Unapologetically Black Cross Stitch with Miasa Osbey

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:45:07 Unapologetically Black Cross Stitch with Miasa Osbey


Episode Summary

Miasa Osbey is Stitching in Color on Instagram. With this bright declaration, Miasa uses cross stitch to create Black loving and Black affirming pieces that will tell a story long after she’s completed the project. She uses her craft as way to create a tangible, meaningful, and handmade legacy. At a young age, bereavement fuelled her desire for those ancestral traces found in handmade things. Now she is making her own. She will be speaking about her unapologetically Black approach in an upcoming lecture “Stitching in White Spaces” at the Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House Needlework Show May 27, 2021. Link in notes.

Episode Notes

FInd our more about Miasa Osbey

On Instagram

Her talk TOMORROW (5/27/21) at the Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House Needlework Show . Register here!

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Lisa Woolfork 0:13

Hello Stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host Lisa Woolfork. And I am bringing you actually an all Virginia episode today, because I am in Charlottesville, Virginia, and my guest for the day, Miasia Osbey is in the, let's see, we call it the Norfolk-Tidewater region of the state. It's an area of the state that you are an insider versus an outsider if you know how to pronounce the words. So for some of you all who might learn the word N-O-R-F-O-L-K . You might look at that word and say that word is Norfolk. And if you say, if you say Norfolk the people who live there will laugh at you because that is not how you pronounce N-O-R-F-O-L-K. It's actually Norfolk. Norfolk, it's how you say it does that right?

Miasia Osbey 1:42

I say Norfolk.

Lisa Woolfork 1:43

Oh see look I'm wrong wrong. I'm only a little bit right, because I live in the central part of Virginia and in Central Virginia it has only trickled down to be Norfolk, but I'm learning. Never stop learning friends.

Miasia Osbey 1:57

Honey, it is nonsense. I'm from Virginia Beach, Virginia, but we call this area the 757. And to me it's Norfolk.

Lisa Woolfork 2:05

Norfolk. So welcome, Miasia from Norfolk, Virginia. Thank you so much! Y'all, we're gonna be talking about unapologetically Black cross stitch, and I love unapologetic Black shit. That's my favorite type of Black stuff. The unapologetic, that's my favorite kind. The unapologetic Blackness is my favorite Blackness. Let's get started. Welcome to the program. Thank you so much for being here with us today.

Miasia Osbey 2:32

Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

Lisa Woolfork 2:34

So let's jump right in and talk about how did you get started in the needle arts? Did you begin with cross stitch? Or did you start with crochet or yarn or something different?

Miasia Osbey 2:47

I started with quilting. And like I do most things, I go to YouTube University first. Watch it for a month, buy my equipment, and just jump right in. So I started quilting first. And I was watching videos on quilting and tutorials and busting out these quilt blocks. Learned that skill. And then during the pandemic, I also had my godson and a great nephew saying over here. So I had two boys in my house. I couldn't be locked in my sewing room quilting like I love to in my downtime, they're just getting into too much get into too much stuff young boys running around the house. So I had to find something that I can do in their presence, that would give me a peace of mind and let them do what they were doing. And I came across a floss tube. I watched that for a couple months before I even jumped into it, but with those boys running around, trying to be locked up trying to get a quilt block done and cut some stuff straight - not happening. So that's how I started with the cross stitch.

Lisa Woolfork 3:54

So tell me about floss tube you said floss tube and when you said floss tube, I was thinking about those little tubes of floss with the black band around them and like 79 cents each or something. That, is that what you're talking about? Are you talking about --

Miasia Osbey 4:06

That is! I'm talking about the embroidery floss that you would go into if you go to the back of a Michaels or Jo-Ann, there is a huge DMC selection, which is a brand of embroidery floss. And so the YouTube tutorials and YouTube, YouTube influencers who talk about cross stitch, they are called floss tubers. And the act of watching those things are called floss tube. That's how I learn.

I love floss tube. I just, I don't know why I'm so tickled by that floss tube but I'm gonna watch floss tubers. It's like wathcing people use dental floss? That's weird. No, no embroidery floss. You know what else?

Embroidery floss!

Lisa Woolfork 4:48

You know, I love this vocabulary. I love learning new things. So thank you. Another thing that you all do that I know knitters do I don't know if this is true in the cross stitch community. But they call it frogging. They call it frogging and it's -

Miasia Osbey 5:00

They call it frogging.

