New Year, New Start

In the cross-stitch world, so many people have a “new year-new start”.  It’s so funny for me originally being a quilter, the difference between cross-stitch and quilting.  With quilting, UFOs are more of a bad word.  People feel guilty about having so many unfinished projects…cross-stitch doesn’t seem to be that way.  Many cross-stitchers start new projects all the time!!

I hear people say:
birthday starts
Christmas starts
Thanksgiving starts
New Year starts…

… and to top it off, there is May-nia.  That’s the month of may when many start a new project every single day for the month of May.  Some tone it down a bit and will start a new project every other day…  still, it’s not at all what quilters do.

There is also Jolly July…that is when the month of July is dedicated to starting many new ornaments with the hope to get them done by Christmas.  Some people start a new ornament every single day.  Oh my.

You all know I am fighting hard to get my quilting UFOs under control…I’ve been blogging about my Dirty Dozen challenge ever since June and I had 32 projects that needed attention.  Oh my.  I’ve made a big advance on getting them done…but still not done…and likely won’t be for a bit.

Because of all of that, I’ve been pretty careful not to fall for the cross-stitch “new starts”.  I had planned on a birthday start…but ended up busy the night of my birthday and never started it and didn’t start in on a later date…so no start happened for my birthday.  It was supposed to be this…A Pleasant Sampler, by Hello from Liz Matthews.  One of the reasons I picked it was because I love the verse…


I’m hoping you can read the verse here.


I didn’t start it though.  It might have to carry over and be my birthday start next year.

I never did pick anything for a Christmas start.

I did pick a New Year’s start though…I picked this…the Anniversaries of the Heart series.  This…

I am stitching mine all in one piece.  It will look something like this.

Anniversaries of the Heart by Blackbird Designs

I bought myself the series as a Christmas present to myself.  The point of the project is to personalize it.  There are places throughout the sampler to put in personalization.

There are 12 blocks with 2 bonus blocks.  The bonus blocks are the alphabet in the top center and the last block that is bigger.

In each block are places to put dates and initials or words to commemorate people you love.  I’ve been following Pumpkin Hollow Quilts on Youtube as she has been working on her Anniversaries of the Heart project throughout the year.  She has two kids so each kid got a block then she did parents and grandparents and even great grandparents.

I thought that was a lovely idea…but then I realized I have 5 kids and soon to be nine grandkids.  I have my parents, Kramer’s parents, and Kramer and me.  If everyone had their own block, that would be too many people for the number of blocks…so, I’ve been thinking and thinking on this and how to do it all.  UGH.  It’s not easy…but that’s who I want in the blocks…so, I consulted with my kiddos and came up with a plan that might work.

I think I am going to assign a block to my kids.  The block below I think will work for Kayla’s family.  See at the bottom of the block where the initials “JJT” are?  I’ll put “Pins” in there as that’s Kayla’s last name.  I’ll likely skip the moth above the house and put Kayla and Spencer’s name there.  Then above the dog at the bottom, I’d put Jasper’s initials.  In the upper corner are numbers.  There I’d put the year they got married.


This one I thought might be for Kelli.  I’d put “Hanken” where it says “Hayden”.  I’d put the year they got married on the upper left where a number already is.  Then I’d take off the words and add their names there instead.

This would be a block for Kramer and me.  Where it says, “Happy Birthday Dear Friend”, I would put “Kramer Johnson” (my maiden name).  There are initials at the top left and right.  I’d put our initials there.  I’d put our wedding year near the bottom of the house.


I was happy with that idea.  I can see how some of the blocks will work splendidly.

Now the next problem.  If I assign each family a block I still run into problems.

Five blocks for five kids.
One block for me.
One block for my parents.
One block for Kramer’s parents.

That’s only eight blocks.  Hmm.

Then I have the whole problem with my kids probably aren’t done having kids so all of my grands won’t be listed.  I talked about that with our girls and have concluded that this will be a snippet in time sampler.  It will be dated 2021 in the last block so that will designate this is only current to 2021…

Wait…the other four blocks could be one for each of my sets of grandparents and one for each of Kramer’s sets of grandparents.  That would be four more…Hmm.  That might work.

