What is a 'Round Robin'? Well, according to 'The Concise Oxford Dictionary', it is "a petition, especially with signatures written in a circle to conceal order of writing" or "a tournament in which each competitor plays against every other". However there is another definition - a pastime which combines the two popular hobbies of penfriends and cross stitch. Basically, a group of stitchers each start a piece of needlework, then pass these pieces around until everyone has stitched on each one and they are back with their owners.

Getting together a group for a RR can take a while. Initial contacts are usually through penfriends and penfriends of penfriends. Eventually, however, a group of stitchers (usually 9, although it can be 4, 6 or 12) is ready to begin.

Each person decides on a theme for their piece of needlework. This could be cats, Christmas, wildflowers, cartoon characters, angels, birds, etc. The only limitation is that it has to be something that the other stitchers should be able to find a chart for. Usually the pieces are stitched on cream or white aida. The first stage is to divide the material into squares - one for each stitcher - with simple or elaborate borders. The stitcher then stitches a design on their chosen theme in one of the squares.

Everyone gets a mailing list with a list of addresses and mailing dates. Every six weeks the needlework is mailed to the next person on the list. Everyone stitches a square appropriate to the given theme, and, if requested, signs it with their name and country. After approximately a year (for a 9 person RR) the pieces reach their owners.

It's an interesting hobby, a great way to 'meet' people with a shared interest and has the added bonus that everyone gains an original piece of needlework stitched by people throughout the world.