I finally tried parking.
It is VERY different compared to how I usually stitch (cross country). It really took some getting used to and completely changed everything about how I stitch. I found that it slowed my stitching speed considerably, but my productivity went up.
How you ask? Well, while I am physically slower at stitching (I don't just mindlessly do big patches of stitching in the same colour), I find I don't spend as much time searching for symbols, marking up my chart, figuring out stitching pathways, or flipping over my work and starting/ending threads. I can't watch TV while stitching like this; it takes far too much concentration. Instead, I listen to music and I get a TON done.
Let's take a look at my first try at parking:
This is 178 stitches into the page. I'm actually stitching almost a column and a half wide here (14 stitches) and it's a little cumbersome. However, it's background, so thankfully I'm only negotiating 4-6 colours at any one time. I even tucked a few strands away for the next column.
I had the bright idea of starting the next column of 10 stitches because they are in the same colours as the first column. After a 10x10 block, I realized that I was starting to get confused/stressed trying to stitch across 2.5 columns, so I stopped and tucked those strands away and went back to the original column.
I'm about 471 stitches into the page here, and I am loving how my stitching looks. My stitches are even and pretty, and I didn't struggle trying to fit any of them in. Not only that, but I LOVE seeing no holes! I can understand how people can get addicted to stitching really complicated pieces this way because the picture literally develops in front of you. It's very cool to see.
I went back to the original column (which I stopped working on mainly because the number of symbols in the block tripled) and started adding more colours.
I've added 7 new threads into the mix, though several of the original colours have now ended. It's a little tougher negotiating (and keeping untangled) so many more threads, but I'm still able to make progress. It's strikes me as odd that I don't stitch at the same pace I did before (especially in blocky areas like this one) and yet I have gotten SO much more done today. I'm about 499 stitches in here -- almost 10% of the page!!
I need to make a trip to my LNS soon and buy a few more packs of needles. Not having to rethread all the time certainly helps my sanity, though the more threads I introduce, the harder it is to keep everything neat and untangled. I still need to finish adjusting to this new way of stitching, but I certainly see why some people swear by it.