My daughter ran out of funds while she did her Christmas shopping, which is no surprise these days when money does not go very far. I had a difficult enough time buying presents for my family out of my allowance when I was growing up. Then I became a poor college student. I learned to cross stitch and started making homemade gifts, like one of my college friends. When my daughter mentioned she still needed a gift for her dad, I remembered all the cross stitch gifts I used to give away. (I don't make many gifts now, because I am exceedingly busy!) My daughter is quite swamped with college work, but the term was over and she had a few days before Christmas to accomplish her goal. I recalled a cross stitch kit she had purchased a few years ago when we visited Theodore Roosevelt's home of Sagamore Hill. My husband is a huge TR fan and she had purchased it with the intent to stitch it as a gift for him. However she has been tediously and laboriously striving to complete a cross stitched bookmark for herself for the last couple of years. She was determined to complete it. Even though it wasn't too complicated, for her it is like three steps forward and two steps back.
Now that she has been going to vision therapy, and I understood more of the issues of the inability of the eye under such situations to track and converge, I understood why she was making slow progress in cross stitching. At one of her re-evaluations, I found out that her brain shuts down at times and she doesn't see anything on the row of letters on the page in front of her.
However, she wanted to gift something to my husband, she had already paid for this kit...I could help. I volunteered to be the "cross stitch fairy." She could do any parts she wanted to do, then when she got frustrated or tired (or both) she could pass it to me and I'd work on a bit (or the rest) as she saw fit. She reluctantly agreed, although she was dubious as to whether it would be completed in time for Christmas. This was Thursday evening. Christmas was Wednesday. I assured her that busy as I was, I'd drop everything to help her conquer this project, and she could put her name on it without mentioning mine. =)
Friday morning she brought her kit down. I brought out my cross stitch doo dads that I bought years ago. Any of us who cross stitch know that it an be a challenge for the best of any eyes to count teeny weeny markings from amongst numerous markings on teeny weeny graph paper, to transcribe into a teeny weeny stitch amongst millions of squares on aida cloth. Those of us in the know, also know this is determined by the number of squares per inch. Even so, the largest of Aida cloths can still be mind boggling. As helpful as these tools were to me, I knew they'd be even more helpful to my daughter.
The flat board is magnetic, with a magnetic strip on it. I had my daughter put her chart on the board and keep track of where she was, by "underlining" her current row of stitches to be stitched from the pattern with the magnetic ruler. The ruler is extra handy, being a 6" ruler on one side, and also a gauge for Aida cloth as well! The other doodad is a magnifying glass that can hang around the neck, although my daughter preferred to grab it with her hand to look through as needed. She loved these!
She started about 10am on Friday, and completed, quite tediously, about 4 rows. Then it was lunch time, 12pm. I ate a quick lunch and volunteered to do some stitches which she was now quite glad to pass off to me. I stitched several rows while she ate lunch. When she was done eating, she saw my progress and was quite elated that her work had doubled! She insisted on taking over, so I passed it off to her while I cleaned the kitchen. Then it was time for us to leave for vision therapy..1pm. She worked on it in the car and before her appointment. When she went in at 1:30pm, a few more rows were accomplished! While I was stitching numerous black x's, my daughter's doctor walked through and stopped to look at the project and I told her everything I have just written in this post! She couldn't believe, poorly as my daughter's eyes were working at the time, that she did all those stitches! She was super impressed with the doo dads! By the time my daughter was done with vision therapy, at 2:30pm, the top half of the project was done. She was so excited that she determined to complete the bottom half of the project on her own. We ran an errand and got home about 3:30pm. By 6pm (or earlier, I forget now) the project was done, except for the outlining of the glasses and the writing, which she asked me to complete. One day to complete this project! She couldn't believe it! She was quite thrilled!
For future projects I'm recommending the largest Aida cloth available, though my daughter seems content to persevere. In fact, we were recently at Mount Vernon and she spent some Christmas money on another counted cross stitch project that she found there!
For easier success at cross stitch, I recommend preprinted panels, which was my daughter's first project. Those are usually printed in one color. I'd trace those x's with the proper color marker, as it corresponded to the pattern guide, for ease in learning to cross stitch and track with the eyes, until the eyes are prepared to tackle counted cross stitch.
I found the doo dads pictured above at local craft stores years ago, though I could not find them at the same stores on-line. I did find them at the online store linked next to the first photo, above. There are also other fun looking gadgets linked on their webpage!