Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cross Country and Parking

No, this post has nothing to do with a road trip.  Darn it!

"Cross Country" and "Parking" are fairly new terms in cross stitching.  I first encountered both these phrases after 2010.

Cross Country

While I personally hate the term "cross country", it is how I stitch.  When I learned to stitch though, all the kit and pattern directions indicated this was how to do it.  There wasn't another published option.

Basically, you take a length of floss in however many strands you need, and stitch until you run out of thread or stitches in that color - whichever comes first.   If you have more stitches to do in that color, you can stick with it and grab another length of floss or you can switch to another color entirely.

Unless I have a pattern with a ton of a single color, I tend to switch colors after one length of floss.  If there is a lot of a color, I may stitch 2 or more lengths before switching to a lesser used color.  For instance, my La Belle Dame Sans Merci uses a lot of black (DMC 310) and I'm stitching it with one strand of floss.  When I'm on a page that is primarily black, I'll cut a length of floss anywhere from 18" - 24".  I'll then separate all the strands and thread 6 needles with black.  I'll stitch at least 2-3 of the prethreaded needles before stitching one of the other colors.  Sometimes, I stitch all 6 before switching - it depends on how much black there is on the page.

I don't have a photo of a page in progress for La Belle Dame but I do have progress pictures of my Mystic Garden:

You can see how I swapped between colors and how the stitches are all over the fabric.  Here's another photo with a few more colors added in:

This is always my preferred method for stitching.  It just seems to suit my brain the best.


I really thought I'd like this method...I was wrong.  In a way, it's so orderly and I thought I'd really like that.  The down side is that it's not as tidy as I'd like.  I wish that meant I was a neat freak, but my house would definitely convince you otherwise!

I'm not going to describe this well enough for this to be a tutorial.  For those, check out Youtube - there's a bunch of videos available for "cross stitch parking".

Basically, you work in small sections.  It can be a 10x10 block, a single row, a single column, etc.  When I've done it, I've concentrated on 10x10 blocks.  I started with the color in the upper left corner and stitched all of the appropriate symbols in the 10x10 block.  Then I "parked" the floss at the nearest point outside my block where it was next used.  Since my bottom stitches face this way:  /  I brought my needle up at the lower left corner where the next stitch in this color would be.

Then I found the next color in my block and stitched all of it in the 10x10 and again "parked" it in the next place.  My problem was all of the parked threads.  Even though I knew they were all where they needed to be for their next stitch, I hated the look of all those threads on the front!  Oh, I did have some slight issues with them getting tangled together too.

On the HAED FB page, there was a recent, voluntary challenge (Jan 15 - Mar 15, 2016) where we were supposed to stitch in diagonal blocks of 10 for a total of 1000 stitches.  I thought I'd give parking another try.  Here's my result:

As you can see, I did the 1000 stitches.  Unfortunately, there were all these threads just waiting to be finished off.  It turns out, I had a couple of duplicate threads in there too.  Oh, well.  Thankfully, this is all tidied up now.  I'm close to a page finish on this so there will be a neater progress photo in the near future.

I do have to say that most projects that I've seen from people who park on a regular basis are a lot more organized than mine!  Becky Bland was kind enough to give me permission to use her photo showing how she parks.  She obviously does it better than I do!

Happy Stitching!



Sasha said...

I tried parking, and I didn't like it, either! I kept wanting to keep stitching with those threads, and it would drive me nuts to just leave them there. I had to give it up, too!

Leonore Winterer said...

It's comforting to know that a non-parker like you can still make such good progress on all those big projects, some people out there kind of lead you to believe that parking is the way faster and 'better' method to use, but it just doesn't work for me for several reasons.
I'm actually trying to adjust my stitching style to the pattern at hand - for the typical 'BAPs' with lots of similiar colours all over again, I usually do a bit of a mix of parking and cross country - focus on one column, pick the left-uppermost colour, finish all the stitches in that column, pick the next one. I do finish the threads off afterwards since I hate dealing with all the lose threads as well...

Heather said...

I'm not a gang parking either. I tried it once and never again. I felt like they made things bulky and took longer.