A stitch along (SAL) is a great way to meet new people and create a collaborative cross stitching project. Most stitch alongs last for months and can go up to a year. While most of the time there's a theme, you will not know what you're stitching until the pattern is released. This keeps people from moving ahead and encouraging everyone to work together.
Stitch Along Variations
Traditionally, stitchers gather in person and work on the same project together. They are much like the old quilting and stitching bees that were popular in the 1950s. They are usually held at a coffee shop, cross stitch store, or at someone's home. You can bring treats and it's more of a social gathering.
If you'd like to join a local stitch along, opportunities are often shared on Craigslist. There are also many organizations that will coordinate stitch alongs for church or hospital needs.
Mystery Stitch Alongs
At a mystery stitch along, 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. 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 to join in.
Virtual Stitch Alongs
There are forums, like Craftster.org, that offer 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.
It's a Great Way to Meet Friends
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. From online groups to Friday night stitch parties; the stitch along is here to stay. Happy cross stitching!