Lisa Woolfork 5:00

Because you have to rip it, rip it, rip it rip out. Oh my gosh, calling it frogging is much better than even we call it sometimes unsewing, which sounds just about as fun as that that word sounds, not at all. Frogging. It sounds really, okay.

Miasia Osbey 5:17

Isnt' it cute? It's really cute. And I'm a sucker for cute things. So it's a really cute term and I frog a lot.

Lisa Woolfork 5:24

I sometimes frog more than I care to admit, and more than I actually care to do. I really am just like, sometimes I just did just stitch a seam and I'm like, you know what, that's good enough. Shit. That's enough.

Miasia Osbey 5:35

Okay, look, I'm trying to elevate to the good enough. I'm trying to elevate to the good enough. And I think being so serious about that my back being neat, is the reason why I will rip something out.

Lisa Woolfork 5:47

Course, of course. And I want to talk about the portability of cross stitch, because it does seem to be a very big leap, to go from machine quilting, to handwork of any kind, and cross stitch, particularly because of the precision and because of all that it requires. But when you said you had two little boys in the house, I was like, oh yeah. I remember those days. My boys are old now, 17 and 22. And but there was a time when I could not close the door, or I would close it and they will pop right up or they will be sitting next to me. I have things in my salon right now that have cuts in them. And permanent gouges from a child sitting right next to my feet, managing to cut the carpet with scissors. I was like I'm not paying attention or you don't I'm gonna do I'm gonna take this sharp thing Mama has and poke holes in the ironing board cover. Because why would I not. So you could watch the boys and be in their presence. And that's when one of the things I really love about what you've described for us is that you can do cross stitch in a way that is organic and in line with your life. That you don't have...

Miasia Osbey 6:54

That is what I love about it.

Lisa Woolfork 7:01

Yes, say more about that. Would love to hear more about that, because for me, I have gotten to this place now because my kids are older and they just don't need the kind of supervision that they used to. They say they don't need any at all. Which I agree for the most part, but I can shut the door and have like hours to just stare at nothing but the sewing machine needle. And that's all that I'm thinking about. And that's a real privilege. I know. When my folks were little, it was not that way. So tell me about how bringing cross stitch to your home space in a way that let you love and support your family. As well as your own mental wellness.

Miasia Osbey 7:38

It was great! My great nephew being down for the entire summer. My godson was with, was with him. It was just great for them to be there. We were at the beach almost every day because I live in Buckroe Beach. We would walk down to the beach almost every day. We would come back, we have lunches, and my husband would play Legos with the children at the kitchen table. So, while I started my first cross stitch project ever at the kitchen table while they were doing Legos. So I could be a part of it and show them that my presence is important in whatever that they're doing, but still have my own thing going on. And that was why it was important. It is a big leap to go from quilting to cross stitch. I felt that cross stitch was a cheap start-up craft.

Lisa Woolfork 8:21


Miasia Osbey 8:21

All you have to buy are $3 needles. Choose your preference of a hoop or some type of device. Some people stitch in hand. You got to choose the method. You maybe need some, I started out with some Dollar Tree snips. I just upgraded last week.

Lisa Woolfork 8:39

Okay! Okay!

Miasia Osbey 8:44

Some dollar trees snips!

Lisa Woolfork 8:45

Listen, y'all! She's doing the snip flex. This is what's known as the snip flex. Oh yeah, yeah, I started out with them Dollar Tree joints, but I am I have now upgraded to

Miasia Osbey 8:59

$13 snips! Okay! I started out with some snips and the floss, and a free pattern. And I was on my way. With quilting, I was getting the fat core bundles. So when you named your episode a fat quarter episode, I love it because I love fat quarters. I would I would buy bundles. I think my initial investment, just for rulers...

Lisa Woolfork 9:28


Miasia Osbey 9:28

All types of rulers, quality fabric scissors, I upgraded my Brother machine to a Bernina machine. It was just all the cutters, all the stuff that you need...

Lisa Woolfork 9:41

The marking tools!

Miasia Osbey 9:43

...to get that off.

Lisa Woolfork 9:44

Yes, yes, it's... I agree. And you call it like a cheap startup, but I would call it a low barrier, a low access barrier.

Miasia Osbey 9:51

It really is, low access barrier for sure.

