a magnifying glass balanced around my neck and eyeglasses. My earlier work was on 28ct linen which is comparable to 14ct Aida. A linen source is in the margin of her blog.
    The Scarlett Letter sells girlhood reproduction kits, charts, linen, cotton or silk thread. Most are big projects on 40ct - as the original work was done. But you can use 28ct or 30ct as I do - just know that this makes the picture bigger. Ann Anthony 1786 is from The Essamplaire.

    In sharing the mini cross stitch chart, my thanks go to Dean for his help with the photos and our son Nigel who directed us how to place the pdf in the post to fulfill the whim of the Lady-of-the-House.

    Yes, I the bleeding heart is a manageable size. Remember, it is easy to "pick-out" wrong stitches - something I do regularly.

    I wish I was the one who taught my eager grandson to knit but it was his mother. I did teach her - so I do feel a connection.

    Karen A.

  9. Dear Karen,

    Your posts are often like a warm hug for me. Reading them encourages in me a time of quiet reflection, reminding me of sweet, imple ways to breathe life into our homeschooling journey. Today, my birthday, I was particularly tickled to see your post was about cross stitching (and samplers, in particular) as stitching on linen is one of my very favorite "hobbies". I am stitching a Rhode Island sampler from a 2002 issue of SANQ right now. Your blog posts are always (!!!) a blessing, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences, and nuggets of wisdom with us. With grateful prayers for you! Kristina

  10. I love Caddie Woodlawn! I remember my 5th grade teacher reading it after lunch. What a delight to see your grandson knitting; so well too. My, now 16 year old, son is a beginning knitwear designer, twice published. He taught himself to knit at about 8 yrs old; while I was learning myself. I love to hear of his latest designs because I still don't think he realizes the amount of math he uses on each pattern design! God is so good!

  11. Thank you for taking the time and sharing this pincushion pattern, dear Karen.
    I need to get back to this gentle art once again. It has been years! I am thinking this smaller project would work beautifully.

  12. I need to check out the book. It sounds very interesting.

    Thank you for the free sampler!

    I hope you're well. The boys look like they're having fun with Grandmother.


  13. Good weekend to you Karen!
    My daughter read Caddie Woodlawn, but also silently. Now I want to dig out that book for a read aloud. I read aloud a lot to the children when they were small, but now that they're teens, they don't want to make time for it. Do you have a suggestion for a book that might hold their interest? We've read the Narnia series. 13 and 17 year old girls and a 15 year old boy all homeschooled all their life.

    Please drop by!

    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  14. Oops! My daughter said she hasn't read it. It's around here somewhere in this house of books. She's laughing at me as I type this. (17 year old) I think maybe instead of being a nice read aloud, this may be assigned! (Did you see me type that, Emily?)

    Seriously, I'm going to see if I can find it and read it.

  15. Hi Ladies,
    A good read aloud that springs to mind are the true stories by Ralph Moody. He wrote Little Britches, etc. Dean read Ralph Moody and I read Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place when our children in their teens. These are history-biography.

    Yes, my large sampler WIP is of the Rhode Island design style of the girls' schools there.

    Knitting and Numbers
    How interesting here about your son's progress with knitting. Knitting and math are inseparable.
    When one is given some beautiful yarn as a present then comes the task of finding a pattern that will take the right gauge of one's swatch. "Oh, this yarn would be wonderful in this baby cardigan but the stitches-per-inch in the pattern are a bit too different than my swatch," I said recently. It isn't always as easy as "changing the needle size" to solve the problem. Sometimes changing the numbers in the pattern, when your heart is set on that pattern - is required. This is what I'm doing now - hoping it will turn out. We'll see.

    I like our chats,
    Karen A.

  16. I really liked the Martha Perry 1800 verse you mentioned above. Would I be able to purchase the pattern somewhere? I see you listed two sites above - would I find it there? Thank you.

  17. Good morning Karen! What a lovely post! It has been about 15 years since I read Caddie Woodlawn to my now grown children, I will have to read it again. :-)

    I love your samplers! Thank you for the sweet little chart. I love bleeding hearts and I will definitely be stitching it soon!

    How fun that your grandson is learning to knit. My little man wants to learn and I need to take the time and teach him! :-)

  18. Hi Ladies,
    I wouldn't know where to find Martha Perry's sampler.
    The verse that she stitched is listed in the back of the book, Historic Samplers by Patricia Ryan. It on one among other verses found on girlhood samplers. Many simple (original) samplers are pictured in this book along with the charts to reproduce them but Martha Perry's work is not included. If you like the verse you could stitch it into a sampler design of your choosing. I've done this.

  19. Thank you so much for the little cross stitch pattern! It is lovely reminder that spring is coming and has been perfect to do with my ten year old daughter on a snowy afternoon in Quarryville. Your blog is a joy and blessing to me. I recently discovered you as I am homeschooling my children in the Charlotte Mason style for the first time, this year. What a delightful way to teach and such a pleasure for all of us. It is a huge change from what we had done previously, which is all I knew until now. It has brought the joy of learning together that my heart yearned for and is the perfect fit for our family; I thank the Lord constantly for leading us in this direction. I look forward with anticipation to reading your books.