I'm working on Hannah Thornbush.
You start with a motif that looks like this:
And then you work detached buttonhole over it like so:
Pray tell, why would you go to all the trouble to stitch that light and airy little design and then cover it solidly with buttonhole stitch?
Darlene O'Steen mentioned in a class I took from her umpty-leven years ago that it was not unusual to find double running motifs inside a design element which could only be seen on the back of a sampler. On the front, there was usually some kind of overstitching that hid the motif from view.
As I was stitching, I wondered if there was some kind of code hidden in these motifs. The period in which these samplers were stitched was politically perilous, so could the girls who stitched them be hiding a message within the sampler?
It suddenly occurred to me, in a slap-up-side-of-the-head-duh moment, that I read way too many murder mysteries.
These samplers were stitched reversibly.
And they weren't framed. They were rolled up and kept in workbaskets to serve as pattern records in a time when books and printing were horribly expensive and rare. So if you wanted to see that double running motif, you simply looked at it. And at the same time, you could practice your needlelace stitches to fill a variety of shapes on the other side.
Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most logical.
I need to remember that.