Lisa Woolfork 9:52

Quilting has a high access barrier, right? Because depending on how you want to do... which is so interesting because when you think about how quilting started in the US as a practice of necessity in addition to a practice of art, folks, wouldn't buy bolts of fabric just for a quilt. You use the fabric you had, that you were making everything else out of. And so by turning it into an industry, I think a lot of the technology, the technological innovations seem to put us at a distance from some of the origins of the practice. And so...

Miasia Osbey 10:26

It really does, and it can be overwhelming. And I also have a couple of chronic health issues. One of them is endometriosis. And it causes some chronic fatigue some chronic pain, and to be sitting or standing when I'm cutting or I have to be locked into a position to sew, it would wear a lot on my body during whatever phase. So cross stitching, the fact that I can take it anywhere. I can cross stitch in bed. I can be on the beach. I can be on the porch. I could be anywhere and do that. That's, and then that's why I started doing that more than that. Yes. So

Lisa Woolfork 11:05


Miasia Osbey 11:06

It was just awesome to have that access. And then the peace of mind of it is very therapeutic. My favorite process when I quilt is the cutting of the pieces before I piece them together. And then the chain stitching for the quilt blocks.

Lisa Woolfork 11:24

Yes, yes.

Miasia Osbey 11:25

Where I'll bust out like 12 quilt blocks at a time because I'm just doing these steps over and over

Lisa Woolfork 11:31

The repetitive motion can be so soothing. Yeah,

Miasia Osbey 11:35

I love that.

Lisa Woolfork 11:35

It's like, oh, here goes 144 half square triangles. I feel like I've really done something with my life today.

Miasia Osbey 11:43

When you bust some things out and then you press them. Oh my god,

Lisa Woolfork 11:46

It's satisfying.

Miasia Osbey 11:46

It's the pressing for me. It's the pressing for me.

Lisa Woolfork 11:48

Now you got a clapper! I saw that you got that new clapper from that from the resale shop that had all the craft supplies. I was like, oh, she's on her way. Those work great on quilt blocks, by the way.

Miasia Osbey 11:58

Oh my gosh, especially on things like log cabin

Lisa Woolfork 12:01

Oh my word.

Miasia Osbey 12:02

And let me tell you something, it's the pressing for me. But with cross stitch, just the motion by itself is repetitive. And as long as I'm paying attention to my chart, I'm okay.

Lisa Woolfork 12:15


Miasia Osbey 12:16

So it's very soothing and calming. I tend to do several things when I'm cross stitching. Either I'm mission minded, and I'm just trying to bust this thing out in a certain time, either I'm praying, or I'm watching some old show.

Lisa Woolfork 12:31

Yes, yes. That in the meditative practice of it that you can, like you said, be mission minded and focus exclusively on getting the block. Your attention is completely diverted and attached to this process. Or

Miasia Osbey 12:46


Lisa Woolfork 12:46

It can be something that you do alongside the kids. And I love that. And because I took some notes about when you said you first started doing it by sitting next to the boys while they were doing Legos. So it's like your husband, the boys, Lego instructions, your cross stitch instruction. And I absolutely love the image that creates, because for me what I've learned about cross stitch, or what I'm learning from you is that there's similar processes. I mean, as I've spent a lot of time and a lot of money on LEGO sets, both my boys were obsessed with them. And one was super obsessed that this baby learned how to find vintage sets on eBay. But you but it's also very intuitive, right? Because that's the reason that's one of the reasons I think and the language barrier, that the Lego instructions are so notoriously, I guess that some would say easy, but they communicate well, because they don't use words. The youngest child can follow along and build something beautiful. And then I was thinking about you and looking at the Cross Stitch chart. And you too are building something beautiful, you too are making something that's sustaining. And so I really love that story of how your cross stitch was grounded in family. And that fueled your transition from machine quilting to cross stitch. Let me ask about the patterns because as I mentioned earlier, y'all we were talking a bit beforehand, and I was telling her that I do have a PhD in English, but I do not have but I do not have a PhD in knitting pattern, or crochet pattern or cross stitch pattern, which I think must be a separate degree program. Because whenever I look at these things, a knitting pattern, a crochet pattern, my eyes cross my heart sinks. And I feel like back at high school when they give you the math problem that says there are two trains leaving the station at 12:30. And one is traveling this miles per hour and one is traveling that miles per hour. And I always hated those questions because who knew what kind of delays might happen to this train. You don't know.

