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Cross Stitch Patterns by Scarlet Quince | Neatness
[quote="Anonymous"]I'm pretty new to stitching, and I just had to start "The Accolade". Does anyone have suggestions for keeping track of your thread with sooo many different colors? I think there are some 20-30 different combinations in a small space, and I think some of the colors only show up once in a block of 10 x 10 stitches, and then only a few times in the whole stained glass window. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.
I have been there and now use a thread co-ordinator for the first time in my life. I can't believe now that I used to use the same needle all the time. Threading, unthreading, and I have been x-stitching for years. OK you need in the first instance to buy a lot of needles but once you thread your needles and mark the code on the coordinator it is so much easier. I am working on Lady with Unicorn. which uses about 125 colours most of which are blended. Each co-ordinator holds 50 needles and I bought 3 of them and have never regretted it.
Meredith Site Admin
Joined: 23 Feb 2004 Posts: 128
We had a lady who has done a lot of model stitching do Monet's irises for us, and I was very impressed by how neat the back was. I asked how she does it and the main thing, she said, was to continue with a color as far as she can (not carrying it TOO far though). I had been trying to stitch without leaving holes, which meant sometimes parking but more often ending a color and starting it again a little way off. She pointed out that the less you start and stop with a color the neater the back will be. When you do carry a color across places that are already stitched, run the needle under the existing stitches. It's true that our patterns have some colors (or blends) that are widely scattered so you just have to do the one stitch, anchor the floss, and cut it off, but more often there are at least a few stitches scattered nearby. I have been trying this and it really does help to do all the stitches of one color that are within a few stitches of each other in terms of neatness as well as stitching time. It's a good idea to try to do the predominant color first (if there is one), both in terms of making stitches that you can use to anchor other colors, and for the sake of reading your chart. That "swiss cheese" effect does make it harder to figure out where you are.
A mental health tip: rather than complete a page, then do the page next to it (which makes lines you can see on the front) I like to stitch across the top of a page until I get to the right edge, make a line of basting on the fabric to mark the page boundary, then keep going across the next page, and so on the width of the pattern. For most patterns, once you have done this, you will have a choice of kinds of stitching: places with lots of color changes or places with few color changes. It's nice to switch back and forth. Sometimes you just won't be in the mood for dealing with the color changes - other times you'll find the background boring and want to see the picture progress.
quote:Originally posted by Anonymous I'm pretty new to stitching, and I just had to start "The Accolade". Does anyone have suggestions for keeping track of your thread with sooo many different colors? I think there are some 20-30 different combinations in a small space, and I think some of the colors only show up once in a block of 10 x 10 stitches, and then only a few times in the whole stained glass window. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.
When I work on TWs, I do one color at a time in a particular area, beginning with the dominant color and including the backstitching. I've done about 10 of her designs, and that works for me for those.
But on my Unicorn tapestry, I have started to use the parking method, and will work the stitches of one color only in a row, maybe 2, at a time. Part of that is because I am doing it on 22ct fabric, so it can be quite dense, and I don't like to force my needle through all four corners if the stitch is completely enclosed; if the bottom edge is open, it's much easier to come up through without breaking threads, and then picking through the other two corners from the top, so I can see what I'm doing. This design also has several stitches that are the only one of that color in a huge space, so I do have a lot of starts/stops - there's no avoiding that in a design this intricate. When I get done (many years from now), I will go back and trim the back - everything should be well-anchored by then!
I do not restrict myself in doing 10x10 sections, I kind of follow where the colors take me - if there are 3 stitches of a color in the next block, and doing them does not make getting back to the first block a stretch, I do them. This weekend, I put several hours in, and at one point, I had about 50 needles hanging down from various locations. My design is such that, I can break it up into smaller sections - left of the flag, flag, right of flag to page end, and I work one section's colors down several rows, then go to the next section, working those colors down level with the others, then next section, etc. I have no straight lines where I leave off, though I have done that with a couple of other designs, and have never created a line in the finished product.
