Embroidery samplers have been around for a long, long time. The earliest sampler was found in Peru and dates from about 400 AD but it is likely that samplers were made even before that. Textiles found in Egypt seem to have been samplers too! The earliest sampler found in Europe dates back to 1598.
The word ‘sampler’ comes from the Latin word exemplum which means ‘example’ or ‘model to be followed’. The lack of books in early modern Europe made samplers a source of embroidery knowledge for stitches and patterns. After books became more common, the sampler took on different functions. From that time, the sampler served for young girls to practice stitches, to commemorate important events (such as births or marriages) or even to record other information.*
Over the course of the next month, we will be discussing samplers here on &Stitches. Not so much historical samplers (a fabulous theme in itself!), but we hope to show you examples and stitches that will make you want to start your own sampler. Like this fabulous Patchwork Town sampler, stitched by our very own Julie, featuring lots of different Blackwork fill patterns. Maybe there are new stitches or techniques you want to learn, or maybe you want to embroider your own stitch, floss or colour reference guide. We’ll also be starting a simple sampler ourselves which we hope you will stitch along with us!
*short sampler history based on information found in "Samplers" by Rebecca Scott