Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQ was suggested by Nancy and is:

What tips would you give to a new stitcher to help her stitch faster and neater while still keeping it enjoyable?

First if they are trying to stitch by the "sewing method", I would teach them the "stab" method. That might slow them down a bit, but it will result in much neater stitches later. I would buy them some Q-Snaps to keep their fabric taut. I would buy them some John James needles, some nice evenweave fabric and some DMC (or even nicer specialty threads like Weeks Dye Works) if they are still stitching from a kit (especially a kit with poor threads and cheap Aida). I would buy them a Bent Creek or Lizzie*Kate pattern. Something that will make them smile and won't take forever to finish. When they are feeling comfortable,I would teach them to railroad (at least the top stitch) and to allow their thread to unwind as they stitch. Again this would slow them down some, but would result in much, much neater work.

Now I would teach them to "read" a pattern. Just like your cooking experience will be much, much smoother if you read (and reread) the recipe first, your stitching will be much easier if you "read" the pattern first and assemble all your ingredients. If the pattern is small, enlarging it first will help a lot. How many different threads will you use in this pattern? How are they used? A lot of one color, lots of different colors? Are some colors predominately in one spot on the pattern? Are any threads blended? Do you HAVE all the threads that you need? Nothing can create a UFO faster than running out of a color. Are there any specialty beads or buttons? I usually like to start in the middle, but sometimes the middle is just too complex a place to start. I just started a pattern in the upper left hand corner where there was a lot of only three different colors. It helps to develop a shorthand for remembering where to stitch next (OK, that's 3 on this row, over two and 5 on the next row), so that you don't have to look at the pattern for every stitch.

Now the most important part of all. Stitch with your friends. There is nothing the encourages stitching like a day spent stitching with friends. If you don't live close by, see if there is a LNS with an open stitching evening that the new stitcher can join. Just tell them to leave their credit cards at home (at least half the time) or they will end up like all of us -- more stash than we can stitch in a lifetime!


Since today seems to be question day, I will steal this meme from Anna:
  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper mostly, but gift bags for large and bulky items and for the Holiday exchange party.
  2. Real tree or artificial? Mostly no tree. We always traveled back East for the holidays. Getting a tree for just us seemed like too much work. Then three years ago we started having a Holiday party for local friends. The first two years we bought a real tree (they smell good), but last year we ran out of time and just bought a white one. We liked it so much that we are going to do it again this year. I've been looking for a small real tree, but nothing has looked interesting so far.
  3. When do you put up the tree? After the cleaners come on Wednesday before the party. We have a group in to make cookies on Thursday before the party, then the party itself on Saturday.
  4. When do you take the tree down? Some time in January.
  5. Do you like eggnog? No, I don't drink milk either and dislike eggs in most forms. My husband, on the other hand is a great eggnog drinker. He's fond of Southern Comfort eggnog, but puts in good bourbon instead. He once made a batch from scratch (enough for 75 people) for a party that every one raved about, but it's really rich and doesn't keep all that well. These parties have a lot less than 75.
  6. Favorite gift received as a child? My Erector set? My chemistry set? My paint-by-numbers sets? I remember getting my last doll when I was 12 (or 13?) I wanted it so much, but when I got it, I realized that I was not that interested in playing with dolls anymore. Our Christmas presents were pretty practical most years; a new coat, some winter boots; therefore not many of them are memorable.
  7. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope, not Christian.
  8. Hardest person to buy for? My husband. He never wants anything. I tried to take him shopping this afternoon and he was like a little kid going to the dentist.
  9. Easiest person to buy for? My nephew and his wife. They just had their first child last March (and moved into a new house) and need everything.
  10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Stamped them all last night. They went into the USPS this afternoon. We send a lot of non-denominational cards, cards from Hawaii, and funny cards (Wonder Woman cards, Santa in a rickshaw from Hong Kong, peppermint martini cards). We used to keep an elaborate database about who got what so that we wouldn't duplicate cards to the same family two years in a row, but now we just let the cards fall where they will.
  11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? It was so sad. Our first Christmas my husband gave me a BEAUTIFUL alpaca sweater. I have VERY sensitive skin. I could barely put it on before wanting to rip it off again. We returned it, but it made him skittish about buying me anything.
  12. Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas.
  13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever. The heavy shopping doesn't get done until we get the Christmas list from my sister-in-law. Lots of shopping gets done in Lexington. Yup, we shop on the 24th.
  14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so. There are probably some things from my sister-in-law that are back at the bottom of a closet somewhere.
  15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My husband's family are not great cooks. There is a turkey with all the traditionals, but the best things are the snacks during Christmas morning present opening -- Chritchfield's (a great meat market in Lexington, Kentucky) great rolls and country ham, cheese straws, See's candy that we bring, and Chritchfield's Nut and Olive spread. I need to make PRESS cookies -- camels, wreaths and trees. Oh, and Graeter' Peppermint Ice Cream, only available at Christmas.
  16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? White. We had a bubble tree with colored "candles" growing up.
  17. Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting...)
  18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Except the years we lived in New Zealand and 2003 when we had to go to Chicago in early December and made our six month visit then, most of the rest in Lexington, Kentucky, staying at my mother-in-law's.
  19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Probably
  20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Santa Lucia with a pearl halo with candles.
  21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning not too early.
  22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Travel, travel, travel. The last THREE times we traveled to Lexington, United "lost" our luggage. We almost didn't have the presents there in time for Christmas day. Not to mention that we had no underwear or change of clothes. I did manage to buy some clothes there.
  23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Since the white tree last year, the theme is purple and silver. We also have a lot of MOMA gold, silver, and copper balls. If I could have an all copper Christmas I would.
  24. Favorite thing for Christmas dinner? Nothing memorable.
  25. What do you want for Christmas this year? For United to get our luggage to Lexington WITH US. To have a safe and happy journey home again.


Sweet Pea said...

My DH is FAMOUS in his family for doing all of his shopping on Christmas eve. One year, we had a huge snowstorm on Christmas eve, so he had the whole mall practically to himself.

Chiasmata said...

Sounds like a stitcher starting off with you would be well set up. I'm a stabber too. My LNS owner is an in-hand (no frame) sewer, and when I watch her stitch I just can't see how that's fun!