I have stitched and pulled out stitches through three iterations now. I was not at all happy with those diagonal stitches. I worried that I'd lost my mojo. I snipped and pulled all those stitches (that was iteration three) and then I tried crosses. I like them!
I also cut it down, to make it a nine-patch. Actually, I can get TWO nine-patch pieces from the original work.
I'm feeling much happier with the piece now.
Next step: choosing a border. I'm thinking something unexpected ... velvet? lace? Any suggestions?