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Take equal measures of: Seaforth Highlander (paternal grandfather); Geordie chambermaid (paternal grandmother); Dutch coiffeur (maternal grandpa) and feisty, auburn-haired court dressmaker (maternal grandma).

Add: A love of colour/running dogs; some very hard knocks; a generous pinch or two of humour; and plenty of sunshine. Mix well and leave to rise for half a century and you might, if you’re very lucky, come up with a Long Dog Sampler. But if that’s all too slow for you just order a chart from the full range available here.

My name is Julia Line, Jools to my friends, and I’m the needle behind Long Dog Samplers.

I grew up in post-war London – all bomb sites, austerity and make-do-and-mend. My embroidery teeth were cut on transfer printed tray cloths bedecked with lazy daisy stitch and doilies edged with crochet lace. All very boring, predictable and unexciting and it wasn’t until nearly forty years later that I finally decided to shake things up a bit and got around to doing something about it.

Julia Lines (Jools)

Antique samplers are undeniably very beautiful and reflect perfectly the prevailing sentiments and fashions of the period in which they were stitched.

But as I’m not a virginal maiden from the 1800’s with a desire to extol “virtue” on drab cloth with a limited pallet of colours any attempt to emulate that particular style would be anathema to me.

I want colour that’s in your face one moment and subtly blended the next. I want more motifs to the inch. I want to mix my metaphors and use new words. But, above all else, I want to encourage others to take their needles and my ideas and run with them, as fast and as far as their imaginations will take them. I want to take samplers screaming and kicking into the 21st century, the digital age where we do things not necessarily better but certainly differently.

Long Dog Samplers was whelped in 1996 and has been going ever since.  I’ll leave you to decide whether or not my mission was accomplished but be warned – Long Dog Samplers are an addictive experience on the edge of reality, once you’ve stitched one you’ll surely crave for more.

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