What is a SAL? It is an abbreviation for some funky disease or weird society? Should you be scared? SAL is short for Stitch Along and it not only is a great way to meet new people but you get a great project out of the event. Most stitch alongs last for months and can go up to a year. Each month or a significant event will prompt a new part of the stitch along. While most of the the time there is a theme, you will not know what you are stitching until the pattern is released. This will keep people from moving ahead and have everyone work together. The one time that the pattern can be released all at once is when you have one pattern, many designs.There are not multiple components to the pattern. It is just one and each person works on the pattern at the same time.
There are several different kinds of stitch alongs. Stitchers may gather in person and work on the same project together or members of a board or forum may work at the same time and post photos documenting their project.This is like the old quilting and stitching bees they used to have back in the day. This is a great way to meet people in your community. It is usually held at a coffee shop, cross stitch store or at someone's home. You can bring treats and it is more of a social gathering. Sometimes people will work on art projects together or one piece of a bigger project. Check your local listing for groups. Craigslist is a good place to start. There are many organizations that will do these types of stitch alongs for churches or hospitals needs. Pillows for patients and fundraisers are a few examples.
Another type of SAL is a Mystery SAL. A designer will post parts of a pattern and stitchers will complete it without knowing exactly what they are stitching until the pattern begins to be revealed.
These are done online and a great example of this is the year long stitch along by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. You will get pieces of a pattern throughout a year and you will post your progress on Facebook or Flickr. These are fun but can be frustrating if you don't like surprises. You usually sign up ahead of time. Many times you will have the theme of the Mystery SAL but that is it. You will not see the pattern until it is released. If you like a certain style of a cross stitch designer, then you should be safe but if you aren't sure, this might not be the best bet for you join in.
There are forums, like Craftster.org that offer up stitch alongs or hoopla alongs. You are given a theme each month and everyone picks whatever pattern they want as long as it fits the theme. They post on the forum during the month and are eligible for prizes and other gifts. You can check with their website monthly to see what the new theme and prize is. You can also post on this forum outside of the SAL.
They also offer advice and ideas for all sorts of needlework projects. Facebook groups are another way to meet up with cross stitchers and work on SAL. Some independent designers have their own Facebook groups and stitch alongs. Some of these SAL on Facebook are free and you do not need to purchase the pattern. Snowflower Diaries is one designer that offers for purchase patterns and free stitch alongs.
Stitch alongs are a great way to meet friends that love stitching as much as you do. It is fun to see everyone's take on a project and idea of a specific pattern. Local stitch alongs can promote local independent stores. You can also learn new stitches and maybe even meet your new best stitchy friend. Stitch alongs are also a great way for new designers to get their name out there in the cross stitch world. Forums and social media groups showcase the amazing work done through stitch alongs. There are so many options for meeting people and celebrating cross stitch with stitch along. From online groups to Friday night stitch parties; the stitch along is here to stay. Happy cross stitching!