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Why you should join a digital stitching retreat

Hi Everyone

With the current climate, international travel and in some circumstances, domestic travel is difficult and wont return to normal for a long time. Which is why a digital stitching retreat is an awesome way of connecting with people from across the country and internationally.

Meeting new people from the comfort of your own home

Pending your personality type, meeting new people can be exciting and fun, nerve-wrecking, curious and cautious or somewhere in-between. Thankfully with the help of technology (and some tech-savvy friends for support if needed), you can join chat groups via social media applications such as Zoom. Where you can choose to have your camera off and microphone on, both feature on or off or any other combination that works for you.

The aim is for you to be able to interact with the other people in a group, whilst stitching on a project and talk (or not, that’s totally up to you!) about whatever you want.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Personal note: I’m an introvert through and through with socially awkward tendencies – especially when I’m in a room with other people I don’t know at all or very well. Being at home and participating in these retreats was really good because I could talk as much or as little as I wanted and silences are okay. Because everyone is busy stitching on their pieces and no one is worried about superficial things and you can keep your hands busy with cross stitch!

Timing is up to you

Participating in international digital retreats can mean that your time zone may be out of balance with the timing for the event. This is where you can make it your own and participate in events and stitching sessions that work for you.

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Personal note: Recently I participated in a digital stitching retreat hosted by The Black Needle Society – check out the links at the end of this post for more information – and the timing of the events were based upon Central Time in America. I’m in the Australian Eastern Time zone and that meant I would need to be up at about middnight or 1am through to about midday to 1pm or a little later to immerse myself in the retreat experience.

For my lifestyle, this was not practical, so I made it work for me by participating in the events that I could and it was an amazing experience!

The events and stitching challenges

This is what makes the stitching retreats unique and different. Some stitching retreats are based upon themes such as a television series or a movie franchise. Others may be based upon Halloween, Christmas or specific designer. Each of these retreats will have challenges based upon these themes and the organisers may have prizes connected to those challenges.

For example, one retreat may have a schedule of challenges for specific days and times throughout the retreat, that participants can take part in. The challenges will be specific to the theme of the retreat and there may be a prompt for you to work on a specific project in your collection. This can be a new start or an existing work in progress. Some challenges may have a time limit for you to complete the challenge and the set parameters may put you into the running to win a prize.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Personal note: Recently I participated in The Black Needle Society’s Retreat in a Box called “Autumn in Stars Hollow” that’s based upon the television show “Gilmore Girls”. There was a schedule for when the challenges were going to take place and each challenge was based upon a specific episode from the series. Additionally, each episode took place during the season of Autumn and Gilmore Girls is set in a fictional township of Stars Hollow.

For each challenge, we had an hour to put in as many stiches as we could on a project that related to the theme for a specific episode. For example, the first episode of the Gilmore Girls (aka the trailer) had the theme of laundry day. Therefore, the prompt for our cross stitch project, had to have clothes in it. We were required to take a photo of our piece before the challenge started with the name of the name of the project we were working on and a password we were provided 10 minutes before the challenge started.

At the end of the hour, we counted up the number of stitches we had done during that hour. We had to note down what that number was on the same piece of paper that had the password and name of the project and post the pictures to the social media platforms nominated by the organisers. We earnt points or a number of entries for a lucky dip that was drawn by the organisers of the retreat, and the lucky dip was drawn in the town hall meetings that started 15 minutes after each challenge ended.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Final note

I really enjoyed my first international digital stitching retreat that was hosted by The Black Needle Society. I’m a huge fan of the television series Gilmore Girls and I had heard about this retreat in a box through a flosstube channel called The Steel City Stitchers who are representatives of The Black Needle Society boxes.

In a future post I’ll share with you the pictures of the items in the stitching retreat box. If you can’t wait for that post, check out my flosstube episode #9 on Youtube, where I’m also known as The X Stitching Runner!

Each stitching retreat is different and unique and it’s important that you find one that fits your needs and interests. Below are some links and resources to help get you started and hopefully you’ll find one that works for you!

Links and resources to other stitching retreats:

  • Stitching for wellbeing by Fiona Doubleday – a virtual stitching retreat based in USA
  • The Black Needle Society – a stitching retreat in a box based upon different themes
  • Linen & Threads – this is an Australian based stitching retreat. The link will take you to the page for an even that has already happened. But it will give you an idea of what’s involved with a physical stitching retreat.
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April WIPGO, Haul and Stitch Maynia

Hi Everyone

It’s the first of May as I’m writing this and it’s a beautiful autumn day in Canberra. I’m making the most of the beautiful weather by writing this post outside, under my pergola because I spend 90% of my time in front of the computer or television. I’m not sure how long the nice weather is going to last. The weather people are saying that we’re meant to be getting some rain coming through next week. Maybe on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The other good thing with the weather at the moment, is that I’m trying to get outside more to start running more! Since December last year, I’ve had a lot of muscle tightness around my right heel because I wasn’t stretching enough (if at all) after any exercise I did and my feet weren’t happy with some of my running shoes. With a lot of help from my personal trainer and some stretches I’ve been trying to do at home, my right foot is a lot better. So much so, I was able to compete / participate in my first 5.4km fun run in over 12 months!

At the start of April Canberra hosted the Canberra Times Marathon that had a number of distances that people could participate in. Full credit to the organisers for this event because it was all happening on one day! This is significant because normally it’s spread out across two days – usually a Saturday and Sunday – where the shorter distances like the kids events (about 1 to 2km) through to the 10km event and maybe the half marathon (21km). Then the Sunday would have the marathon (40km +/-) and ultra-marathon (anything over 40-41km). So to have people competing in these different distances on the same day at different times takes a lot of organising and they did really well!

The additional challenge to this event was the weather. I have run in most types of weather combinations with the exception of snow. Mostly because it doesn’t snow frequently enough here in Canberra for it to really ever be something I need to consider. The day of the running event, it was really windy and a cold wind too coming in from the West. I really don’t like running in the wind and I was concerned about how sheltered the course was going to be and the hardest part was running into the wind for the finish line. But we got lucky for the 5.4km course. It was mostly sheltered and it was just towards the end that was hard. I really felt for the people who were running the half marathon and longer. They were out in the open for at least half of their courses and it takes a lot more energy and strength to be able to run in that wind and achieve the times you want.

