Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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When it Goes Amuck – And What to Do About It


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Do you ever have one of those stitching sessions (or two…or three…or ten) when everything seems to go amuck?

I recently had several of those stitching sessions.

And they got me thinking that I’m probably not the only one in the world who experiences less-than-satisfactory bouts of stitching now and then.

So I thought I’d tell you about mine and the way I handle them. These particular two may not seem like a big deal, but we’ll talk about that, too!

And, as a bonus (I use the term loosely), you’ll be getting a sneak peek of some spring critters that are in the works for a couple projects!


So, over the past couple weekends, I’ve been dabbling with a few designs that are eventually for publication here on Needle ‘n Thread.

I don’t always get things right at the first go.

When I have an idea for a design or a small project or something I want to share with you, I will usually test at least the central element in that project, to see if it will materialize the way I want to it…or to see if I need to re-think it.

So, using smaller scraps of fabric – but always the same fabric I intend to eventually use for the project – I’ll stitch up a sample or partial sample, just to see where I’m headed.

Last weekend, I cut into a new piece of fabric, since I didn’t have any scraps, and tackled the bunny above.

I actually got further than that. But I didn’t take pictures.

The poor critter got progressively worse, and I realized I needed to start over and tackle him from a different direction.

Embroidered Sheep Trial Stitching

And then there’s this gal.

Now, she wasn’t too bad. If you consider that she’s just over 1/2″ tall (she’s very tiny), she’s kind of cute.

When I took the photo, I hadn’t quite finished her wooly coat.

When I did finish it, I thought “Ok, I’ll continue with the stitching around her, and see how it goes. Overall, she’s not bad.”

The sheep was pretty much what I had in mind. Pretty basic. Pretty knotty. And small.

But then…

But then

I got it into my head somehow that it needed eyes.

Embroidered Sheep Trial Stitching

It really didn’t need eyes.

And those eyes are particularly odd and creepy.

In any case, I tried to pick the eyes out, succeeded in messing up the stitching around it, and I had to start over.

No Big Deal!

These are not major stitching situations that have gone amuck. They’re just little samples. In the vast scheme of things, they’re no big deal! I’ve certainly had larger, more time-consuming, more expensive projects go amuck!

But when even small things like this go wrong, they eat up time. They use up supplies. They can be frustrating and discouraging.

And this is The Thing: When your stitching becomes frustrating or discouraging, guess what? It’s time to stop.

The best way to handle a stitching situation when it seems like everything is going wrong is to put it aside.

With me, it seems like things go progressively wronger with my stitching when I try to fix something when I’m already frustrated with it.

So instead, when I know I’m frustrated, I walk away.

When a project has you irritated, step away from it. Not forever, necessarily! Just step away and come back to it with fresh eyes later. A few hours? The next day? That depends on you.

Remember: stitching is supposed to be your escape. It’s supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable. When it isn’t, go do something that is, and then come back to it later.

My bunny and my sheep are both getting an overhaul this week. They’ll show up on Needle ‘n Thread one of these days!

What do You Do?

When you’re particularly miffed with your stitching, how do you handle it? Feel free to join in the conversation below and let us know! You never know who your experience might help!

Coming Up

We’ll talk thread management later this week and take a look at some ecclesiastical embroidery.

There’s some project progress coming up, too!

Enjoy your week!


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(72) Comments

  1. As a novice rug hooker, I once set aside a particularly frustrating project… for 15 years! Finally finished it when I moved (the third time) and found some hookers right in my neighborhood. They were helpful and encouraging and the piece hangs in my living room at last!

  2. You are absolutely right, walking away is the answer. Once you mess up you just continue in that direction because your brain just knows that you were going right. Most of the time once you walk away and come back later the answer is clearer. Sometimes you just have to chalk it up to experience and just start over.

  3. I completely agree. When things go wrong it is definitely time to take a breather. The sooner I recognize that the better!

