Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Operation Organization: Cross Stitch Corner

I learned to cross stitch at the age of 5, when a friend of my mother's taught me that summer. We'd spent a lot of time with her and her sons. I was the only girl in the group of kids, so I was either left or wandered off because I really wasn't interested in what the boys were doing.

I stuck with it through high school and even into college. Cross stitching was definitely what helped me keep my sanity through my husband's yearlong deployments. So many projects were created through those 3 deployments.

It wasn't until 4 years ago that I realized I had an organization problem. I was 7 to 8 months pregnant and the Army had just moved us from Georgia to Florida, our 3rd Army move in his career, but that did not count the 7 moves since I graduated high school, or was it 8?

Anyway, each move half finished projects, or even finished projects that had to be sewn or framed into its completed form, were boxes up and shipped along with all of our household goods to our new home. In some cases it only took days to get a house, in some it was weeks. In that time, I'd usually picked up another project at the locate craft store to keep me from going stir crazy in a hotel room in a new city with a grumpy bulldog. (To be fair, he was not grumpy if I just sat and let him lay on top of me, it was all this getting up and going places that did not include food that he was against.)

So my hesitance to start exploring while the dear hubby was at work, gave me plenty of time to stitch. When the Army moved us to Homestead, Florida (South Miami), I was nearly 8 months pregnant, hoping that we'd be able to get the house put together enough to bring home a new baby. So the kitchen, bathroom, and our bedroom were the primary focus. We were lucky, and I guess smart, because as soon as we learned where the Army would be moving us, we changed our baby registries to have all the of gifts not mailed, delivered to the local stores. It was like Christmas walking in and coming out with carts full of baby stuff that we 1.) didn't have to pay for and 2.) didn't have to unpack from the stacks of boxes that were sitting in our new house at the time. When you spend enough time in the Army you learn to always to looking ahead to the next move!

After we brought home The Lil Monkey, we slowly started to turn the 4th room into a craft room, the first time I'd ever had one (it only took 32 years!) The Christmas before he was born, my husband had surprised me with a sewing machine. So those last two months of pregnancy it was hard to focus on unpacking when I had that pretty new machine sitting there.

As I unpacked I'd realized that over the years, many of my half stitched projects had been boxed up for a move and then set aside when we unpacked because I had already started new ones in the interim. Since I was a serial project starter anyway and had rotated projects to keep me from getting bored, there were a lot. I knew that with a new baby, life had to get organized really quickly if I was to keep crafting. So that's where Operation Organization began.

When it came to stitching, the solution was simple. I needed something that allowed me to keep everything I needed for a project together, and that's when "The Box" came  to our house.

The box has changed over the years, just like the "craft bag" where I keep current projects for grab and go moments. Now it is a bright pink canvas basket, but the organization of its contents are the same.

Each cross stitch (or embroidery) project is put into its own zipper plastic bag. It contains the fabric and all of the floss needed to complete the project as well as with the original or copy of the pattern. I mostly use copies so I can highlight the finished sections as I go, but small or quick patterns may have the original. They are not really put in any order throughout the year, though at the end of each year, when I sort through and update my WIP (Works in Progress) list I usually put them back with larger in the back, smaller in the front. Throughout the year it gets rearranged with stuff I am pausing work on going in the front.

Each bag that is in the "working" rotation usually has a needle and hoop in it. I have a few pairs of scissors and even nail clippers that I use to cut with and those are usually in the bag as well. (I use nail clippers if I am taking a project in the car or on a plane for safety reasons and because sometimes TSA will not let you take scissors on a plane.)

In the front of the box is also the stack of finished projects that need to be completed as a wall hanging or some sort of sewn project.

Since I mostly wind my floss on bobbins to prevent tangling, I also have a bag of floss that is unwound, so that if I am watching TV or at a sports practice I can take it and wind them at my leisure.

This year, I have the smallest amount of WIPs that I can remember in a long. It took some serious concentration to finish projects instead of starting them, but I was able to mark some off the growing list. Tomorrow, I'll post organization tips for quilting and other crafting.

Until our next cup of tea ...

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