With all of that in mind, I’ve signed up to participate in the 5km Gold Coast Airport Fun Run in July! It’s perfect timing because my boyfriend and I will technically have finished up our contracts with work and we will both be due for a good holiday then. Also, the Gold Coast is in the South-Eastern part of Queensland and is a winter escape for many of the southern Australian states that get very cold during winter.

But enough about that, lets get onto talking about some cross stitch!

April WIPGO

I’m starting to struggle with WIPGO. I know my goals were a bit too ambitious for the projects I have on my board and I’ve started a few more projects to balance out some of my struggles!

This month, I had to work on Fight Like a Girl by Tanya Amity and Dew Drop Daisy by Hot Cross Stitching.

Dew Drop Daisy by Hot Cross Stitching

My biggest struggle point with Dew Drop Daisy is I’m out by 3 stitches for nearly everything I’ve stitched so far. The slight positive is that I just need to add 3 stitches and normally this would be fine if I was just working on the background. The problem is that this is impacting the petals I’m starting to work on and I don’t have all of the colours I need to complete the petals – but I’m working on that!

So rather than adding the extra 3 stitches where I need them on Dew Drop Daisy, I found where the page ended and I’ve started stitching it from right to left. My aim is to use the right side of the page to see where I need to add the 3 stitches – especially when I get to the petals that I’ve started stitching. The image below shows you what I’m talking about…

Current progress of Dew Drop Daisy by Hot Cross Stitching

Fight Like a Girl by Tanya Amity

I’m struggling to pinpoint my exact struggles with this project. I know I’ve talked about them before and they seem minor now. Whenever I do pick it up, I enjoy stitching it! I think my problem at the moment may be that I have so many other projects I want to work on or need to for Hot Cross Stitching, that this one falls to the way-side.

For this month though, I think my biggest struggle has been having all of the threads I need to stitch it. During the last two weeks of April, my boyfriend and I went to the coast for a few days and I took this project and Autumn Castle with me. Because they’re both in the same bag and they share a similar grouping of threads. Big mistake! I assumed I had packed the threads I need for Fight Like a Girl, but I hadn’t because I was hunting through them for a colour I needed for a different project. This is where it was good that Autumn Castle and Fight Like a Girl share a similar colour pallet!

Disclaimer: I’m having an ethical dilemma with Autumn Castle. When I’d purchased it, I hadn’t realised that Heaven and Earth Designs have an identical pattern, but called Mini Trick or Treat and the designer is Randal Spangler. I’m feeling conflicted with this because I think I bought a counterfeit. I’ll leave it at this for the moment and I’ll write a separate post about this dilemma and why it is one, even though I had purchased it.

The main thing I need to ensure is good lighting with this project. I’m working on this project mostly at night time after work, and the room I normally stitch in has reasonably good light from the main light in the room. But I’m finding that it’s not quite enough for what I need. Thankfully I have my stitching corner in that same room, with my Over-the-top (OTT) light and it’s awesome!

I didn’t achieve my goal for Fight Like a Girl, but I am happy with my progress which is shown below:

April progress for Fight Like a Girl by Tanya Amity

Haul

Earlier I mentioned that I competed / participated in the 5.4km fun run and it was windy and cold. I came down with a minor cold as a result of the run and the weather, which meant that I took a day off work to recover. To make me feel better (and while I was waiting for a heap of wax to melt) I went online shopping!

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated in any way with the shop I bought my supplies from. I’m shouting them out because of their amazing turn around time and customer service. Especially since many of us have been experiencing slow shipping and challenges with getting the supplies we need.

I ended up buying some fabric and big bundle of threads to help me with Dew Drop Daisy and Pink Bottle Brush from OzStich. They’re an online Australian store and are awesome! To search for the threads I needed, I just entered in the DMC colours I needed and how many of each skein I needed and the site added the skeins to my basket. This is something I’ve not experienced before and I think it worked really well because it saved me time trying to search for the colour I need and finding out that it’s not in stock or scrolling through pages to located the colour and add it to my basket.

The fabric I bought is the Magic Count, 20×20 gridded, 25 count fabric. I’ve just started stitching on it (barely made a dent in the pattern, but that’s for another time!) and it’s awesome! I’ve never used this fabric before and I love that it’s available from the majority of craft stores we all get our supplies from.

One thing I’m playing with and learning with this fabric, is how many strands of floss I can use. At the moment I’m using 2 strands per 1 square which is providing more than enough coverage and I’m going to need to drop it down to 1 over 1. Mostly because of how bulky my crosses are looking on the fabric and in some cases, my crosses are looking un-even. But that could also be a lot to do with the way I’m stitching, where I might be pulling the thread too tight or not tight enough.

Side note – melting wax

I make my own candles out of the left over wax from other candles I’ve received as gifts or purchased. Some of the wax I was melting in April, has lasted me a few rounds of candle making!

Before the pandemic, I was in the habit of burning a candle while I work on my blog posts or when I was studying. When the time came to work from home, I debated whether or not to burn a candle during work time because I’d been so accustomed to burning one outside of work hours. Most days I light a candle while I’m waiting for the computer to load and get ready for the working day. I like the ritual and most of the time, the candle still has a nice perfume, even though this may be the second time the wax has been in the form of a candle.

Also, I really like the candle holders the original candles came in and I want to keep using them as candle holders for as long as I can!

Stitch Maynia

Leading up to May, I was debating whether or not to participate because I’m already struggling with meeting my WIPGO goals. And by adding any Maynia goals to the mix could lead to nothing getting done!

To try and make it a little easier on myself, I added all of my patterns and projects that I want to work on (at least during May) to the decision maker wheel app I downloaded to my phone. With today being the 1st May, I’ve spun the wheel and a new start has come up for me!

Seahorse (mini) by Heaven and Earth Designs

I bought this pattern as a PDF recently when HAED had their 50% off sale. I remember a while ago seeing Jessie Marie Does Stuff showing this project on her flosstube channel and I really liked the look of it.

Cover page for Mini Seahorse by HAED

This pattern has been designed to be full coverage, but I want to try something a little different and stitch it on a moss green 25 count Lugana and not stitch the background. The deceiving part of this pattern is that it doesn’t look like there’s a background to stitch. Stick with me over the next few months and you’ll start to see what I mean!

