As part of my blogging strategy, I have become more active on Instagram. I don’t post very much (should probably do more) but I’ve found it more interesting than I expected and I appreciate how it’s different from Facebook, even though they’re tightly linked.
I’m not sure it’s provided much in terms of attracting more people to my blog (my blogging strategy), but it has provided me with unexpected inspiration and a whole new set of “friends” that share my stitching passion.
If you do follow me on Instagram (lra4085) you’ve probably seen that I have joined a stitching challenge for 2019 called #stitch9challenge. Let me tell you more about that.
What is the #stitch9challenge?
I’ve only recently discovered the hashtags stitchers use so I didn’t see anything about this when it first came out. But I kept seeing people posting their plans using this hashtag and wondered what it was. And how did Instagram know I cared about stitching anyway? Spooky.
I dug a little deeper and learned it was a challenge suggested by farmgirlstitcher. Like most of us that do needlework, she had several WIP (work in progress) projects and decided to challenge everyone to commit to completing nine of those in 2019.
Let me take a little detour and provide you with some of my cross stitching background.
My cross stitching history
I can’t remember exactly when or why I started to do cross stitch. Prior to that, I’d done some embroidery and stamped cross stitch and I remember being fascinated with the counted cross stitch designs and technique.
I’m pretty sure I started in the mid 1980s. (This is also when I learned how to knit. Thanks to Karen and Carol.❤ ) I was in my late 20s/early 30s and it provided me with an enjoyable way to express my creativity. I loved doing it while I watched TV (still do).
I don’t remember anyone teaching it to me or even having friends that were big into it. In those days we didn’t have Google or YouTube, so I learned on my own. I started out with kits because they provided all the supplies – cloth, thread, and even needles. I realized how much fun it was and that I could create some beautiful finished products.
Below left: not a kit, made for my kitchen in 1998
Below right: a kit, made for my craft room in 2002.
Both are currently hanging in my office/sewing room now.
Access to experts and supplies
For several years, Des Moines hosted a Cross Stitch Festival, which I couldn’t wait for each year. I never took any of the classes they offered; I was working and didn’t have much time. Plus, I’m an introvert and didn’t want to display my inexperience. Looking back, I guess that’s what classes are for, right??
I did attend the merchandise mart, where shops from all over the country would display products for sale. I was introduced to new designers, different types of fabric, threads other than DMC, and even frames. It was heaven for me!!
I had local stores where I could find what I needed and could browse for ideas. I stocked up on the patterns I loved and even purchased the cloth I’d need to finish the project. I had favorite designers and couldn’t wait to see their new designs. I accumulated more than I could work on!!
Sadly, the Cross Stitch Festival stopped coming to Des Moines. I never knew why. And over time, all the local shops closed as well. It’s become more challenging to find what I need and I now rely heavily on the internet for my supplies, still visiting some of the shops I saw at the merchandise mart. I miss the days when I could spend a Saturday afternoon just browsing and learning.
Back to the challenge
I was intrigued by the challenge and after days of thinking about it, I decided I wanted to participate. But I didn’t have any WIPs!! I had literally just finished something I started last May. It’s hard to see the detail in this picture because the finished product is about 39 inches long.
I wanted to participate anyway, so I submitted nine projects that are new starts. That might be even more of a challenge, right? Most of the projects I chose were patterns I’d purchased years ago. Some are brand new. Now I browse on the internet instead of heading to my local store.
My cross stitch challenge
By the time I joined the challenge, January was well underway. For some of the projects I still needed thread and cloth. I thought one of the projects included everything but it didn’t include the thread. And of course, it required threads I didn’t have.
So, I ended up starting the project that will likely take the longest to complete. And I’m not one to work on multiple projects at once, which I guess is why I didn’t have any WIPs.
I first had to sort all the thread which is a big challenge because the color differentiation is so slight, it makes it difficult to identify which is which. Even when I pulled out my DMC thread sample sheet, I still had trouble identifying each exact color. (It’s so much easier when the pattern tells you how many strands of each color there are.)
I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me how long a project has taken me, especially the more intricate ones. So I decided, for the challenge, I’d keep track of the hours I spend on each project. I started this project on January 13 and have logged 11 hours of stitching time.
I mostly stitch at night while we watch TV. But I also get a lot done in the fall when I watch football games. We’ll be watching a couple of games on Sunday, so I should get quite a bit done!! If you’re interested, follow my progress on Instagram, where I’ll post pictures more frequently.
Even though this one won’t get done overnight, I do think it will go faster than the Sticks one I completed last fall. It turned out so great and the Sticks custom frame really makes it a work of art. See my Project Gallery page for more of my completed projects.
On with the challenge!!
I’m excited to have something to motivate me to get these projects done. And if I don’t, it doesn’t matter since I’m only competing against myself.
If you remember, I also have a reading challenge this year. Hopefully, the two won’t conflict with each other. ✂📚
If you want to talk WIPs, check my knitting stash. I need a knitting challenge too!! Well, maybe in 2020. ⏳📅