I probably made that much more confusing than it is; parking is just something you have to do yourself, and figure out your own system, I think. I didn't take any update pics this weekend (too busy stitching, not doing housework), or it would probably help illustrate it better - I will this coming weekend, for sure. Parking definitely takes some getting used to, but I definitely reccommend giving it a try on these big projects - and don't give up if it doesn't make sense right away; I've got 40+ hours into my project so far, and I am still refining my process - the middle, if I ever get to it, ought to be just about perfect, though my top-left corner isn't going to be; I'm okay with that. But then again, I don't really look at the backs on things that are solidly stitched (no fabric gaps where theads can show through).
Here's my last progress update, which shows about 1/2 of the threads I have right now hanging down:
http://rifestitch.multiply.com/ - go to the Photos tab, then the SQ Lady w/Unicorn album.
Good golly molly, here's a brainstorming session if ever I saw one! Ok, I have been holding off but I'm going to try to explain my technique. It's quite complicated (to explain, not to do) and I think I must be some kind of Martian because I've never heard of anybody else doing things this way- except of course the person who taught me to cross stitch!
For me, neatness on the back counts just as much (if not more) as neatness on the front! I fully hold with the "but nobody's going to see the back" argument and god speed to those who adhere to it. I think it may be the neurotic perfectionist in me speaking, but I think the same could be said about underwear- maybe nobody else knows that you're wearing some fantastically expensive and beautiful ensemble underneath your daggy jeans, but YOU do!
So, for me the key to a neat back which looks exactly like the front is all about achieving a thickly woven back. Rather than making your work difficult, on the contrary a thickly woven back (if done correctly) makes neatness a whole lot easier. Finding a place to discretely tuck away your ends where they won't show is no longer an issue, and carrying your thread even long distances is no longer a messy affair as you simply run it equally as easily under the thick weaving, leaving no snares.
So, how does one create this neat, thickly woven back? Basically, I run my half stitches one way first and then come back with the top half of the crosses. This is nothing new, it is a standard Danish technique. BUT, I work my crosses from opposite corner to oopposite corner from one stitch to the next, creating a doubly long bar at the back (as if you had gone the length of two crosses). For example, running from left to right in a row, I start each stitch at the top right hand corner and bring it back to the bottom left. At the end of the row I turn around and come back with each stitch starting at the top left and going down at the bottom right corner. If I am stitching from right to left in a row, I reverse this so that all stitches start at the front corner and are pulled back towards you to finish. You should always finish each stitch in the opposite direction of the way your row runs.
Now turn your fabric over and you will see a perfectly neat thick covering which reflects exactly what you have sewn on the front. To finish you thread, run it back under the stitches you have just done through the perfectly snag-free tunnel down the middle of the stitches on the back. Easy!
I know the explanation is not easy (I wish I could post a photo to illustrate what I'm talking about, I don't think a photo of this is really worthy of a place in the Gallery), but it is very easy to do. You just need to get used to working your stitches backwards!
Now, obviously this is easy to do when there is a lot of a continuous colour, but it also applies when you only have a few or even one stitch to do. Start by anchoring your thead in the colour group next to where you want to start (don't worry, your tail won't show because it will be hidden under the thick weaving) and take it to the far opposite corner- this will give you a maximum of coverage of that space on the back. Finish you first half cross close to the other colour group and again start the second half cross on the far corner (by now you should have full coverage of that square). Finish by tucking it back into the same colour group you anchored it in, or feel free to carry it on to the next place you need that colour. I am not shy about carrying thread a long way (because I know it won't show, or clog up my other stitches thanks to the under-thread tunnels)- I only ever end a thread if I would use more thread by carrying it than by ending it and starting again (I anchor and finish with about a cm of thread at each end) so I will carry a thread to anywhere that is less than or equal to 2 cms away. Depending on your fabric, that can even be 14 or 15 stitches away! I find that this running on of a thread also helps you to work at a higher speed.
Voila! I'm sorry if that explanation was as clear as mud, but I swear that this method works- at least for me. The only other thing to be aware of is that you use more thread this way (Meredith estimates 1 and a 1/2 times the thread requirement), but I think it's definitely worth it!
Anyway, give it a try and see what you think. I would be glad to hear what your progress is!