I’m so excited to do the sampler.  I’d like to say I’ll have it done by this time next year but I don’t want to do that to myself.  I don’t want the pressure.  Instead, I’m giving myself a two-year goal.  One block every other month…if I do more, great…if I don’t that’s okay too.  I don’t want the project to become a chore.

But…I’m still having trouble with it all.  To start the new project, I have to set this aside…


This is the project I am currently working on called “Heaven & Nature” by Teresa Kogut.  I just love it.  It’s intended to be for Christmas but I’ll leave it out all the time as it doesn’t look too Christmasy to me.


I recently stitched the raccoon and the star flower vase.

I just don’t know what it is with quilting that I can have so many projects going and not be bothered but with cross-stitch, it about kills me to be starting on another project when this isn’t finished.

I think I’ll work on my new Anniversaries project and work to stitch one a month then after it’s stitched go back to this.  I love this too much to simply put it away.

So…I’m giving the New Year New Start a try.  I feel like being this is a month by month project, it’s most appropriate to start it in the new year…so here I go!!

We’ll see…other things are tempting me too.  It’s so hard, isn’t it?  There are so many hobbies calling to me!  I’m sure you all can relate!!  I am just so very happy that I picked up cross-stitch again.

34 thoughts on “New Year, New Start

  1. Judith Fairchild

    Love the idea of a family cross stitch sampler. Your feelings about cross stitch starts is because you’re doing the actual stitching/ creating rather than guiding material through a machine. Since I have started hand piecing my current quilt it gives me a lot more satisfaction to see it growing. Enjoy your treats.

    Reply
  2. Judy Vivian

    Jo, after looking at all the various blogs of quilters who also do cross stitch, I’ve decided to pick cross stitch up again. I’m struggling with working on linen, even though I have 2 large pieces that I did in my younger years that are on linen.
    Your pieces are beautiful, I’m starting small with ornaments, so hopefully I can get back in the swing of things. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Judy, It took me three tries at starting back to cross stitch again before it “took”. I suggest good lighting and some magnification…our eyes got older you know. I was SO SLOW at first. It took a while for me to get the hang of it again.

      Reply
    2. DebMac

      Judy, I’ve heard that there is a fabric and count for everyone. Linens, aida, evenweaves in many counts. Talk with a LNS (Local Needlework Shop) for suggestions. Remember, your LNS is a phone call or a email away. Good lighting, magnification, and an eye exam (if you’re due) are all good suggestions. Starting small is an excellent idea. Good luck.

      Reply
  3. Missy Reynolds

    I know what you mean! I even have old cross stitch UFOs from years past. Instead of picking a project every day for “Maynia,” I decided to focus on making a huge dent in my expected grandson’s stocking in hopes of finishing it by Christmas. Last year, I finally finished all my kids Christmas ornaments stitched over 25 years and laying in a box! Ugh…
    I, too, get overwhelmed with all my quilting UFOs! I’ve made a commitment to work diligently on them over the next year to clear out my sewing room. It’s a disaster!
    Wishing you many blessings and lots of completed projects to bring you joy this year!

    Reply
  4. Jill Klop

    To Judy – I was the same as you…I picked cross stitch back up this after not doing it for probably 25 years! I also started on 28 count linen. I joined a Facebook group and got good advice about using magnification. Helped me so much. I’ve also gone back to using Aida cloth. For the types of projects I do, I don’t see much difference in the fabric. I’m not doing the beautiful samplers that Jo is doing though. I can see where that would make a difference. I struggled with my first project, but I’m loving it right now…even a little more than quilting!

    Reply
  5. Becky

    How do you know where to start on linen or working over to? Top, middle and how to determine where? Love the over two look, but just don’t know how to start a piece..thanks Jo!

    Reply
    1. DebMac

      Becky, the “suggested” place to start is the upper left. That being said, I’ve stitched for almost 40 years and never started there. Middle, upper right, lower left, lower right; what is important is that it makes sense to your brain. As with quilting, there are no cross stitch police. I prefer lower left or lower center. Remember to count and measure several times. There are lots of tutorials out there for working with linen. Good luck.

      Reply
    2. Karla (threadbndr)

      I prefer to start in the upper left. I work on scroll rods and work ‘two handed’ – right hand above, left (dominate except for writing) beneath. Working left to right and top to bottom means that I am never resting my upper hand on finished stitches.

