Cross-stitch is a form of sewing and a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture. The stitcher counts the threads on a piece of evenweave fabric (such as linen) in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance. This form of cross-stitch is also called counted cross-stitch in order to distinguish it from other forms of cross-stitch. Sometimes cross-stitch is done on designs printed on the fabric (stamped cross-stitch); the stitcher simply stitches over the printed pattern. Cross-stitch is also executed on easily countable fabric called aida cloth but the threads are not actually counted.

Fabrics used in cross-stitch include linen, aida, and mixed-content fabrics called ‘evenweave’ such as jobelan. All cross-stitch fabrics are technically “evenweave” as the term refers to the fact that the fabric is woven to make sure that there are the same number of threads in an inch both left to right and top to bottom (vertically and horizontally). Fabrics are categorized by threads per inch (referred to as ‘count’), which can range from 11 to 40 count. Counted Cross-stitch projects are worked from a gridded pattern and can be used on any count fabric, the count of the fabric determines the size of the finished stitching if the stitchers counts and stitches over 2 threads. The finished stitching size is reduced by half if the stitcher counts and stitches on a 28 count cross stich fabric rather than a 14 count cross stitch fabric. Stitchers can also change the size of their piece by stitching over multiple threads. These methods are commonly referred to as “2 over 2″—i.e. 2 embroidery threads used to stitch over 2 fabric threads; and “1 over 1″—i.e. 1 embroidery thread used to stitch over 1 fabric thread. There are different methods of stitching a pattern, including the cross-country method where one colour is stitched at a time, or the parking method where one block of fabric is stitched at a time and the end of the thread is “parked” at the next point the same colour occurs in the pattern.

Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and can be found all over the world. Many folk museums show examples of clothing decorated with cross-stitch, especially from continental Europe, Asia, and Eastern and Central Europe.

The cross-stitch sampler is called that because it was generally stitched by a young girl to learn how to stitch and to record alphabet and other patterns to be used in her household sewing. These samples of her stitching could be referred back to over the years. Often, motifs and initials were stitched on household items to identify their owner, or simply to decorate the otherwise-plain cloth. The earliest known cross stitch sampler made in the United States is currently housed at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The sampler was created by Loara Standish, daughter of Captain Myles Standish and pioneer of the Leviathan stitch, circa 1653.

Traditionally, cross-stitch was used to embellish items like household linens, tablecloths, dishcloths, and doilies (only a small portion of which would actually be embroidered, such as a border). Although there are many cross-stitchers who still employ it in this fashion, it is now increasingly popular to work the pattern on pieces of fabric and hang them on the wall for decoration. Cross-stitch is also often used to make greeting cards, pillowtops, or as inserts for box tops, coasters and trivets.

Multicoloured, shaded, painting-like patterns as we know them today are a fairly modern development, deriving from similar shaded patterns of Berlin wool work of the mid-nineteenth century. Besides designs created expressly for cross-stitch, there are software programs that convert a photograph or a fine art image into a chart suitable for stitching. One example of this is in the cross-stitched reproduction of the Sistine Chapel charted and stitched by Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts.

There are many cross-stitching “guilds” and groups across the United States and Europe which offer classes, collaborate on large projects, stitch for charity, and provide other ways for local cross-stitchers to get to know one another. Individually owned local needlework shops (LNS) often have stitching nights at their shops, or host weekend stitching retreats.

Today, cotton floss is the most common embroidery thread. It is a thread made of mercerized cotton, composed of six strands that are only loosely twisted together and easily separable. While there are other manufacturers, the two most-commonly used (and oldest) brands are DMC and Anchor, both of which have been manufacturing embroidery floss since the 1800s.

Other materials used are pearl (or perle) cotton, Danish flower thread, silk and Rayon. Different wool threads, metallic threads or other novelty threads are also used, sometimes for the whole work, but often for accents and embellishments. Hand-dyed cross-stitch floss is created just as the name implies—it is dyed by hand. Because of this, there are variations in the amount of color throughout the thread. Some variations can be subtle, while some can be a huge contrast. Some also have more than one color per thread, which in the right project, creates amazing results.