Miasia Osbey 14:52

I'm not trying to think about it.

Lisa Woolfork 14:53

The weather could be bad. There could be a cow on the tracks. No one thought of that. I was like, look, there's no way to answer this question. So...

Miasia Osbey 14:59

There's not a cow on the tracks.

Lisa Woolfork 15:01

Cows get on train tracks. That happens. That's a thing that could delay trains.

Miasia Osbey 15:07

You're too funny!

Lisa Woolfork 15:07

It's the truth! So...How do you make sense of the... So how do you make sense of these patterns? Like how have you been able to adapt to them. And I mean, maybe you didn't adapt, maybe you're like, I just know how to read and I pay attention to instructions. Unlike some people who have a podcast and I'm talking to right now.

Miasia Osbey 15:27

Look, I didn't have any experience in reading the cross stitch patterns. However, I think for me, it's about where you start in the pattern. Some people will start at the very corner, top left corner, and some people start directly in the center of the pattern. So on a pattern, there are these black triangle, I'm looking at one just so I can get my stitch together. Thank you. So you have your you have these black black triangle indicators across the top of the grid, a chart is broken up into these tiny little squares, and the squares are broken up into grids. And every ten squares is marked by ten. A pattern design can be 151 stitches by 132 high, so wide and high. So then the tens are marked on the top and the sides. And then the black triangles usually match up to the very center of the piece. And I always start in the center of the work. So that's going to be my first sitch. That's how simple that is. And then because I wear, already have four eyes, I also have these magnifiers that I clip on my glasses, and I look like A Different World's Dwayne Wade, with the flip up.

Lisa Woolfork 16:50

I remember him. Of course! Yes! Why they have binoculars on a regular glass? That's what I wanted to know. And I'm like, what I need to stop playing because I'm going to end up like this in real life.

Miasia Osbey 17:03

You're going... and let me tell you something. I love my flip up. They just attach to your glasses, and I walk all around the house with them. I forget that they're on because you need them sometimes to look at the, sometimes your stitch fabric has very small squares that you're stitching in. And you need to see that. There are sometimes the pattern itself will make you cross eyed, that feeling of you being cross-eyed is a real feeling. I like to zoom in, I'll take a photo of it with my phone, you're not allowed to distribute that. I just want to give a disclaimer.

Lisa Woolfork 17:36

Of course, or course.

Miasia Osbey 17:38

We do not copy work. Okay.

Lisa Woolfork 17:39

That's like piracy, though, like copying and sharing.

Miasia Osbey 17:42


So when you -- Right so when you are working on a piece, you're not supposed to show anyone's chart, because that is their work. You're not supposed to share it unless you bought it. But I take a picture of the section I'm working on and print that out 8 x 10 size. So now I'm not cross-eyed! Because what I'm not about to do is need a stronger prescription because I'm cross-eyed from looking at these little squares. I'm not gonna do it. So I magnify my whole piece, so that I can read the chart and only use my magnifiers for looking at, for counting my squares and where I'm putting my stitches down.

Lisa Woolfork 18:22

Yes! So I love that that's a great hack! I think because it does make it again, if cross stitch is something that's so wonderful, because it's accessible, because it has a low cost, a low cost, right? A barrier. You can do it anywhere. You just don't want to wreck your eyes. And there's tools available to help you do this without straining your vision too much.

Miasia Osbey 18:46

And I had glasses since the fifth grade. I do not need any more strain, okay, no more strain.

Lisa Woolfork 18:51

I'm gonna, I'm trying to wait until the future when they start selling eyeballs in vending machines, and then going to buy some new eyeballs. That is my, that's my hope. My hope is that one day I'll be able to buy 3D-printed eyeballs from a vending machine. That's and that's and that's gonna, I'll be able to like just pop them in my eyes through some quick technology. I don't know how it's gonna happen, but it's a total possibility. We are going to take a quick break...

Miasia Osbey 19:18

Listen those magnifiers help!

Lisa Woolfork 19:20

I know they will totally help me out even just to see regular stuff. So y'all we're gonna take a very quick break and when we come back, we are going to continue this fantastic conversation with Miasia. She is a wonderful cross stitcher. We're gonna dive into the unapologetic Blackness of her cross stitch after this break. So stay tuned.