  4. Dear Mary

    I would probably do the same as you and leave it for a while or start over again. The Easter Bunny and spring sheep are lovely just the right embroidery for the time of year, looking forward to the progress on these little things. I’m looking forward to the thread management and the ecclesiastical embroidery and your project progress. I can’t believe that Easter is upon us already the years just fly by. Have a great stitching day and thanks for sharing with us your tips on embroidery amuck.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. When I get frustrated, I put it aside and do something else. Sometimes I frog it and other times, I leave it as an unique character of the stitches.

  6. Sad to say but I don’t have your discipline, Mary. I usually stay with the “botched up” thing and make it worse and worse and get upset, and often end up throwing it out. Alot of times I envision something (I don’t use kits), colors, threads, stiches, how things will look, and they just don’t.

    Maybe I can learn from you and walk away!

    Thanks again.

  7. Sheep eyes are nearly always golden brown – maybe that’s what the problem was? White eyes are a bit creepy 🙂 I typically use DMC color 780. Yes, we raise sheep, Shetlands, which come in white, black, gray, oatmeal, and chocolate brown as well as combinations of those colors. The eyes have always been golden brown.

    1. Holly, that’s good to know! I love embroidery and applique patterns that contain sheep, but they often are designed without eyes. Now I know what to do!

  8. When everything goes amuck, the best thing I can do is simply walk away. I don’t even try to take out the part that has gone wrong. I just put down the embroidery and go do something else. Later, when I go back to it, I can take out the problem area and move on. The time away seems to clear my thoughts and make it easy to see where I went wrong, and how to fix it.

  9. When the needle/thread/fabric decide to play a different game from the one I want, I put it down. I say to it, ‘OK. Please yourself. I’ve something else I can play with.’ Yes, I actually say this aloud to the piece. Then I unthread my needle, so it knows I’m serious; I choose another project from my project box (you know what I mean) and sit doing it, with my back to the naughty piece. Next day it will flow my from needle like water, all smiles and happiness. Sounds silly but it works every time.

  10. You will never know how much I depend on you and your advice for all my embroidery projects. I am not an expert and make lots of mistakes, so your latest review on what to do when you mess up something, get very frustrated, don’t know what to do next was exactly what I needed to hear. I didn’t know anyone else experienced this! Luckily, I do exactly what you suggested – put it down. However, I might add “and go get a margarita”!

  11. If I’ve made a little mistake, I’ll huff and then unpick it, get a cup of tea and redo it. If I’ve made a big booboo, I usually put the work down [preferably somewhere, where I can’t see it], walk down to the bottom of the garden and scream…. loudly. I will then do something not embroidery connected [I’ve even been known to do the washing up], calm myself down and relook at it. I will then usually cut out the embroidery thread and start again. You have to do it when you’ve calmed down or else you can make it even worse.

  12. Well, I sometimes find that a piece goes through an ugly stage but then, when you continue, it looks great. The finishing of the piece makes a huge difference – kind of the way that a scarf or jewelry sets off a garment. But sometimes nothing helps! I recently finished a pincushion meant as a gift that should have been wonderful but by the time I had finished it, it still looked ugly! The finishing looked great but the basic colors of the pincushion just didn’t work for me and so I had to start over. And what a waste of time – grrrrr. The second piece turned out great. But I have that first piece (with initials) just sitting there. Grrrrr. So what to do with it? Throw it away? Give it to my friend along with the lovely pincushion, as sort of the ugly stepsister? Grrrrr. Wish I had just stopped when that first nagging doubt came over me. Oh well………

  13. Hi
    Yes, there are times when I just walk away and return to a project after a sufficient
    “time out”. It is quite surprising to revisit a seemingly impossible project and find it slipping under the needle just perfectly the second go-round. I am currently doing a crewelwork cyber class which is really challenging for me since learning from written
    instructions and diagrams is very hard for me. However, the great thing is thanks to
    technology, access is gained to new learning experiences and living in a rural area
    limits opportunities if you are not prepared to work hard and use available options.
    Again, after drowning in four stitch books with instructions and drawings for new
    types of stitches etc., sometimes taking a break is better than a vacation. Also, I always
    take advantage of the stitching tutorials you provide on your website. They are such a great teaching aid online that you are thanked from the bottom of my heart for making
    them available.

