the proverbial truth of a stitch in time
You've probably heard the adage "a stitch in time saves nine." The meaning is that doing something well from the beginning saves much effort in the long run. And amazingly enough, it applies to actual stitching.
When people ask me how it is that my stitches are so neat and even (especially running stitch), I don't usually have an easy answer. I tend to have an eye for spacing, and that helps. I also stitch a lot, and practice makes perfect! But probably the biggest help is taking time to get them just right.
It's not that I agonize over each stitch, or even that I go very slowly. It's simply a matter of paying attention to the size and placement of each stitch. One stitch, done well, is far better than nine stitches done sloppily.
When I'm working under a deadline, it's amazing how poor my stitching can become. I hurry along trying to get it done, and then I realize that I've embroidered an inch or more of wobbly stitches. So I take them out. I could have saved nine! Or more!
Karen Barbé wrote a post about this undoing of stitches. It can be so disheartening, and yet, even when you remove the work you've just completed, it still saves you time when you consider the big picture and that you want that picture to look as pretty as possible! Not to mention, a bit of undoing can inspire better stitching next time.
So here's my challenge for you. Stitch a little slower. Look at each stitch as you go. Don't be afraid to go back and re-stitch.
After some time in this practice, you'll find that it goes faster...but hopefully not too fast! After all, a stitch at medium speed might save three or four, and perfection is overrated, but it is a wonderful feeling to look over your finished embroidery and feel truly proud of what you've created.