A few years ago the hot stitching piece was Carriage House Samplings “The Houses Of Hawk Run Hollow”. It was a tad more country and cutesy than I usually go for, but even I had admit that it looked like it would be so much fun to stitch, so it was added to the stash.
The design is 12 squares, each featuring a different house. Several of the squares include snippets of my all-time favorite sampler theme.
When I am dead and in my grave
And all my bones are rotten
When this you see Lest I should be forgotten
Remember me as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so must you be
Prepare for death and follow me
Kate the Great declared that saying “too morbid” for her, but I’ve thought it was fantastic ever since seeing a variation of it on an Italian church fresco in AP Art History.
I chose to work it in Needlepoint Inc. silk on 36-count Pearled Barley Lakeside Linen (the popular choice was to use 40-count linen to make a smaller piece, but I firmly believe that not every piece has to be done in miniature and this was one of them; of course, the final framed result seems monumental to me, so maybe I would have been better off with the 40). The great thing about NPI silk is that the skeins naturally make really, really long strands. On a piece like this that has lots of big color blocks, it practically stitched itself.
I’d thread a long strand, work across a row doing half-crosses in a “rocking method” (push the needle through the front and then rock it up immediately in the hole on the back, making it so you can pull the thread through without ever having to move your hand to the back of the linen; think like a quilting stitch), and then zip-zip-zip back the other way without having to look at the chart. It was the easiest, fastest piece ever (if I hadn’t put it down a bunch of times to work on other stuff). Plus, it had one or two areas that had something special to do, like overlaying four by four crosses over an area already stitched with two by two.
As much fun as it was to work, though, the absolute best part of this project was the title. Boomer could never remember the name “Houses of Hawk Run Hollow”. “How’s the progress going on that piece,” she’d ask, “You know, the ‘Houses of Hawk Run Hill’?” A week later she’d ask how “Hawk House Mountain” was going; two weeks later it was “Bird Promontory Steepe”.
Finally she hit rock bottom and said, “So, how’s that piece… what’s it called? ‘Motherfucker Bluff’? Yeah, how’s ‘Motherfucker Bluff’ going?” And… it stuck. For the year-plus that I stitched it we all called it “Motherfucker Bluff”. In the tradition of Kate the Great referring to difficult baby shower gift projects as “SFBB” (Stupid Fucking Baby Blanket), “Motherfucker Bluff” was quickly shortened to “MFB”.
When the time came to initial and date the work, I realized the designers and conveniently left space for an extra set of initials. There were just begging me to add a little hidden message to everyone who saw the piece: