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I've recently been gifted a small cross-stitch project kit, and learning how to do it has mostly been easy, just following the instructions that came with the kit: Tuck in ends (you can do that for the 'beginning' by just stitching over it), do your stitches in rows and if stitches in the same color aren't next to each other, don't 'jump' from one to the other (or e.g. use the parking method) if there will be nothing covering up the jump later, as that will mean the thread on the back side of the work will shine through, and be visible on the front.

The problem is that the kit I was giving uses little clusters of 5 stitches, in a 'plus sign' shape. These require 2 or 3 colors, and they're not 'connected' to the rest of the pattern. See this image for a few examples. I'm struggling with how to start/end these, because there's no nearby stitches in another color to tuck the beginning or end of the thread under, and if I do only 1 or 2 stitches with each color, I also don't seem to end up with enough 'loops' on the back side of the fabric to securely tuck in ends, it is hard to reuse the same loops over and over. So far, I've resorted to knotting ends together, but this makes the back side of the projects very messy and on top of that, it creates a visible difference in tightness between the stitches where I've used knots and the ones where I tucked in ends.

I have one more pattern left to do from this set, and I want it to be perfect. But this pattern has even more of those free-floating five-stitch thingies than the one in the image above. So: How to properly start/end a cluster of 5 cross-stitches in 2/3 colors, that's not adjacent to any other part of the pattern?

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Ugh, confetti stitches are the worst! Especially when it's not a full coverage piece like you're describing. But you have options :)

The easiest starting option with an even number of threads is a "simple loop start". So instead of using two threads of colour, use one and fold it in half to make a loop at the end that you go through (on the back of the work) when you make your first stitch. Example here: https://stitchedmodern.com/blogs/news/how-to-use-the-loop-method-to-start-cross-stitch-or-embroidery

To finish you can use a pin stitch to anchor at the end and then follow with your usual finish technique to tuck in the threads. Pin stitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA8JCvgZHwE

You can always park each colour as you do it, then go back and do your usual finish after, even turning around and going back through a second time, since there's so few stitches.

If you want a single technique that can do it all, check out the loop start/finish in this video. It doesn't seem to have a special name, but it works no matter how many (or how few) threads you're using and you don't even have to turn your work over to do it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xke09TSAMcg&t=15s

Very useful if you're working on a large frame, which is what prompted me to learn it.

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