Rotations, rotations…

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I sorted through stash and came up with a pretty large amount of projects that have stitches in them.  I came up with an even larger amount of projects that are partially or fully kitted.  With that in mind, it’s time to really get down to thinking about rotations and what will be most effective for me to enjoy my stitching and be the most efficient I can be toward completing some of these projects.  What types of rotations worked best for me?  What did I seem to enjoy the most?  Where did I start losing my productivity?

Well… the answer to the final question’s pretty easy.  Having a child puts the damper on things just a wee bit.  That’s where I fell off the rails.

But before and after that, I’d been meandering with different styles of stitching rotations:

At one point, I was setting a 10-hour progress limit on projects.  This wasn’t something that was done right down to a stopwatch, but a generalized ten hours, then move to the next piece.  Each rotation round was set with somewhere between four and seven specific pieces. I tended to lean to the higher end with seven to give myself a good range of projects, unless I was on a deadline due to a round robin. I did very well on that rotation plan.

In my later pregnancy and in the first year or so, I was doing a “whatever I felt like stitching” method.  I did get things done, but my progress was slower, mostly due to Max being so young, but also because I had no organized rotation.  Looking back, I’m not a good “one at a time” style stitcher.

At some point, I was doing a hybrid one – 10 hours minimum, more if I wanted to keep going with my stitching mojo on a piece.  This isn’t a bad one, but I tend to lose track of those hours, and then the entire rotation seems to fall apart.  It’s a good idea in theory, but may be a little too unstructured for me to work efficiently.

I’ve also tried a rotation according to goals on each piece.  No set list of pieces, but once I start stitching on them, I set a goal to get to a certain point on it before I switch.  This had some moderate success, but still didn’t work that great.  My biggest problem here is that I consistently misjudge how long a certain goal will take, and then I feel like I need to stick with the piece because I’d made that goal.  I could try to scale back my vision for each mini-goal… but I know better than that about myself.  So a worthwhile rotation to try – just not the best for me personally.

So I think I’ll go back to my original rotation method.  10 hour blocks per piece, then move on.  I’m going to allow myself the flexibility that I don’t have to do these exactly in the order they’re typed, but I need to work on only this set group of pieces before I start a new rotation.  I may shorten the number of projects in later rounds, but for now I’ll stick with my standard seven – six that are focused on “normal” stitches, and one spot entirely focused on backstitching.

Round One – Started 11/28/17

  • I Love New England by Sampler Needlework – standard stitching (page 2)
  • Floral Bellpull by Teresa Wentzler – Backstitching only (squares 3 and 4)
  • Deep Blue Sea by Chatelaine – standard stitching (Part 3)
  • Strawberry Zipper Pouch by It’s Fine-ally Finished – standard stitching. (try to finish band)
  • Four Seasons of Mystic by Jeannette Douglas – standard stitching (beginning with Autumn)
  • Smoky Mountain Cats by Janlynn – standard stitching (on the sea of blue…)
  • Alpha-Bits by Wild Hearts Designs – New Years Day 2018 start (was originally slated to start in 2017, so fully kitted)

One thing I’m debating for a bit later – I’d planned on doing a Rotation Relay for the Stitching Olympics in February… basically a crazy rotation where you rotate projects every 2-4 hours to see how many you can work on.  Not a problem while I’m home, but there’s one SLIGHT problem with that plan this year:  Stitcher’s Hideaway.  Right smack in the middle of the Olympics.

While I can obviously bring a ton of pieces if I wanted to load up my car to the brim, I don’t know that I really want to flip through ones that quickly on that retreat.  I never bring only one project to Hideway.  I generally have three or four with me, under the theory that 1) at some point I’m going to get sick of stitching on one project, 2) lighting changes in the room from daytime to nighttime, so I may need easier pieces for the evening, and 3) I stitch for a long time during that retreat every day.  We’re talking 6-10 hours of stitching, aside from meals.  I get a ton done.

Instead of the couple-hour frenzy, I may just limit myself to one project per day for the Olympics, along the lines of what I normally do for Hideaway.  It’ll still be a Rotation Relay, but a little more controlled, and easier to port up to Sturbridge!  Doing one per day still means I’d work on 17 separate projects for the Olympics.  That’ll be pretty good.  And let’s be honest – some of those days, I’m only going to get that 2-3 hours in anyway due to work.

Planning, planning… it’s honestly fun to daydream about this stuff!

