Parking

I recently got the urge to work on my Morning Flight cross stitch again.  Then I quickly remembered why I’d stopped working on it.

Back when I started it, I had decided to do this project one color at a time, going from the background to the foreground.   In general I liked this process, but having to do a ton of one color gets a bit tiring.  When I put the piece down, I had been working on light blue.  You can barely distinguish it from the background fabric and it felt like I wasn’t making any progress.

2015 05-11 Parking 1It actually shows up better in that photo than in real life.

I decided that the one-color-at-a-time thing just wasn’t fun any more, and thought I’d give parking a try.  If you’re not familiar with parking, it basically means working on one small chunk of the piece at a time (I’ve seen a lot of people do 10 stitch by 10 stitch squares at a time) and when you no longer need a particular color of thread in that little chunk, you park it in the next chunk you’re going to work so that it’s waiting for you when you get to it.

I found the process a lot of fun and less confusing than it had looked at first.  I started in the bottom left corner as it had no work done there yet.  I opted to do a row of ten stitches at a time, instead of a ten stitch square, as part of the appeal of parking for me is that you can avoid having to work a stitch that is completely surrounded by stitches (it’s just harder to get your needle through the fabric in those cases).

2015 05-11 Parking 2

When I got to the sections where I had already done quite a bit of stitching, I ended up switching so that instead of working a row at a time, I’m working a 10×10 block at a time — I found it was easier to work around the preexisting stitches that way.

2015 05-11 Parking 3I got a whole column done (okay, it’s a half column, but the pattern is four pages, so it’s a whole column on one page).  I’m very happy with the progress and I’m looking forward to continuing parking on any larger pieces I do.  I do want to switch to working from the top down instead of the bottom up as I had done for this column, as I think it will be easier for my stitching style.

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Letting go

I’ve never been a one-project-at-a-time type of crafter (which is probably obvious if you’ve read any of my posts).  I start multiple projects and work on them as I like, and it sometimes takes me years to finish something, but I do finish it.

This week I decided to let one of my projects go — you may remember this horse cross stitch:

2015 04-13 HorseI started it because I wanted to start something and I’d wanted to do the pattern for a long time.  And it was fun at first.  But then I just lost interest — looking at it didn’t excite me and working on it felt like a chore.  This past week, it’s even prevented me from working on some of my projects that I do really want to finish, because I felt like it’s nearly done so I should be working on it, even though I didn’t want to (and I didn’t actually have a need to finish it).

After thinking about it for a bit, I decided I wasn’t going to finish it.  I put the embroidery floss back in my general storage and tucked the mostly completed piece and the pattern away (I’m thinking I might eventually want to use the finished part of the horse’s head in another project, so I didn’t want to get rid of it entirely).  I’ve felt a lot better about my crafting after I came to that decision.

I feel like I could have come to the decision to stop working on this project sooner, as it wasn’t fun for a while.  How do you know when you no longer want to finish something vs. you’re just temporarily bored with it?  Do you consciously choose to stop working on something or keep it around in case you change your mind later?

Stitching update

As promised, here’s the update on my cross stitching and blackwork projects.  First up, my Save the Stitches blackwork sampler.

2015 04-13 BlackworkI love this thing — it’s a ton of fun to work and it’s going to be amazing when I hang it on my wall.  My camera sometimes has trouble picking the patterns up, so here are two close-ups to show you the stitching better:  2015 04-13 Blackwork 22015 04-13 Blackwork 3

Next, you may recall that I was working a horse pattern that I’d wanted to do forever but didn’t have the exact right materials for.  It’s coming along well:

2015 04-13 HorseMy only real issue with it is that I don’t love the reddish brown I created with a blended needle:

2015 04-13 Horse 2I don’t feel like ripping it out and I don’t really have a better option, so I’m just not going to worry about it — it looks okay from a distance, and I suspect part of the reason I don’t like it is that I’ve seen the original pattern so I know what it’s supposed to look like.