May WIPGO Goals

I won’t talk too much about my goals here, since much of what I’m going to be working on will be connected to Stitch Maynia and the decisions app. This month Autumn Castle and Santa’s Coming were called up and hopefully I can make some progress on at least one of them!

Wrap up

This has been a long post, so if you’ve made it to the end, thank you! I’m going to finish up the post here and enjoy the rest of the day and beautiful weather.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

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End of year WIP Parade 2020

Hi Everyone

*Big Sigh* Wow, what a year it’s been! Happy holidays and happy new year to all of you. I hope all of you have been able to celebrate the holidays as well as practical. I’m so thankful that this year is ending very differently to what last year because this time last year in Australia – especially along the East and Southern coast – so much was on fire. Now, as I’m writing this post, I’m at the coast with my boyfriend and we can breath easy, the sun it out and it’s a lot more comfortable (weather wise) than last year!

I’ve been doing a lot of stitching this month and trying to get myself a bit more organised for the new year. I’ve been working a lot from home, so my motivation to spend more time than necessary in front of the computer screen and my craft room has been reduced significantly. I’ve also been battling analysis paralysis with some of my computer related cross stitch tasks and confidence levels for ‘putting myself out there’ on social media. But it’s a necessary evil if I want things to progress!

I’ve also been running a bit more which has been good. I’ve got a new pair of shoes that have bluetooth in them that enables them to talk to the Map My Run app. As I’m running, the app gives me feedback on how I’m running and what I can do to improve it! For example, I might be looking down at my feet too much because of something that’s interfering with the footpath (plants, uneven sections etc.). The app will tell me that I need to straighten my back up a bit and pretend that there’s a string attached to the top of my head like a puppet. Straightening up should help with the way I place my feet when running and reduce my risk of injuries and make running feel less like an effort.

WIP Parade

But without further adieu, here is my WIP (works in progress) parade for 2020. It will include many patterns you have seen over the year and a few new ones:

12 Days of Christmas designed by Rhona Norrie

It’s been a long time since I last worked on this project. I’m thinking it must have been June or July this year when I started it and I haven’t touched it until about a week ago, for the lead up to Christmas.

Ryan’s been a good boy designed by Durene Jones

Similar to the 12 Days of Christmas project, I haven’t worked on it since June or July this year and as part of getting into the Christmas mood, this project came out again and got some love.

Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching

I have been working steadily on this project for a while now and towards the end of November, maybe early December, I finished another page (que mini happy dance!). I’m now working on the bottom of the project and playing fabric chicken to see if I need to add more fabric.

Meanwhile, the images below show the progress of the project over the course of this year, with the final image showing what it will look like when it’s finished.

Black and White Rolled-up Daisy designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching

As excited as I am to have started this project and even happier that it went smoothly into Pattern Keeper, I’m already needing to fudge things to figure out where I went wrong and what I’ve accidentally marked off.

Pink Daisy (November or December new start) designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching

I had been procrastinating this start for way too long. I had been debating about starting this project and another one I’m still trying to perfect the pattern before I’m happy with starting it, let alone releasing it for sale.

Start of Pink Daisy – Designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching
Pink Daisy – what the pattern should look like when it’s finished

Gingerbread Train designed by Shannon Christine

I haven’t worked on this project since June or July this year. When I was going through my projects in preparation for this post, I was reminded of how cool this pattern is and how much I want to eat jelly lollies when I’m stitching it!

Boo Sheet (November new start and finish)

This particular pattern had been a free one as part of the online Mittagong Stitcher’s Retreat I had been part of in late November. I was able to get it stitched in about 2 days and I stitched it on 32 evenweave I had purchased from Spotlight and dyed using orange and purple fabric dyes, also from Spotlight.

Curglaff (November new start) designed by Bendy Stitchy

I have been wanting to stitch this pattern for a while. It’s designed by Bendy Stitchy (check out her YouTube channel) and inspired by Mich Stitch (she also has a YouTube channel)! At the end of each episode, Mich reads a random word from a dictionary she has on old English words that are rarely or no longer used, and ‘curglaugh’ had been one of those words.

I’m stitching it on the same fabric as Boo Sheet and this time I’m using some specialty threads that are made by Aussies! I’m really excited about this because I’m supporting an Aussie business and I’ve never used such fancy threads before. I predominantly use DMC and Anchor because they’re readily available and aren’t as expensive as the specialty threads. That said, these threads are well worth it! They are beautiful and I appreciate the time and effort the team has gone through to create and package the threads.

Curglaff designed by Bendy Stitchy (C) 2020
Cottage Garden Threads

Fight Like a Girl designed by Tanya Amity, Illustration by Elena Gnedkova

It’s been way too long since I’ve worked on this project. The good thing is that it’s included in my new WIPGO board for 2021. When the squares for this project have been called, I’ll hopefully be able to get a lot more work done on it!

Check out the related posts section for more information on WIPGO.

Autumn Castle designed by Evgenia Kolesnikova

This project has received a very little bit of love in November, but nothing substantial enough to notice much of a difference. Similarly to ‘Fight Like a Girl’, it’s on my WIPGO Board and it will get some more love in 2021!

The first three pictures below show what the project will look like when it’s completed and what my earlier progress had been at key points during 2020. The fourth picture is my progress as of December 2020.

Progress as of December 2020

Three Dogs by Luca S.

This project has not been loved for some time and it’s long overdue to get some attention. Thankfully it’s on my WIPGO board and it will get the attention it deserves next year!

Trio of dogs progress

Moon Lit Waters Heaven and Earths Designs

Whenever I look at this project, I’m reminded of why I started stitching it and then when I start work on it again, I’m reminded why I paused it. Which explains why I haven’t worked on it for a while and why I need to do more on it.

Merry Colourful Christmas by Tilton Crafts (December new start)

This is a very new start, so I don’t have any comparison pictures. I’m currently stitching it on 25 count (I think) and using all DMC threads. I’m using two threads over two squares and I’m playing a bit of fabric chicken with this project because I haven’t properly measured it out!

Merry Colourful / Merry Christmas designed by Tilton Crafts
Cover page of pattern by Tilton Crafts

Moonlight Owls designed by Jenny Barton

Honestly, I forgot about this project when I first started drafting this post. Thankfully, drafting this post has meant that I’ve remembered that I have this project and I now have it in the same bag as the projects 12 Days of Christmas, Ryan’s been a good boy and Gingerbread Train.

