This lovely embroidered sampler was made by Christina Mackay in 1872 when she was aged just 13. When she was 17, she left her home in Ardniskich, Bettyhill, and emigrated to America. After her marriage, Christina kept the name Mackay.
In their earliest form, samplers were put together as personal reference works for embroiderers: trials of patterns and stitches which had been copied from others, records of particular effects achieved which could be recreated again. These early examples would have been the work, not of children, but of more experienced embroiderers and some, from their quality, of professionals.
Samplers were used locally in schools to teach girls to sew and practise the different types of stitches. Only a few women would go on to pursue the art of embroidery further but this was deemed a ‘good education’ in the basics.
Nowadays, samplers are sometimes of use to family history researchers.