Cross stitch is basically a form of thread embroidery that requires counting. The name essentially defines the one stitch that is used in creating patterns that makes an X when completed. While this form of embroidery can also be done on plain cloth it gets extremely difficult to maintain the same width and height and get consistency in the stitches. Therefore a cross stich pattern is almost always made on a fabric that has even weaves called the aida cloth. In some places the aida cloth is called the matti; something that has small holes that can be used to make the X.
When you see a pattern for cross stich you will see that the project is defined based on stitches per inch so that they can be calibrated easily. Typically the stitches per inch that you are likely to find in the market will range from 14 to 40. It is also important that the appropriate fabric be chosen in order to get the size that has been mentioned in the project.
Cross stitch is considered to be one of the oldest forms of embroidery. Examples of the same have been found all over the world in different countries. Some of the earliest patterns can be seen in museums in Europe and Asia where different kinds of clothes have been decorated with cross stitched patterns of different colors. The most basic cross stitch patterns are geometrical in shape. However, there are also various floral patterns that were common in the olden days. The geometric patterns per se were traditionally made in white, red and black color and these patterns are reminiscent of folk embroidery in Eastern and Central Europe.
The earliest cross stitch patterns in the United States can be found in Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts. These are samples that were made by Loara Standish who was the daughter of Captain Myles Standish. She is considered to be the pioneer of the Leviathan stitch as well. The multicolored and more complicated and complex patterns that we see today are more a modern phenomenon.
Cross stitch has been used to embellish dish cloths, linen, table mats or a doily. However, it is not uncommon to see laces that have been embroidered with cross stitch that can be attached to the extremities of a dress. While these are common creations using cross stitch, the one that became extremely popular in the later days was to make wall hangings of beautiful patterns, sceneries and portraits too using cross stitch.
There are various guilds that operate in Europe and United States that further the progress of cross stitch as an art. These guilds run various classes and take on large scale projects too.
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