I got a great question from a reader recently, “How do you stitch and watch television? I know this sounds dumb, but I think there must be a technique to it. I find I get lost on my canvas or lost in the show, though I know a lot of people do both at once and I know you’ve mentioned stitching while watching.”
The Raymond Crawford project pictured here is one of my current TV projects. I’ll be able to do everything except the trees while watching. My plan for stitching the trees is too complex to do while watching. The silhouetted magi are dark and were done before it became a TV project. It’s a good example of a project that has elements that will and won’t work for TV stitching.
This got me thinking about what guidelines I follow. These days when we are at home, TV is our main source of entertainment. The key is to choose shows and needlepoint where it will be OK to have your attention divided because it will be divided.
First, let’s talk about TV. The advantage of having the TV on is having something in the distance to view while simultaneously having something to listen to. Both of these things are important. You need to be able to focus on something distant from your stitching on a regular basis. TV because the pictures change is perfect for this because you will naturally look up when you hear something interesting.
I watch shows that are somewhat familiar, often rewatching shows and movies I like. Because I know what’s coming I don’t have to watch constantly. A problem is trying to stitch and watch something where visual humor is important. To take an extreme pair, stitching when a symphony orchestra is on should work, but trying to watch a mime would not work.
The sound is important as well. With the dialog or music of TV, you have something to occupy part of your brain. At the same time, you don’t want something that will require too much attention. I don’t like audiobooks for this reason, I have to pay too much attention. My favorite TV to watch is baseball. The pace is nice, most of the time for our local broadcasters, there isn’t too much talk. For me, the pace of baseball with its natural pauses is good for stitching.
What you do not want is something where you must pay attention. For example, I can’t watch subtitled shows with any success and stitch — I have to look up too often.
But TV is only half the question. Finding the right project to do when stitching is at least as important. To me, this is the hardest part to get right and is the reason many folks can’t sit and watch TV at the same time.
Your project must be one where you don’t need to pay undivided attention. What this will be depends entirely on your habits as a stitcher. Examples of this are: new stitches, threads that need to be divided, shading, stitches where you need the diagram, and darker threads. Some of these might apply to you, some may not.
The problem with new stitches and complex stitches is that you will need to look at the diagram, at least for awhile. You may also need to count. I find it very easy to get off the count when I’m watching TV. My solution to this is to start a stitch when the TV is not on, although I can listen to music. Once I feel confident about the stitch I can work while watching TV. Unhappily there are stitches I cannot do with divided attention. If a project has stitches like that, I work on other areas.
As a result, if I am stitching while watching TV I tend to use familiar stitches and threads. I don’t mind plying and recombining threads, but doing this can require more attention. If this is true for you, do this for many stitching lengths before you settle in for your TV and stitching session.
Dark areas can be a problem because often light where you stitch is not good. As I grow older this has become more of a problem. I stitch the other areas first and then put them aside to stitch in better light later. This is probably my biggest problem with stitching and watching TV these days.
Finally, stitching & TV doesn’t work well if you are not organized. Make sure your projects are ready to stitch. Be sure you have all your threads assembled. If you use them, be sure to have scissors, threaders, and needle minders close by. Have a place to put orts, at least temporarily. Last of all, have an extra project or two ready to go. I keep a small tote bag near my stitching chair with several projects in it. That way if I finish a project or need to switch to another project I have one to hand.
Stitching while watching TV may require you to do some experimentation. Don’t give up, you can do this!