Black Women Stitch and the Stitch Please podcast are happy to announce that we have another way to connect with our community in addition to the IG Lives that we do every Thursday at 3pm. We also now have a club on Clubhouse. That's right friends, they done data messed up and given me the chance to have a club! Follow Black Women Stitch on Instagram and now on Clubhouse Thursdays at 3pm on Instagram at 3:45pm on Clubhouse Eastern Standard Time. And we'll help you get your stitch together.

Welcome back! I am having this delightful conversation with Miasia Osbey. And Miasia is a fantastic cross stitcher from the 757. And, in Virginia if you didn't know, and we are talking today about unapologetic Black cross stitch. Now I wanted to I really wanted to hear more about this and because I'm gonna do this by sharing my own generalized, stereotyped thinking about cross stitch. When I go to Michaels, or to Jo-Anne, the cross stitch stuff is all the way in the back in the section that I would never go to. Because I go to buy clothes, I go to buy aparrel things, notions. I buy scrapbook paper, I do cake decorating. So I'm all in the front of the store. I'll do like home deck stuff where I make pillows and curtains. And so I'm over there. But that section over there with the yarn, and the flosses and these little hooks and tools and hoops and stuff, I rarely go over there. And when I do go over there, some of the patterns I see, like kittens playing checkers, or some Precious Moments figurine, it all feels very white. And I'm like, I am not interested in spending the many hours making any of these designs, like okay, not one would appeal to me. So tell me about what it means to be a Black cross Stitcher, when at least to my untrained eye, it seems like a very white thing. Not that white people own it and control, it's that, it's that when you look at the patterns that are available, they are very white looking. Like appealing to moments in white lives or, quote unquote, neutral subjects, about these pastoral landscapes. Not that anybody can't enjoy a pastoral landscape, but I'm just saying it just seems really a certain type of although it has a low barrier to access, it feels really, clique-ish and just say more about your experience in this stitching community.

Miasia Osbey 22:21

Okay, well, when you go into a Michael's or Jo-Ann, the floss, the needles, the snips are there. And usually you find these charts and patterns online, you go to Etsy, you follow a nice floss tuber, or a company that sells exclusive floss cross stitch patterns. Or you just go to a Cross stitch shop. There are such things called local Cross stitch shops.

Lisa Woolfork 22:47

Oh yes, we have one!

Miasia Osbey 22:49

And it doesn't matter how nice the folks are in the cross stitch shop, how lovely the ladies are, they are usually white. And when you go into the cross stitch shop, there's all these beautiful racks and racks of patterns and charts and notions and needles. And on the walls are finished, Fully Finished Objects, FFOs. That's another vocabulary term for you, Lisa!

Lisa Woolfork 23:13

Oh! Like a UFO, but actually, I got a lot of UFOs. I know all about the UFOs. The FFOs?

Miasia Osbey 23:21

The FFOs are Fully Finished Objects and so they have the...

Lisa Woolfork 23:25

Show off!

Miasia Osbey 23:27

They have these beautifully framed, finished cross stitch pieces of the patterns they offer in the shop so that you can actually look at what it was supposed to look like. And majority of these finish pieces are, there seasonal things right holidays, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, fall, harvest, pumpkin spice, and there...

Lisa Woolfork 23:54

I bet there are a lot of scriptures as well. Give us this day. And...

Miasia Osbey 23:59

There's a section of some religious cross stitches. But most of the cross stitches on the wall that are beautifully displayed are cross stitch samplers and patriotic pieces. There's no way I'm going to stitch the Grand Old Flag, 1776 or stitch, cross stitch sampler that has a white woman's name. It always, cross stitch samplers feature certain things, a white woman Native or a white child Native he was learning to read. And a sampler has the alphabet and the numbers.

Lisa Woolfork 24:37

Yes. Okay.

Miasia Osbey 24:38

And it usually features a stately home, which was usually a plantation.

Lisa Woolfork 24:44


Miasia Osbey 24:45

With agricultural elements, right? On the plantation. And there's no way I'm going to stitch that. None of that resonates with me. When I think about where my people was in 1776? Okay, stitching the Grand Old Flag, honey is not something I'm trying to do. Not at all. Unless I have something to say. We'll get to that later. However, I remember telling the ladies in the Cross stitch shop that I can't stitch this. They were so sweet! Because I told them that it doesn't reflect me or my family. And I really wanted to stitch to give honor to my family, to create some legacy and to create some handmade things to pass down to my future children. And so if I'm going to do that, I'm not stitching, about half of those items in that shop and my local cross stitch shop knows that. They know that. They accept that. And they helped me pick out things I would like. Now, I love Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I'm going to stitch Christmas things. I stitched some generic Christmas ornaments. I love fall and harvest, but I've never eaten a pumpkin pie in life.

