A friend asked the other night how long it takes to write a stitchguide. I answered her question honestly as one business person to another and I got to thinking that this was something you may be interested in knowing too.
Everyone’s process is different, but here’s my process for writing a guide that I am not stitching.
For me the first step is thinking and exploring possibilities. What is the focal point of the canvas? What can I do to make this canvas really special? What techniques do I want to use? A lot of this is done while driving or in the shower, but still it is time. It is time that I don’t even factor into the following equation.
When it is time to start writing, I may need to stop and take a photo so that I have a roadmap of the piece. That photo requires opening Photoshop and color balancing the photo, changing its color format and size so that it prints well.
Ok, back to writing. just in the photography, I’ve already spent about 45 minutes and I haven’t even started writing yet.
Typically when I am writing I do start with an existing guide and make a copy of it so that all of the formatting is there. I want the guide to be pretty and easy to read. Each area of the canvas needs its stitches planned out. I may already have the stitch diagramed, I may not. If I don’t, more time is spent drawing the stitch. Sometimes I just need to tweak a stitch and other times I may need to change the stitch order so that a certain effect is achieved.
You would be amazed at the time these details take. With each section you are selecting not only the perfect stitch but the perfect thread and color. You may have an idea in your head for a stitch that would look super in Soie Perlee but alas, that color doesn’t exist in that thread so you need to step back and revise.
The longer you look at a canvas, the more details appear. Sometimes you will see something that springboards a new idea and causes a previously written section to be scrapped. It does happen.
Hours, sometimes days later the designing, writing and typing is complete.
We aren’t done yet. Next I need to type a complete thread list so that we know all of the ingredients in the design.
And then there’s the photo. I like to have photos on the front of the guides that show all the pretty threads and beads used. That takes time to set up and again process the photo.
Finally, the pieces come together and the guide is turned into a pdf for easy printing. My files are typically too large to email because of the number of hi res images and diagrams in them, so I print and bind them.
At this point an average guide has taken anywhere from 6-20 hours. It could be more, but I don’t want to know. The hours typically aren’t consecutive as we get interrupted a lot. This doesn’t include typing all the threads a second time into the database to sell the threads to the customer or putting the product on the website, instagram and facebook so that I can sell more of the same design. There’s lots of moving parts.
There is no way to effectively charge for all of the time and technology that goes into a stitchguide. I’m not complaining. If I was complaining I wouldn’t keep doing this. I’m not getting rich doing this, but I do have bills to pay, a mortgage and kitties to feed. I do it because I love it and I’m good at it. And because I truly love you!
Mary Legallet, Amy Bunger, Laura Taylor, Robin King and so many others are all doing the same thing to bring you a beautiful guide. Hang in there with us when we get backlogged. We can’t just give birth to these things in no time flat at the quality you deserve. They all get born eventually and they are worth so much more than what we charge.
The same can be said for finishers. They aren’t getting rich either. It takes a long time and a lot of care to assemble your masterpiece. They are worth it too!
Thanks for listening. Big Hugs.
Marla Riley says
Thank you for that explanation, we do appreciate the incredible stitch guides you write and the time it takes you to do it. Your creativity helps us to be creative. I don’t know how many time while working on a piece with no stitch guide, in selecting my own stitches, I often think of a stitch you used on a previous project and that is the perfect stitch for this piece.
OOOH! I’m so glad you are using the stitches and ideas elsewhere. That’s the name of the game. xo
Michele Herron says
Ruth, thank you so much for explaining what goes into producing a stitch guide. I, too, write stitch guides, and I so enjoy the process. It is a labor of love and sometimes for me it is a looong labor.
We may not be getting rich with cash, but the creative process is so much fun!
Catherine Stroup says
We love you Ruth! Your creativity is awesome. I have learned so much from just reading your guides and even more when I actually stitch them! Ha!! And ditto on the using your ideas elsewhere…I .do it all the time!
Kathryn Balthrop says
I love your explanation of writing a stitch guide. It is perfect!
Not an easy process but it can be fun!
I consider myself lucky to have found you Ruth at the beginning of my needlepoint learning journey. (3 yrs!) Your pictures and diagrams along with the “Ruthisms” (“you know we’ve got to bring in the bling factor “…) have really helped me learn and giggle along the way. I know when I receive one of your guides it’s laborious to put together but I also know it’s a labor of love! Thank you for doing what you do so well!
We rely on you as an artist to help us realize our dreams. Thank you so much Ruth! I always wondered about the process. It is especially important that we understand all that you do for us so that we don’t just “give away” what you do to others. We all have unique and beautiful pieces thanks to you – we are incredibly blessed to have you!
I absolutely LOVE your stitch guides! While stitching with a friend recently, she commented that she had to purchase four books to execute a stitch guide she purchased. Even then, the stitches and the guide were difficult to interpret. She took one look at the stitch guide I was using (yours) and was blown away… crystal-clear and beautifully done. The best part was the attached video that demonstrated a special technique. Do I have to tell you that she was envious and is looking forward to becoming a customer of yours?
Kathryn Balthrop says
Ruth is one of the best!
Love the Owl!! Your so talented.
We are having fires so bad here in Los Angeles, so worried, would not be able to grab all my needlepoints that have been stitched and would never be able to stitch again in my life !!!
You are artisans. Pure but not so simple. I am so fortunate to have stumbled upon your site. Wish I lived closer! Thanks for all you do,
Natalie N. Bell says
Amen!! I need to stich this particular canvas… Always love seeing what you come up with!
Jill Blitzer says
Thank you so much, Ruth, for explaining the process. I knew it was detailed as I won’t stitch a piece that I can’t get a stitch guide for. I have neither the talent nor the patience to do so, so I rely on those of you who do, to help me create fun/ beautiful pieces to stitch.
A million accolades are not enough appreciation for your talented artistry. What a legacy gift you give each day with your flair and whimsy! Thank you for all that you do to expand the joy of needlepoint. It is a special treat for all of us when you share your creative process! It makes me feel I’ve walked in your beautiful, exotic shoes!
What she said! HUGS and thanks for including me. Big smiles.
Well said! Love your stitch diagrams
Thank you for sharing your process. I am in awe of your creativity
I always look for your emails first as they help me think outside of the box.