Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rotation Stitching and Time Tracking

In a comment to my previous post, Jill asked me how and why I track the time I spend on my stitching projects. "How?" is easy to answer. I use Google spreadsheets for tracking many other aspects of my life, but I have a low-tech system for stitching hours: a notebook in which I record the time spent each evening, rounded to the nearest quarter-hour.

"Why?" takes longer to answer. Tracking hours accomplishes several things:
  • It helps me predict how long it will take to complete a project.
  • It helps identify certain projects that are being neglected and are deserving of attention.
  • It provides a sense of accomplishment when I see a certain number of hours completed.
  • It is one way of setting goals (e.g. "complete 10 hours" as opposed to "finish the front piece of the sweater").
  • It is a good way to impress people. I usually get a stunned look when I tell someone I'd spent 200 hours on a cross-stitch project. This could be interpreted as, "I am impressed by your dedication!" or "You need to get a life!"
At work, we do time-tracking of our software projects for many of the same reasons. However, stitching projects, and cross-stitch projects in particular, have some characteristics quite different from those of software projects. Cross-stitch projects tend to take a large number of hours, many of them quite repetitive. (As one knitter has said, "I love the thrill of starting a new project and I love having the completed item. It's all that knitting in between ....") Unless you're doing a round-robin project, you work on them on your own. Unless projects are planned as gifts, they have no deadlines. Thus, it is a challenge to remain motivated long enough to finish a large cross-stitch piece. (There is nothing like an impending deadline or a frustrated customer to get me moving at work!)

For these reasons, there are a great number of on-line forums for cross-stitching, more I think than for most other hobbies of this sort. One really needs support groups for this activity. Where else would one get loads of praise and encouragement for an uploaded photo of a project that's only 5% completed?

My favourite forum is Rotation Stitchers. This is a long-running forum totally devoted to management of multiple stitching projects. Topics covered include time-tracking methods, styles of rotations, stitch-along (SAL) groups and even meta-discussion about whether rotation stitching or one-at-a-time stitching is best. If there's anything I like more than stitching itself, it's examining and analyzing the process.

For the record, I have about 10 cross-stitch projects on the go, with 5 of them "active" and the other 5 at some risk of becoming UFOs (Unfinished Objects). I have been pretty good the past two years about not starting new projects and consequently am not yet at the SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) point.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Great post! Because you are my craft hero (though not enough to get me scrapbooking) I've dug out a notebook, and I'm going to start recording my project time.

BTW I only have 3 cross-stitch projects on the go (course I have a lot that I would like to start). By not stitching free-hand I limit the number of projects to the number of hoops and stretcher bars I own!