Q&A – February 2020 | S3E17

In this post, I am answering some questions that you, the lovely community, have been asking.

You can listen to the episode below or keep scrolling to read the blog post.

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Key links from this episode:

Question 1

“I taught myself how to cross stitch 35 years ago and I recently read someone’s blog and they were writing about spaghetti junctions. I had never heard the phrase. I know what they are and have seen them but I always thought they were just a messy back.


The term “spaghetti junction” refers to roads that cross over each other and split off and from above look a bit like a bowl of spaghetti.

Some people also refer to the backs of their projects like this too; all the threads crossing over each other also look like a bowl of spaghetti.

Question 2

“What’s the most difficult thing you have stitched so far?”

Lauren @vanillavodka23

I usually stay away from difficult projects, but the most difficult was probably my first because it had a lot of backstitching in and some personalisation and I was a beginner so not the best choice.

Look at that backstitching! And my awful stitches where I pulled too tight oops!

Question 3

“What software do you use when designing patterns? So many options out there.”

Julia @crossstitchhippy

It’s funny because it took me ages to realise such a thing existed and now there seems to be so many.

I use PCStitch (they also have MacStitch) and they are good but I also design my own layouts of the pattern so I can use my brand colours etc. There’s a free trial for PCSttich so you can try it out before you buy.

Question 4

“How did you get into the enneagram and what has been the most interesting thing you have learned?”

Jess @jm.mack

I got into through podcasts. I can’t remember the first time I heard it but I know these podcasts have all helped me learn more about it:

And so many more, but that’s a good start. I also read the book The Enneagram Made Easy* which is an easy, quick read and gives a basic overview of the Enneagram.

And I highly recommend the Enneagram Institute for testing and more info.

The most interesting thing I’ve learned is that some of my negative emotions such as anger, being passive-aggressive and highly withdrawn can all stem from a place of pent up opinions because as an Enneagram 9, I’m always trying to keep the peace.

But some positives I have learned is that there is nothing wrong with me for being vanilla and that has so many benefits, particularly when stuck in the middle (which I have been on more than 1 occasion).

Being an Enneagram 9 makes me more understanding. I can forgive easily which gives me less stress. I know I can annoy people with my niceness and indecisiveness and that used to upset me but now I see it comes from a place of love and it’s something for me to work on.

I really do try and give my opinion on things a little more, even though it’s so hard.

Question 5

“Haven’t been stitching long. How long would one have to ‘practice’ before turning it into a business?”


I’m going to use myself as an example for this one and this might surprise some of you.

So I stitched a Tatty Teddy design, and it was the first thing I had stitched in 15 years. And I made one blanket. ONE.

After they were done I decided to start my business.

I practised as I went along and my prices reflected that at the beginning. I made a few designs for people like a new baby one and a wedding announcement and I started out selling finished pieces before moving onto kits etc.

I just started. I don’t think there is any magic amount of time before you feel ready to turn something into a business and the only way to really know if you are ready is just start and see what happens.

In the age we are in now, starting a business, a craft one in particular, is so low risk that you don’t really have anything to lose by trying.

My first ever custom design.

To make it even easier for you to start, use this link for 40 free listings when you set up a new Etsy store. (If you use my link I get 40 free too).

And if you are looking to improve your cross stitch technique so you can start a business then I have a free guide to get you started and a How to Cross Stitch Course that is full of video tutorials.

No question but I just wanted to tell you that I love your podcast.

Annie @alfvo

Question 6

Design process. I have only designed one [pattern] but I have a list on my phone and a Pinterest board for when the ideas come in. I seem to be adding to it all the time from things I might see in the street or hear on TV and it sparks an idea. But I don’t physically draw anything and the list is now actually becoming quite overwhelming that now I don’t want to tackle another design. Argh where do I start? What would be a good process for a newbie designer?

Clare @gatheringthread

So I actually messaged Clare about this a little bit because I thought she was asking me about selling her designs but she just wants to design and stitch for herself but basically wants advice on the process of designing.

Now I have a podcast episode with a little bit of my process in and an episode on planning projects so my answer here is going to be like those episodes merged and updated.

Clare, you seem really good at keeping your ideas safe and you know where they are so you will never lose your ideas which is amazing.

My first bit of advice is to get some software. There are a few reasons for this which I will explain soon and I already mentioned I use PCStitch.

Next, I would look at what is coming up in the world next. For example, what season is it? Are there any holidays coming up? Birthdays?

So right now it’s March and Spring is coming up as well as Easter and Mothers Day for us here in the UK. If you had any ideas around those things I would start there.

In my cross stitch project planner I have space for you to write down 5 goals for every month so you could even do that and look at the whole year ahead and write down a few projects for each month depending on what’s going on.

You don’t need my planner to do this, you can just grab a notebook and title each month and write your projects under them.

I love a good list! They can really help sort out your thoughts and take out the decision making.

Now you might have narrowed down your ideas a little. I would just get on your software and start playing around with the ideas. Don’t worry about colours yet, or being perfect, just start designing a few.

When you are doing this you will probably have 1 or 2 that just click and work for you straight away. So now focus on those a little more and decide on your colour palettes for them.

I do have an episode about DMC colour palettes which has some Easter and pastel palettes on.

You can also try and get a physical DMC colour chart, but sometimes that can be a little overwhelming as there are so many to choose from.

One more tip on colours is that you can search on Pinterest or Google for free colour palettes and you get those like squares that look like paint sample cards. If you find a palette you like, you can save the photo and upload it to your software as a pattern and it will give you the thread colours on your software.

So now you should be on your way to having a couple more designed that you can start stitching, but I don’t recommend stopping the designing completely. This is all a continuous process and here’s what I would do next.

I don’t really know your day to day life Clare. I know a little bit of it from our chats and that you stitch of an evening though.

Maybe spend 2 nights this week sorting through those ideas and doing some designing.

Then for the rest of the evenings split your time between both. You could do an hour of designing and an hour of stitching or 10 minutes of designing and 2 hours of stitching. You could alternate evenings; one night design, one night stitch. You could keep your evenings to stitch but maybe ask someone for childcare one day in the week for a couple of hours and use that to design.

See what works for you.

I also recommend grabbing my free planning sheets. I’ve just updated these so you can type on them on PC without printing them off.

This will just help you plan those individual projects which I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about before as I know you’re an avid listener.

I loved this Q&A episode and I will definitely be doing another in the future. If you have a question you want answered on the podcast just email me with your question – hannah@hannahhandmakes.com

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