Lisa Woolfork 26:06


Miasia Osbey 26:06

Round here we eat yams and sweet potato pies.

Lisa Woolfork 26:09

Sweet potato pies are the only root vegetable pie we recognize. That pumpkin? Pumpkin? Why? Ew!

Miasia Osbey 26:15

Yeah, I've never eaten a pumpkin pie in life and nothing against pumpkin pie lovers.

Lisa Woolfork 26:19

I have all things against pumpkin pie and pumpkin pie lovers. I will fight you. Imagine this now as a fight.

Miasia Osbey 26:27

Okay, one of my favorite black comedians came on stage. He is...

Lisa Woolfork 26:30

I remember he came on stage. And I told him I was like, listen, listen, I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed.

Miasia Osbey 26:41

Disappointed in you okay? So I made my own fall piece called Damn, it's Yam Season. Because guess what I'm about to stitch no pumpkin. And when I did stitch a pumpkin, I adapted a, it was called Thanks be to God. And it was a pumpkin sampler. And I just, Thanks be to God, Black Lives Matter. And so if I'm going to something that's generic and seasonal, which are the things that I don't have to go and design, I can just pick these charts up out the local shop, I'm going to adapt it in some way. So I charted that using the style lettering that the chart had already, had put it in my program, and stitched it. And so the designing element came in. The being unapologetically Black part came in was... when you learn a craft, or a skill, you learn from who's ever going to teach it. There are tons of white floss tubers. And that's who I learned from. I learned to quilt from a white quilter. I learned to stitch from white stitchers. And you learn you want to watch these videos, hours and hours of YouTube videos for months before I even made a first stitch. Because I knew that when I stitch I just already know, I just have to do it. So after watching these videos for months, and looking at these patterns, farm themed, farm life themes, these vintage themes, these patriotic themes, the seasonal themes. None of that resonates with me. None of it does. My family grew up on a farm, but I didn't. And none of these things are really saying anything, either. I'm going to spend 40 hours on a piece? And it doesn't say anything other than these motifs that have nothing to do with me? And then if there's people in this chart: white. And now you got to convert the floss, find the floss that matches skin tone that you're trying to go to. I'm not trying to convert everything. Some things don't convert.

Lisa Woolfork 28:47

Right? And if you don't, wanna make little Black pilgrim people either?

Miasia Osbey 28:50


Lisa Woolfork 28:50

Right? Like...

Miasia Osbey 28:51

Because there where no Black pilgrams.

Lisa Woolfork 28:53

Like, let's let's not rewrite history, shall we.

Miasia Osbey 28:56

Let's not.

Lisa Woolfork 28:57

The thing that I find great about what you're saying is that when you go into a cross stitch shop and you're browsing and you're looking at the different charts, something that you're not seeing is the legacy of your Black life, or the Black lives in this country being reflected in those materials.

Miasia Osbey 29:17

There's nothing from my culture there. I like I said. If pumpkin spice can be a national campaign, pumpkin spice lattes with Starbucks, pumpkin spice shirts and merchandise. Ain't nothing got nothing to do with yams or sweet potatoes. Ever.

Lisa Woolfork 29:33

Right? And even the pumpkin spice latte actually has nothing to do with pumpkin. It's just how they season things. And the idea like you have to, like someone has to put together a mix for pumpkins like just, it's really cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, like, literally. It's okay. It's okay. That's how seasoning works.

Miasia Osbey 29:52

Okay. It's the same flavor profile.

Lisa Woolfork 29:59

And what I was interested in though is, I really appreciate you being concerned with legacy in that. Because what you are walking into when you walk into a shop, you're not just walking into a space to buy patterns and floss, you are also walking into a story. You are bringing your story as a Black cross Stitcher, to the larger story of commercial cross stitch patterns, and how things are, quote unquote meant to go in that particular modality. And so I think it's wonderful that you have a cross stitch shop that's local, where the ladies, they know you and they get it and all that. But have you noticed more Black cross stitch patterns coming out? Or do you still feel like, if you want something that's going to be particular to you, you have to chart it yourself?