  14. I totally agree, Mary, when it becomes frustrating – walk away. I usually apply my tutting rule. One “tut” it ok; a second is a warning but three “tuts” means it is definitely time to pack in or do something else!

  15. Sometimes I’ll go for another part of the project, but if that goes amuck also then I’ll leave it for another project not of the same kind of work.

    Off topic: I just looked at that Wedding Gown. Gorgeous!!! The embroidery took the patience of several Jobs. Lots of ‘later’ in that labor of love.

  16. I pretty much do the same. Just put it down and walk away. Once frustration sets in, you are not thinking clearly. You need time to think of a solution. And if you need to redo any part of it, never do it in anger. You won’t be careful of or attentive to your task. I would also add that once you know you are tired, put your project down and walk away. At that point you are ONLY going to make mistakes that will have to be redone.

  17. I’m obsessive about the direction of the top cross in counted cross stitch. I was doing a birth announcement in “fancy point” (counted cross, pulled thread, drawn thread, ribbon, etc) and there were cross-stitched butterflies around the border. I did five at the top, then turned the canvas 45 degrees and did 5 more. Oops. The cross is now the opposite. I ripped those out, redid them, did the bottom, then rotated 45 degrees and did the last 5–backwards again. I had been in a mindless groove since I didn’t need to count much or pay attention to the fancy stuff. Instead of 20, I did 30. Wine was called for.

  18. Hold onto the bunny! He’s cute! And you could keep the sheep eyes and take a 180 turn from pastoral to a surreal setting…
    I stop work on my disasters as you do. If I don’t, my cramped shoulders and neck start letting me know it’s time to quit. I work on several projects at a time so sometimes it’s simple to shift from one to the other.
    Other times, I just can’t go on for a time period. So to stay engaged, I organize threads and preliminary design sketches, or just sketch (using different media helps a lot). They all help me work out the problem. If it’s really bad – I review my embroidery books or the works of others on the internet for inspiration.

  19. Hi Mary – so right! Maybe that´s why everyone has UFO´s lying around? I know I have – some are entering their 40´s. 🙂
    Stitching is also therapy but only when the mind is not too rattled. Otherwise, disaster looms.
    Keep well and have an enjoyable Easter.

  20. When needlework goes wrong with me I too come away from it & go back to it later – sometimes much later -(I find it hidden months later as I have forgotten about it!) – then I’ll try again – one day it will get finished but I’m not in a hurry – unless it’s needed for a birthday or Christmas present – hobbies are for pleasure – if you’re not enjoying it – don’t do it

  21. Often if I get frustrated on a project I will set it aside and try to work on a different one. Sometimes if the second project is a different enough technique or style, the frustration doesn’t carry through. But if it does, and the second stitching attempt goes amuck, I walk away from stitching for a while, but usually not more than a day or two.

  22. What to do when things go wrong?

    I usually do exactly the same thing….walk away from it and come back later. I also realized that usually bad things happen when I’m very tired and I should put the project down anyway. My eyes get increasingly less accurate as the days you on. Late in the evening is not the time I should be stitching.

    Thanks for all you do for all of us, Mary. You are a wonder!


  23. Hi Mary, I am a beader and I dabble in embroidery. I agree that when things go awry, it is a loss of time and materials. So, I put the work away and walk away. This really helps because when I come back to the project I realize it is a lesson learned. Sometimes, I undo the work. Other times I save the bit of mess to use in a larger project I am calling “Lessons learned”. It will be like a framed quilt.
    Here’s to more needle and thread time for all. We are so blessed.
    Thank you, KarenW

  24. Oh, yes, walk away. Time certainly provides great perspective. Most of the time, the solution is immediately clear and off I go again. However, a couple of times I have had projects that I just wasn’t enjoying–at all–so I put them away (some times for weeks/even months). Only to come back and still be frustrated. Back they went…finally, I took the advice of Marion Scoular, “If you don’t like it there’s nothing that says you have to finish it. Cut out the part you like and put it in an example book, toss the rest.” No guilt.

