Keep Your Place on a Cross Stitch Chart

Do you have trouble keeping your place on a cross stitch chart? Have you ever had to rip a section because you missed a line or stitched the same one twice?

You’re not alone.

On a previous post about How To Read A Cross Stitch Chart, Elaine asks for tips on how to keep her place, especially when the chart is too small to read easily. She has a LoRan Line Magnifier, but doesn’t find it helps enough.

Line magnifiers are tricky because there’s a gap between what’s magnified and what’s not, and that prevents us from seeing what we’re stitching—what’s magnified—in relation to the big picture. I need to see both simultaneously. Plus, the alignment of the line magnifier has to be just so, and changing my position even a little alters what I see. I think they’re meant to be used for a short time by someone sitting more still than I can sit! I don’t find them useful for reading charts.

Here are some other suggestions:

Enlarge the chart

If the chart is too small to read easily, enlarge it with a copier to create a working copy.

If you ask a service provider (think: Office Depot, UPS Store, etc.) to make a copy, they may refuse for copyright reasons (and rightly so), unless there’s a note on the pattern that states working copies are permissible. However, the practice is generally accepted by the industry because we all like to mark up patterns as we stitch. What you can’t do is make copies for friends or make a copy for yourself, then pass the original on to someone else. Please, please don’t. But to make an honest-to-goodness working copy that you can read easily, you might use a library copier or a personal scanner/copier and enlarge the chart.

Highlight Lines

Try highlighting (use a ruler and highlighting marker) every other line or every two lines on the pattern to make the different lines more distinguishable.

Try a different magnifier

Use a larger magnifier. I have a Plastic Magnifying Sheet that I can prop up in front of a pattern to magnify much of the page. It can’t sit directly on the paper pattern, but I can use stretcher bars as a spacer, and that works well.

If you like this arrangement and find you use it often, you might glue the plastic sheet to a wood frame (the kind painters stretch canvas over, for instance) so the spacer is always with the magnifier and there’s no balancing required.

Harriet asked me to clarify how I use stretcher bars as a spacer. I think a picture demonstrates it best.

Magnifier sheet, stretchers bars, and a pattern

A plastic magnifier sheet is held away from the pattern by Evertite stretcher bars.

The magnifier sheet can’t sit directly on the pattern because it doesn’t magnify enough that way. It needs to sit up off the pattern. I can use the stretcher bars–the Evertite frame–to separate the magnifier from the pattern.

I can attach the sheet to the frame with tacks, but if I used this setup often, I’d adhere the magnifier to the a frame—definitely not my Evertites!— so it was a single piece. I’d make a frame from the endless lumber scraps in my garage, but a recycled picture frame would work, as would a wooden frame over which painters stretch a canvas and any number of other things.

Magnet board

If you can read the pattern without a magnifier, a Magnetic Needlework Chart Holder can be helpful. I have one of these, too. I use the magnet strips to mark my place on the chart.

I wish I had this one that doubles as a stand. Mine is flat, so I have to prop it up or keep picking it up. With one that is propped up, the plastic magnifying sheet can be propped up with it.

Mark your progress

As you work, cross off the stitches, lines, and areas that are complete. This is another reason to make a working copy of a chart: If you mess up, you can print another one from the original.

These are some of the things I do to keep my place on charts when I’m stitching. Do you have other tips? Please share them here!

Related post: How To Read a Cross Stitch Pattern

6 Responses to “Keep Your Place on a Cross Stitch Chart”

  1. Arctic Needle

    I also find a sticky note helpful to mark the line I am working on.

    May 25, 2014 @ 6:07 pm
  2. Brilliant idea! I’ve not heard that one before.

    May 25, 2014 @ 7:36 pm
  3. That is a very smart idea!

    May 28, 2014 @ 4:32 am
  4. I haven’t done needle work in a very long time, so I’m sure I would need something different than when I had much younger eyes! These are a such great ideas. I love that magnetic stand and being able to mark your place with the magnetic strips!

    May 28, 2014 @ 4:33 am
  5. I like the magnets, too. Or…wait…did I already say that? I wish mine propped up on its own, but, of course, I have my own ways of propping it up.

    The magnifiers and lights available today make stitching much easier on the eyes.

    May 28, 2014 @ 6:29 am
  6. Alice Golden

    Great tips!

    May 29, 2014 @ 11:34 am

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