Sarah Handley 1847

An antique reproduction

I can’t help it. I call this the ‘Chilli Sampler’ in my head. Those rosebuds in the border? They just look like chillis to me! And yet somehow this fits. I can’t shake the impression of heat and warmth with this sampler. The palm-like trees, the bright colours – I wish I knew where Sarah stitched her lovely piece.

With such a common name and no place, Sarah is proving difficult to pin down. Even with the age, I’m uncertain. I sourced the original from England, but there is a Sarah Handley of the right age in US records. My hunting will continue and I will add an update if successful.

The original of Sarah Handley in detail.

Sarah’s original sampler was worked in bright wools in a combination of full crosses over two and Algerian Eyelets. Lots of eyelets! I love the texture and look of that eyelets give, but if you prefer not to stitch them, you could always use Smyrna crosses or cross-stitches over 4.

A hint for stitching it too: Sarah’s chilli border is far from even, and I’ve retained the small errors she had in the heart and wave borders. Even some of the windows in the house are a stitch off exactly even. When creating an exact antique reproduction, it is standard practice to keep such errors, even as the designer in me longs to correct them!

In your stitch, you could easily fix them if you want, but I love these little touches. It reminds me that nothing we do needs to be perfect – heaven knows nothing I stitch ever is …

I have stitched my reproduction in overdyed flosses, and included a DMC conversion. Using a combination would work great too: some of the pinks and reds in the roof only use a few stitches, so you could easily use DMC for those to cut down on costs (Clay Pot, Baked Apple, Barn Door and Sweetheart Rose).

Complete floss list for Sarah Handley

I also think that it would look great using a majority of DMC, with just a couple of overdyes to add texture and movement. Since elements of the design (such as the borders and alphabets) use colours in small areas, using DMC would be less noticeable than in larger areas. For that reason, if you were going to just use a couple, I’d choose Roasted Marshmallow for the house, and the greens: Pine Needles and Chives (Schneckley would be good too, but is used less in the design). Keep in mind that depending on the size of fabric you’re using and whether you’re using one strand or two, you might need an extra skein of Roasted Marshmallow and Pine Needles. In my model, I stitched using 1 over 2 on 37-count fabric and only needed one skein each.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how you frame and stitch Sarah and her chillies. I just had to recognise her boldness and warmth with a bright red frame. It’s not the usual way to present reproductions, but I think it brings out the strength of the design. What do you think?

*Errata* Please note that the early prints of this chart had invalid DMC numbers in the DMC conversion for Baked Clay and Caramel Corn. They should be 436 and 422 respectively. The Algerian Eyelet border between the alphabets is in Hazelnut. I somehow used the same symbol (?!) for both Clay Pot and Dublin Bay – Clay Pot is used in the roof.

These will be corrected in upcoming print runs. My sincere apologies. If you have a copy with the errors and would like a corrected PDF, please contact me.