Marianne HillA renewed interest in the needle arts, particularly knitting and crocheting, has taken a younger generation by storm. Less in vogue but still practiced by many is the art of cross stitch. Ladies learned cross stitch to strengthen sewing skills, create tapestries and young women used it as a learning tool. Some have a tapestry their grandmother or great-grandmother made, often one of an alphabet with symbolism. These were less elaborate than the detailed crewel work or needlework.

Cross stitch has come a long way over the centuries and women today are experimenting with different ways to express themselves through this art form. Marianne Hill is one of them and has a passion for cross stitch. At the age of 18 she started doing crewel work, then discovered cross stitch and liked its uniformity and layout with its charts.

“The repetitious motion of pulling the thread through the canvas is soothing. I can’t draw, I can’t paint, so thread and canvas are my art,” she said. Her sister has joined her in her enthusiasm for the art. But now she has connected her passion with her Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) position as regent of the Point of Fork chapter.

“Virginia State Regent Judy Surber had to come up with a project so all the chapters are finding ways to support the building of the Claude Moore Hall at Montpelier, James Madison’s home,” Hill said. She described the project and how it fits in with their mission of promoting patriotism, preserving American history and its future through education.

The Claude Moore Hall is to become part of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Montpelier. The $4.7 million project will include classrooms, conference rooms, offices for center staff, a media center, and will be equipped for interactive learning. This will allow the center to expand its audience of adult learners, program alumni and constitutional leaders, creating an online community and sharing expertise and information around the globe. “Judy Surber’s project is the underwriting of a conference room in the Claude Moore Hall at a cost of $200,000,” said Hill. “So I designed a cross stitch to be auctioned off.”

She unveiled the work which featured some of the signers center stage around a table framed by a heavy gray curtain and olive branches with the Preamble above them on a canvas that resembled yellow parchment. The work was flawless, especially the letters which she said took her the good part of the six months until completion. Cross stitch thread is much finer and thinner than crewel, and Hill used variegated thread in the leaves to give it depth.

“My tastes have changed over the years from realism to more primitive projects,” Hill said. The primitive look and her choice of the off-yellow canvas does give it that age-old look which reflects the past.

Her involvement with the DAR began 30 years ago when she became a member. She traced her family tree and found her paternal fifth grandfather was Colonel Charles Lewis of North Garden in Albemarle County, and was in charge of the barracks (Barracks Road in Charlottesville) and the Hessian prisoners. She has been tracing other lines and discovered other relations including Captain John Jacobs who was also at the barracks and Nathanial Hill. She is currently tracing female patriots and explained that the criteria for patriots was anyone who gave goods or money to support the cause.

“History has always been a big part of my life,” Hill said. She has searched her family history and earlier in her life participated in Civil War re-enactments when there were no area colonial ones she could get involved with.
One stitch at a time, she hopes her chapter will be able to help raise funds for the state project. Hill’s enthusiasm for her needlework is only matched by her enthusiasm for the DAR and her love of history. Somehow this project sums up her past and ties together all her interests with the mission of the DAR.

Anyone interested in supporting the DAR’s project can contact Hill at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .