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What Is Cross Stitch?

Cross stitch is the art of creating patterns by meticulously stitching small X-shaped stitches onto a fabric.

It is a form of hand embroidery and a great introduction to the pleasure of needlework.

In our journey of discovery, we will uncover the roots of cross stitch, tracing its origins and discovering the building blocks of this craft we love.

Whether you’re a curious beginner, eager to set foot on a stitching adventure, or a seasoned stitcher in search of fresh inspiration, this article will be your guiding star, expanding your understanding and igniting your passion for cross stitch.

Get ready to delve into a world of creativity and wonder as we unravel the mysteries of this timeless craft.

Fuzzy Fox Designs - Pinning Down The Truth
Fuzzy Fox Designs – Pinning Down The Truth from Issue 20 – Mystery!

What is Cross Stitch?

Cross stitch is the art of creating patterns by meticulously stitching small X-shaped stitches onto a fabric. It is a form of hand embroidery and a great introduction to the pleasure of needlework.

It all begins with a design, transferred onto the fabric through the alchemy of printing or counting. The stitcher takes up their needle and thread, embarking on a mindful meditative journey from left to right, top to bottom, crossing threads with precision and grace, each stitch forming a symphony of X’s.

Full cross stitches, half cross stitch, and the elegant back stitch all play their part, breathing life into the design. And for those seeking new horizons, the realm of advanced techniques beckons—fractional stitches, specialty stitches—they offer a gateway to elevated dimensions, adding layers of depth and complexity to our stitched creations.

Cross stitch, my friends, is a testament to the power of creation. It invites us to embark on a journey of patience and perseverance, where each stitch is a step forward in our quest for beauty.

It is a haven of tranquillity, where the world fades away, and the rhythm of the needle lulls us into a state of peaceful bliss. If you are new to this and you are worried that cross stitch might be difficult, this article will put you at ease.

Through cross stitch, we bridge the realms of art and craft, imbuing threads with our creativity and breathing life into fabric.

Smart CrossStitch - Tree Mandala
SmartCrossStitch – Tree Mandala from Issue 11: Namaste

How to Start Cross-Stitch

Cross stitch is a simple craft to learn, and once you have mastered the basic stitches, the only real challenge is the complexity of the design you are stitching. 

To begin with, try stitching a simple design that you won’t mind getting wrong. You don’t want to feel like a failure early on, so practice your stitching on something that doesn’t matter and when you are comfortable with the stitching, you can move onto something more meaningful.

While an embroidery hoop is not essential in cross stitch, it does make life easier, so if you pick up a cross stitch kit, get a hoop as well.

I’ve got two great tutorial videos here that will help you get started – they explain about threading your needle, and all the steps to help you start stitching.

Once you’re going, just take your time, count carefully and make sure your needle goes through the holes, rather than the fabric. You’ll be a cross stitching whiz in no time!

Here’s one of my best cross stitch for beginners tips: Each time you bring the needle up and pull the thread through the fabric, you put a slight twist in the thread. Over time you will notice the thread bunching up at the back, and if that happens, let the needle drop, which will unravel that twist. You can then carry on stitching with the risk of surprise knots and tangles!

What is Counted Cross Stitch?

Counted cross stitch got its name for a good reason—it’s all about precision and meticulousness.

Unlike other embroidery styles such as needlepoint or tapestry, where the design is already printed on the fabric, counted cross stitch starts with a blank canvas. Stitchers like you embark on a journey of counting and stitching, carefully plotting each stitch on a grid.

Here’s how it works: You follow a pattern, usually shown on a chart or graph. This chart serves as your visual guide, mapping out the design’s details and colours. But here’s where the magic happens—the fabric itself becomes your map.

Here at XStitch, our charts use letters and numbers as the color references, and our latest issues give you charts in two formats, one with symbols only, and one with colour blocks and symbols to make it easier for you to see how the stitches will be placed.

Issue 1 Online Version18 scaled - Cross Stitch Pattern
Part of a chart by Maria Diaz from Issue 1 – Revolution

Picture the fabric as a vast landscape filled with tiny squares. Each square represents one stitch. Your task is to count the number of squares in each row and column, helping you determine where to place your stitches. Armed with a needle and thread, you embark on a rhythmic adventure, following the fabric’s grid, one stitch at a time.

The beauty of counted cross stitch lies in its precision and attention to detail. By following the chart, counting the squares, and placing each stitch with care, you bring the design to life with amazing accuracy. It’s like a symphony of counting, threading, and stitching—a creative dance guided by the fabric’s grid.

The term “counted cross stitch” perfectly captures the essence of this technique, emphasizing the significance of counting and following the fabric’s grid as the foundation of the craft. It highlights the thoughtful and deliberate nature of cross stitch, where each stitch is a little triumph and the finished design showcases your skill and dedication.

Stitchsperation - Let's Get Lost
Stitchsperation – Let’s Get Lost from Issue 17: Adventure

What does Cross Stitch Count mean?

Cross stitch count refers to the number of stitches per inch that are achieved on specific fabrics. Aida is often classified by cross stitch count and the most common counts are 14 stitches per inch and 18 stitches per inch.

The higher the count, the more stitches per inch, which makes the stitching smaller, but also increases the density of pixelation. A design of 140 stitches will be 10 inches long on 14 count fabric whereas it will only be 8 inches on 18 count. This makes for a more challenging stitch, but often leads to a more detailed image, particularly when photo-realistic images are being converted to cross stitch.

Cross stitch fabrics have a wide range of counts, from 10 to 32 stitches per inch, and the number of threads you use may vary depending on the fabric count.

Best Cross Stitch | XStitch Greatest Hits Vol. 1

Are you ready to start stitching?

If you want a shortcut to success with your cross stitching, our Greatest Hits edition is the best place to start. Featuring ten of our most popular designs, from a world-class collection of cross stitch designers, as well as a selection of our most beloved articles, it’s the only magazine you need!

Hit that image of its awesome cover or click here to get your copy today for a truly amazing price!


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