      Reply
  6. Hedy

    I loved doing cross stitch, I started as a child with preprinted linen. Later I progressed to counted cross stitch. My left eye is going blind from glaucoma and I gave it up. I still quilt constantly and the only UFO’s I have are my unquilted tops. I’m more of a finisher in life, I don’t generally start anything without getting it done. When I think of all these new starts, especially in May, it bothers me. How about sending that money used for new starts to your local food bank or your favorite charity? People are starving in our country now, we are in the midst of a serious pandemic. In all of 2020 I only bought one yard of fabric for a binding, the money I would have spent went to feeding the Navajos. Let’s help each other. Thank you Jo, for not following this trend of new starts.

    Reply
  7. Helen A

    That project with the different blocks with your family in it is beautiful. I love the plan you came up with I think it will come out really nice. Definitely an heirloom piece.

    I didn’t comment on the nut bread post but just wanted to say that was so touching. What a wonderful birthday gift. The timing of it was amazing. Sometimes things happen in such a way that it makes me wonder.

    I started cross stitching this year for the first time (or maybe late last year (can’t remember except it was before anyone heard of Covid) with a 3 part prairie schooler Christmas piece. I’m planning on purchasing a piece for Halloween that I really want to start but I can’t imagine having UFO’s. I like to have one project finished before I start a new one. I finished two of the three parts of the prairie schooler and have less than 1/4 done on the third. I’m very eager to finish it so I can start on the Halloween project. I’d like to get it done by Halloween this year so I can display it. I don’t think it’s going to happen though. I get about 30 minutes a day to stitch after my daughter is asleep at night. But I’d rather not finish it this year then have that Christmas piece be a UFO for some reason. The thought of UFO’s feels stressful.

    I understand what you mean about not enough time for crafting all the things. I received a sewing machine for Christmas. I hadn’t had one in a few years as mine broke and money was always needed else where. Now I want to get back in to sewing … but cross stitching. I get 30 minutes a day to craft as I said so I’ll have to figure out how to do both in that time. Not a bad problem to have though overall.

    Reply
  8. Carla

    I have a love/ hate relationship with ufos. I like to have different things going so I have options, but I have to be careful because I don’t like to be overwhelmed. I loved seeing the recipe card of your mom’s. I have a couple handwritten recipes and they are a treasure. I have my great grandmother’s recipe books and it’s so fun to see what they made back in the early 1900s.

    Reply
  9. Gayle Shumaker

    I love the idea for a family cross stitch sampler. Grrr…. you are giving me the urge to start cross stitching again. I haven’t done that since the early 90’s. Seriously I’m staying strong and have started quilting again since back surgery. I’m up to about 2 hours of sewing per day, pre-surgery it was 15 minutes. Therapy is ongoing. Thanks for sharing what you are working on it’s fun to see what’s going on with cross stitch now.

    Reply
  10. Kathy

    Hi Jo, here’s a suggestion. Start with the Kramer and grandparents blocks. Then onto the kids who probably are done having kids, saving the blocks that may be adding names until last. This will be a beautiful family tribute. I love it!

    Reply
  11. Terry

    I too am a cross stitch lurker….. I’ve never stitched on linen but love the look so much that I’m ready to take the plunge. Unfortunately, I don’t have a cross stitch shop near me so all purchases will need to be done on-line. But where to start. Don’t even know how to select linen count, etc. Have you considered doing a video for us cross stitch newbies? I’m sure there are others out there that might be interested. Also, BlackBird designs are one of my favorites. Terry in So. Calif.

    Reply
    1. DebMac

      Terry, lots and lots of tutorial on how to work on linen are out there. I would suggest starting with a 28 count since stitches will be the same size as 14 ct aida. Have fun.

      Reply
  12. RuthW in MD

    I so enjoy reading all the comments to your blogposts, Jo!! It would be nice if each comment had a little ‘reply’ button so someone could reply directly to that comment, the way Chickenscratchcountrythreads’ comments are set up. Perhaps Kayla could do the same for your blog, Jo.

