Whittle Down That Pile of WIPs: Setting Up a Stitching Rotation

It happens to the best of us - you start a project or two, with the best intentions of finishing them, and then some new bright and shiny charts come out, and all of a sudden there’s a big ole pile of WIPs stitching next to your stitching chair. Fear not, o faithful stitcher - a stitching rotation might be just the thing you need to convert that pile of WIPs into a pile of FOs!

What is a stitching rotation?

Simply put, a stitching rotation either tells you what to stitch in any given stitching session, or helps you decide what to stitch. There are a variety of methods you can use to move through your various projects, some being more prescriptive than others.

Types of stitching rotations

There are a variety of “standard” stitching rotations:

  • Screaming Rotation: You stitch on whatever project is currently calling to you.
  • Goal-Based Rotation: For each WIP, you decide on a goal you want to reach before you move to your next project in the rotation. For example, you might decide you want to complete a page of a multi-page project, or maybe stitch all of the black sections before you move on to your next project.
  • Categories-Based Rotation: This rotation style needs a bit of upfront organization, and tends to work best for those with a huge stack of WIPs to work through. You’ll need to sort your WIPs into categories (typically based on things like project size, designer, or stitching/chart style), then work on one WIP from each category in sequence.
  • Night-of-the-Week Rotation: This one is fairly self-explanatory - you assign a project to each day of the week, and work on your designated project each day.
  • 10-hour Rotation: In this rotation, you make a list of your WIPs, and work on each one for 10 hours (or some other designated length of time) before moving on to your next project. This type of rotation has a few common tweaks, detailed below.
  • 10-hour Tapered Rotation: On this rotation, you make a list of all your WIPs, but rather than working on all of them before circling back around, you taper. So, for your first round, you stitch 10 hours on your first project. On the second round, you stitch 10 hours on your first project, then 10 hours on your second project. On the third round, you stitch 10 on the first, 10 on the second, and then 10 on the third. This style of rotation also gives you an easy way to add in new projects on a regular basis - at the end of each round, you start a new project before cycling back to your first project. You can also use empty slots (when your WIP is finished) as a place to start new projects.
  • 10-hour Rotation with Focus: This rotation allows you to include a focus piece, one that you need or want to work on more often. You make a list of your WIPs, and start by working on your first WIP for 10 hours, then switch to your focus piece for 10 hours. Then you work on the second WIP on your list for 10, and back to your focus piece for 10.

Making a rotation that works for you

Every rotation stitcher I’ve ever talked to has tried several different types of rotations before they found the one that worked best for them. Don’t be afraid to test-drive several of the above, or create your own, and change them until you find what works for you. For example, I've had to change up my stitching rotation this year because I am doing a Year of Starts with one of my Facebook stitching groups (yes, that means I am starting 366 projects this year!). Usually I like the 10-hour Tapered Rotation, but for this year I'm doing my new start each day for at least 30 minutes, then moving back to my focus piece. Once this year is over, who knows how many rotation styles I'll have to try out before I find one that help me actually finish those 366 projects!

Do you use a rotation in your stitching? If so, tell us about your system in a comment below! Until next time, Happy Stitching!