Embracing Being Non-Monogamous

When I first started cross-stitching, I was completely and totally a monogamous stitcher…meaning I only stitch one piece until I was finished.  Then I found floss tube (a part of Youtube for cross stitchers) and wow!  These people were not like me.  I was picking a project.  I was sitting down.  I was stitching only that project from start to finish.  I didn’t have a stash of cross-stitch stuff…maybe a pattern or two.  I didn’t have extra linen.  I was all in on one project.  That’s what I thought a person should do.

Seeing floss tube and then seeing people stitching on a couple of things over a month’s time, I thought wow!!  Who knew??  Who knew a person could do that?  I enjoyed watching them but quickly dismissed that way of stitching as not for me.  I wanted to get stuff done.  I wanted to see progress…none of that flitting around for me.

Then I slowly warmed up to stitching one small project and one large project at a time.  I really liked that.  I could accomplish something and not have to wait four months to see a finished project.

In June of last year, that all changed for me.  I decided to expand a little and stitch on a few more things.  I started Come to the Garden by Teresa Kogut.

What prompted me is that I had seen the stitch-along on Instagram.  The host divided the chart…into seven sections.  If participants stitched a section each month they would be done by the end of the year.  That sounded awesome to me.  I really didn’t plan on stitching as prescribed.  I planned to stitch a little more aggressively because, after all, I was still pretty monogamously stitching.  I had a project going but could see how I could start this too.  My plan was that I would only stitch on this the prescribed amount and then stitch on my other the rest of the month.  Then when I got my other piece done, I would make this piece my monogamous piece.

I finished my original piece and then decided it was time to get serious with this piece.  Well, this project went south in a hurry.  I was plagued by errors.  I got so frustrated.  Yet each night I would sit down and I would fight the project.  At times I would just do other things rather than stitch because I didn’t what to fight this project.  Finally, I just set it aside.

A few months later I picked it back up again.  I knew I needed some momentum so I challenged myself to get the borders done.  I tried to complete one side each week.  That was doable and I had some extra time.  I quickly learned I liked little goals.  I learned it was good for me to have the goal, complete the goal, and then set the project aside.  I felt so accomplished…even though I wasn’t constantly stitching on the same project.  It became less of a chore to stitch on this.

I know some people would likely toss this aside but not me.  I really do love the look of the design, I’m just entirely frustrated with the designer…and myself when I stitch it.  Having smaller sections with little goals is helping me work through that.

On the days I wasn’t stitching on this, I picked up a small project.  I picked another larger project.

Now I find I am not monogamous at all and I love that I’m not.  I am enjoying my stitching so much more.

I currently have several projects going on.  I don’t have a lot of WIPs (works in progress) but I do have a lot of projects I am currently working on.  For cross-stitchers there are really two categories of WIPs…ones you are currently working on and have recently worked on…and ones you have left and haven’t stitched on for a few months.

I started my Apostle’s Creed project…

I counted out and have a goal to get a minimum of one row of letters to complete each week.  This is awesome.  I don’t get bored stitching so many letters as I’m not stitching letters all of the time.  I’m only stitching one row a week (Most weeks I do two but the goal is only to stitch one).  It’s a great project for nights when I don’t have a lot of time to stitch.  I just have stitch one row and can be done for the night if I want.

Typically when I have a small project.  I pick one night a week to stitch on it.  I might stitch on it if I have grandkids here who need to sit by them so they can take a nap.  When I get close to done I might stitch on it two nights.  Slowly little projects are getting stitched.

When I worked on my Red Bird Sampler I told myself I only needed to stitch one section each month and I broke it into three sections.

The birds were the top row.  The flowers in the middle were another row and the bottom was the last row.  I only had to stitch one section each month.  It made stitching the project so easy and not taxing at all.

When I was stitching my We Live in Hope by Blackbird Designs piece, I made goals for each week.  Maybe to stitch two rows of the upper section…maybe to finish the boat and the words “we live in hope”.  These little goals have made things really fun for me.  They are little challenges and little accomplishments all inside one piece.

I feel so much more accomplished than drudging along with a piece that I am tired of stitching on because it’s the only thing I’ve stitched in the last two months going on and on and on.

I remember stitching Newcastle Bouquet.  I stitched pretty much only on that for four months.  Every night it was…more leaves…more border flowers…finish the bird.  There weren’t the little triumphs of accomplishments that I’ve learned to love.  I might not have stitched it as quickly if I stitched it non-monogamously but I think I might have enjoyed it a little more.

Another project that has reinforced my love of having weekly or even daily goals, was my Floral Motif Sampler.  That’s the one I stitched one flower every day while I was going through cancer treatments.  It marked off the days and gave me something to look forward to every day.

I love having big projects and small projects.  I love not being committed to only one project.  I love looking at the clock and seeing how much time I have to stitch each night.  If it’s 8 pm when I sit down to stitch, I pick a project I can do a lot of work on.  If it’s 9:30 pm I pick a small project so it seems like I made a lot of progress even though I had a short bit of time to stitch.  I don’t really plan what I’m stitching that night until I sit down to stitch unless it’s a special day like the first weekend of the month when I stitch a Blackbird Design project or the 25th of the month and I stitch something Winter or Christmas.

I’ve actually been thinking I might start doing a patriotic or 4th of July project on the 4th…just something small as I have zero patriotic small pieces stitched.  It’s surprising how much can add up over the course of a few days of stitching.

