If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I’ve inherited two samplers – an embroidery sampler and a knitting sampler. The embroidery sampler was made by my Mum, aged 8, in 1941. I don’t know anything about the date or the maker of the knitting sampler.
The samplers spent decades in my parents’ attic, and after that, over twenty years in a deep dark cupboard in my home. High time to give them the attention they deserve. I’ve been studying them closely and thinking about the people who made them, and I’d love to find out more about the knitting sampler. But first and foremost, my hands were itching to DO something with them.
The word ‘sampler’ is related to ‘example’, and that is exactly what samplers like these were meant for. To provide the girls who made them with examples to be used later in life, for useful and beautiful textiles for their families and homes.
For my first sampler-based project, I’ve stayed close to that idea. Combining and adapting elements from both samplers, I’ve designed and knit a monogrammed guest towel, using the yarn left over from the monogram for a small face cloth.
For the first version that I made, I also stayed close to the original colours.
From the knitting sampler, I borrowed the second stitch pattern from the bottom – mini-blocks. That was simple.
Translating the embroidered letters into knitted ones was less straightforward, because a cross stitch is square while a knit stitch is a flat rectangle. You know what it’s like when your tv screen has the wrong picture format and people’s faces get squashed? That’s what would happen if the letters were simply copied from the embroidered examples in knitting.
So, to begin with, I stretched the letters out. As a result some of the ‘legs’ looked wrong, and I had to alter those. When I tried knitting them, I found out that the letters still didn’t look quite right, and I tweaked a few other details until I was happy with them.
The second problem I ran up against, was that my Mum’s sampler didn’t have a complete alphabet – it had only 19 letters. It did have an M and a D (for Merula Designs), but it lacked several other essential letters. Looking at similar samplers, I finally pieced together a complete knittable alphabet. Phew, problems solved.
Or so I thought. Because when I started knitting more swatches, I soon realized that the back of the monogram wasn’t going to look very attractive. Uh-oh.
In the end, I solved that by adding a nice little surprise to the back.
I tried out several loops and decided on a bit of I-cord. Then I knit another towel, and another one – each with a matching face cloth. Here is a close-up of the loops…
… and one of the monograms.
Each towel & face cloth set was knit in a different yarn.
I’d like to go greener in my knitting, but that isn’t always easy. First, because there are some old yarn friends that I’m strongly attached to. Second, because the choice in organic yarns is still very limited. And third, because organic yarns can be rather expensive. In the end I came up with 3 options:
- An old friend: Rowan ‘Handknit cotton’ (linen/red version)
- An affordable organic yarn: Lana Grossa ‘Linea Pura Organico’ (cream/taupe version)
- An inexpensive sustainable yarn: Drops ‘Paris Recycled Denim’ (blue version)
If I’m honest, the organic version is my favourite. It is very soft and supple.
But the other ones are really nice, too.
I’ve written out the pattern for anyone who would like to make a monogrammed guest towel of their own. Personalized with the recipient’s monogram, I think a guest towel & face cloth set would make a lovely Christmas, Birthday or Wedding Anniversary gift.
The pattern includes:
- Clear knitting instructions and charts for towel & face cloth
- A complete knittable alphabet
- Instructions and an empty grid for designing your own monogram
- Tips for knitting the monogram and the I-cord loop
The Monogrammed Guest Towel pattern can be found here on Ravelry
(available in English & Dutch, also to non-Ravelry members)
Now, what else could I make based on my inherited samplers? Hmmmm……
As always, thank you for reading and take care! Xxx