Miasia Osbey 30:50

Oh, you definitely have to chart yourself. I think you have to move from the space of saying, "There's nothing here for us." Well, that's obvious. When you go into a shop, or when you go into an online shop, or Etsy is great. It's a great find for Black patterns. And I'm not saying that there were never any Black patterns created before, there's a series of Black patterns that was gifted to me by The Green Apple co called Southern Roots. And they were cross stitch patterns created by white women of Black people. So there are some vintage cross stitch patterns out there, there are Black cross stitch patterns out there, you need to one look, but two to reflect the things that are going on in our country. And what matters to us right now. There's not a lot. There's, there's more coming out. the Primitive Hare came out with a beautiful cross stitch of Harriet Tubman. There are some charts, there's so much progress in it, but to make it personal to me... like I said, if I'm going to spend 40 hours, 20 hours, 10 hours, stitching something, it's going to be personal to me, and I need to chart that. The idea of legacy. My dad died when I was twelve. I think I have one item that he gave me when I was about seven or eight. And I have one photo and a copy of his obituary. That's all I have. And my mom, my grandmother died when she was 38 years old, and my mom was 17 years old. So to be able to have these things, to have something that someone made for you. Someone took the time to write you a birthday card. Those are the things I keep. Those are the things that have been important to me since 12. When you find out what it feels like to lose a parent in your life, I think those things become important to you almost immediately for, at least for me. And so I'm creating things, I have this cross stitch pattern that I'm going to adapt creating a family tree in my favorite color. So it can be framed, and a centerpiece of my decor in my home. Things like that are important to me. So either you chart it yourself and just create what you want to see.

Lisa Woolfork 33:03

Create what you want to see, I think that is just such a powerful statement and a powerful lesson, because that's what Black folks have almost always done. Because things were not provided for us. And so if we wanted something, we had to build it. As well as like, what they say" be the change, you want to see" which sometimes I feel like that's really a hard burden to put on people. But we do it. I try to do it and I know you are doing it. And this notion that you are giving the lie to this idea that this is an exclusive thing just for white women from the 19th century. And so I'm thinking about the piece that you posted. This is not a quiz, but it's the piece you posted. I'm talking about how far back it was. There's two things. It was close to January earlier this year.

Miasia Osbey 33:55

I'm looking at my Instagram now.

Lisa Woolfork 33:57

Okay, there's there's two beautiful things in this image. One is your needle minder with the Black woman in profile. I call it a needle minder. I thinkit must be a magnetic thing that you keep your needle on.

Miasia Osbey 34:08


Lisa Woolfork 34:08

And then you are stitching the sampler of a Black girl from Norfolk from 1850. That you are cross stitching the sampler that a 12 year old black girl from Norfolk did.

Miasia Osbey 34:22

Let's talk about it!

Lisa Woolfork 34:24

I'd love to hear about this! How did you find this pattern and because it feels like you are stitching the exact same letters that she stitched and

Miasia Osbey 34:34


Lisa Woolfork 34:34

Seems to me that there's something powerful for you in this creation.

Miasia Osbey 34:39

It gives me chills. So, my local cross stitch shop, Dyeing to Stitch, the owner of that cross stitch shop also has a reproduction company where they reproduce the original works of cross stitch. They're called R&R Reproductions held in the Norfolk Historical Society, was a cross stitch sampler created by Melissa A Smith. She was 12 in the year 1850. And she was from Norfolk, Virginia. I'm gonna say it your way for a minute. From Norfolk, Virginia. Tried to be proper there. They reproduce this. So they created the chart based on the stitches that was held at this historical society. They have permission to recreate this chart. And when I told Miss Anna about my feelings about samplers why I would not stitch them, she gifted me this. She said, I have just the thing for you. And she handed it to me off the rack and explained that this is a reproduction of a piece that this Black girl named Melissa did. In the year 1850, I was so touched that she would give this piece to me. But, I was eager to start this piece. And I have not finished it yet. But the first time I started it, I did get chills, because she's 12. And the fact that she is stitching, things like stitching and sewing skills were important for Black girls to know if they were going to help out in a household. And so the fact that she could do this, and was doing this and was learning her letters, it was just so important. There's some type of candelabra up here. So maybe that was a piece or something that she was working with. Or perhaps, I don't know her life, there's not much in the sampler about her life other than where she was from. However, it was just a such a powerful piece to cross stitch a sampler created by a Black girl from Norfolk and it was just so touching to do. I'm still honored to work on it. Every time I work on it, I reflect on that.

