The first piece of embroidery I would grab on my way out of the house in an emergency is my antique sampler.
It is from Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. It is dated 1697, and is stitched with silk on linen. The large initials (probably of the embroiderer) are TW, and there are several other sets of initials scattered across the bottom half. The colors are quite faded, but there are no holes or missing stitches. The design is very typical of samplers from this part of the world, a set of narrow patterns for bands on the top left side, and 5 alphabets across the top. The 4th alphabet is the largest, and I love the way it turns the corner and runs down the side when the stitcher ran out of room. The 4th alphabet is embellished with backstitch around the outside, the 5th alphabet is in eyelet stitch. The large initials have the traditional "donuts" or curlicues around the edge. The only other motifs besides the alphabets and initials are floral. The top and bottom edges are hemstitched, the sides are selvage.
Provenance: (Just a fancy word to say where I got it from). My mother was helping my maternal grandmother clear out some items, and they found this in one of my grandmother's drawers. Grandma said it was from an aunt. When my mom requested it, my grandmother gave it to her; when I requested it (several times) my mother gave it to me. The first time I saw it, you could hardly tell it was an embroidery, it was a uniform brown. Not knowing any better (at the time) I washed it! (That may be one of the reasons it is so faded.) Once we could see the stitching, we discovered the date. My mother wrote a museum in the Netherlands, and included a picture, and we received a very nice letter confirming it was a Fries sampler, and that it had some value.
One of my goals (perhaps when I am retired) is to discover the name of the embroiderer and more about her life. It will take some digging, anyone who has done genealogy knows that trying to trace a female line is much more difficult than tracing a male line. Another wrinkle is that at that period in the Netherlands, there were no surnames, they used patronymics (John son of John). From a cursory look, my great-great (great?) grandma seems to have appeared out of thin air.
Maybe someday I will make a companion piece.