Rainbow Zebras by Artecy Cross Stitch

Like Midnight Owls, I forgot I had this as an active WIP! How could I forget something as colourful as this?! Because I’ve forgotten about this project, it hasn’t seen much attention, but that will change in 2021.

Barnyard Cats by Dimensions

I completely forgot about this project. It didn’t even make to my WIPGO board! That said, like the Trio of dogs, I’ll try and include it when the number 13 is called and it can get some attention then!

Four Seasons Kittens by Dimensions Gold Collection

This project has been dragging on for longer than what it really should be. Thankfully I have remembered to include it in my WIPGO board and it will get some attention next year!

Until next time,

Happy Stitching and Happy New Year!

Related resources

Posted in Hot Cross Stitching Business, Uncategorized

Introducing…Hot Cross Stitching

Hi Everyone

It’s been a while between drinks (ages since I’ve published a post). A lot’s been going on since I last posted to this blog. My main focus has been on developing my new side hustle – Hot Cross Stitching!

Logo for Hot Cross Stitching.

The purpose of Hot Cross Stitching is teaching people how to cross stitch face-to-face and selling selling my cross stitch patterns online. The classes will initially be held in my home town, Canberra with three different types of classes people can choose from – Beginner, Intermediate and Social.

The beginner class will focus on people who have never done cross stitch or it’s been a very long time since they’ve done it. People will learn how to read a pattern, thread their needle, change colours, convert what they see in the pattern to stitching it on a blank piece of fabric. As well as finding the centre of their fabric and marking off the pattern as they stitch/keeping track of where they’ve stitched just to name a few things!

The intermediate class will focus on people who have been stitching for a few years and want to improve their skills and tackle some more challenging projects, whilst having the support of stitching friends around them. People in this class will learn how to kit up their own projects, which includes choosing the right size and amount of fabric they need for their project. People will also be able to use the class to bounce ideas off their stitching friends regarding the different ways to store their projects – especially the threads – and try out some different types of threads such as silks, verigated threads and metalics to name a few.

Meanwhile, the social group is for anyone and everyone – regardless of how long someone has been stitching for. The aim of this group is for people to come a long for as long as they want and to stitch with some friends and chat as much or as little as they want. Over the years I’ve found that I have learnt more through just stitching and chatting and comparing notes. However, I’ve not taken any formal cross stitching classes to be able to compare!

Over all, the aim of all of these classes/groups is for people to connect safely face-to-face, learn something new that hopefully they like and make some new friends. This year especially has been a testament for how important human interaction has been for everyone and the use of art and craft to enable people to have a creative outlet.

I’m hoping that over time, I’ll be able to run some classes from a public space at the South Coast as well. But that may happen once I’m no longer working in my current 9 to 5 job.

The patterns people will be able to purchase as PDF downloads are of photos I’ve taken over time and converted to patterns. One of which will be the Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms that I’ve been stitching for potentially a couple of years. I haven’t kept exact track of when I started and it feels like I’ve been working on it for the last couple of years! Below is a sample of images that I’ve converted to patterns, that will be available for purchase:

The website is currently under construction and I’ll let you all know when it’s publicly available. This blog will be connected to the site and my aim over time (and let’s see if it actually happens!), is to use this blog to still talk about cross stitch and a bit about the business as well.

Aside from working on the website, I’ve also been travelling to the coast a bit and as I’m writing this post, I’m at the coast looking out the window from the dining table and at times it’s really hard to concentrate! As I’m looking between the two trees in the image below, I’m on the look out for any breaks in the water that can’t be explained by waves crashing on rocks or boats sailing past.

Ocean view from the dining table – as of 22 October 2020 – Image by Kristen Gawronski

One of the last times I was here, I was able to see some sprays of water from whales cruising past in the distance! That was something really special, as I never thought we’d be able to see something like that from this window. Normally when my boyfriend and I have been here, we’ve gone for walks to the nearby cliff tops and we’ve been able to see the whales from there and some dolphins. It’s really exciting and special when that happens, because we’re not always lucky enough to get our timing right to see them.

The other awesome thing that’s happened recently (last week to be precise!) is a really awesome experience my boyfriend and I did as part of a birthday present from my parents and boyfriend. We stayed overnight at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra. This particular stay is part of the Jamala Wildlife Lodge that resides within the National Zoo and Aquarium.

When you’re booking your accommodation, you’re able to choose which lodge you stay in an nominate which three animals you would prefer to see. I need to point out here, that the three animals aren’t in the same enclosure together! The need to nominate which three animals you would prefer is part of which lodge is available at the time and which enclosure is connected to which lodge. For example, I chose the Jungle Bungalow and there are 5 lodges that are part of the Jungle Bungalows. One enclosure is assigned to each bungalow and I had the choice of the Sun Bears, Lions, Tigers and Cheetahs. The top three animals I nominated were the Tigers, Lions and Cheetahs and we were lucky enough to share our space with Ravi the male Tiger!

The images above were taken from the room we stayed in and Oh. My. Gosh! It was just amazing to see him doing his thing. For the most part he was on patrol and keeping an eye on things in his enclosure. His brother lives couple hundred of metres away from him (so that they don’t kill each other, the guide told us the next morning!), so he was calling out to him every so often and checking on him every so often. There’s clear window in the brother’s enclosures that enables them to look across a path and into each other’s enclosures!

When we left for dinner, Ravi was on patrol and when we came back, he was up close, next to the window and sleeping. It was then that we really got to appreciate how big he is. We found that he’d had most of his sleep by about 1 or 2 in the morning and he woke my boyfriend up, by calling out to the rest of the zoo from the spot we saw him sleeping at when we got home from dinner. I was sleeping very well at that stage and didn’t hear anything until about 4 in the morning or so.

When it was lighter in the morning, we found Ravi doing his rounds again and there were a few times that we thought he’d come up to the platform you see in some of the photos, but he kept going with his rounds. Just before we left for breakfast he did come up and sit down and it had been the first time during the day on either day we were at the zoo that he’d come up to the platform. We really didn’t want to go to breakfast at that point as we weren’t sure if he’d still be sitting there when we were due to get back. Thankfully he was and that’s where most of the pictures above have come from. It was amazing!

