What is a SAL (Stitch-A-Long) and Should You Join One?

SAL
noun

  1. A cross stitch activity called a stitch-a-long.
  2. A cross stitch pattern that is slowly revealed week by week that large groups of people stitch seperately, but at the same time.

 
Through out the year, people on cross stitch blogs, cross stitch forums and reddit always seem to be talking about SALs. At this time of year people seem to be talking more and more about them as many start in the first quarter of the year. But for those of us that haven’t been part of one; no one seems to know what anyone is talking about! And why you would join one.

So, What is a Stitch-A-Long?

In short, a SAL, or Stitch-A-Long is a single cross stitch pattern that is broken up and given to you week by week. The idea is that you stitch it at the same time as other stitchers and you can all guess at what it is, little details, etc.
Almost all SALs have a community group somewhere that only talks about that pattern, and you usually have to join within a few weeks of it starting (although there are some that you can join at any time).

How long does a Stitch-A-Long last?

So with a single pattern broken up, SALs usually take some time to get through. That said, most are fairly large patterns, so you shouldn’t be rushing to stitch your bit before the next one comes out.
Due to this, most give you parts of the pattern weekly, or monthly, and they tend to run for 6 months to a year depending on the size of the finished pattern. But there are a few out there that last less than 2 months.

How does a Stitch-A-Long work?

Well first off, you have to join a SAL. They’re usually advertised on mail lists for pattern designers, social media and cross stitch groups. They tend to give you about a month’s notice and ask you to sign up. Depending on the type, these can be free, or charge you for the full price of the pattern upfront. A few pattern makers also sell a kit of all the supplies you need to complete it too, but once again, payment is upfront.
You’ll then be given parts of the pattern week by week and a way to communicate with everyone else stitching too!
 
One thing you might have noticed there is that you haven’t looked at the pattern. You see, with a SAL, you don’t see the pattern. So you need to pick a designer you like the style of.

Tiny Modernist 2019 Stitch A Long Guide (Source: tinymodernist.com)
Tiny Modernist 2019 Stitch A Long Guide (Source: tinymodernist.com)

Why should you join a Stitch-A-Long?

So with all that in mind; why would you even want to enter a Stitch-A-Long?

The Community

The biggest thing about a Stitch-A-Long is the community. There are whole subreddits, flosstubes and communities that spring up around SALs, with people talking about the pattern, the designer, their general cross stitch likes, and even life in general. But everyone is there, to talk about their stitching together. It’s not about who can stitch the fastest, or who can guess the pattern first. It’s all about being together. If you’re a little unsure about joining a larger community (which can be intimidating), SALs make a great place to enter into the world and get a few great stitchy friends.

To Get Better Knowledge On The Pattern

Another big thing about the SAL, is that the designer is a major part of the community. They answer direct questions, they tell you about the decisions they’ve made with the pattern, the ideas that formed it, tiny details you might have picked up on, and even hints about future projects. It’s rare to get the insight of a cross stitch designer, but with a SAL you get lots of 1 on 1 time.

Mini Satisfaction

Another reason to enter SALs is actually the weird satisfaction that comes with it. Unlike most patterns, where you get page after page and you have to stitch through it to the end. But in a SAL you get a small amount that is achievable. You stitch your mini part, and you’re complete! You get the satisfaction every single week, instead of at the end like you would in a normal pattern. Because of this it’s easy to keep motivated. And that’s not including the community that’ll keep you going too.
In addition, you only ever get small parts, meaning not only is it easy to catch up if you have a busy week, but you can normally stitch other projects on the side too, meaning you aren’t bound into this one massive project all at once.

For The Suprise!

For me, the biggest thing about SALs is that you don’t know what the pattern is. Sometimes, you might get a hint, maybe a theme, but other than that, nothing. With the sheer wealth of cross stitch patterns online it can be hell trying to work out what to stitch. But with a SAL, that choice is taken away from you. All you need to do is pick a designer you like the style of, and start stitching!
Usually, the patterns for SALs are limited to the SAL itself too, meaning you might not be able to get the pattern at any other time!

 

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2 thoughts on “What is a SAL (Stitch-A-Long) and Should You Join One?

    1. Hi,
      Once you’ve found the one you like the look of, you can reach out to the website owner directly, but usually, it’s either through a Facebook group (if it’s free), or you have to buy a specific item in an online store that will grant you access.
      Happy Stitching!

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