Cross-stitch is widely used in traditional Palestinian dressmaking.

Fabric: Linen, aida fabric or panama, although thanks to the canvas (not to be confused with the one of upholstery!) The cross stitch becomes viable on any fabric. If, for example, we want to embroider on a canvas, we should center a piece of canvas, baste it and embroider the cross stitch according to its pattern. Finally, the canvas is undone by pulling with great care of its threads. Tip: in this situation should be embroidered with a little more than the normal tension, since, otherwise, when removing the threads, the embroidery would be airborne, being susceptible to a hook.

Threads: Preferably, mouliné, 100% cotton and worked with two strands.

Needles: The use of a short needle is recommended, since it allows to take advantage of the expensive thread to the maximum. If it is embroidered on aida or panama, it will be preferred a pointless (also called blunt point), but if you work on a more compact, dense fabric, you should use a needle with a sharp point but not so sharp, so as not to cause damage of serious injuries.

Frame: In England it seems a very ingrained custom to embroider the cross stitch in the hoop frames, that is, without foot; although the vast majority prefers to embroider it on the finger. The use of the frame allows the uniform tensioning of the fabric and, therefore, of the embroidery. Also, avoid almost completely, the inevitable dirt of the friction of the work with your hands. And it allows to visualize the progress of the embroidery.

The counted point refers to any form of embroidery where the pattern is formed by counting a specific amount of dots on a regular weft, as opposed to free embroidery. Perhaps the best known form of counted point is called cross stitch. Very widespread, and for a long time in the whole world, this point of embroidery in the form of “x” is realized according to a model called diagram, sometimes on a canvas pre-printed for the apprenticeship; one of the most common types of books is the alphabet.

In this case, the drawing of a grid is reproduced by counting the points on a canvas with regular weft (stamen of linen, cotton, canvas or canvas Aida ).

To make the cross stitches, there are two methods:

the traditional, where each cross is formed one after the other: xxx xx xxxx for example.
Danish, where the first embroider half points below in the round and half points above the return to form cross: /// //// // then go to \ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
In both cases, it is important that all points are in the same direction. In the same book, the two techniques can be mixed: the Danish way for online point series, the traditional way for isolated points.

The choice of fabric to embroider is based on the desired end result and the dexterity of the embroiderer. Beginners generally prefer a canvas Aida to begin with, because it offers a very regular frame and a large mesh. Aïda canvases are available in several colors, the most common being white and ecru. The linen meanwhile is reserved for experienced embroiderers, as it offers the least regular pattern. The embroidery is then counting the son of the canvas, usually two weft son and two son string. For a finer rendering, the dots can be done on a single thread. Linen is most often undyed, brownish in color.

Cross stitch can also be made on a standard fabric, to adorn a garment most often. We then use a canvas “pull-son”, which reproduces a light frame. This fabric is fixed on the fabric of the garment by a few points of frame or by glue bomb tissue. Once the embroidery is complete, pull the vertical and horizontal son of the canvas “pull-son” to extract them. The embroidery is then regular regardless of the fabric of the garment on which it is made.

For large works, the canvas is stretched on an embroidery loom (or an embroidery drum ), which keeps a constant quality and tension.

The thread used most often is milled cotton, presented in bobbins called “skeins”. They are usually composed of six wires of eight meters in length. More than 500 colors are available and some special effects exist, such as the “light effect” (shiny yarn) and the “variation effect” (variation of hue along the gradient yarn or in harmony).

Several leading brands offer yarns, canvases and embroidery kits, including DMC and Anchor. Many books and magazines offer diagrams to reproduce.

Corinne Chambras-Gangloff, embroiderer and collector of alphabets in particular 2, writer (she prefers to say “writer”) in her spare time, proposed in 1991 to call “crucifilist” the embroiderer or cross stitch.

Cross-stitch works can also incorporate other types of counted stitches to complete the pattern, such as the backstitch, frequently used to form thin lines to circumscribe pattern shapes or add delicate shapes such as small letters, motion effects, a cat’s whiskers, etc.

There are two movements at work:

Round trip, which gives a better quality and appearance upside down; Y
Continuous, which is especially recommended when embroidering borders.
Even so, many cross- stitch schemes rely on the stitching (= linear stitch), used to highlight the pattern, and, to a lesser extent, the stitch point and the last stitch.

In addition, the reverse of embroidery is just as important as the front. For this reason it is recommended not to start with a new thread of thread making a knot at the end, but through the invisible stitch method. Likewise, when finishing a new thread it is recommended to finish without being noticed.

Possibly it is his high practice that has made important variations from a single initial idea, by subtraction or addition of stitches. We have to mention two other points that were born from the famous x:

Petit-point (= half a point) Tapestries made on wool that consist of a single diagonal stitch (which must be identical in all the work). It works thanks to a square frame with wool on a tapestry of upholstery that can be acquired already marked.
Point of the devil. It consists of embroidering a cross and a cross inside the same painting. It is frequent to do it in mouliné or in perlé on the typical paintings of Vichy (France).

Related stitches and forms of embroidery
Other stitches are also often used in cross-stitch, among them quarter-, half-, and three-quarter-stitches and backstitches.

Cross-stitch is often used together with other stitches. A cross-stitch can come in a variety of prostational forms. It is sometimes used in crewel embroidery, especially in its more modern derivatives. It is also often used in needlepoint.

A specialized historical form of embroidery using cross-stitch is Assisi embroidery.

There are many stitches which are related to cross-stitch and were used in similar ways in earlier times. The best known are Italian cross-stitch, Celtic Cross Stitch, Irish Cross Stitch, long-armed cross-stitch, Ukrainian cross-stitch and Montenegrin stitch. Italian cross-stitch and Montenegrin stitch are reversible, meaning the work looks the same on both sides. These styles have a slightly different look than ordinary cross-stitch. These more difficult stitches are rarely used in mainstream embroidery, but they are still used to recreate historical pieces of embroidery or by the creative and adventurous stitcher.

The double cross-stitch, also known as a Leviathan stitch or Smyrna cross-stitch, combines a cross-stitch with an upright cross-stitch.

Berlin wool work and similar petit point stitchery resembles the heavily shaded, opulent styles of cross-stitch, and sometimes also used charted patterns on paper.

Cross-stitch is often combined with other popular forms of embroidery, such as Hardanger embroidery or blackwork embroidery. Cross-stitch may also be combined with other work, such as canvaswork or drawn thread work. Beadwork and other embellishments such as paillettes, charms, small buttons and specialty threads of various kinds may also be used.

Recent trends for cross stitch
Cross-stitch has become increasingly popular with the younger generation of Europe in recent years. Retailers such as John Lewis experienced a 17% rise in sales of haberdashery products between 2009 and 2010. Hobbycraft, a chain of stores selling craft supplies, also enjoyed an 11% increase in sales over the year to February 22, 2009.

Knitting and cross-stitching have become more popular hobbies for a younger market, in contrast to its traditional reputation as a hobby for retirees. Sewing and craft groups such as Stitch and Bitch London have resurrected the idea of the traditional craft club. At Clothes Show Live 2010 there was a new area called “Sknitch” promoting modern sewing, knitting and embroidery.

In a departure from the traditional designs associated with cross-stitch, there is a current trend for more postmodern or tongue-in-cheek designs featuring retro images or contemporary sayings. It is linked to a concept known as ‘subversive cross-stitch’, which involves more risque designs, often fusing the traditional sampler style with sayings designed to shock or be incongruous with the old-fashioned image of cross-stitch.

Stitching designs on other materials can be accomplished by using waste canvas. This is a temporary gridded canvas similar to regular canvas used for embroidery that is held together by a water-soluble glue, which is removed after completion of stitch design. Other crafters have taken to cross-stitching on all manner of gridded objects as well including old kitchen strainers or chain-link fences.

An increasingly popular activity for cross-stitchers is to watch and make YouTube videos detailing their hobby. Flosstubers, as they are known, typically cover WIPs (Works in Progress), FOs (Finished Objects), and Haul (new patterns, thread, and fabric, as well as cross-stitching accessories, such as needleminders).

Source from Wikipedia