  25. I agree 100%! However, if it is cross stitch, I prefer to pull out the offending stitches before I walk away. I do not like like to pick up a piece just to start pulling out stitches.

    Sometimes my “walk away” is just to pick up a scrap of linen to revisit a stitch, a color or choice of floss while my opinions are still fresh in my mind.

    1. Me too – it’s much easier to pick out the bad bits while you are still cross with them than to come back, all eager for the fray, and have to begin by taking the trash out. On the other hand, if I’m not totally sure something needs to come out then I will leave it until I am certain. But it’s still something I’d prefer to do as an end-of-day job rather than as the first action of a new stitching session.

  26. Why not attach a bead for the sheeps eyes? If you haven’t messed it up too much, just stitch the bead on top of the eye stitch. It will work.


  27. I had to laugh! I thought I had bad stitch days because I don’t practice faithfully (which is certainly true), and that serious stitchers worked in a golden haze of perfection. It’s somehow inspiring to learn that we all have bad stitch days ヽ(^o^)

  28. I pin it to the display board in my sewing room where I see it frequently, and then one day the way forward suddenly becomes blindingly clear. Works every time for me.

  29. Completely agree. I had a block recently with regards to one particular piece and it took me a whole year to return to it. But when I did I completed it surprisingly quickly. The problem was, it was the only project I had during that time, which made me pause embroidery as a whole 🙁
    Most of the time, I use the same approach – if I am frustrated with a piece I prefer to rest from it a while. But now I try to not repeat my mistakes and keep few projects in mind, or even in progress so that if I need to take a break from one, I would get busy with another one, and this way wouldn’t decrease my productivity level.

  30. I agree, walking away is the best thing to do. There have been a few times in the past I’ve gotten so frustrated that what ever project is causing the problem get’s thrown acrossed the room.”Not my finest moments” to be sure. Now I walk away ,when I come back to it I see the problem with new eyes and can usually fix it

  31. This is so timely for me! I was not getting a certain stitch to look the way it should. I went to the NnT site and checked out the tutorial. I had been doing the wrong stitch. Looked much better when I corrected my method.

  32. This is what I try to do too. I find it helps me to get some distance and spend some time before I decide what to do. I also do a lot of quilting, and recently I made a mistake in a quilt block. It wasn’t ruined; just some stripy diamonds had been constructed the wrong way so that the design didn’t look like it was supposed to. At first I thought I would just leave it and live with it, but after a couple of days I realized that it really did bug me and it would be worth taking the block apart to fix it. I now have a perfect quilt block. In another context I might well have decided I could live with it. So it all depends!

  33. I should be able to put things down, take a breath and come back later, but I have a bit of a neurotic streak. Unfortunately for my husband, this means that sometimes he’ll wake up at midnight wondering where I wandered off to in the night. The living room, honey. Couldn’t sleep, had to fix something!
    Luckily, this doesn’t happen too often and only if I have had the misfortune of making a boo-boo before bedtime.

  34. I agree: I instruct Brazilian Embroidery and one night (after everyone else was asleep) I was working on a piece – doing bullion knots (one of the first stitches I teach the students) and they kept getting messed up. I was very upset with myself, thinking “this is not rocket science – why am I messing up?” – I finally stopped, put the embroidery down – came back to it a day or two later and suddenly the bullions were coming out correctly!

  35. Your tiny sheep is so charming. Since sheep have black eyes, suggest some small, shiny black buttons instead of thread. Maybe some long eye lashes to emphasize the eyes. Sheep have eye lashes.

