In life and death situations, perfectionism all the way. Unless you’re going Bear Grylls style out in the wild and have limited supplies. Also, we expect near perfectionism when we’re paying professionals for their advice or to do a job for us that we can’t do for ourselves.
What about our private lives? When we’re playing video games, being healthy and active, cooking for our loved ones, crafting and interacting with our family and friends are we wanting things to be perfect?
The Need for Perfection
For some stitcher’s, there is the desire to have stitches as flat and neat as possible and no visibly stray threads – to the point where the stitches are re-stitched until they are exactly the way they want them done.
Then there’s the need for the tension to be right whilst stitching and then having the tension right when the project is being framed – if it gets framed! There are so many different options for finishing a project that the pressure to find the right finishing option for the right project and person can be overwhelming.
When near enough is good enough
With cross stitch, it is important for the crosses to be uniform and being stitched in the same direction. Once we’ve mastered the basics, for many of us – including myself – use the close enough is good enough approach. For example, I’m stitching a Heaven and Earth Design that has a lot of confetti in it. On the first page I had done some serious muck ups where I had lost track of where I’m stitching on the fabric in comparison to the pattern. Mostly because I had crossed off parts that I hadn’t stitched yet and I thought I would get back to that section to update it, but never did. Which left me with the following choices:
- I could use an eraser to rub out where I’d accidentally marked off and stitch the section then and there;
- Leave it as is and stitch the area I had accidentally marked off on the pattern; or
- Leave it as is and stitch the area using similar colours to what would be used in that area.
I chose to use some creative licence and I left the areas on the pattern marked off and used colours that have been used throughout the page. I also used my own judgement for the amount of stitches for each colour that I thought was appropriate for the area I was working on and for the pattern broadly speaking. Thankfully, the area I was stitching wasn’t too close to the edge of the page so it wouldn’t have an adverse affect on the adjoining pages!
Another example is when I’ve accidentally stitched one too many stitches on a line or two for a long line – e.g. 50 crosses. Rather than unpicking all of it to fix the error, I’ve adjusted the other stitches around the mistake to bring the picture back into alignment.
Creative Licence and Cross Stitch
There have also been times when I have used some creative licence to change or update a pattern because of preference for certain colours and fabric types. Spruce Crafts for example, discuss this very topic and provide guidance on changing fabric counts to suit patterns you want to stitch. I’ve also talked about changing a couple of colours in the pattern I call Jingle Bells, because I didn’t have the colour the pattern called for and I’ve used a metallic thread to give the picture some texture and make it unique.
One thing I need to make very clear, is the importance of respecting copyright where it’s due. I’m not a lawyer. I understand what I need to and aim here is not to provide any legal advice, but to advocate for the continual respect for copyright and how it affects the artists and those around them. At the end of this post, I have included some links to some creative commons sites and copyright sites for anyone who would like to know more.
The awesome thing I have noticed about the cross-stitch/embroidery community is that the majority of us understand this and respect it. I’ve noticed this with the way people talk about the patterns they are working on via Flosstube. They willingly share the details of who the artist/creator/designer is and where they got the pattern/kit from and encourage the rest of the community to shop local where possible – especially the small local shops that aren’t part of the large chains.
For many of us, it can be hard to accept that mistakes happen and to bounce back from them. As a stitcher, mistakes tend to range from miscounting, causing lines to be out of balance by one or more stitches through to stitching sections in the wrong colour. All the while we curse and grumble about lost time, wasted floss, that we need to get our eyes checked and learn how to count again while we’re frogging a section we’ve just stitched.
Embracing the middle ground and flaws in our stitching
It’s clear in this post that I’m advocating the acceptance of near enough is good enough whilst taking pride in our projects and how they look when finished. What I want to know now is what you think. Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your stitching? Alternatively, is near enough good enough for you?
What lengths have you gone to, to ensure your project looks the way that you want it?