To Rip or Not to Rip: That is the Question!

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Few needleworkers have escaped the agony that presents itself when things don’t quite look the way you expected. I have yet to try any creative process that eliminates the un-doing part of the process. Like many things in life, we find a way to cope and there are many ways to do so. I can’t prescribe a method that will work for everyone. I can only share what works for me. Here are the steps I take.

Give it time. Before you decide to rip it out, step away for a bit. You may want to sleep on it or go for a walk or just go do something else but just give yourself some kind of break. There is probably some physiological explanation but the old adage is true: sometimes things DO look better in the morning.

Take a photo. In this day and age of digital photography, take advantage of the opportunity to grab an image. I am constantly amazed at how different my work looks in a photo … sometimes better and sometimes not. Taking a photo gives a different perspective and allows me to better analyze the problem and often leads to a solution. If nothing else, it gives you a “before” photo if you decide to rip.

Think “bandaid” when ripping is the best option. If you decide to rip it out, just DO IT. Quit agonizing and get it over with. If it’s going to be a long process, sit down to watch a good movie or binge watch one of your favorite shows. After all, ripping is a fairly mindless activity so give yourself something entertaining to do.

Here is a real life examples using one of my needlepoint projects. After stitching the “O” in continental stitch (one of the forms of tent stitch) I proceeded to fill in the area with Scotch stitch, a quick stitch and one that is easy to compensate. I also knew it would fill the  area well since it is 32 threads by 32 threads and the Scotch stitch covers a 4 x 4 space. I took a photo to share on Facebook and that is when I “saw” the problem. The O receded into the background and that is not where I wanted it to be.

The Scotch stitch is one of my favorites but this shot made it quite clear to me that it would over power the monogram. (BTW, the little black smears are errors made when I was marking the letter.)

So, I found the next episode of NCIS in my binge-watching queue and proceeded to rip while Gibbs and his team solved their next mystery. I knew that when the ripping was done that I would have my own mystery to solve: what stitch to use in place of the Scotch.

The mosaic stitch seems to be the better choice.

So this is where I am in the process. I’m liking the mosaic stitch well enough to continue but I think when I have stitched some of the area within the O that I’ll take another photo and see if I love it enough to finish. As painful as the ripping may be, it is a better choice than finding that you’re not proud of your work when you take that final stitch.

I no longer avoid ripping out. I embrace it as a necessary part of the creative process. I don’t even agonize over the time I spend doing it: it is no longer “wasted” time. Instead, I consider that any amount of time I spend stitching to avoid ripping to be the waste of time. If you have ever traveled with someone who continues driving down the wrong road because they refuse to turn around and go back, you’ll understand what I mean.

Stitch. Enjoy. Love.


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Floss Organization: Part One

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The most common ways to organize floss are with bobbins, baggies, and bows. None of them really work for me so I have been searching for an alternative for some time. I even started working on creating my own system and then I came upon a ready-made version of what I had been fiddling with and said to myself, “Eureka! I’ll have more time to stitch if I don’t have to make my own thing-a-ma-jigs!” (Not having yet come up with a better name.)

I discovered Thread Drops!

40 thread drops + a binder ring in each package.

40 thread drops + a binder ring in each package.

Here’s what I love about Thread Drops:

I don’t get annoying bends in my floss like I would get from using a bobbin. Yes, I dampen my floss to get rid of the creases but it’s nice not to have them at all.

I can pull one strand at a time from the Thread Drop so I don’t have to wonder what to do with the other five, four, three, or two strands left when I cut a six-strand length from bobbin, baggie, or bow.

I can put the colors for one project on a single ring.

Getting the floss onto the Thread Drop takes a lot less time than bobbin-winding. (My system for that is in Part Two.)

My strands are pre-cut which means that I am not tempted to stitch with overly long lengths and when I am traveling, I can do quite a bit of stitching without absolutely needing scissors … a plus when traveling by air.

It looks pretty and elegant.


I love looking at the color scheme for a project on a single ring.


I can store all my colors on rings and put the rings on a hanger and put the hanger in a closet. This keeps them away from the sun. It also means I don’t have to buy a box or anything else for storage and that gives me more money for fabric, fibers, and other good stuff.

I’m just getting started so I don’t have photos to share but I can tell you that my plan is to buy extra binder rings and organize my DMC floss by number. The 200’s on one ring, the 300’s on another, etc. I’m thinking that I will organize my over-dyed floss by color. We’ll see.

No system is perfect. There are drawbacks to the Thread Drop system. If you have a substantial investment of time and money in another system, it’s hard to switch. I haven’t used bobbins in years and years and got rid of mine some time ago so I was open to a new way of doing things.

The tail ends of the floss can get sort of beat up. So far, it hasn’t bothered me. I haven’t found that I have trouble threading my needle, for example.

You do need to take some extra care to keep the strands from getting tangled but it hasn’t taken a lot of effort. I roll up my work anyway, so I just lay my floss on my stitchery and roll it up when I have to put it away.

I can see that if you have a cat that this system could be a challenge … for you, not the cat. All those dangling threads would look like a new toy.

I think that to be fair, I need to write about the other systems with pro’s and con’s but that will have to be for another day.

I decided to add Thread Drops to my Etsy shop since I had a hard time finding them. If you know me well you know that I am selling them just because I love them and want to make them available to others. As always, check with your LNS (local needlework shop) first. Shop owners listen to their customers so speak up!

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Now go take just one more stitch!







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