MFB: The Truly Subversive Cross Stitch

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

Remember me

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:


Filed under Pins and Needles, Stitching

7 responses to “MFB: The Truly Subversive Cross Stitch

  1. This is amazing, amazing I say! I love it! LOOOOVE IT!

  2. Pookie

    I’m glad you like it, Caitlin! It was soooo much fun to work on. I highly recommend it as a great Intermediate project. There are two companion pieces. I skipped the “Villages of Hawk Run Hollow” but did just start working on “The Shores of Hawk Run Hollow”. Or, as I like to call it, “MFB By The Sea”.

  3. did just start working on “The Shores of Hawk Run Hollow”. Or, as I like to call it, “MFB By The Sea”.

    Heh! I read a lot of Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe growing up so this sort of thing appeals to me.

    Seriously, this stuff is so amazing to me. Your stitches always look so nice and tidy and clean, whereas mine always look to be a jumbled, horrible mess. Not just that but the level of intricacy you guys get into just astounds me. I can barely pull off a decent series of satin stitches, let alone something like this!

  4. HG

    Yay a stitching piece! With Mr.A being under the grips of a fever, I have been working on my super giant piece. Well, it seems giant. It definitely needs a name a la MFB because it’s taken me TEN years so far and I’m still not done. Any suggestions?

  5. Pookie

    Caitlin, I think satin stitch is very hard to make look nice. And I’m sure your stuff looks so much better than you’re saying!

    HG, I’m sorry Mr. A is under the weather! Tell him I say get well soon! Hm… A name, a name… SFTYAC (Stupid Fucking Ten Years And Counting – pronounced “Staffy ACK!)”)? :D

  6. HG

    Ooooo…. SFTYAC… I like it… I just looked at it with a glare and muttered, “Staffy ACK” and it works. Thanks Pookie!

  7. Pookie

    You’re welcome! I hope it helps and makes finishing it easier!

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