Where’s Jane?

A few days ago I was sitting idly, enjoying my quiet existence and an old phrase popped into my head:

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get

And that got me thinking about Jane Snead.

Jane Snead Samplers was a mail order company that sold stamped cross stitch sampler kits. Samplers have been around since needle and thread were invented I suppose. Children were taught needlework skills by doing sampler projects, using different embroidery stitches to create pictures, typically including ABCs, numbers, and short morals or sayings. Jane Snead sold classic looking kits as well as more updated (that is, not Victorian), humorous sayings.

Although my kitchen now is decorated in early twenty-first century beer glass, my previous style was 50’s and 60’s samplers. I remember “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” from my paternal grandparents’ kitchen, but most of my sampler memories come from my mom’s side of the family. I certainly learned my needlework skills stitching Jane Snead samplers. The stamped pattern on linen was much easier to follow that the charts of counted cross stitch. When the catalog would arrive at my house, or my grandmother’s, or my great-aunt’s I would love reading thru all the funny sayings. The classic was “PLAN AHead” where the letters had to get  smaller and still almost ran out of room on the picture.  The catalog was a black and white, folded paper booklet;  it was always a bit of a surprise seeing what colors of embroidery floss would come in the kit.

I made samplers for myself and my sister and even my high school friends, consisting of pithy reminders such as “Do It Now” and “Kwitcherbellyakin” and the circular (round) “TUIT”.  A favorite story about samplers is when my parents were having a party and one of the male guests was standing in the kitchen and suddenly turned to my mom and said, “Jo, you’re beautiful.” For years there had been a sampler hanging over the kitchen sink that read “I know I’m efficient, tell me I’m beautiful.” It was the first and only time anyone ever read it and acted on it. My favorite sampler is the only one that I still have hanging in the kitchen. This one was actually stitched by my dad:

Although you’ll find our house a mess,
Come in, sit down, converse.
It doesn’t always look like this,
Sometimes it’s even worse.

I went searching for Jane Snead Samplers when the daughters were young because I thought it would be a fun way to teach them beginning sewing. The craft stores had very few stamped crossword projects, and nothing right for the daughters to do. All my internet searches turned up nothing. Jane Snead was apparently dead.

When I thought about writing a sampler blog, I decided to google “Jane Snead” one last time. Surprise! Jane Snead Samplers has gone out of business, but there is an etsy shop called Traditional Keepsakes which is apparently selling all the remaining stock. I also saw a reference that someone from the family who owned the company is selling kits on ebay. Perhaps the same person? Although most of my samplers are stashed in a closet now, I am tempted to order a kit or two, just for old-time sake. But… do I really want to be reminded that:

We grow too soon old,
And too late smart.


6 thoughts on “Where’s Jane?

  1. carol July 23, 2013 / 11:48 am

    I have both a Plan ahead and the do it now sampler that you stitched for me in my office right now. Very few people here get the humor of the plan ahead…

    • Nancy July 25, 2013 / 9:16 am

      Hmmmm, I would have thought the Plan Ahead humor would translate easily between languages and cultures.

  2. Daniel Conaway July 28, 2013 / 10:24 pm

    I believe I inherited your mom’s “Time Wounds All Heels” sampler …

    • Nancy July 29, 2013 / 8:03 am

      I had forgotten about that one, another classic!

  3. Julie Perumean November 8, 2016 / 7:19 pm

    My mom stitched nearly every Jane Snead sampler and lovingly displayed them throughout her old farmhouse. Mom passed away this July and now her samplers hang with pride in our homes. They represent a simpler life and one overflowing with blessings and joys “in the good life”

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