 

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November 2017 WIPocalypse Check-in

WIPocalypse ButtonHi everyone,

I hope my fellow American stitchers have had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, and for the rest of my fellow stitchers around the world, I hope you’ve had a relaxing non-holiday one.  🙂  As I write, it’s Saturday late afternoon.  Max is taking a nap after a very busy day enjoying some unusually mild late November weather at the park.  It’s already pitch-black outside and feels several hours later than it actually is.

We had a relaxing, quiet holiday dinner at home this year – with a turkey that was far too big for the four people at the table. I’m looking forward to making some chili, pot pies, and other recipes tomorrow to use up as much as possible and freeze it for future meals.

After mentioning it last month during the check-in post, I decided to move forward and organize my stash yesterday, since the dining room table had already been cleared off and was usable for the giant task.  It took hours, but all projects and patterns that I’m aware of are now documented in excel, roughly organized in a way that I can find everything, and all plastic shopping and storage bags have been emptied.  It made me realize how much impulsive shopping I’ve done over the last couple years.  So next year I’m cutting myself off… Year of WIPs.  I seriously just need to work on what I have.  I’ll take photos and make lists of projects I fall in love with to buy at a later date, but no more impulse buying.  I need to get things done.  So if you’d like to join me in exclusive WIP stitching next year, please do!  There are a couple groups that do stitching from stash, giving a price amount per finished piece and such.  I love that idea, but I worry that I’ll cheat too much with that.  So I’m going to go cold-turkey on the wagon.  No stash purchases, other than to replace floss/beads that go missing from a project I’m working on, or to buy needles if I somehow destroy all of them.

With the end of 2017 and start of 2018 fast approaching, I’ve been doing some updates for the WIPocalypse for next year…

The Info Page for the 2018 WIPocalypse is now live.  Not a huge amount of change, but the new dates and topics are available here.  As with this year, all check-in posts will go live on the final Sunday of the month, with two exceptions:  There will be a kick-off intro post on Sunday, January 7th, and the February posting date will be pushed to Wednesday, February 28th for account for the Stitching Olympics.

Stitching Olympics Challenge

The Stitching Olympics will again be held during the 2018 Winter Olympics.  This is, of course, an optional challenge.  But if you enjoy watching the Games like I do and want to use them as an excuse for some extra incentive to stitch… there are three challenges you can choose from (or mix… up to you):

  1. Rotation Relay – rotate through as many projects as you can during the Olympics (for those who like to work on a bunch of different pieces)
  2. Endurance Race –  stick to ONE piece for the Olympics, and see how far you can push that one piece toward finishing (for those one at a time stitchers, or anyone else who wants to do some serious focusing on a particular piece)
  3. Celebrate the Nations (stitch only in the colors of the Olympic rings on your WIP pieces, OR… your nation’s flag, OR… on some sort of piece that is reflective of where you live, eg. Americana pieces for US residents).

I think 2018 will be a fun year.  I’m energized after stash sorting yesterday to really get some completions done.  I just need to figure out the smartest way to achieve it now!

As we enter the final month of the year and the craziness that the holidays bring, I hope you are able to carve out some time to stitch or do anything else for yourself to relax and get away from it for a little while.  Have a safe and happy holiday season everyone!

Melissa

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Important SAL Announcements…

Question of the Month – What finishing style have you never tried but would love to do?

Next posting date: December 31, 2017

Topic for next time: Recap your accomplishments for the year!  (Your finishes, your final before/after photos, etc.)

**2018 Dates and Topics are now posted!  Go here for all details!**

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Please remember that this stitch-a-long is intended to be fun – so if you’re too busy to post, too busy/ill/etc. to stitch – no worries. Post when you can and share what you have going, even if you’ve only been able to toss a single stitch into it. If you miss a few months, not a problem – just jump back in when you’re back with us! It’s not a race or a competition – we’re all just here to cheer each other on with our progress.

Due to different browsing software, some bloggers have found it difficult to check-in with their posts. There are three different ways to check in:

    • Via Auto-link
    • Via comments (make sure you include your blog address!)
    • Via email – to measiwitch(at)gmail.com, only if the other two options are not working. Again- make sure you include your blog address! I’ll add it to the auto-link myself when I have a free moment.


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November Stitching…

I’d made a goal to do NaNoStitchMo in November. My goal was 50 stitches or 50 minutes per day. I didn’t quite accomplish it… work got in the way, and then Thanksgiving took over. I’m pleased with what I did, though, and so I feel good about the month despite not meeting the StitchMo challenge.

