The picture of "Alphabetissimo" didn't do it justice. I don't know why designers show a computer-generated "illustration" of a sampler instead of a photograph of the stitched sampler. This is way nicer than the illustration. I'm stitching with NPI (bluer than navy in good light, and delft blue) on 32 ct Sterling Picture This Plus.
I've had a craving for blue things lately. This caught my eye some time ago, and I picked it up when I ordered Christinia Cathcart the other day from Homespun Samplar, whose service was, as it always is, superb. It's called "The Elizabeth Welford Sampler," by Handwork Samplers, and it's charted for NPI or DMC in cross stitch and specialty stitches on lambswool linen (I don't like lambswool because it's stiff, so I'll use something else.)
Speaking of which, Craft-i-Leigh, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to answer your question about fabrics. I started out like everyone else, using aida and DMC. That was fine for a while, but I bought a kit that had linen in it. I didn't really want to use the linen, but I didn't want to waste it either, so I took a deep breath and stitched on it and never went back. I'm very finicky about exactly what linen I'll use though, because I really love the plump, soft but substantial linen, and some linens are stiffer and more sheer. I love gentle color, and I don't like to get knocked over by it or have to fight the color with my stitches. I prefer stitching with silk because of the way it feels and its subtle sheen, but nobody beats DMC for color choices. In the end, it comes down to how YOU feel about what you're using. Experiment with small projects and decide.
By the way, I received the desperately needed threads from all sources, so I have a few extra skeins. Thanks for your suggestions: Drema was very nice and didn't disappoint.
Here's something I found really interesting. I found this on 1st Dibs. It was done by Sophia Brook in 1827 in Great Britain. She was 14 at the time. Remember how I was complaining about bland verses? Here's the antidote to bland verse. In case you can't see it well, it says "Wheneere I take my walks abroad how many /poor I see what shall I render to my God for all /his gifts to me not more than others I deserve/ yet God has given me more for I have food /while others starve or beg from door to door" What makes this really interesting is that December 1825 was the first world economic meltdown. The banking system had become increasingly sophisticated and offered easy credit, in those days to finance speculation in urban housing (townhouses) but especially land, which had been bid up by the popularity of cotton. These were boom years; the United States couldn't grow enough cotton, and Great Britain couldn't spin enough to sastisfy demand. The easy credit policy of the banks was made worse by the unregulated activities of the banks. Because of the high price of U.S. cotton, Great Britain began buying it from East India. The resulting drop in cotton prices killed the land market, the prices of which fell 50 to 75%, and the banks found themselves in possession of devalued collateral. Once cotton and land prices fell, the banks froze credit and there was a worldwide depression, the first modern trade cycle of boom to bust [edited to add: not the first bubble, of course, since Tulip Mania occurred in the 1600s. The 1825 crash involved banks, currency, a commodity shortage (gold), bad loans, loose credit and the abandonment of one market and the growth of another--all truly modern]. During that time, a whole lot of criminally sleazy bank deals came to light. In 1827 the U.S. cotton crop failed (lack of rain). (Note: my grasp of history isn't that comprehensive--I researched it when I should have been doing homework. LOL) But isn't it amazing? I feel somehow comforted by it. As for the sampler, for $6500 it could be yours. $6500 buys a heck of a lot of stash...
"I feel comforted by my friend. It's hard to be blue when you have someone to clean your ears and a little historical perspective."