#44 All aboard

I’ve never been one for the parking technique.

The idea of having lots of different threads and cottons lying loose at the front of my aida, while convenient, to me, isn’t very practical. Perhaps it’s my OCD tendencies that require me to have complete order with my sewing, or maybe it’s just the fact I came across the idea too late to get my head around it!

I have, however, over the recent months been contemplating how I seem to be quite a slow stitcher and, when you’re on a tight deadline, this is far from ideal.

I’m not sure if anybody else uses more of a ‘blocking’ technique, but I’ve come to use this of late and it seems to be making me stitch faster and neater than I think I’ve ever done before.

It’s simple:

Choose a colour close to the central point that seems to cover a large surface area of the pattern and work out in sections.

Keep doing so, working out towards the edges of the pattern, selecting colours and shapes that will help you to pick out the design of the piece, while ticking off a decent number of stitches.

When you can make out the pattern and you have done as much outlining and blocking, as I like to call it, then start to work back in towards the centre to fill in the shading.

The only thing I will say about this technique is that you MUST be careful with your counting. One mistake on the inside of your pattern could dictate the rest of the design, which means either a lot of reworking or a lot of unpicking, depending how strict a stitcher you are on yourself.

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I started this Christmas train tree decoration last night and have perhaps spent about 2-3hours on it thus far. It’s on a plastic piece of aida, which I’m using for the very first time, too, but still the results seem to be heading in the right direction.

I’m not saying I’ll be setting any world records for the fastest stitcher any time soon, but the more cards I can make this Christmas, the bigger contribution I can make to charity.

J x

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10 thoughts on “#44 All aboard

  1. I really can see how this would make things faster as there would be a lot less counting on the filling in part. Have you ever tried gridding? I haven’t but I can see how that would help a lot with the counting too. The train looks great 🙂

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    • I’ve not tried gridding, no, but again I can see why lots of stitchers use this method.

      For me, it’s a little too rigid. I still like a bit of freedom when Xstitching that gridding wouldn’t allow for. This new method allows me to pick and choose what colours and sections I work on, while seeing the pattern emerge much quicker than ever.

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    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by!

      Not dumb at all – I guess you could turn something like this into an applique project. Instead of cross stitching onto a plastic aida board as I’ve done here, I’d advise sticking to a simple canvas.

      Similar to this, leave sufficient material around the design to act as a border and apply to a garment using a classic running stitch. Depending on how prevalent you want the applied sewing to be, choose a colour that matches the canvas, or go for a bolder colour if you wish to make it stand out.

      I always think a design like this would look fab on a pair of dungarees!

      If you have any other Qs or ponderings, just shout! 🙂

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  2. I just learned the parking technique too and am trying it now with my Scarlet Quince piece. I use to do the “blocking” technique, but like you said, you must be careful with your counts…I kept losing count and spent too much time on it. Maybe gridding would help, but i haven’t tried it either.

    So I’m trying parking, but only one block at a time since there are so many colors in a 10×10 block. I’m still trying to make it work for me too, the stands are annoying, lol!

    You’re ornament is looking great Jenna! Do you like working with the clear Aida? What are the benefits?

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    • Hi Christine, thanks for your comment and compliment!

      I know what you mean about parking, which is the main reason I’ve never really tried it. I also think it would take a lot longer to finish a piece, but I could be wrong.

      Perhaps if ‘blocking’ doesn’t work for you, then just work freely in larger sections, but rather than spread out with your outlines, keep your next colour or section in contact with your last, that way it’s easier to keep your counting accurate.

      I have enjoyed working on clear aida, yes. The benefits will depend on the project you’re working on but for me and my decorations, I like the fact that they are seemingly floating without the white aida acting as a border. The plastic itself is a dream to work on as you only have the preset holes to work with, meaning no accidental mistakes or untidy stitching occurs. I have five more decorations to make up so I have a full set. I’m hoping to get finished before Christmas so they can be put on our tree, but I imagine I’ll run out of time as I’m still setting myself ambitious targets for my charity card making!

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  3. I did the “blocking” when I first started. Then I got interested in the parking technique. I get into the big stitches so that works well. I could see incorporating different techniques into parking to make it efficient. someone I watch, can’t remember who, does some blocking while they park. It’s interesting the different ways you can adjust the way you stitch to the project you’re doing. I think if I did a smaller project I would block.

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  4. I think I’m very much the same! ‘Parking’ just seems a little too chaotic for me. I like my threads all organised in a project tin. I haven’t really thought about it how I stitch before…, I guess I use the blocking technique or a variation of it. I always start in the middle & do as much of the same colour as possible & work out. I then move on to some ‘quick wins’ where completing it helps the design take shape!

    I don’t think cross stitch is ever about speed… It can’t be with all the detail we put in!! I always think you shouldn’t rush or pressure yourself with deadlines (as much as we all do)… Otherwise there’s a risk of taking the fun out of stitching 🙂

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    • Completely agree that rushing is not a good idea when it comes to a precision-led hobby, like cross stitching. Finishing a project a little quicker so you can begin the next one, however, is a great thing! You can never have too many completions under your belt! 🙂

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