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Anna Maria (Werry) Elford’s Sampler, 1841

January 16, 2022

Anna Maria Werry's Sampler, 1841, age 9

Out of necessity, pioneer families taught children how to work very young, and so much early Victorian education was practically related to the labouring lives that they would lead. As soon as they matured beyond being a toddler, most kids would be helping their parents. Girls were prepared to be mothers and to be proficient at domestic labour. How many great life lessons there were in making a sampler.

As she made the sampler, Anna practiced perfectly making her letters and numbers, it was penmanship taken to another level. She was learning how to write. She practiced the stitches that she could use for the rest of her life, and the artistry she could apply to make things wonderful for her family, using just what she had at hand. She learned the numerical skills of how to carefully lay out the pattern and the patience and determination to see such a complicated and time-consuming task through to completion.

When it was done, how precious it was, for the artistry, all the labour that went into it, and just for having the material and coloured thread to make it. It became a family heirloom, and remains an inspiration today.

Would you like to try making one yourself?

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