Finally, I don’t think I’ve actually worked on my Morning Flight since last time you saw it, but I’m including it here for completeness’ sake (plus pulling it out to photograph made me really want to start working on it again!).

2015 04-13 Morning Flight

Winging It

Every so often I get the urge to start a relatively small and quick project.  This time I got the urge to do a small cross stitch piece of a horse by Jan Sorrells that I’d found ages ago in a cross stitch magazine (I’m not sure which one — all I have is a couple of pages torn out of a magazine my mother or grandmother originally had).  I’ve been wanting to do that horse for a while, plus I have some random 14 count aida I want to use up and a bunch of unnumbered bobbins of floss I’d like to work through.

Turns out the piece of fabric would have literally three stitches to spare on either side of the cross stitching.2015 01-30 Horse 1

Meh, I was planning on finishing it as a wall hanging, not framing it, so I can make this work with some fray check and careful handling.

Then I spent a bit of time checking my available floss against images of the DMC floss called for.  I didn’t have enough browns, but I can give the horse a blue halter instead of a brown one and use some blended needles. 2015 01-30 Horse 2 I had a couple of colors that I’d picked out but changed after I started working with them and realized they didn’t work as well as I’d thought they would. This is after about a week’s worth of work:  2015 01-30 Horse 3

I’m back

Well, it ended up taking a lot longer than I’d anticipated to get back to blogging after my vacation. I’m pleased to report that I did finish knitting my brother’s gloves in time to give them to him for Christmas:

2015 01-19 B's gloves

He approves.

I also did some more work on my Morning Flight cross stitch over the break, and got as far as adding the first full crosses!
2015 01-19 Full crosses

This is what it looked like before I took it off the frame:

2015 01-19 Morning Flight

I took it off the frame to begin work on the Save the Stitches blackwork sampler (free pattern available at Blackwork Journey). It’s a sampler of 131 different blackwork stitches, with multiple variations of each stitch.  I plan on finishing it as a wall hanging, probably with a black fabric border. This is one and a half of the 24 blocks making up the pattern:

2015 Save the stitches
(Sorry for the slight fuzziness — it turns out to be quite a difficult pattern to photograph for me.)

Holiday crafting progress report

Well, I’ve made a fair bit of progress on my brother’s fingerless gloves, although I’d like to be further along:

12-8-14 B glove

Part of the issue is that, now that I’ve finished Lily’s bed, I’m not feeling like knitting as much anymore. This means I’ve gone back to my Morning Flight cross stitch and made quite a bit of progress:

I’m realizing that the blues I’ve been working on are make up a huge part of the cross stitching in that pattern, so while I’m only barely into the number of colors I need to work, I’m pretty far into the total number of stitches

12-8-14 Morning Flight.

I can’t believe I’m saying this…

…but I’m getting kind of sick of blue.

I’ve made quite a lot of progress on my cross stitch in the past couple of weeks:

11-7-14 Morning FlightHowever, most of it is in that bottom right section that’s so. much. blue.  The shades are super close and a bit annoying to keep track of…

11-7-14 Morning Flight closeupOn the other hand, some of the sections are fully filled in and I’m getting closer and closer to changing to the next color!

Cross stitching one color at a time

For my current cross stitching project, I’d decided to stitch one color at a time, across the entire piece. I’m currently adding in the second darkest blue in the bottom right.

10-24 Morning FlightI’ve seen quite a bit of information on parking, and a little bit on doing one section of color at a time, but not a lot about doing all of a single color at once.  Bearing in mind that I am not at all an expert, here are some tips I’ve found so far:

Plan ahead: If you’re going to be jumping around, as I was, you’ll want to look over each major section of a color when you begin, and keep an eye on the next couple of rows as you stitch, so that when you have to jump to a new section, you can do so with the least possible thread on the back.  (Or you could fasten off each end, but that gets obnoxious when you have only two or three stitches in one area.)

Also, before you begin you might want to consider how you’re going to choose your colors.  I saw one video where the stitcher went from the most common color to the least common.  I, instead, chose to work from the background colors to the foreground colors — I sat down with the pattern, color key, and picture from the packaging and worked out what order I wanted to do everything in, then noted that order on the key.

