Posted in Tips and Tricks

Why do you procrastinate your cross stitch?

Hi Everyone

I’ve been having a bad case of analysis paralysis over two projects I’m keen to start but scared to at the same time. Which has me wondering how many other stitchers have similar experiences?

Finding the right piece of fabric

Having the right piece of fabric for a pattern can make the world of difference with the finish for the project. This can range from the count size to the physical dimensions and ensuring there’s enough of a border to help with finishing it – e.g. framing. It can also be the colour of the fabric. Many people have trouble with stitching on dark fabric regardless of what the count size is and how awesome the project may look on that colour.

I’m currently stitching a project on a 32 count Belfast linen that I’ve dyed myself and I’m finding that without some really good light and regular breaks from it, my eyes are getting tired and I’m struggling to properly focus.

This is the linen I’m stitching on that requires good light and regular breaks.

I had considered using this fabric for my Dew Drop Daisy project, but seeing how my current projects are working out on it, I’ve made the right decision not to use it for Dew Drop!

Hand dyed purple fabric by Kristen Gawronski

I’m also considering using the purple fabric I’ve dyed myself for Dew Drop Daisy or the Pink Bottlebrush (aka the Pink Grevillea). It’s roughly 25 count fabric and I don’t think I have enough fabric for the pattern. That has me wondering, ‘should I adjust the pattern to fit the fabric?’ or ‘purchase the fabric I need for the pattern?’

It’s a daunting pattern

It may be your first Heaven and Earth Design or similar pattern and you may not know where to start. Or there’s a lot of colour changes and you may not have all of the tools you need to make a start. Alternatively, you’re working on a Chatelaine (see European Cross Stitch Company) and they are beautiful, big and challenging in a positive way. Check out the Flosstube channels Teresa Little Stitcher and Jessie Marie Does Stuff – both of them are working on Chatelaine’s and they’re going to be beautiful!

In my case, one of the patterns I want to work on is huge and I’m wanting it to be part of the Hot Cross Stitching collection. So my challenge is to try and reduce the size of the pattern and number of colours required without losing any of the key features that make it such a good looking picture. If I don’t make any changes to the picture, I would need over a meter’s worth of material (including enough to frame it) and over 300 threads. Some of those threads would be for just 1 stitch! To me that’s not cool and if the pattern is going to be part of the Hot Cross Stitching collection, then some significant changes need to be made!

Too many patterns to choose from

How big is your collection? Are you in a situation where you have many patterns to choose from, but none of them are pulling at your hands to say ‘stich me!’, ‘stitch me!’?Which results in spending a lot of time on the internet or your local craft store searching for a pattern that grabs your attention. Alternatively, are all of the patterns wanting you to stitch them at the same time?

I’ve certainly told myself on multiple occasions that I’m not going to purchase another pattern until I’ve finished some of the ones I’m currently working on. Let alone started ones that have been in my collection for many years. Then I see an ad or I’m told about a designer or pattern that looks really cool. Before I know it, I’m looking things up and buttons are pressed and I have another PDF pattern in my collection!

The good things is that I’m not alone in this. I regularly hear people in the stitching community talking about ‘being enabled’ by other stitchers. It’s what we do and one of the best forms of marketing!

Time, space and health

Work and / or family may be your key focus at the moment, and the main time you have to set aside for yourself is when you’re tired and need to rest. If you do have some flexibility with your time and money, space to do your stitching and store your supplies may be limited because of where you live. Alternatively, there may be other factors affecting your ability to try and stitch. Some of which may be associated with the current crisis the world is experiencing.

Personally, I’ve lost a little bit of my stitching mojo because of some discomfort I’ve been experiencing with my right wrist. I’m right hand dominant and a few weeks ago I spent nearly all day stitching and I haven’t done something like that for a very long time. It resulted in my wrist letting me know that it wasn’t happy about it! My wrist is on the mend thankfully, but it put a bit of a dent in my desire to stitch.

Another example is my analysis paralysis about the work I’m doing and what work I need to do next. Ultimately, it’s my fear factor and my logic of the world that is stopping me from doing what I need to do.

Mistakes are made in the project

Mistakes regularly happen in stitching projects – hence the term ‘frogging’, we are regularly ‘ripping’ things out because we’ve mis-counted or used the wrong colour thread. Some people draw the line at how much frogging they do and consider the mistakes as personalisations rather than mistakes and leave them as they are. Which is where fudging happens – working around the personalisation to make it fit into the rest of the pattern.

However, how significant is the mistake that it causes you to pause it and procrastinate? Is the project off my a number of squares and you don’t know where the mistake happened? Alternatively, the mistake happened a while ago and you’re too far gone to frog it and personalising it is significantly difficult? Stitching over the mistake to try and correct it makes the stitches look really bulky and more often than not, the underlying colour shows through revealing the cover-up.

Another mistake could be the mis-calculation of fabric and you’re about to run out of fabric just when the pattern gets exciting. Adding more fabric to where you need it, but there’s the risk of the stitches not holding the join. Or you and non-stitchers can see the crease or join line. The image below is a perfect example of this.

Example of a project where I’m most likely going to run out of fabric.

I had been working on it for quite some time and I’ve put it on an extended pause because of the amount of fabric I have compared with the amount I still have to stitch. You will also notice that I don’t have any space above my stitching at the top of the pattern. If I choose to frame this project, I may need professional help!

Something got lost

Have you lost a part of the pattern or something critical to help you start or finish the project?

I have a zebra project that I started many years ago and I may not pick up again because I lost half of the pattern, and as Murphys’ Law would have it, that’s the part I need to finish the project!

Half finished Zebra project

I have considered purchasing a second kit so that I could finish the project. It would also mean that I would have additional fabric and thread. How awful right?! More fabric and thread! I had also considered and tried as you can see in the above image, trying to stitch the pattern off the cover page. It started becoming a bit difficult because the cover page is framed and I’m thinking it may partly covered by the frame the finished project is in.

As a result, I’m pausing it because I have a lot of other projects I’m enjoying and I’ve started the Rainbow Zebras (my name for the project), so I’m still getting my Zebra fix!

Are you comfortable with this procrastination?

The key question though, is how comfortable do you want to be with your procrastination and reasons why you’re procrastinating? If you jumped in and tested the waters, what could go wrong and what could go right? Are the things that could go right, scarier than the things that could go wrong?

If you don’t do anything with the procrastination, then nothing really happens. Ultimately, you’re stuck. Are you okay with this?

However, if you do make a start on the project or pick it up again, then you have the opportunity to make things right – if there’s an error in the project – or you at least start moving forward. By making things right, you’re no longer feeling uncomfortable because of the procrastination. You have the opportunity to see if your worries or fears are founded. You also have the opportunity to see how awesome the project actually is. It could even be something you’re proud of and want to tell people about!

Until next time,

Happy Stitching.

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I am an avid cross stitcher. I was first introduced to cross stitch when I was primary school age. Paused for while during my teens and then took it up again in my early/mid 20's and I haven't looked back. To mitigate the amount of time I'm sitting down stitching, I'm a regular member of the gym and I'm a runner. To keep me motivated, I participate in short to medium length fun runs. Which at times feel torturous, but I feel really good at the end of them! With these activities in mind, this blog is about the combination of my experiences with running and cross stitch and encouraging people to think differently about cross stitch - it's not just Grandma's who do this anymore!