After breakfast we did a guided group tour around half of the zoo, which was really cool. Some of the animals we saw include some cheetahs, rhinos, monkeys, leemahs, zebras, giraffs and an ostrich. I took a lot of photos along the way and I’m wanting to turn some of them into cross stitch patterns for the website.

With all of this in mind, I haven’t done as much stitching as what I would have liked. I’m aiming to make amends for that over the next few days and get some more stitching done this afternoon and tomorrow. The weather from tomorrow afternoon ’til about Sunday/Monday is meant to be raining and indoor weather kind of stuff. So hopefully, I’ll have more cross stitch related things to talk about next time and there won’t be as much time between blog posts!

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

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Can Cross Stitch be Promoted as Artwork?

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been contemplating the following question off and on for a while, and I’m keen for you to let me know what you think. In front of you is a photograph, a water colour painting and a cross stitch picture of the same scene – a waterfall in a rainforest. All three are for sale and priced at $2000 each. Which one do you purchase and why?

In September last year (2019), I was watching Jody Ellis’s Flosstube episode 33 (aka Unconventional X Stitch) dated 23 May 2019 and towards the end of clip, she talked about the value that many people place on cross-stitch when it’s compared with other crafts such as sculpting, painting, drawing and in some circumstances, photography. Finding that many people are willing to pay more for the traditional arts to have in their homes than the available embroidered works.

Because of this clip, it got me thinking about how we, as stitcher’s, can change people’s perceptions of cross stitch and the value it has, so that it’s perceived at the same levels as the other crafts where people pay hundreds and thousands of dollars. Additionally, Jody’s clip got me thinking about my blog post earlier in 2019 where I questioned the importance of perceptions – especially when it comes to cross stitch. Looking back on this piece, it had very much a rant vibe to it – mostly because of some things I was experiencing at work – and I don’t think my message came across as well as what it could or should have.

So what would be the best approaches for changing people’s perceptions and understanding of cross stitch?

The Archibald’s/ARIA’s/BAFTA’s/ACTA’s of Cross-stitch

Nearly every industry has their own awards to recognise the achievements of people working in that industry. Many of us will have heard about the Archibald’s, ARIA’s etc. and we know that they are prestigious awards and highly coveted by people who are part of those industries. The closest cross-stitch gets to these kinds of awards and accolades is winning best in show at the regional show or royal show. We may be pushing it a bit if we say that we can get awards from Fashion Week or Golden Globes for costume design.

What I’m getting at with this, is that people perceive cross-stitch as something to do to ease stress and anxiety. That it’s something that our grandmother’s do or did. I definitely use cross stitch as a way of unwinding and reducing my stress. Additionally, there are a lot of people out there who make their own clothes, paint, sculpt etc for the same reasons. However, there are many more people out there who are wanting to make a living out of cross stitch and are struggling to do so, because it’s seen as just a hobby or a form of therapy.

By having some prestigious awards associated with cross-stitch, it will elevate the works of art to the same levels as fashion, music, acting, painting, drawing, photography etc. People will start to appreciate the time and effort that goes into the creation of these artworks.

Cross-stitch reality television show

Master Chef, My Kitchen Rules and similar cooking competition shows gets us excited and interested in cooking. The Block, Flip or Flop, Masters of Flip etc make some of us want to renovate or at least give our current interiors a make-over. And talent shows like Australia’s Got Talent, The Voice, America’s Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance have us wondering if our singing in the shower or a secret talent could be our ticket to some fame and fortune.

These shows also take us behind the scenes to some of the industries that we do in our daily lives, but don’t always do for a living. They also provide us with ideas for what we can do at home, aspire to be when we grow up or become as part of a career change.

What would we need to dramatise to make a cross stitch reality show interesting for people? In many of these shows we get to find out a bit about the people who are on the show and by the end of it all, we feel like we know them a bit better and, in some circumstances, they become a part of our family. We have achieved some of this through social media channels. Via Flosstube especially, we have gotten to know many of the people with their own channels and the projects they’ve worked on.

A lot of drama can happen with cross-stitch if we show people what the creative process is like (e.g. designing a pattern), how many times we lose the needle or have to figure out what colour changes we’re going to do because we don’t have the floss colour we need. Then there’s the amount of times we may accidentally stab ourselves instead of the fabric and draw blood and the decisions we need to make about our finishes. Then there’s the innovations that go into cross stitch design and how the patterns have changed over time and what’s available to us now. We would be able to have challenges such as time limited shopping sprees and creating a project from those sprees. Alternatively, finishers would be presented with partly completed projects with multiple issues that could hinder or enhance the finish.

Collaborations, exhibitions and back stories

If cross stitchers got together and had an exhibition, what would it look like? Would we have a variety of sections around the room dedicated to samplers, photograph conversions, landscapes, HAED’s, Biscornu’s and similar finishes, subversive and modern designs?

Additionally, what would you want people to know about the pieces you have designed and stitched? Aside from the usual of telling people what materials I’ve used, I want to tell people how long it took me to stitch it and what I love about it. I would want them to know what was going on in my life at the time of me stitching it. By telling people all of these things, my aim would be to find someone who would connect with those pieces and want to buy it and take it home with them because they resonate with it. They relate to what I was going through and love the results of what I’ve done.

Related posts

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What’s your Stitch-piration?

Hi Everyone

I’ve been having a bad case of writer’s block for my next post (this one). I’ve been having trouble figuring out what to write about, mostly because my attention has been on actual stitching, which I’ll talk about soon. I’m also working on a stitching related career changed as well as working full time – partly from home and partly in the office. So my motivation and energy levels are being stretched in different directions!

Meanwhile, I’ve finally been able to get back into running and as Murphy’s Law would have it, I’ve injured myself and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to run again! The good thing is that I’ll be seeing a professional about it and hopefully they’ll be able to tell me what part of my left ankle I injured and what I can do to get back into running! The conundrum with this injury is that it didn’t hurt at the time. I ran the same path I’ve run many times and it doesn’t hurt when I walk. The main thing that told me that I had hurt my ankle was the ample swelling that I noticed at the end of the day – after lounging around for the majority of the day! I do not remember ever having an injury like this before. Whenever I have hurt myself, it happens straight away and I have a basic idea of what part of my body I’ve hurt.

