Scottish Samplers

Scottish Samplers

Scottish samplers tend to be quite distinctive and therefore easily distinguishable from samplers stitched in other parts of the British Isles. Some of their distinctive character derives from centuries of strong political and economic ties with European countries on the mainland, especially the Netherlands. Political union with England did not occur until 1603, after which Scottish needlework teachers began to incorporate patterns found on 17th century English band samplers, and continued to use these patterns long after they had gone out of fashion in England. The economic difficulties in Scotland encouraged the use of homegrown materials instead of imported ones, hence the frequent use of wool instead of silk threads.

1828 Scottish Sampler

E. Mitchell, 1828

Materials: Crewel wool and silk on linen
Dimensions: 8.25" H X 8.25" W
Stitches: cross, double running, stem
Collection of Lynne Anderson

This small sampler was stitched by E. Mitchell when she was 15 years old. It has many characteristics of Scottish samplers, including the heavy use of red and green thread and the inclusion of family initials.

Mid 1800s Scottish stitched sampler

Jane Leslie, 1856

Materials: Crewel wool, cotton, and silk on linen
Dimensions: 16" H X 17" W
Stitches: cross, braided, eyelet, stem
Collection of Lynne Anderson

This visually interesting sampler was stitched by Jane Leslie when she was 9 years old. Buildings are popular on Scottish samplers and usually depict the girl's home, her school, or an important building in town. Another common Scottish motif is the male peacock with his tail feathers spread.

19th century Scottish sampler

Catherine Tait, 1889

Materials: Wool on linen
Dimensions: 18" H X 16.25" W
Stitches: cross, braided
Collection of Lynne Anderson

Catherine Tait stitched this colorful sampler in 1889 when she was 13 years old. The sampler's design is common to many samplers stitched in Scottish schools in the mid to late 19th century, and similar to the one stitched by Jane Leslie 33 years earlier.