It’s been a big change for me going from being a monogamous stitcher to a nonmonogamous stitcher but I really really love that I have.  I’m not ready to have a huge pile of projects that are started that I’m not stitching on but I’m happy to have five different projects that I’m stitching on over the course of a month.  I love having options!!

21 thoughts on “Embracing Being Non-Monogamous”

  1. Love this post reminding us to break projects down into manageable bits and that even small progress adds up over days. Love your blog.

  2. Thanks for explaining your approaches to stitching. Think I’m (slowly) following in your footsteps! I’m on my 2nd linen project but started watching floss tubes so, of course, now buying linens and charts! Just got Bloom by Brenda gervais and really want to start it as a break from my 2nd. So, if Jo can, I can too! Thanks!

  3. I have 4-5 projects going on at same time. Partly because I see something new and want to work on it now instead of finishing what I’m working on. Since I’ve only been stitching a year my charts have been either pillows or ornaments. When done I do the finishing. My question to you: do you leave or remove the hoop when the project is in ‘rest mode’?

    1. I’m lazy and typically leave it in the hoop unless I know I am done with it for the week. Everything comes out of the hoop on Thursday so I can write my cross stitch blog post.

  4. I have a few questions for you about linen. When you purchase linen do you buy only what is needed for a project or do you buy a larger piece? If you buy a larger piece do you stitch on the large piece and then cut the linen the correct size or do you cut what you need before stitching?

    1. I usually cut the fabric to the size needed. I don’t like having the extra fabric in my way. When I have too much fabric, I have stuck the needle through the extra fabric! lol

    2. Hi Marie…You can buy linen both ways. Lately I’ve gone to buying fat quarters of linen. I stitch my piece and then but it down. I like stitching little things too so I use the scraps for smaller projects. I really don’t find I waste much.

  5. I typically have more than one project going on in both cross-stitch or quilting. I find that I can become bored with a large project and need something with quick results to buoy my interest. Yesterday my stitching group came to my house – we had some cross-stitching going on and some binding (and lots of food and chatter too!). I pulled out a few of my finished cross-stitched pieces for show-and-tell – we all got a chuckle out of the large piece that had the years “1989 – 2004” stitched after my initials at the bottom… :)

  6. Thanks for explaining your WIP method. I usually plug away on one project. Right now it’s Heaven and Nature. Although, I did start an Easter one while on vacation. I didn’t want to work on a project that required alot of counting. Counting stitches while in flight doesn’t work so well especially if it’s a bumpy one.

  7. First I have to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. You have so many wonderful and inspiring words and ideas. I have recently picked up my cross stitch and enjoy my time when I get to stitch. I have found that I can get more accomplished if I’m having a issue with a pattern. It’s best that I more to something new or smaller so at least I was making some headway. I do enjoyed your posting on repurposing 2nd hand frames with much success. Can I make a request that you can walk us through with a video, which you had mentioned that you would revisit. Your projects are lovely and your work is so beautiful. So inspirational! Pamela A/PA

  8. You have inspired me to give non-monogamous stitching a try with this blog post, Jo. I am going to begin my Black Dog Sampler tomorrow and when the new SAL kit arrives I’ll get that kitted up and start on it, too. Btw the latter shipped to me today!

  9. I guess my nature is to have a lot of things in progress at the same time, since I bore easily, but that seems to work better for me with quilting than with anything else. I can have one quilt that needs hand work, another that needs cutting, another that needs pinning, etc. But if I set a cross-stitch piece aside, after a few days I forget where I was (and hate the restarting process), so I end up letting it sit unfinished forever. So I’m better off just working on one cross-stitch piece at a time.

  10. Your stitching inspires me to go back and pick up WIP from many years ago !!!…like the six Christmas stockings for our family (which now is 21!!!!) and only one stocking is finished!!!!! This might b a good approach to the UFO’s in my sewing room

  11. Thanks Jo! That makes a lot of sense. Up to now I’ve only stitched one piece at a time and you’re right. I can get bored. I do set little goals, but I think if I had a couple of pieces to bounce back and forth between, I could keep my momentum going. I never thought of that! Thanks for this post!

  12. Lovely work, Jo. I used to be a monogamous stitcher until I discovered Flosstube!! I do little challenges such as a mini mania around Christmas doing four ornaments. Generally, I work on each of my WIPS for three days each in rotation. I think I now have about 15, manageable. I find working this way enables me to slot in the smalls here and there! No pressure and there’s days when I don’t stitch because of other things I’m involved with. It’s more fun that way! Thanks for your post!

  13. Great thoughts on “how to eat an elephant”! Or, in this case, how to eat an elephant, a lion, tiger and giraffe!. Like you I used to be one-and-done, and still pretty much follow that, but after having participated in Stitch Maynia a couple of years ago, I found I looked forward to the various projects. Now are they all done? Well. Some are, some are WIPs, and one or two, never started. And that’s how stitchers roll – Barb in Tucson

  14. Like so many of us, I’m a quilter who is just getting back into cross stitch. So far I’ve been working on one project at a time because I was worried that I’d spend a lot of money on supplies and then find out it’s not for me. That hasn’t been the case – I’ve been loving it, but now I’m worried that if I set this project aside and start another, I’ll never come back to it. This was a problem for me in the past. I’ll just go with the flow for now, and if I find I’m not enjoying this project anymore, I’ll start another. Until then I’ll stick with this one. However, I just received my SAL kit that is really tempting me right now!

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