I have been cross stitching on-and-off for over 25 years.
I was introduced to cross stitching by a friend at university and continued stitching until work, marriage, studying for professional exams and then finally starting a family more or less took over. I still managed to fit a bit in here and there, but only a bit.
I put down my needles and took up scrapbooking between 2006-2012, but selling all my stash in 2012 gave me renewed enthusiasm to pick up my needles once again. Of course, so much had changed in the intervening years and I now found myself with many new sources of downloadable charts and the ability to see other peoples' work via blogs.
Nowadays life has settled down, the children are more independent and I am able to stitch regularly. The internet has provided so much inspiration through charts and bloggers. And now I'm one of them!
TYPES OF PROJECTS
My early days of stitching consisted of what I would now consider to be small charts by manufacturers such as DMC and Framecraft, along with slightly larger projects by Lanarte and Lavender and Lace. I would faithfully stitch one project at a time and not look for another until the current project was near completion. Then, like most cross stitchers, my stash grew as I saw kits and charts which I "had to have" and would "do one day" or was tempted by sales. Most of these have now been sold and the proceeds used to fund new stash for my current and future projects.
I used to set myself targets for the year for each project, trying to include at least one finish and lots of progress. Now I have plans instead of targets and they have been working really well for the last few years.
I don't have a rotation as such but do know what I;m going to stitch on each month. Larger projects get blogged about after every 10 hours, smaller projects on an ad-hoc or month-end basis.
Each WIP has its own box or bag of threads, wound onto bobbins, so I know that I have everything I need for that project. Yes, this does involve duplicating threads, but in my mind it's better than working from a big box of colours or constantly transferring threads from one project to another and, more importantly, colour continuity is guaranteed.
I tend to start stitching in the top right of a project as I work best from right to left. I do not stitch in columns, or rows, or pages, or park threads, but travel randomly as the colours take me. I like to stitch the bigger blocks of colours first so that when stitching confetti I have plenty of stitches under which to carry the thread.
I cross off my completed stitches on the chart as I go, having sometimes highlighted them first where confetti stitching is the heaviest. I know this takes time, but it also saves time as the place of the next stitch is clearly visible and there is less likelihood of stitches getting missed.
Occasionally for bigger projects I mark out the 10x10 grids using a washable fabric pencil. I have found this invaluable for finding the correct place.
FABRICS AND THREADS
Most of my projects are stitched on 16ct Aida 2 over 1. This is what I am most comfortable with so works well for me. I like to use hand-dyed fabrics whenever practical or possible and use these as a substitute for background stitching, saving both time and money. I believe these also give the project an edge, guaranteeing that they are indeed unique. I have recently started using Murano evenweave, especially where lots of fractional stitches are required. I get on well with it and would consider using it for bigger projects. But I hate linen - I have tried it once and after a couple of hours knew that it wasn't for me.
I always use DMC threads. If a project suggests any other type I always try convert. I have the full set of colours, but still end up buying loads more!
I work on various sizes of Millennium Frames using the Millennium Floor Stand. I have the small and medium side bars and various sizes of scroll bars ranging from 12" to 30" to fit the size of each project. Each WIP has had the Aida hemmed at the top and bottom for the bar inserts to slide through, ensuring constant tension and meaning that I never have to adjust wonky fabric. After use, the WIP gets removed from the frame and stored flat or gently rolled in a postal tube until its next outing.
For smaller projects I use the Little Wizard. Q-snaps and hoops are a definite no-no.
I also have the absolutely essential daylight floor-standing lamp - an expensive necessity which has made such a difference to the visibility of the project. It really is worth investing in.
My renewed gusto for cross-stitching was increased by the discovery of internet sites such as Heaven and Earth Designs, Tilton Crafts, Shinysun's Cross Stitching and Etsy, all of which have provided, or will provide, me with many charts for many years to come. Finding those sites was probably a BIG MISTAKE!!!
I buy downloadable charts when possible so that I can reprint without infringing copyright laws. I have many projects lined up for when I eventually have a finish and many more on my wishlist. As my tastes change a chart may find itself promoted or demoted on my to-do list but doesn't that happen to everyone?
I talk far to much so thanks for sticking with me and taking the time to read this page!