This is how you, Mark, will learn how to cross stitch

Okay so the title of this post might seem person specific, but if you’re looking for a crash course (and I do mean crash course, I’m covering a lot in this post but by no means everything) in cross stitch, you can join in even if you’re not Mark. Mark is a friend of mine, not a made up person. Honest. You can read his Pop Culture blog over at Zwolanerd if you like.

Ready? Then let us get rolling. Cross Stitch is a form of needlework where the stitches form an X shape. You may have deduced this from the name of the technique. It’s a simple, effective form of needlework which allows the quick coverage of large areas as well as pleasing shading and detail work. The threads used tend to be slightly glossy which looks marvy.

Basic Stuff You Need To Have

Cross stitch kits are a brilliant way to start out. They tend to have lovely detailed instructions, and they come with everything you’ll need to complete the design. Within your kit you should find fabric, a needle, your threads and the pattern.
You’ll need to invest in a few extra bits and pieces as they won’t be included in any kit you buy.
First of these is a pair of small, sharp pointed scissors. There’s a lot of clipping threads, so it’s good to have a nice small sharp pair around to do this with. No, your kitchen scissors will not do.
Also, you will need a hoop or frame to keep your fabric tight. I prefer hoops personally as they are lightweight and easy to hold, but they can be little sods sometimes depending on your fabric. Clip frames are apparently quite good. You’ll find hoops and frames in your craft store, near the kits.
You’ll also need (this is quite important) a good light. Ideally, day light but if you’re working during the day or you live in a box, a bright light globe will do. You want a huge amount of light just all over the place. It’s so much easier to work with a brilliant light, and also you’ll be able to work longer without your eyeballs screaming at you. You can get “daylight bulbs” which simulate sunshine, but you don’t really need to.
Finally, you’ll need either a sewing machine, a needle and sewing thread or a roll of masking tape. This is to bind the edges of your fabric so they don’t fray while you’re working – cross stitch fabrics tend to be an open weave which can leave you in a bit of a mess.

Cross Stitch Fabric
There are two main kinds of fabric used for cross stitch, Aida and Evenweave.
Aida and EvenweaveAida (on the left) is woven into blocks, with the holes forming the corners of a square – each stitch is worked over one square. Evenweave (on the right) is not woven into blocks, so stitches are (generally) worked over a grid of 9 squares. In the event of evenweave, your pattern instructions should tell you how many threads to work over.

I tried to write out some handy dandy instructions which covered chart reading, how to make a stitch and so on, but as it turns out they were too wordy and I felt they were confusing. So I cheated and made some videos. They are not great videos, but maybe they’ll help. If anything is foggy or unclear, drop a comment on this post and I’ll try to help you.

The chart I’m using for this tutorial is a free download from CyberStitchers – they have heaps of free to download charts in various themes and sizes. This one is called “Happy Frog” and it was designed by Lucie Heaton.

Part One: Charts and Fabric 

Part Two: Getting your Stitch On, Yo

Part Three: Backstitch Won’t Kill You

So there you have that. I’m honestly not sure how useful any of that was – it’s sort of blathery and wandering. Let me know if you’ve any questions and I’ll do my best to not blather when I answer.

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