  36. Oh this post made me laugh! I have a bag with mess ups that I’ve never gone back to – I get so frustrated that I just begin again. What made me laugh however, was the memory of what I did about 45 years ago: My mom had an old old sleeper sofa in her sewing room. I stuffed my messed up projects – floss embroidery, crewel, needlepoint, hand sewing, machine sewing – in the zipped up bolsters. Mom eventually sold that couch – and I bet the new owners had a good laugh at my juvenile attempts.

  37. Yes, I walk away. However, if some part of my work is so horrible that it will need to be removed, I tear it out before walking away. When I pick the project up again, all I have to do is come up with a solution or new creative idea, and the negative aspect of needlework (my mess-up) is already a distant memory. When I have not done this, I have found that I often avoid returning to the problem. (Of course, if I cannot decide, I will leave the stitching to evaluate later.)

  38. Hahaha! Oh, the tangled webs I get into when things aren’t working out!
    For the past 18 months I’ve been working on Hardanger pieces. Only the first few actually had patterns & instructions I could follow. The rest have been collections of mini patterns I have incorporated or modified to create my piece. This can result in lots of boo boos!
    My latest piece was ripped out and restarted six (yes, six) times because I could not make center or end motifs I liked. Ugh! Each time I would stop and rethink what I wanted, let the fabric rest and then restart in a new direction. Took a month or so before it started coming together and progress was made. Then I finished the stitching. Cutting and pulling threads went quickly.
    At last I am on the weaving and filling stitches part and guess what? Yeah, it isn’t going well! So I’m again setting this piece aside repeatedly to rethink what I’m doing and then restarting.
    It’s only a small 18″x10″ piece but is almost taking as long as my 29″x20″ wedding sampler! Lol
    I’m not giving up though!

  39. I walk away, and sometimes I actually manage to do it before I’m totally crazy! The other thing I’ve realised is that if I am asking “will that do” to a tutor/ friend/ myself, it most certainly will not do. Time to take it out and stop. Best wishes for your contined health. Jane UK

  40. When things start to run amuk with me, I do exactly what you do. Walk away! I pick it up another day and things run more smoothly. Better to do that than ruin the WHOLE thing!!!!!

  41. I call it taking a time out. When I go back to the project I will know whether or not to keep going. I’m not sure if it is the project getting the time out or me ;o)

  42. Thanks for the post Mary. Becoming frustrated with any craft project can negate the positive benefits of getting into the activity in the first place. One of the many interesting things to come our of my current research (I’m studying ladies who stitch for my PhD) was the perceived and the demonstrable wellness benefits that come from engaging in crafts like stitching. To achieve the benefits though we have to accept things that don’t quite work or don’t work out as we would want and ‘let it go’. Putting aside a project that is frustrating you is not only sensible it’s good for your health. I put mine aside mindfully. That is I pause, take it in my hands and feel the fabric and touch the treads, wrap it up and put it somewhere (out of my immediate line of vision), breath in and out very deeply and deliberately and take a moment to remind myself that I sew because I love it and that I will love this piece again ‘one day’. It’s not a failure it is part of the journey. If I to that, I don’t put the scissors through every second thing I work on! Keep the sage advice coming!

  43. You are so right – just walk away. Breathe, do something else. Come back after a nice cup of tea and a little read. Otherwise it is rip rip rip and frustration.

    I will also come back and try my experiment in radically different stitches or thread just to see alternatives and then calmly go back to original and retry.

  44. This is exactly what my fabric construction professor instructs us. when we hit a wall with our sewing projects. She lets us leave the classroom & walk laps around our fashion hallway. The first time around really helps to release frustration & by the 2nd or third time my mind is usually relaxed enough to think of ways to fix my mistake. When I have a more complicated issue, it helps to move on with the day & just think of ways to solve the problem as I perform ordinary tasks like household chores. If needed, I do some research by watching or reading about how others accomplished the task. Finally, the time right before I fall asleep is quite helpful; as I lie in bed I close my eyes & meticulously perform the steps & in my mind. Usually these steps allow me to finish the project the next day while
    other times must I repeat the process. I helps to remember:
    Every problem has a solution; it just takes thought & research to solve them.