Update: I’ve seen a physio and thankfully I’ve sprained my ankle and I can get back into running! It will be Murphy’s Law that by the time I can properly get back into running, spring will well and truly be in full swing. Meaning, the weather will be beautiful but…it will be really windy, the magpies will be swooping and hay fever may become a pain – i.e. I’ll be a gross mess at the end by sneezing too much and potentially watery eyes. Even though I’d be wearing sunglasses, a hat and taking antihistamine’s.

Now, I’m sharing these two stories with you because of the main theme for this post – What’s your stitch-piration? Meaning, what inspires you to stitch? What inspires you or motivates you to keep going?

This post is quite similar to a post I did earlier in the year/last year regarding ways to help you stay motivated. Throughout this post, I’ll share with you some of the things inspire me to keep stitching and running after injuries and feeling worn out from life.

Seeing other people’s projects

I really enjoy watching Flosstube on YouTube and seeing the different projects that people are working on and the stash they have accumulated. In older posts, I’ve shared some of the Flosstube clips that have been relevant to my blog posts at the time.

For example, some of the Flosstube people I follow and watch regularly (Bendy Stitchy, Stitchin Mommy, Jessie Marie Does Stuff, are stitching some Heaven and Earth Designs (HAED’s) and making the most of the Pattern Keeper app to help them stitch. Which meant that I was inspired and motivated to get some stitches done on Moon Lit Waters. The images below are my progress:

The first two images on the left is my progress (and a close up of that progress) as of 22nd August 2020. Meanwhile, the image on the far right is my progress as of early September and it felt really good to start stitching the the ends of the fairy’s wings and more of the moon. I’m also really looking forward to finishing this page in the hope that there will be minimal fudging!

For the current page I’m working on, I’ve started worked from right to left which is helping me to identify how much out of balance the page is. I may have mentioned in an earlier post, that I normally stitch from left to right and I’ve tried to fudge and fix areas as part of commencing the use of Pattern Keeper, part way through this project. By stitching right to left now, I’m finding that I’m out of balance by at least three columns! This is a huge difference for all cross stitch projects and it can have a significant influence on how the project looks at the end.

The intriguing part is how the project will look when I start stitching the bottom of the moon. I’m hopeful that with the use of Pattern Keeper, that it will balance out okay. I’ll keep you posted!

Pinterest and other social media channels

I can easily spend hours on this app! I scroll through it to find inspiration for photography, cross stitch, running and potential places I want to travel to. So much so, that I’ve created some boards on this app so that I can refer back to it, if I’m needing some inspiration.

I’m also part of a few Facebook groups that are dedicated to cross stitch and a running app called ‘Zombies, Run!

The great thing with the groups for cross stitch and running, everyone is so supportive of the achievements and struggles that members of the groups have. Another way the groups are supportive is that people can ask questions of the group and people will answer their questions where possible, or refer them onto other spaces that can answer the questions.

Finishing one page and starting a new page start

I have been going gang-busters on my Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms project and I’ve finished another page and I’m really enjoying working on a new page. What I’m loving about it – at the moment at least – is the small blocks of colour. It is such a nice change to the confetti stitching that I had been working on to finish the previous page and the confetti stitching I was doing on Moon Lit Waters.

The first two images on the left is my progress as of early September this year. The image second from the right is my progress as of August 2020 and the last image on the right is what the project should look like when it’s finished.

The current page I’m working on marks the half way point of the project which is adding to my motivation to keep going. It’s also inspiring me to work on some more of my photos and convert them into cross stitch patterns!

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

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Why should you learn how to cross stitch?

Hi Everyone

Have you been contemplating learning to cross stitch but used some of the following reasons not to try it?

  • It’s too hard…
  • That’s what my grandma/elderly relative did…
  • I don’t have the time for it…
  • Isn’t it expensive?
  • I tried it and it’s just not for me…
  • It’s too girly…
  • I don’t have the patience for it…

Some of these reasons may be legitimate and you may have found your creative outlet that fits within your lifestyle. I hope this is the case if cross stitch is legitimately not for you.

However…if you have used any of the above excuses and not really given cross stitch a go, here are some reasons why you should!

1. You’re stuck in your head

You may also be thinking that there are so many other things that are great stress relievers. Some legal…some not so legal. Running for example is a great way to get rid of any excess energy you may have caused by so many different things. At the moment, my muscles are giving me grief, so it’s causing me more grief than what it should be. But humour me for a moment and lets say your chosen physical exercise has helped you as much as it can for today. But you’re still feeling stressed or anxious and you don’t want to undo all of the awesome work you’ve done with your physical release. This is where cross stitch comes into play.

2. It’s as time consuming as you want it to be

When was the last time you learnt something new that wasn’t because of work or because you had to, rather because you wanted to? Also, how long are you expecting cross stitch to take? Are you wanting to complete a project in one sitting or are you wanting it to take some time to see the end result?

Depending on who you talk to, some people may argue that they find it a hassle to get it out of the spot they store it when they’re not working on it. Depending on what your home situation is like, the amount of space you have and the size of your project, I can understand why it will seem like a hassle. My counter argument is how big is your project and is there a smaller project you could be working on that doesn’t require as much space?

When you next remember to, have a look around your home and see if there’s a corner or space that you can setup a space for yourself to stitch in. If you have a dedicated space, it may make it easier for you to sit down there and spend as much time as you have available there.

3. You can be as extroverted or introverted as you like

Our current climate is making life a bit difficult with catching up with people and doing anything fun. If you’re needing human interaction, there are numerous forums on a broad range of platforms that enable you to engage with fellow cross stitchers. Some of these forums include:

  • Virtual Stitchers (YouTube)
  • Cross Stitch Forum – Facebook
  • Cross Stitch Australia – Facebook
  • Cross Stitch Addicts – Facebook
  • Cross Stitch Unlimited – Facebook
  • Stitch Maynia – Facebook

Also, check out the related reads at the end of this post for some more suggestions.

4. It’s an opportunity to feel good

When was the last time you created something from scratch and felt good about the end result? You may have cooked a meal by following a recipe, repurposed some furniture or painted a room. It may have involved a bit of hard work because you may not have done it before or it took a bit of elbow grease. But in the end, it came out pretty good. That’s what cross stitch can be like. When you’re stitching, you are creating something out of nothing and giving a space some new life. When you have finished a page or section in the pattern that may have been challenging or the entire project, it feels really good because you persevered and achieved something.

