Sampler by Elizabeth McDiarmid, 1867.

Cotton canvas, polychrome wool threads, 445mm x 325mm.

This is a fine example of a beginner's sample. It is worked in wool and has a red textile trim. Though its sewer was of Scottish stock, her sampler is much more colourful than the customary Scottish style. As well as the normal sequences of alphabets and numbers, she has worked in three large spot motifs. In the centre is a purple 'bowl of plenty' with birds to either side. Flanking this, on either side, are two bunches of flowers. These also have birds on either side but there is some variation in the colour scheme for the birds. Below these motifs are the name of the embroiderer, her age and where she lived.

The sampler was made by Eliza McDiarmid from Woodside as a twelve-year-old pupil at the West Taieri School. Her parents, Francis McDiarmid and Janet Milne, were pioneer settlers on the Taieri, individual passengers on the Philip Laing in 1848, who subsequently married in Dunedin. Elizabeth was born in their wattle-and-daub hut at Woodside in 1855. As a schoolgirl she watched hordes of gold miners as they streamed past the West Taieri School up the old road to the Central Otago diggings. In later life her memories of the early days were an important source for a number of Otago historians. As an adult she was a fervent supporter of the temperance cause and cycled all over Otago to promote it. She maintained her needlework interest, winning a prize in middle age for an autograph quilt that she worked for the Otago Jubilee Exhibition of 1898. She never married and remained at the family home ‘Busholme’ all her long life. She died in 1937 aged 82. Her sister presented the sampler (and the autograph quilt) to the Museum in 1940.
Eliza McDiarmid
Production Date
Sampler 350x325mm
Mount 545x420mm