Tracking progress
Large charts with stitches in seemingly random order can cause one confusion. The result is stitches missed or placed in the wrong fabric location because one loses place on either the chart or the fabric or both. In either case, the error is discovered eventually and needs repaired. We found that studiously tracking one's progress on the chart pages, along with having the grid for each page outlined in thread goes a long way towards eliminating these errors and speeding up stitching a color. A brief aside: this example shows marks made with highlighting felt tip markers. The primary reason for printing the chart on heavy card stock is so that the marker ink does not bleed through onto the stitching fabric. Correct: one should never, never, never mark up the chart when it is laying on the stitching frame. Heavy card stock is just cheap insurance. Figure 1 shows a section of a chart page with three types of tracking marks.
  Chart with tracking marks
Figure 1. Chart page with tracking marks.
The tracking marks on the portion of a chart page shown in Figure 1signify four different things:
  • stitches of a color yet to be selected: unmarked symbol squares
  • stitches of the current color yet to be stitched: orange dot in the symbol square
  • stitches of the current color already stitched: green on top of the orange dot in the symbol square
  • stitches of all previous colors already stitched: symbol square is completely green
The secret of successful tracking is to do these things:
  1. Find all of the symbol squares for the color worked on and mark them before starting to stitch the color. Choose a bright color and use a liquid marker or colored pencil: in Figure 1 these are symbol squares with orange dots. This helps a great deal as the chart page gets filled up with the completed color and the current color symbol squares become fewer in number and widely scattered. Keep track of the number of symbol squares found and compare it to the number of stitches for the color found on the symbol mapping page or on the Stitch Count document. Find as many as you can, hopefully all of them. Unfound symbol squares for a color will eventually be discovered and can be stitched then; it just makes for quicker stitching if you find them all first. A cautionary note: One can spend a lot of time looking for missing symbol squares. Set a limit on what you will accept before starting to stitch. We start stitching if we have found all but one or two symbol squares and keep looking if we are missing three or more.
  2. As you stitch, FREQUENTLY mark the symbol squares completed by placing a contrasting color dot over the bright dot: in Figure 1 these are symbol squares with a green dot over the orange dot. Again, you can choose any color as long as it contrasts with the color used in step 1. We have found it useful to know where the stitches for the current color are on the chart in case rework is required. If the symbol squares are completely filled in it takes a while to find them again.
  3. When all the marked symbol squares from step 1 have been stitched, take a few moments to fill in the stitched symbol squares for the just completed color with the colored marker used in step 2, green in the example shown in Figure 1. Be neat and avoid confusion on a future color.
When a missed symbol square from a previous color is discovered, we draw the symbol at the top of the page above the column containing the discovered square and at the left of the chart even with the row containing the discovered square. We also write the floss color number (DMC color number in this case) beside or above the symbol marking the column. The repairs are usually made at the end of stitching the current color, the marks are erased, and the chart is ready for the next batch of found errors. Regardless of how frequently the errors are repaired, it is a good idea to fix all the known stitching errors upon completing the color that cumulatively represents 80% of the stitches and again at the 90% milestone to make the end of the project easier.