Have a variety of techniques to start and end threads: As much as possible I’ve been catching the beginning of a thread under the stitches I’m about to make and the end under the stitches I’ve just made.  However, that isn’t practical in some cases, such as when I’ve got just one or two stitches in a remote area with no other stitches to help secure the thread.  In those cases, I’ve been using in-line waste knots that I’ll secure with later colors to start threads and a similar strategy where I take the tail a distance away that I’ll stitch over and bring it to the front to secure it to end threads (this is another case where planning is critical, as you need to make sure that you’ll actually secure them).  If I have an even number of threads, I plan on starting with the loop method.

Be prepared to flip your project over: This is somewhat optional, but because of the way I’ve been securing my thread ends, I have been double checking that I am actually stitching over the threads to secure them.  I also tend to run the floss behind any sections I’ve already stitched when jumping to a new area to try to keep the back neater and secure everything better.

Highlight: You’ll definitely need to highlight or otherwise mark up what you’ve done on your pattern, otherwise it’s nearly impossible to keep track of where you are.  I’ve been playing around with using different colors of highlighters, but I think the advantage of that is more to do with keeping me from getting bored than actually helping with the stitching.

Grid your fabric: This is a must, since you’ll be moving around a lot and you really don’t want to be counting 153 stitches in from the left… The grid makes it so much easier to pinpoint where to start (3 squares up, 2 over,  then 3 down and 0 over within that square, etc).

It’s also useful if you have very similar colors, as I have here:

10-24 Morning Flight close

That’s two shades of dark blue, for the record.  Anyway, I found that I had trouble telling if a previous stitch was in the current color or the previous color, which made referencing my location by stitches (for example, stitching along row and stopping two short of the previous color) very difficult.  Having the grid makes it much easier to glance at my pattern and determine what color I’m coming up on so I can tell where to stop and move to the next row.

I did grid with black sewing thread as it’s what I had, but it’s a pain in the butt to avoid splitting it.  I’d recommend a metallic thread, fine fishing line, or something else that can’t possibly be split during stitching.

Areas of scattered stitches take way longer than areas of solid color: Somewhat obvious, but areas of scattered colors are really a pain, as you have to jump around a lot and double check your counts.  I’ve not actually used parking, so I’m not sure if it would be any quicker, but it’s something I’m interested in trying on my next project.

Morning Flight update and DIY needle minder

I’ve been doing a lot of cross stitch this week.  I finished the first color I was working on and added a couple of shades of yellow for the sun:

10-17-14 Morning FlightOne thing that fascinates me about this design is how it uses different numbers of strands of floss and half stitches vs. full crosses to create different effects:

10-17-14 Morning Flight closeThat’s the same color of yellow, but some half crosses are with a single strand and some are with three strands of floss.  Most of my past cross stitching projects have been small images on unstitched fabric and this is my first one with significant background shading, so I’m not sure if this is typical or not.  Those of you who’ve done more projects like this, is it a common feature?

My other minor project was a simple needle minder — you can see it in the first picture.  I’d seen a couple of needle minders on other cross stitcher’s pictures and videos, and I happened to have a couple of broken refrigerator magnets, a random button, and hot glue…

Needle minder 1Needle minder 2I hot glued the button on top of one round magnet, and put the other round magnet on the underside of the fabric.  Eventually I hope to find something prettier than the button to glue to the second magnet, so that I can have the pretty side up and the button on the underside of the fabric.

Morning Flight background

I’ve been mildly obsessed with cross stitching now that I’ve restarted this kit.  (My knitting is suffering!)

10-10-14 Morning Flight largeCan you see a difference?  It’s in the top right corner — I’ve decided to start with the background colors and work my way forward to the foreground, so I’m starting with the color that’s most similar to the fabric.  Here’s a close-up:

10-10-14 Morning Flight closeI’m probably about 1/3 of the way through this color, and I calculated that I have 35 colors of stitching and backstitch to do…