  45. I have definitely learned over time with my stitching, quilting, general sewing, machine embroidery, in fact anything that I care about – walk away when frustrated. Even when I had what I call my “big job” sleeping on a frustration often allowed for solutions to shine through – what I thought was an enormous, insurmountable problem became and easy and quick “well that wasn’t so hard” fix. So – it’s a good thing we all have lots of other projects to go to if the one causing frustration has to have a “time out” for more than a few days.

  46. When I make a mistake (I actually started with the word if, and then remembered a particular piece of blackwork, and then other erm problems came back to me, so “when”) I tend to get very discouraged and wonder how I could have done something so idiotic. I put the offending thing in its bag, all my projects have their own bags, and put it in a dark drawer where I can forget it. Then when I come across it in three or six months, the mistake doesn’t look as bad, I feel much less depressed and can generally see a way to carry on without unpicking a weeks worth of close blackwork. Leaving them for a while is the only answer unless it’s a tiny mistake because the demoralizing effect of a mistake on an otherwise nice piece of embroidery can be quite enough to affect my stitching for weeks. That is I do no stitching for weeks, because I end up convincing myself that I’ll just make more mistakes and ruin everything.

  47. Very timely because the color of leaves on the project I’m stitching isn’t right. I backed away from the project and find I can needle lace another layer to soften and improve it. It think… working on it.

  48. Like you I put my work down and walk away from it. This especially happens with beading, when it starts to go wonky it is time to stop. Usually when I come back I see a better way of doing something or sometimes it turns out that I was just tired and needed a break.

  49. I learned a long time ago that if a project I’m working on becomes frustrating; for whatever reason, just put it down. Usually with a glare and nasty mutterings as I walk away and try doing something (anything) else. Otherwise, as I have learned to my sorrow, I’ll lose my temper and bad things will happen.

  50. Some decades ago when I was doing quite a bit of sewing and virtually no embroidery, I had developed this philosophy (for want of a better word) of handling mistakes: undo it and redo it to get it right before you either knock off or go on. I eventually sized up to the fact that it usually went from bad to worse and decided, as you did, Mary, that in the event of a misstep (misstitch?) it’s time to stop and do something else.

  51. To be very honest…I start over. Whether it’s cross stitch or my new interest, embroidery, if I’m not happy with it I pull it out and start all over. I’m not really a perfectionist, but if it doesn’t look doable to me, I just can’t ignore the “Boo Boo”
    Robin F
    Ft Worth

  52. Mary,
    Walking away is bt far the best option I have found! It is amazing how it all falls into place on another day 🙂 Re your sheep’s eyes – placing them lower on the face and a bit further apart- and a bit smaller would help 🙂 Sheep have better lateral than forward vision. I do love its woolly coat!

  53. Totalmente de acuerdo. Yo suelo dejarlo a un lado y ponerme con otra labor. Siempre tengo dos o tres empezadas para estos casos y para poder trabajar en diferentes lugares, según el tiempo y el espacio que tenga.
    A veces, algo que nos desepera por imposible, de repente se resuelve sin darnos apenas cuenta, con sólo descansarlo.
    Un saludo.

  54. I have a cross stitch kit I started 23 years ago. Second biggest i think I’ve undertaken. It’s still waiting to be finished 22 years on. Why? Not sure where to start back into it once it went wrong. One day it’ll get done
    Looking forward to seeing the rabbit etc

  55. Hello Mary,
    I go for a chocolate snack!! It gives me a pause, feeds the brain and gives my eyes a new focus.
    When I get back to the problem, the solution is clear. Whatever I was trying to do is not going to work. Take it out and replace it or, start again. The other alternative is to hide the problem somewhere and then forget where that ‘somewhere’ is.
    A good question Mary,
    Ann B.