This month I spent focused on I Love New England. Aside from the StitchMo challenge, my goal was to complete page one of the pattern (out of six…). I managed to accomplish that earlier this week, and today I moved my Q-snaps to the right to finish the other half of the top portion:

My photo is a little off-color due to the lighting in the house, but you get the idea. 🙂 Now that I have some of that lettering in, I’m finding it a bit easier to keep moving. I struggled at the beginning due to the lack of visual placement cues. The border in this one is very contained, and the letters are just far away enough on both the vertical and the horizontal that it’s crucial to have counts just right. I think Page 2 will be a lot easier to do.

I’m also using a technique that a fellow stitcher suggested on one of the many Facebook groups I’m in. I’m afraid I can’t recall who suggested it, so I’ll just yell a big NOT MY IDEA, DON’T CREDIT ME here: Since this is all in DMC and doesn’t require me to complete every stitch individually, I’m enjoying doing a run of half-stitches to frame out the line. I’m crossing every tenth stitch as I go to make it easier to count, though. That’s going to come in handy, give that on that horizontal line alone at the very top, I’m currently having to toss in a row of 76 stitches just for the half to bring it to the corner motif. There’s nothing more annoying than losing my place on a long row of simple straight stitches!

My other big accomplish for the month was something that I’d honestly been dreading doing… organizing the stash.  I hadn’t really done a proper itemizing of patterns and projects in at least a couple years… possibly not since Max was born.  I’d intentionally not put things away in baskets because I wanted to itemize them, and that’s resulted in a ton of shopping bags, both plastic and reusable, strewn in corners and chairs and whatnot.  Since the dining room table has been reclaimed from being my at-home office, it was a perfect time to get the organizing project done.  I only focused on the stash I’ve never sorted – so the things packed in the trunk in the basement weren’t touched. I’ve already organized them.  While I want to combine this newer itemized stash with that stuff (lumping patterns by the same designer together, for example), the main goal was to just add everything I had to my excel chart.

But first… I had to get it all in one place.  So it was all dumped on the table:

It’s a slightly blurry picture, but you get the idea.  My dining table is an old solid library table – it needs a 102 inch tablecloth.  And I had it FULL of stuff.

Sorting and itemizing took all day.  But it’s now done.  I have a fully updated excel spreadsheet of every pattern, every WIP, every UFO, and every project that’s in some form of kitting.

Honestly, it’s both exciting and depressing.  I have way too much stash.  I know we stitchers joke about hitting SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy), but after the events of the last year or so… it hit me a little depressingly.

I need to stitch, and I need to stitch what I have.

So next year, I’m focusing entirely on WIPs.  I’m not going to do a Stitch from Stash where I assign finishes dollar amounts that I’m allowed to spend.  I think for me, that starts giving me too much leeway.  I just need to really stitch only from what I have.  So unless it’s to replace a thread/bead/button on a piece I’m actually working on that has gone wandering, or to buy needles because I’ve somehow lost ALL of them… I’m not buying next year.  Years ago The Wagon message board had a challenge along those lines.  I’m sticking to it.

Aside from the hundreds (no, I’m not kidding… hundreds.  Plural) of patterns I added to my excel chart, my WIP and UFO chart had to be updated too.  And the stuff that’s partially/fully kitted but unstarted.

This is the bulk of the WIP/UFO/Kitted batch, aside from some oddball small projects that I have in a basket in my cabinet.  There are two projects out of the bins on the table – my Vajke Per Week (with the binder under the project bag), and my Deep Blue Sea Chatelaine (the clear huge project bag just barely in frame).  Between these bins, and not including the oddball smalls, there are over 50 projects stuffed here.  Some are started, some are partially or fully kitted.  But I have more than plenty to do here for years.

So for 2018, I’m working from these bins and that smalls basket.  Hopefully I can whittle this batch down just a wee bit.

At some point in the next year or so, I’m likely going to do some hard looking at some of the patterns in my stash and either sell them, donate them, or do a few giveaways.  We shall see.  I obviously can’t stitch it all, and I’m sure there’s more than a few projects in there that are of styles I no longer like… so it’s time to do some purging.  I’ll address that later, though.  For now I just need to bask in the accomplishment of cleaning my stuff up a bit.

Now it’s time to figure out some logical rotations for 2018… that’ll take some doing!

 

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Day Thirty-One: Blessed Samhain

The trick-or-treating is done, the kiddo is asleep, and Mom is not far behind. Welcome to how a modern Pagan celebrates her religious new year… about the same way we celebrate the secular one. With a whole lot of “Ugh, I’m tired. It’s early, but I’m tired, and I’m going to bed.”

