For the first half of my stitching life I pretty much always completed projects I started. No matter how badly I messed up, no matter how much I came to hate the project. I may have stopped working on them for awhile or I may not have turned them into stuff, but I resolutely kept stitching on them because I thought you had to finish what you began.
Then in the late 90’s I met Father B. You probably know him as the author of the various Father B’s Books of Stitches, but he was a regular in a chat room I ran at the time and we became friends. He offered lots of good advice about stitching.
The best thing he ever told me was to give me permission to quit working on a project.
He said you should have a goal with every project you do, even if it is just to try this new stitch. If it’s accomplished, then you have met your goal and you can stop stitching it if you want to. You can also stop stitching if you find yourself not liking the project.
I can bring three examples immediately to mind. The first was a workshop held by my ANG chapter featuring Hilton Stitches. These stitches and I do not get along well. I figured it was because I had tried to learn from books and that it would be different with a live teacher. It was, she taught well. I learned the stitches and I learned something else — I don’t like Hilton Stitches. Having accomplished my goal, I abandoned the project happily.
The other one you see pictured at the top of this article (you can get the project here). Orange is my least favorite color. This project was an attempt on my part to conquer my dislike of orange. I went to my LNS and bought an assortment of orange threads. The background is all Tent Stitches in squares using the various threads. I did not abandon the project because I ended up liking it. What did I learn? That I could like orange. It is not my favorite color but I know how to use it now and no longer avoid it.
The last is an idea I’ll com back to at some point. In the past I have done projects with metallic backgrounds an hated the way they overwhelmed the piece. This does not happen in Japanese screens (pictured above). They have the same combination of metallic background and flat focal point, but the background does not overwhelm. I started a project to accomplish this, but very early on I found I disliked the design and that it was not working. It’s been abandoned. I continue to think of how to accomplish this effect but will start on a smaller scale.
I try to put this advice into every piece I do. Because we needlepoint to relax, to relieve stress, to be creative, and to learn, we should be happy to give up a project that has accomplished its goals if we like.