Lisa Woolfork 36:51

And it just seems like such a beautiful communication. Because what this teaches us if we are to look at it from a historical perspective, like you said, she had access to literacy, which is something that Black folks were by law, at least enslaved Black folks were forbidden to have. Were forbidden to learn letters or numbers or to gain access to written language. And here she is stitching it. So she's improving her stitching skills, as well as gaining literacy skills. And also, you imagine for a child who was born in 1838, to be 12, in in 1850, would live to see freedom. And those same skills could be useful for her beginning her own life, on her own terms, if she was enslaved. And so that, it's such a beautiful thing that you and you made me think of all of this, when I looked at that cross stitch. And so you are preserving this legacy. And I am grateful for it.

Miasia Osbey 37:52

And I can't wait to have it finished and framed in my house. These are the stories that when my great nephew or my godson or my future children, when they look on these walls, they will have that sense of, they can get that sense of pride and reflection as a constant reminder. So that is something that I strive to do.

Lisa Woolfork 38:12

This has been such a delightful conversation and I believe you strive to do it and you are achieving it. Now tell us if you wanted it to give us one tip about how we could get started. Say someone's been listening to the episode and they're like, okay, eureka! I am now gonna be on the cross stitch train. How does someone get started?

Miasia Osbey 38:32

I say that you get started by picking a pattern that you love. If you do not love it, you are not going to want to dedicate that time. So start with a pattern that you love and something and on a lower count fabric. So this is some more vocabulary terms. Cross stitch fabric can be Aida, which already has the holes, grid like holes, on this piece of fabric. You can stitch on linen and even weave, an even weave just means that all the fibers in that fabric are evenly spaced. In linen, the fibers in that fabric are not evenly spaced. And when I say lower count the first cross stitch that I did was on a 10 count. It is kind of like stitching on burlap, you can literally see the light through the holes when you hold up your fabric. And I started on 10 count with a size 24 needle which that needle's huge and

Lisa Woolfork 39:30

I'm taking your word for all of this!

Miasia Osbey 39:31

Okay! I started on 10 count. I started on something small I just wanted to get the muscle memory down and then when I found something I loved I moved up to, from 10 count to 14 count which the holes are a little bit smaller but not that much. And just stitch. Just do it! Pick something you love and just do it.

Lisa Woolfork 39:57

Pick something you love and just do it. Isn't that like a model for life? Let's have that be our life motto. Goodness, Miasia! This has been fantastic. Now tell folks where they can find you on the socials as well as your upcoming workshop presentation.

Miasia Osbey 40:13

Okay, you can find me on Instagram Stitching in color. Stitching... what is it called? It's like the dash but it's low.

Lisa Woolfork 40:27


Miasia Osbey 40:27

Help me out Lisa! ... Underscore!

Lisa Woolfork 40:29

Underscore! Girl, I was like, what as she talking bout Willis? Like honestly? Apostrophes and em dashes? I could not get down on the ground with that. With that puncuation mark, oh my gosh.

Miasia Osbey 40:43

Sitching underscore In underscore Color. [@stitching_in_color] You can find me on Instagram. It's where I post all of my Black and stitching things. I will be speaking the Woodman and Pope Leahy House Needlework Show May 27. Starting at 12, noon, to 1pm. And the presentation is called Occupying White Spaces: Stitching in Color. And I will be talking about my adventures in cross stitching and being unapologetic, unapologetically Black while doing so for that hour. It is a free event open to the public. Please register to hear me out.

Lisa Woolfork 41:22

And y'all I am going to put the link to this event in our show notes because that this event is tomorrow. So tomorrow she's going to be speaking and you'll be able to listen to her and interact with her and find out more information about her beautiful method and her amazing work. Thank you so much Miasia for being here today. Thank you.

Miasia Osbey 41:44

Thank you! Thank you so much for having me. I love what you're doing. I love Olatform and Stich instead. And Stitch Please. Thank you so much.

Lisa Woolfork 41:58

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at BlackWomenStitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, pa t ar e o n and you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcasts directories or services allow for reviews. But for those who do for those that have a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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