Years ago, I’d do a writing to Close Down the Year on my blog, to reflect what happened in the year just past, and maybe put together a few hopes for the year to follow. I haven’t done one in quite some time now, and with the losses my husband and I have experienced in the last fourteen months, I feel like I should do one… but I’m not ready. I’m not even ready to sit Circle these days. I’ll get there eventually. Hopefully.

But before I head to bed on this last night of the Write 31 Days challenge (which hooray! I actually accomplished this year), let me indulge with the little Jedi trick-or-treater.  Max went out for about an hour with his dad, while I manned the candy bowl at the house.  He had a good time despite the chilly temperatures.  Erich said that there were a lot of houses that were completely dark in our neighborhood – I’m not sure whether it’s a sign of the neighborhood aging, of the immigrant blend we have (with folks who may be unfamiliar with Halloween), or just an odd quiet year, but it does sadden me.  The first couple years we were here, we had so many kids.  One year Erich had to run back to the store to get more candy.  Definitely not the case this year.  Those yellow bowls you see behind Max in that photo?  We drained one, but one full one remained.  Shocking, really.  And I thought I was doing pretty decent with the amount of candy we gave to each kiddo.

(shrug)

Due to the holiday, there was no stitching tonight.  But tomorrow, the Stitch Maynia Facebook group begins “NaNoStitchMo” as a piggy-back off of NaNoWriMo.  The theme is 50 of something… your choice.  So I’ve decided to try to dedicate 50 minutes or 50 stitches each day of November.  I probably won’t update the blog every day, but will make an effort to keep the writing going at a good pace.  It was nice to sit down and try to write every day.  I should keep that going as best I can – and update the stitching progress!

Thanks for hanging out with me and for the comment support as I pushed through October!  Happy Halloween, and Blessed Samhain to you and yours, with wishes of good health and happiness for the next Turn.

~ Mel.

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Day Thirty: Onward with the Rotation!

When I left for the library on Saturday, I made sure to bring another project aside from Here Kitty Kitty, just in case I managed to complete my cats faster than expected. It definitely didn’t work out that way, but Next Project remained in my stitching bag.

Tonight, Erich had some computer gaming to do with the guys, which meant I needed to camp out in our bedroom to watch all of tonight’s news. The stitching bag went with me, and out came a project that I never seem to quite get going on, even though I absolutely adore the finished piece. It’s called “I Love New England,” and it’s a large text sampler with a full border from a former shop called Sampler Needlework in Plymouth, MA. I picked up the project in the early 2000s… I want to say 2002 or 2003. I didn’t start it until years later, though. Aside from the sample in the shop, I’ve never seen another copy of it done.

I’m feeling the itch, so I think this may be the next focus piece I have for a while. The pattern takes six sheets of standard paper. My goal right now is to finish the first page. I have a pretty good start, so I think it’s doable in the next few weeks if I don’t get distracted by other shiny objects.

Here’s where I started this evening. This is being stitched on 32 ct antique white linen with the called-for DMC threads. The heart on the top border is the dead center of the top bar of the decorative frame. I’m not quite down the third on the left hand side. I think I’m about 30 stitches short at the moment.

There is a large cornucopia motif at the very bottom of the text sampler, but otherwise it’s all words in the center, with a repeating heart and vined flower border.  Each of the corner motifs is a different square – very quilt block style.  It’s not a complicated stitch… just a large one.  So hopefully after the energy of getting Here Kitty Kitty done on Saturday, I can use that boost to get some good progress on this one!

You’ll notice that unlike with Here Kitty Kitty, I’m using a Q-snap fabric wrap this time.  Some people call them grime guards.  I just always called them Q-snap covers.  I don’t always use one, but on these larger pieces, they come in handy to stuff the extra fabric in that extends past the current stitching frame.  This piece honestly should probably be on a scroll frame, but I can never quite get the tension how I want it.   I’ve heard about some specific frames that compensate and allow your stitching to sit drum tight, but the waiting lists for orders seem to be horrendously long, or it’s money I don’t know if I want to waste, given how I’ve struck out with scroll frames in the past.

Although to be honest, the Q’s aren’t really working well with this piece.  The amount of fabric left over is just a little excessive.  I may have to bite the bullet and throw this on a scroll, even though I can’t get it to sit tight.

Maybe that’s just why I haven’t gotten much done on this.  I just can’t seem to get it framed up comfortably for stitching.  Hmm….

Off to bed!  G’nite…

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