Saturday, July 11, 2009

"It Was Written In The Stars . . . "

In 1930, Ruth Wakefield of Whitman, Mass. mixed up a batch of cookie dough, not realizing tht she'd run out of baker's chocolate. The dough was already made, and Ruth had to rush the cookies in the oven to serve at the Toll House Inn -- a business she operated with her husband, Kenneth. In an act of improvisation that altered the course of baking history, she quickly threw in some chopped-up semi-sweet chocolate bits, expecting them to melt into the batter when baked. But when she removed the cookies from the oven, the semi-sweet bits hadn't melted into the dough. Ruth's guests loved the new chocolate-chunk cookie and the Toll House Cookie was born.

Now, I'm not comparing my work with Ruth Wakefield's ground-breaking invention, but I had my own "Ruth Wakefield Moment" last week. As I was finishing the sampler, I discovered, with horror, a terrible mistake. I had planned to stitch in 50 stars -- one for each state -- in the border. When I finished the entire border (hours and hours of stitching), and counted the stars, just to make sure . . . I counted only 48.

I hope my neighbors weren't too inconvenienced by the blood-curdling scream that followed.

What to do? Rip out some of the bars and sew in the stars? Or . . . find a place for the two extra stars in another area of the sampler. And that's how two red stars became celestial bookends for ABRAHAM LINCOLN's name. I had originally planned other design elements to flank Lincoln's name, but it seemed to be written in the stars . . . this was meant to be.

I like seeing Lincoln's name in stars. It befits the office of an executive, the Commander-In-Chief. It's a very simple configuration, plain and straightforward, like Lincoln himself. I was aiming for something solemn, respectful, in keeping with tone of the Gettysburg dedication.

And here's the final stitch back on July 3rd, the fiftieth star . . .

In planning the second phase of the sampler prep, I chose Labor Day, September 7, for the final reveal of the framed piece . . . another national holiday that coincides with a Grand Slam tennis tournament (The U.S. Open, here in NYC, this time). This allows plenty of time to "proofread" the sampler, make minor changes/corrections and deliver it for framing over the summer.

I would be a complete disgrace if I -- a puzzlemaker in a parallel life -- misspelled a word of the Gettysburg Address. I'd never live that one down! That's why I'm proofreading in a slightly obsessive way. And since "misspelled" is one of the most misspelled words in the English language . . . one can't be too careful.

See you in a few days, and enjoy the weekend. Thanks again for visiting on July 4th. Your comments mean the world to me. Ciao!


  1. Hi Liz,

    What an accomplishment!

    And we won't tell anyone about the stars as it looks like you planned it that way! :-)

    I would also be proof reading the sampler as it would be horrible if you had it framed and then you found a misspelling. :-)

    How about having someone else look it over as a new set of eyes might be able to catch a mistake that you won't see as you are too close to it. :-)

    Windy Meadow

  2. It is a lovely, lovely way to get in the 49th and 50th star! Congratulations!

  3. I love finding out little bits of history like you just gave. Who knew that was how chocolate chip cookies were invented?! Fantastic! I love how you fit the 49th and 50th star in as well. Perfect -- and very appropriate for Lincoln's name too. I can't wait till you show the finished piece!

  4. How interesting about Toll House Cookies! I love trivia! The stars will look wonderful flanking Lincoln's name! I am so anxious to see the framed piece! How proud you must be!

  5. So beautiful! I love this. You're coming along very nicely. **clapping** ~ Dawn ~

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  8. Dear Liz, This was my first time to your blog. It was posted on the message board as, "Making of an American Sampler""go look" and of course your blog and sampler is the all the buzz on the board, and for very good reasons. I for one love stitching samplers and my wittle heart went from pitter patter to thump thump thump... Your Gettysburg Sampler is just beautiful,I cannot wait to see it framed and posted for all to see. Since i am new to you and your designs i wondered if this will be a chart or kit that is going to be for sale? We are all praying it will be a chart for sale, as i know there will be a 2 block line at LNS's to purchase this Most Beautiful Design. I will be first in line at my near by lns.
    Your blog is now on my favorite list so i will be sure to check in often.

    Jeanie Burnett/ Arkansas

  9. Jeanie, Welcome! And thanks for visiting. It's hard to take credit for this design, as Lincoln's words are his own, and I feel more like a transcriber or copyist from Bach's era. It's still very much a work in progress, but I will know by mid-September specifics re a chart release. I'll post the info on this blog. I appreciate your good wishes during this Lincoln Bicentennial year. Until next time . . .


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