This one comes from a couple of the Facebook groups that I'm on.
Tips for stitching a HAED?
Well, since I've completed 3 smaller, 1 SAL, 1 large one, and have 5 in progress, I'd say I'm at least a little qualified to answer this.
Some things to know.
Some of the pattern names seem to use a "secret code". Here are the common abbreviations and terms:
- MC - Max Color. The chart has been modified to use as many colors as possible. Usually around 240 colors.
- Mini. This is a smaller version, in overall stitches, of a design.
- PTP - Petit Point. Originally charted specifically for 40ct. fabric. They can be stitched on any count though.
- QS - Quick Stitch. A Quick Stitch is a small section that has been "cropped" from a design.
- SK - Story Keep. Proportioned like a bookmark. I've seen them made into bookmarks or framed.
- SS - Super Sized. Charts that are maxed out in size. The larger dimension will top out at 999 stitches.
- TT - Tiny Treasures. Smaller designs.
They only use full cross stitches. There are no ¼ stitches, specialty stitches or backstitches. Apart from the infrequent use of Kreinik 032 #4 Braid (which I always switch to blending filament), only DMC threads are used (well, there are a couple of patterns that call for Anchor brand).
Don't let the size overwhelm you.
While most people think of HAEDs as massive, not all of them are. The four finishes that I have were: QS Hummingbird at 187w x 163h (only one color!), QS Dragonflies at 185 x 255 (again, one color) and Twilight Repose at 125w x 317h, and La Belle Dame Sans Merci at 575 x 389.
Now some of their other patterns are HUGE, I will admit. The largest one that I own is SS Farewell to Anger MC at 999w x 660h. No, I haven't started it yet. ;-)
Don't over think it.
If you concentrate on how many stitches you'll have to do to finish, you'll give yourself a headache. If you think about how many pages you'll have to wade through...again, headache. I focus on stitching one page at a time. My reward for finishing a page? Another page on a different project, hence, my rotation.
Before you start.
Figure out what makes you most comfortable. Do you usually use a hoop, q-snaps or a scroll frame? Do you usually stitch in-hand? Stick with what works for you.
Figure out what stitch count you want to use. The "default" is 25ct. I am doing 2 on 25ct. and I just don't care for that count. I prefer 28ct. If your eyes aren't up to the smaller counts, switch to what you can see comfortably. I've seen WIP photos of HAEDs from 6ct. (huge!) to 40ct. (one of mine). You will have to keep in mind that the smaller the stitch count, the bigger the finished size. You will also need more floss than the pattern recommends if you use a count smaller than 25ct.
The Patterns - Printed vs. Download
Are you going to purchase a printed (hard copy that gets shipped) or a .pdf (which you download yourself)?
Determine whether you'll need a regular or large print pattern. If you have issues stitching on 25ct. or higher, I'd recommend the large print. It's not a huge difference in size, but it will be easier to see especially if there are any similar symbols. The other benefit to a large print pattern comes if you highlight the chart as you stitch - the boxes are bigger and accommodate the highlighter better. ;-)
Cons to printed patterns:
The hard copy patterns take longer to receive because the postal service is involved. They are also more expensive because HAED has to cover their cost for the printing.
Pros to printed patterns:
You don't have to worry about computer issues with downloading, saving and backing up, or the cost of printing them yourself. The paper is also much better quality than even a print shop would use!
If you are going to download your pattern, you will only need the large print version if you are going to physically print the pattern and need the bigger symbols. So many people are using their tablets to stitch from which means a regular print pattern will be fine because the tablet should let you zoom in.
Cons to downloaded patterns:
You do have to have some understanding of computers. You may have to pay to print the patterns yourself (for paper users). If you lose your files, you are out of luck. Backup in more than one place!!
Pros to downloaded patterns:
You can use a tablet to stitch from. The patterns are available nearly instantly. Until you print them (if you're going to), they take up no room. They are less expensive so you have money to buy more!
Personally, I have no experience with the material packs. I can tell you that I have heard others rave about how good they are. The only reason that I've never purchased one is due to my existing stash. I have every color of DMC, most with multiples, plus a large collection of fabric in my favorite counts. It just doesn't make sense for me to purchase a pack when I already have all the supplies. Besides, that means I can spend my money on more patterns!
If you do not have a large stash like mine, it might be the best option for you. If you don't have a LNS (local needlework shop), then it's probably going to be a good choice.
Getting Ready to Stitch
Get all your floss together taking into account what the pattern recommends and allowing for any changes you have made in your fabric count. Make sure to check your dye lots! Yes, floss does vary from dye lot to dye lot. Most of the time, you'd never notice. But if you're going to put in so many hours on a project, you don't want a wonky dye lot messing things up. If you are stitching on a small count fabric, say 14ct., and the pattern calls for multiple skeins of black, for instance, you might want to invest in a cone of that color. Yes, DMC comes in cones! The easiest place to purchase them, in the US, is 123stitch. Joann's also carries them online but they don't list the color number so good luck with that.
How I stitch.
I use scroll frames. I'm addicted to my scroll frames and floor stand...seriously! Mine are from Artisan Design. I have each of my WIPs on its own frame. That makes them easier to store and makes it very quick to switch from one project to the next.
My master stash of floss is stored on bobbins. I pull all the colors needed for a project and put them in numerical order on rings. Each project has its own complete set of floss. Most of mine use 310 (black) and every one of my projects has its own bobbin so that I don't have to grab it from another project.
Here's my PTP Floral Arrangement waiting for its turn in my rotation. You can see how I have the bobbins on rings. The photo is actually sideways and I was too lazy to change it. Tilt your head to the right to see how it should be.
I purchase the patterns as digital downloads - PDF's. I print one page at a time. When I start a new project, I only print the cover page, floss key and first page of the pattern. I put the cover page in a page protector; the floss key, I cut down, laminate, and 3-hole punch; the first page gets trimmed around the edges and usually pinned to the fabric. Once I finish a page, I print out the next page and then store everything together in a 3-ring binder. Then I move on to the next project in my rotation. Here's God Speed waiting for its turn:
I start in the upper left hand corner regardless of which page I'm on. Check out my post on Finding Your Starting Point. I pick a symbol, cut a length of that floss and stitch until that length is finished. I then pick another symbol in the upper left area and repeat. If I'm working on a page with a lot of the same color, I will cut a length of that color, separate the strands, and thread all 6 strands onto needles.
I've seen a lot of people who use the parking method. I have tried this and can do it just fine. I just can't stand the messy appearance of all those threads on the front of my work. If it works for you, great! I use a highlighter to mark off the stitches that I've done. I'm sure that Staples loves me just from my highlighter purchases! I've discovered that my local dollar store (Dollar Tree - US) carries highlighters 3 for $1! Woo hoo!
Here you can see my WIP on my scroll frame, attached to the stand. The highlighted pattern is just sitting on my fabric. Yes, I have a daylight lamp (Ott) and I sit in a glider rocker. All my "gear" was gifts from my husband. I only had to pay for the fabric, patterns and floss. Yes, I am keeping him! In the background, you can see my WIPs that are awaiting their turns. This photo is old enough that at least one of those has been completed!
I hope this post helps overcome any trepidation you might have in starting a HAED! If you have any questions, just post them in the comments. I will answer them if I'm able!