5. It’s only as hard as you make it – stitch what you like

When you’re learning to do anything, at first it can seem daunting. Cross stitch patterns can look confusing with all of their different symbols and colour combinations. But it has evolved so much since you last saw someone doing it that technology has joined the party. Some designers use coloured squares in conjunction with the symbols to help stitchers clearly see the pattern and what colours go where.

When you have found a pattern that you really want to stitch, you will be amazed by how quickly you get through it. Or at least how often you find yourself wanting to stitch it if you’ve chosen to stitch a huge project! I have certainly found over the years that if I’m really not feeling the love for a project, it becomes a chore and I don’t really want to work on it any more.

Then there’s the app Pattern Keeper. If you have chosen a pattern that’s compatible with this app, it will make your life so much easier with reading the pattern and keeping track of where you are.

But wait…there’s more!

These reasons for why you should try cross stitch is just the tip of the iceberg. My aim with this post was to add to what so many awesome people have already written about and I’ve tried to keep this post as light hearted as possible.

To me, cross stitch is a way of being creative when I have the time and getting out of my head and focusing on just one thing – the pattern and what colour I’m going to stitch next. It doesn’t always work. I still have times when I’m still stuck in my head because my thoughts are getting to me and I need to talk to someone. Which is why I love being able to catch up face to face or virtually with like minded family and friends who enjoy stitching as much as I do. It’s also good to talk to someone if your thoughts are becoming too hard to handle on your own and you’ve done as much as you can in a health and safe way.

Also, cross stitch is just one of the many different creative avenues that people can use to be creative. Check out the related reads below to see a bit more about how cross stitch may be able to help you find your creative side.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Related reads:

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Can you get a grant for cross stitch?

Hi Everyone

At the end of June this year, it came to my attention that if I were part of a community group, organisation or on my own (as long as it was not to make money), I could apply for a grant from my local government that could be used for improving the mental health of my community! This particular grant I have in mind, is specific to the current pandemic and wave of infections we’re all trying to avoid.

But it got me thinking…aside from the Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovation Grants Program, what other grants are available for the creative arts that can assist with our current environment, let alone the creative arts generally speaking?

Artwork Archive Complete Guide to 2020 Artist Grants & Opportunities

This site is amazing! The Artwork Archive have listed all of the grants and opportunities that they consider to the be the best for artists who are needing a helping hand in some shape or form. The opportunities are from around the world and some are specific to people who are living in a specific area, region or country and in some circumstances, the type of art that’s being done. The list is in order of deadline date and I think is worth checking out!

Advance-Africa – 1000+ Artist Grants and Opportunities

This site lists a looong list of creative grants and opportunities – over 1000 as the heading says – that are connected to Africa. They also have scholarships and volunteer options for different areas of Africa.

VicArts Grants – Creative Victoria

This site is a little closer to home for me because it’s Victoria, Australia. This grant, like many of the others in this post are for a variety creative arts. Ranging from theatre productions to concerts to art installations such as sculptures and paintings.

Just the tip of the iceberg

The grants mentioned in this post are just a sample of the huge variety grants out there. If you’re having trouble deciding on what grant to apply for, here are a few things to consider:

  • Why are you applying for the grant?
  • What are you going to use it for?
  • How is it going to help you?
  • What are the conditions with the grant?
  • Is it the right grant for you?
  • Is it possible for it to benefit others as well?
  • What work do you need to do to prepare for the grant?
  • How are you going to prove you’ve used the grant the way you said you would?

There are a lot of questions and potentially more that you may need to ask yourself and others who may be involved.

How do you apply for a grant?

This depends greatly upon what type of grant you’re applying for and why. Some grants may require you to submit a portfolio of your work to prove your abilities and how you may use the grant. Others may require you to provide the panel or board with a cover sheet or series of forms similar to a job application.

The awesome thing is that there are numerous websites and guides on how to apply for grants. The related links section provides you with some links to sites that can help you with this process. Additionally, the sites you go to, to apply for the grant of your choice will have supporting documents on what criteria you need to meet to be considered for the grant.

You have successfully received a grant! Now what?

If I were prepared for it, I would apply for the grant I mentioned at the start of this post. It would be used to try and bring my local community together to hang out and do cross stitch and learn how to do cross stitch. Some of the funds could go towards gift cards for people to use to purchase the supplies they need to start or complete a project. Whilst other funds could go towards gift vouchers for people to purchase food and drink from local cafes that they can eat and drink whilst stitching.

But that’s what I would do. Have you successfully received a grant? What did you do with it? How did it help you?

Until next time,

Happy stitching!

Related Links:

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How do you do your fandom cross stitch?

Hi Everyone,

There are a variety of ways we can celebrate our favourite movies, artists, songs, sporting teams, athletes and characters by creating bookmarks, quotes with beautiful borders and immortalizing through portraits to name a few. What’s inspired this post is some digital patterns I’ve recently purchased from Tilton Crafts Cross Stitch and Heaven and Earth Designs.

Where to get your fandom cross stitch

Who or what do you want to immortalise? When I’ve done some Google searches to see what’s out there, I’ve loved seeing the wide variety of options out there. I’ve found cute little caricatures of characters from popular television shows, famous musicians, sports stars and even your own family members and pets! Then there’s been the logos of various sports teams from various football codes, athletics, fishing, hockey (field and ice) and most other sports you can think of – let alone the action shots that go with those sports.

Full Coverage, realistic

Once you know this, you can then figure out how you want it to look. I prefer to have my fandom projects to look as much like the character or person as possible. This usually means that the project will be solid with at least some confetti stitching. An example of this is one of the patterns I purchased from Tilton Crafts cross stitch pattern of Robin Williams:

Cross Stitch Chart by Tilton Crafts, adapted from art by Emily Stepp
“Soccer Mom” designed by Jane Wooster Scott, charted by Heaven and Earth Designs

If you like this style of fandom, it’s definitely worth checking out their website to see what else they have!

