When we decided to do the Great Loop, we wanted to create a map to track our progress. Since Brenda loves cross-stitch, she suggested that she create a counted cross-stitch map.

Cross-stitching involves making an “X” in a square with very fine thread to form a pattern. Most X’s are two stitches of the same color, some are two different colors. Additionally, once done, some patterns are outlined with single stitches to highlight areas of the pattern. Cross-stitch is done on varying densities of X’s. Very course cross-stitch that children do with yarn can be as low as 6 X’s per inch. The common stitch counts for professional cross-stitchers are either 11, 14, 18, or 28 X’s per inch.

There was no existing pattern, so Tom found an online website that allows you to upload a photograph and generate a cross-stitch pattern. (https://www.pic2pat.com). He used a map of North America that he edited to show all of the waterways used in the Great Loop, then used the online tool to generate a basic pattern.

Brenda then went through the pattern and assigned colors to each state (so that no adjoining states had the same color), and picked colors for the waterways.

Once the pattern was ready, she got a 24 x 36 piece of 14 count (14 X’s or 28 stitches per inch) cross-stitch fabric. Because the pattern was so large, we found her a roller frame that let her work on about 10″ at a time.

She started with the outlines of the states and Canadian Provinces, then filled in the lakes and rivers. Once the borders, rivers, and lakes were done, she started filling in the colors. The states and provinces, once she got the colors down, were pretty straightforward blocks of a single color. Next came our boat name in the Atlantic Ocean, oh, and if you look VERY closely at the enlarged image, you will see the spec that is Bermuda!

Then came the big open water, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of very tedious stitches all in the same color.

In the end, the finished cross-stitch was 18 inches wide by 22 inches tall. It took her 11 months and she finished about a month before we left on our great loop trip.

The final stats were…

US States34
Canadian Provinces3
Cuban & Caribbean Provinces7
Stitches per “X”2
“X”‘s per inch14
Size18 in x 22 in
Total square inches396
X’s per square inch196
Total X’s77,616
Total Stitches155,232
Months to complete11
Hours (Approximate)616

With the base map done, we left on our Great Loop trip! As we traveled, Brenda would outline our trip in red thread, and add a small yellow bead for each port or marina that we stayed in. We also collected some charms to highlight some of the major events long the trip, like; a Palmetto Tree for home in South Carolina, a Crab for the Chesapeake Bay, a Rifle for our visit to Remmington Arms, A Maple Leaf for Canada, a Ships Wheel for where we almost sunk, a Tug for the rivers.

(Click the image below to enlarge it for more detail)

Loop map with charms
Loop Map with Charms

When we got back, and everything was done, we had it framed, and it now hangs in our home as a super memento of our trip. It also comes in handy to show guests who are not familiar with the Great Loop what the trip is all about!

Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

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