I'm a beginner stitcher and have already come across a frustrating when attempting to stitch my design. What in the world to do with all those isolated stitches? I'm lucky if I get two or three stitches in the same color near each other and then "bam!" one stitch in another color with another stitch in the same color a good fifteen holes away. How do you tackle this issue? At first, I went ahead and parked my color there...despite it leaving a two inch line of thread stretched across the back of the canvas. But that caused the block to become hugely bulky. I can barely get my needle to pass through the really "matted" areas.
How do the rest of you do it? Do you cut and tuck everytime a new color begins? Is there a magic number that you use to decide when to stretch and park and when to cut and tuck? Do you work line by line or color by color...and does it make a difference in the finished product? And how in the world do the experts manage to get their backs so neat. I swear, some of them look as good as the front.
Let me start off by saying I'm not a pro & I don't believe my backs are all that neat even though my family says differently. I use the rule of thumb of 1 inch to decide to carry thread over or to cut/start over. Some areas are a little bunchier than others but it hasn't caused me any problems, lumpiness on the front so it's worked for me. Good luck!
Well, (you might grab a snack - my answers are usually long)when I started my SQ, I used parking for the first time, and if that particular symbol was used again within 10 stitches in any direction, I parked (10 stitches isn't very far lengthwise on 22ct). If it wasn't used (the very first stitch I put in the top left corner was not used again until I got 1/2 way down page 1), I anchored & cut. I did the parking routine all through Page 1 and onto Page 2.
At the same time that I was working on the SQ peice, I was also working on two TW designs - I have done many of them over the years - and I have never parked on any of them, except the leaves on one - before I knew it was called parking. Anyway, as I'm working on these two pieces, I realize how much faster I am if I just follow a color until it or my thread runs out. So I started to do that on my SQ, and I have gotten a lot more done in a shorter time.
All that said, one thing you need to know about me - I don't care what the back looks like, not one bit. Now, obviously, I know to not have a huge lump on the back that will push that spot up when I finish the piece, but as for making the back look like the front - that makes the stitching more like work to me - the perfection is on the front, not the back, since no one but me and my framer will ever see the back. What I do try to do, though, is have a relatively consistant mat on the back. Considering the design I am doing, Lady & Unicorn, it is almost ALL confetti stitching, so the back isn't going to be "clean" regardless of what method I use. If the threads on the back end up being 1/8-1/4" thick (exaggerating for illustrative purposes), so long as it is about that thick everywhere, it will stretch exactly the same as though it were flat - the back is the back, regardless if the fabric is the highest point, or the threads - if you follow me. And I think it provides a lot of strength to the entire piece - less stress on the threads and the fabric, hopefully making it last a lot longer.
I've had some TW's done this way framed for years, with absolutely no adverse affects. No lumps or bumps at all. But, too, I've never worked on an afghan, and probably never will So, to answer your question, I have done both, but came to find that I really don't like parking, I prefer to follow a color through a section, until the thread runs out, whatever brings me to a convenient stopping-place for that color, and then on to the next most-prevalent color, and so on, even if I spend hours doing 1-2s - which on L&U happens pretty frequently!
(Another little secret - don't tell the Cross Stitch Police! I don't flip my work to anchor or trim threads. I do it all blind, by feel. At the end of the week, when I take my frame off of the floor stand, I'll flip it over and give the piece a good trimming - by then, I know everything is pretty well anchored. If a thread needs a bit more tucking to keep it secure - along an edge, for instance, with no stitches above or below it - I poke it under a couple of threads as needed.)
There are really so many questions when you're working a large design , particularly when you've got a lot of isolated or confetti stitches. I am by absolutely no means an expert, but my general rule of thumb as to whether to end a thread or carry it over is which would require more floss. I usually use about 1cm of floss to start and to end a thread so unless my new stitch is more than 2cm away, I would usually carry it over, and I generally have a pretty neat back. This is obviously also a lot quicker than ending and restarting. Of course you may have to revise this technique if you really have too many of these. Have you tried a pinhead stitch when ending/starting your isolated stitches? You can check out how to do it in the tips section.
Okay, fine. I wasn't going to say anything, figured we had so many brilliant stitchers here I'd let everyone answer. (And they did, and advice here is always great.) But here's my two cents anyway: first, I agree with Rife, the backs of my pieces mean nothing to me. (And, technically I AM a professional, I get paid to stitch things.) I know that there is a method of placing stitches so that the back looks nearly like the front. What I have found, when I am a situation to do it that way, the front does not seem to lay (lie down?) as nicely as when I use the method that makes it a bit messier on the back. For me, the front is most important, so I generally go with what looks good where everyone will see it.
The second part of my response it that, it depends on how far some of these isolated stitches are from other isolated stitches of the same color. Again, like Rife, I tend to go along with a color until either it runs out, or the thread in my needle does. I do travel a bit more than is usually recommended (never with really dark colors or behind a place where nothing will be stitched though).
My recommendation is to go with your instinct. If it seems like you are getting a lumpy mess, well maybe that was too many starts and stops in one place. If you end up stretching some floss a bit more than you had intended, but it turns out fine, and no one can tell anyway, then you are good to go.
I've got a messy back even though I've just started my piece and it's really off-putting. It looks fine from the front but it's really bugging me. I don't know whether I should start off each colour in the row or what? I guess it's just that thing about neat backs, something that never really bothered me before, but then I've never stitched anything as complicated, with so many colours distributed in such a manner and I'm determined to make it as perfect as possible.
I am very pleased with the look of it so far though.
I have been having very nice success on my backs by using the pinhead stitch to start and end and by parking my colors. I work row by row and I work the same color all around and then park it where I will pick it up again a few lines down. Then I move on to the next color in my row. Etc, Etc.