Have Your Say

28th August 2020

The ‘One or Many’ Conundrum

In All Stitched Up! issue #244 we raised the question of whether you work on a single project or multiple projects at once. The responses we received were numerous, reminding us how varied and wonderful the stitching community is. Of course, there is no right or wrong response and for us it was interesting to see there was also no trend one way or another.

The only consistent thing was how brightly your individuality shone through.

There were a lot of people who fell into the multiple-project camp, however ‘multiple’ was widely interpreted to mean from two to too many to count! How the multiple-project advocates worked on their pieces varied. Both Carol Meadows and Marla Redding put different projects in different locations to work on at specific times. Whether that was in particular rooms, or in bags which went to various stitching groups, it meant that they had a project for every occasion.

Some readers employ a rotation system. Susan Curran has three in a basket which she works on as her mood takes her. When one gets finished, it is replaced by one of the many UFOs or exciting new projects she’s collected. Helen Hooper turns over her currently active UFOs every three months or so. This means that slowly, softly, each one progresses a little bit each time.

Helen also made an excellent point about her love of ‘kitting up’ – collecting all of the threads, fabric and extras needed for a project. We feel that this might be the echo of our hunter/gatherer instinct coming out. The sheer joy of hunting down just the right fabric, gathering up all of the required materials and putting it all together is something that runs very deep in many of us.

A lot of people acknowledged how multiple projects provide them with inspiration and a way to fire up their imagination.

Susan Bottcher describes it as all of her projects ‘calling to her’; while Manda Kent Burns believes that everyone should be proud of their UFOs. She believes they represent the creative process in action, demonstrating the breadth of your imagination. Tricia Barry suggests that switching projects can provide a whole new perspective when facing a creative block, which can happen even with the most inspiring of pieces.

Several readers expressed their passion for the ‘process,’ but this meant different things to different people. Charlotte Manca-Wells felt that loving the process led her to working many projects at once. She enjoys the journey so much that the end product isn’t as important. However, Frances Tornese determined that her love of the process meant that she only works on one project at a time. She too wasn’t as concerned with the finished piece but was focused on the process of that one piece rather than the process of many.

The readers who fell into the single-project camp often felt driven by a nagging guilt if they had more than one project on the go. Both Jerri Jiminez and Bette Kelly used these words. Jerri describes it as ‘the thought [that she should finish a project before starting another] continuously nagging at the back of my mind’, and Bette says that she ‘can feel [an unfinished project] nagging at me, hanging at the edge of my mind waving and wanting the attention back.’

In My Garden by Catherine Laurençon from Inspirations issue #107

Other single-project stitchers, like Penny Souhadra, felt that having more than one project on the go was too confusing. She, like other single-project stitchers, always had plenty of other projects lined up, but would finish each before starting the next. This is very often a reflection of each person’s personality, history and what works best for them. 

Louise Hardy acknowledged that her childhood experience has heavily influenced her.

When Louise was young, she was only allowed to carry one toy with her and had to always be super tidy, which today translates into a need for minimal, simultaneous projects.

Frances Tornese credits the fact she works on one project at a time as the reason she finishes plenty of projects quite quickly, enjoying every stitch along the way. However, the question of finishing is also one of perspective. Jamie Bernstein feels that she gets more done by working multiple projects, and Hazel Long reckons that if she didn’t work on multiple projects, she’d never get things finished. To be fair, she is working on a carpet which is so large, she believes it won’t be finished in her lifetime!

Ultimately, we’re all different. What we can all agree on though is how important it is for our stitching to make us happy.

Whether we’re like Mary Wells, whose three or four projects at a time help her through life’s challenges, or we’re like Mary Moore who solved the dilemma between her love of embroidery and needlepoint by always working one of each, or even like Sharon Kenney who just can’t help but be continually distracted by all of the beautiful projects available, as long as it brings us joy, then it is the right way of doing it. 

Helen Hooper’s children were right in reminding her that stitching was meant to be pleasurable, so there is no point in suffering through a project if you’re not having fun. Happiness, according to Jackie Williams, is not achieved by having a set number of projects on the go, but for her joy occurs when she feels she has ‘too many’ in progress because at that point she is surrounded by unlimited possibilities.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in this fascinating discussion. In summary we’d encourage everyone not to judge yourself against others and don’t wish yourself different. Be who you are and stitch how you wish. Our differences are what makes the world go around.

Join our FREE weekly newsletter All Stitched Up!

Back to top