  56. Do you feel …. sheepish?? lol

    When I get frustrated and/or stuck, I agree – it is time to put the hoop and needle down and put it away.

    When I am stuck, rather, on a color or just the right stitch to use for something… I also put it down. I think about it, ruminate on it, look on this site for ideas, go through my books — and I will do that as long as it takes. Once I figure it out I just pick it up again and continue.

    Thanks for sharing, Mary!

  57. Mary…this is the first year that I have attempted two embroidery projects at the same time (in the past few years I have complete one project before starting a second one).

    I have found that if I “mess up” something on one project, I do walk way from it (often waiting until the next day) and then I pick up the second project. This keeps me away from the “mess up” so that somewhere in the back of my mind I can figure out what went wrong…while my fingers and mind are focusing on the second project. I am happy because I am still embroidering….and happy because I am away from the “mess up”! This is a benefit I did not realize was there for working on multiple projects! Eventually, I do go back to the first project…but that time away is not really away from embroidery…just away from the “mess up”!

  58. Both of your design ideas are soooo cute! I do know how frustrating it is do be involved not only in an embroidery project but in any other one too, i.e knitting for me and certainly agree that the best thing to do when we fumble is QUIT.

    1. Sorry, I hit the enter button before I finished. I do return to the erroneous project after a while.

  59. I am a novice embroiderer but I’ve been an off-loom beadweaver for years and I do the same. Whenever a project gets to the point that I’m getting frustrated, I set it aside. A few hours, or a day. Then I return with fresh eyes and nimble fingers and have another go.

  60. Hello All, I regularly take pictures of what I am working on right before I take a break. This allows two things… one, I can usually catch that something is going awry before it becomes a problem and second, when something does go awry, I can investigate to see if is is the current element or the addition of the current element that is causing the problem. The change in scale from the piece in front of me to the smartphone image helps me to balance and live with a short term case of the fuglies, as another person commented, that can appear while stitching. Switching my view, turning my needle, swapping threads are techniques I’ve used. What works depends on the problem…. Am I mentally tired, stressed, confused? then a short break or some type of change works…. If physical signs sweaty hands, cramping, slumped shoulders and aches have appeared, then it is off to walk, have some water and just stretch!!

  61. When my stitching is driving me crazy I curl up on my chaise lounge and go into a good book. Thankfully, this only happens once or twice a year. Usually my chaise is an expensive cat bed, so I have to kick off the three kids to use it.

  62. I finally found where I went wrong on a decoration. I couldn’t work out how I could have the same amount of stitches but the other stuff just DIDN’T line up. I sat down yesterday, looked at it again and there it was, so the unpicking started. I decided to do the border first and then fill in the other detail. Started on the border and now I’m one thread out! So undid that lot of stitching and went to bed. Today is a new day and this time I’m going to start the border with a much LARGER magnifying device. I’m determined to get this right.

  63. I began stitching Nora Corbett’s dragonflies, which require a lot of Kreinik braid and beading. The Green Dragonfly turned out beautifully, and I began the Silver Dragonfly – which didn’t turn out beautifully at all. I miscounted something, somewhere and the end result was a dragonfly with decidedly asymmetrical wings. If this piece had been done in silk or cotton floss there would not be a problem – I’d simply redo the offending side. But Kreinik is tricky to work with in that there is no flexibility, it wants to “pull” the linen more than you’d like for it to, even when you’re gentle with it. I think the fabric will be badly distorted when I remove the braid, and I don’t know if that can be fixed (or how). The fabric for these two pieces was purchased several years ago, and I doubt I’ll ever find a match for the linen used in the Green Dragonfly. So I have just put the piece away until I can figure out how to proceed. Lesson learned: when you have something like a butterfly, it might be good idea not to do one wing completely and then the other. That assumes every stitch one makes from one side to the other will be exactly the same, and that certainly was a fantasy in my case!

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