Cartoons and smaller pieces

The less detailed the piece, the easier and quicker it is to stitch. But it can also mean a lot more back-stitch to give the detail it needs. I’ve found so many pieces on Etsy by many talented designers, heaps of different fandom cross stitch designs that will hopefully fit with your preferences.

HardKnotLife Studio for example, has a store on Etsy and they have created a beautiful cross stitch pattern based upon a watercolour picture of the four main characters of ‘The Wizard of Oz’:

‘Watercolour Wizard of Oz’ by HardKnotLife Studio

If monochrome is more your style, you may like the next example by PitbullAndFish who also have a store on Etsy and have designed the following pattern titled ‘Jack Skellington Silhouette’:

‘Jack Skellington Silhouette’ by PitbullAndFish on Etsy

The great thing with this type of pattern is that you can stitch it on whatever colour fabric you want and use whatever colour thread you want. For example, you might choose to stitch it on orange fabric with black thread, white fabric with variegated thread or any combination you want.

Samplers and getting wordy

Do you have a favourite quote from a movie, song, television show, sports commentator or something you heard or saw but you’re not sure who said it? This is where subversive cross stitch comes into play. The Clouds Factory for example, have some great patterns they have created based upon quotes from movies such as ‘V is for Vendetta’, ‘Hocus Pocus’, ‘Doctor Who’ and the rules from the ‘Gremlins’.

Alternatively, stitching iconic logos/emblems and images from your favourite show/movie/sport etc. with a few words are a great way to express your fandom. SewMarieStudio for example, is another store on Etsy that does just this and below are some examples of their awesome work:

How would you celebrate your fandom?

If you weren’t able to find any patterns that suited what you’re after, would you create your own fandom pattern? I’ve certainly considered doing this with some of the shows I love watching and converting some of the images I’ve found on the Internet to cross stitch patterns. I haven’t done anything yet and it would be for my own personal use. I would have no intention of re-creating the patterns for sale to make money.

What would you stitch to express your fandom?

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Related links:

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How many secrets does your cross stitch hold?

Hi Everyone

I hope you’re all well.

As I’m writing this post, it’s Mother’s Day in Australia and restrictions are starting to be lifted a bit more and we’re starting to get some more normality back to our lives! If all goes well, hopefully by the end of July/early August, life will be as close to normal pre-pandemic as possible.

As a result of staying home a lot more, I’ve been trying to catch up on a lot of the Flosstube clips people have been posting and it’s been really nice seeing what people are working on and how they’re going. When I was partly watching and listening to a Flosstube clip, the person at the time said something that I thought was quite interesting and quirky. They are not a fan fudging their stitching. If they make a mistake in their stitching, they’ll frog it (undo the stitches) and re-stitch the correct amount. Because to this person, they see fudging a project as a form of lying and being dishonest. To me, this is admirable. They have the patience and integrity to correct their mistakes.

The biggest ‘secret’ of them all

Nearly every project I’ve worked on and finished has at least one mistake in it and I haven’t been bothered to fix it for various reasons. The biggest mistake I’ve made on a project has been quite recently and I’m contemplating whether or not to do anything about it. Below is the project that I’ve made the biggest mistake and when I realised what my mistake was, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and wonder why I hadn’t picked up on it sooner! Can you see the mistakes I’ve made?

I can’t remember what the fabric count is. I used DMC’s varigated thread to stitch the project and the pattern was from …

The picture on the left is the finished project. The centre picture show mistake 1 and 2. The picture on the right shows mistake 3. When I was stitching this project – specifically the border, I made the novice mistake of rotated or turned the project based upon which side of the border I’m working on. So the picture on the right will show you that the direction of my stitches on the border is a different direction to the stitches in the centre of the project. You may also notice that the direction of my stitches at the top of the project (the centre picture) is different again and the width of the border is one row less than the other 3 sides. That’s because of my first mistake. When I started stitching the centre of the project, I had started it a row lower than I should have, which has thrown out the balance of how many rows I needed to stitch for the top of the border. If the rest of my stitches had been okay and the direction they should I have been, I could have added an extra row and some extra stitches to balance the border out.

How many secrets can a project hold?

If we don’t tell each other what our mistakes are and have a comparison picture of what it should be, does that make it a secret? Alternatively, if we show each other what we’ve done and show each other what it should look like, does it then become a ‘Where’s Wally?’ / find the mistake puzzle?

With my first HAED – ‘Moon Lit Waters’ that I’m working on, it will hold the largest amount of secrets and I’m totally okay with it! For anyone who’s been following my progress with this project, will know that it’s been a very slow work in progress! Over the last couple of years or so, I’ve been able to complete three pages and I’m starting on my fourth. The pictures below show my current progress, what it will look like at the end and the comparison shot of the cover sheet as a comparison of where I’m at:

Just before Stitch Maynia started, I downloaded the Moon Lit Waters pattern onto the Pattern Keeper app. I needed to purchase the PDF pattern to easily and honestly onto the app, as I’ve been working on the paper copy for too long and the edges are too awkward to send through the scanner.

One thing I had not anticipated or expected with this PDF is the updates and changes that the team at HAED and the associated artists have made to the pattern. I love that they have incorporated the new colours that DMC have released and I’m looking forward to incorporating those colours into the project when I get to it. What had me cursing and swearing as I was trying to figure out where I’m at on the pattern and marking off what I’ve completed. The symbols on the paper pattern have changed a little in comparison to the digital pattern and it means that I’m going to be doing a lot more fudging to make it all work!

When I’m done with the project, it will be for my sister and because of the nature of HAED’s, the odd colour being mis-stitched to me is not a big deal. I know that there are a lot of mistakes and fudging happening with the project and I’m okay with that. I’m going to continue using Pattern Keeper with this project because of the confetti in it and there being well over 100 different colours for it!

Now that I’ve rambled a bit about Moon Lit Waters and some of my challenges with it, have you found some of the secrets my stitching holds?

If you’re able to see any of the secrets, I am in awe of your eye sight! I know for certain where some of the secrets are, but my memory has faded a bit with what the exact secrets are. I’d like to think that I’ve blended them in well enough with the rest of the project, that it hasn’t thrown the intended design off at all.

What secrets do your projects hold?

As a stitcher, would you go back and fix it all up or would you leave it? Also, how honest are you with your stitching? At what point do draw the line and allow the mistake to remain in your project and you try to work around it?

Related reads: