Your cross stitch methods?
January 5, 2009 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Hey cross-stitchers: when you're working on a pattern that's more or less solid, do you do work on a blob of one color at a time, or on one row at a time?

I can't figure out the best way to work on a solid pattern.

I tried doing a whole big blob of one color, then moved on to the next color, but I find that this leads to "filling in" empty squares, which seems a little messy/difficult.

r r r r r r__r r r_
r r r r r_ _ r r _
r r _ _

Then I'd fill in with blue:

r r r r r r b r r r
r r r r r b r
r r b b b)

I then tried just going row by row, keeping a bunch of threaded needles hanging off the back, and alternating when necessary in the row, but this makes me lose my place in the pattern like crazy.


r r r r r r b r r r r
b r r r r r b r b b
b b b r r b b b b )

What do you find the easiest/neatest way to do it when you stitch?
posted by tristeza to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I do it color blob by color blob, but I am also a rank amateur. I'll be watching to see what others say.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:23 PM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: I'm pretty sure the neatest and easiest way is to do it blob by blob. Yeah, it starts to get tricky at the end. If you are making sure to that the multiple strands are lying flat on the front of the fabric (some people call that "railroading" the stitches), then the back will stay a lot neater.
posted by muddgirl at 6:27 PM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: I like doing it blob by blob, as long as the blobs are close together. I try not to drag too long of a thread across the back of the work, because sometimes it shows through from the front. I've only done a few projects though, so I'm no pro.
posted by illenion at 6:33 PM on January 5, 2009

When I cross-stitched, I would do it color by color. If I had to skip more than five or six squares I'd cut the thread, tie it off, and then make the skip and start the next group of stitches. along the row.
posted by Anonymous at 6:43 PM on January 5, 2009

Looking at your example, the way I'd do it is:

r r r r r r
r r r r r
r r


r r r r r r b
r r r r r b
r r b b b


r r r r r r b r r r
r r r r r b r
r r b b b
posted by muddgirl at 6:54 PM on January 5, 2009

I go blob by blob, which usually results in less extra thread in the back.
posted by piratebowling at 7:03 PM on January 5, 2009

My wife does counted cross-stitch, and her answer to this question was "...blobs..".
posted by ralan at 7:15 PM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: I'm doing a cross stitch project, the chart for which is nine pages long (there's approximately 35,000 stitches in it). I am doing it one page at a time, and I work one colour at a time. I usually start by doing the most predominant colour first. Yes, you have to pay careful attention to the chart this way, but you don't have to rethread your needle constantly, and then as you do the successive colours it gets easier and easier to find your place in relation to the existing stitches.

Another thing I do when I've got a good-sized area to do is "sketch" it in by taking one stitch in each square. Then, once I've done all of one colour in an area I go back over it and take all the second stitches. I find this more efficient, because it's really easy to rip out a series of single stitches if you find you've got them placed wrong, and that second pass goes VERY fast because you don't have to look at the chart at all.

I also don't "carry" the thread more than a couple of squares.
posted by orange swan at 7:21 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

Mostly blob by blob. These days I'm working on pieces complex enough that there may not be blobs of any one color in some sections. In those cases if stitches of the same color are fairly close together (say, no more than 1/2" inch apart), I hop around. If not, I just work a square about 10x10 completely cutting thread after each individual stitch, then move on to the next square. I have not yet worked out how to do this without making the back an utter mess, though.
posted by Stacey at 7:22 PM on January 5, 2009

Response by poster: OMG orange swan, I can't even imagine that pattern! That's nuts!
posted by tristeza at 7:45 PM on January 5, 2009

nth blob by blob, and like orange swan I don't carry the thread more than a couple of squares.
posted by gaspode at 7:45 PM on January 5, 2009

I'm not heavily into cross-stitching or anything, but I do blobs as well.
posted by Nattie at 7:50 PM on January 5, 2009

It's this Magnolia kit, tristeza.

Oh, and people who do cross-stitch have exclaimed over how neat the back of my work is, so I think my methods work satisfactorily from that perspective.
posted by orange swan at 8:10 PM on January 5, 2009

Yeah, I do blobs too - the backs of mine are acceptably neat (I've seen neater). There are always occasional squares you need to go back and fill in, but they're not significant.
posted by tracicle at 8:21 PM on January 5, 2009

I don't know if this will help, but if you're having trouble keeping track of where you are on the pattern: get a metal board and some flat magnets. Magnet the pattern to the board, and then use one long magnet set right below the line you're working on to keep track of which line you're in.

And in answer to the question, I also do blob-by-blob. If it's across more than, say, three squares, I either use muddgirl's method or I make sure to thread the current thread under older threads on the back to keep a lot of thread from hanging off the back. If that makes sense.
posted by bibbit at 6:42 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I view Scarlet Quince to be the current masters of cross stitch patterns (I just bought this and am expecting it to take the rest of my life to finish). Their cross stitch tips include suggestions for the best way to do both methods you ask about. Lots of other good advice, tricks, and tools to buy in there as well.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:03 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do something similar to bibbit, but I just use a post-it note
posted by radioamy at 5:58 PM on January 6, 2009

I recently did cross stitch for the first time in many years *!my eyes!* I scanned the pattern and blew it up with a graphics program, creating layers with overlap for reference points. I like being able to print out sections and pencil out as I go along.
posted by auntbunny at 2:31 AM on January 9, 2009

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