    Reply
  13. Joanne

    What a wonderful idea your anniversaries project is going to be. I can’t wait to see the progress. You have such a clear vision of where you are going that I really admire. You are almost making me want to pick up cross stitching again but I haven’t touched it in years since I really can’t see it that well anymore. I bought a daylight floor lamp for my sewing room that is awesome. Maybe I should try cross stitching using that. I have a sampler that is so close to being done (for more than 10 years…) that it would be a shame not to finish. And I can’t stand just sitting in a chair with nothing to do. However, I do have quilts to finish so I guess I’ll have to make a choice. There are only so many hours in a day. However, I will enjoy watching your progress and who knows? Maybe I’ll give it a try…

    Reply
  14. Elle

    Jo, I’m like you. I don’t mind having multiple quilts underway or having those UFOs, but I am a 1- at- a- time cross-stitcher!

    Love your idea of combining the 12 into a single large framed piece.

    Idea for future grands: My SIL did a family tree for my folks decades ago. When additional grands came along, she did small ones for each of them. they were maybe 5″ around, framed, name/dates. Mom put those around the big one as they arrived.

    Reply
  15. The Joyful Quilter

    I only have two hobbies. I gave up cross stich to start quilting, as I could never stay on count, anyway! I added knitting when I couldn’t quilt for a while after my Dad passed away, as he was the one who gave me the machine I was quilting on. At this point, I’m mainly a social knitter – so mostly NOT knitting this year and last. Quilting is my obsession, passion, and one true (crafty) love! Best of luck with your balancing act, Jo.

    Reply
  16. Candy

    Just a thought … if you plan on this being a 2-year project, the date could be 2023. Then maybe all the grandkids could be included (or not … LOL!). Have fun with it!

    Reply
  17. Carol Berge

    I am So happy to see your blog again, I haven’t seen it in ages. Hope it will keep popping up, I love your blog!!♥️♥️♥️

    Reply
  18. Virginia Grenier

    The difference in the attitudes towards cross stitch and quilting could be due to the size. Not everyone has the space to store that many starts when it comes to quilts (especially bed quilts) but it is a bit easier to store smaller cross stitch projects. Just a thought.

    Reply
  19. DebMac

    I’ve cross stitched for almost 40 years and quilted for almost 20. I have severe myopia and started quilting when I had to wait several years to get bifocals. I do most of my finishing for cross stitch and have done most of the quilting for the quilts I’ve finished. I have a pile of needing to be final finished of about equal numbers between cross stitch and quilting. I love to piece but not big on the quilting aspect. I chose to commit to cross stitching more rather than buy the long arm quilting machine 2 years ago. Reason? I could do a lot of cross stitch in the time it would take me to learn how to long arm. I think a major reason people start more cross stitch projects is because of cost. While you can sink a mint of money into a cross stitch piece (beads, mats, special fibers, professional framing), a lot of it can be done for a lot less money. X stitch is smaller and more portable. You don’t need a sewing machine and less storage is needed. You can chat while X stitching while machine work makes it a little more difficult. And (hopefully) you finish more pieces. I tend to have 3 or 4 stitching projects at a time while I never have more than 1 quilt going. Christmas ornaments, wedding, and a couple for me. I’m not into the whole multiple start thing and just thinking about it gives me the hebbie jebbies.

    Reply
  20. Sandra

    Hi, here in Uk we’re just starting lockdown 3. It’s got to be done to help our NHS and keep staff safe.
    I’ve ordered a cross stitch kit to keep me occupied.
    It’s of Henry VIII and his wives. I do love a bit of history!

    Reply
  21. Karla (threadbndr)

    I love Black Bird Designs. They have some lovely pieces and I really like the plan for your family project.

    I get SO stressed out by the flosstube folks that have hundreds of WiPs! My cross stitch rotation is four projects – a mix of historic reproductions (or historic looking like BBD), modern pieces from designers like Just Nan, pictorials, and not counted thread (needlepoint, surface embroidery, crewel). Plus a quilt that I’m piecing and one I’m quilting and a couple of knitting/crochet projects. More than about ten projects in all types and I break out in hives (not literally, but I AM stressed).

    Everyone has their ‘WiP comfort level’, and while I’ve never been totally into project monogamy, I do try to keep it somewhat under control.

    Reply

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