Out For The Count! Getting Started!

Jane Greenoff, renowned cross stitch designer and author
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Out for the Count with Jane Greenoff - exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

It is me again the self-taught counted thread addict!

Last time, we talked about cross stitch charts and how they look so this time we are considering how to do the stitching. Counted cross stitch can be worked on anything that has a grid or punched holes that are evenly spread I have a large stitched wasp on my fly swat! The size of the completed design is directly related to the grid or thread count of the base material; the finer the fabric the smaller the completed design.

How to start

The Loop Technique for starting cross stitch

Loop Start

If you take one strand of stranded cotton (floss) and fold it in half to form the loop you can begin to stitch as shown above. It avoids unsightly knots and is quick and easy. It only works when working with even numbers of threads. There are specialist fabrics produced for the express purpose of adding counted stitches, but in earlier times, cross stitch samplers were worked on what was available at the time. This may have been strips of roughly woven linen or fine silk mesh.

Cross Stitch Journey

Today, probably the most commonly used fabric is Aida material. This fabric is not modern — it was 120 years old recently! I have visited the Zweigart factory in Germany many times and I still love to see the fabric coming off the massive machines. Aida is generally made from pure cotton and is woven with the warp and weft threads in groups thus forming clearly visible squares on the fabric. A cross stitch is then stitched across these squares. I have numbered the sequence in the first diagram note that the top stitch is facing the same direction.

Cross Stitch Journey

In the second diagram, I have shown how to work the stitches in two journeys, again ensuring that the top stitch faces the same direction. You can turn your work and the chart upside down if you prefer to work towards you, but never turn halfway your stitches will end up facing the wrong way!

As with all counted embroidery a bit of consistency is good try to obey your own rules!

See Also

Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch from Jane Greenoff

See you next month!


Jane Greenoff, renowned cross stitch designer and author


Jane Greenoff is a world-renowned cross stitch designer, author and founder of the Cross Stitch Guild.

View Comments (3)
  • Hello. I have a pattern that includes the outline of a triangle. How do I make the two sides that go up on an angle so that the back is still neat?

    • Hi Carmen,
      Thanks for your comment. I guess it depends on the angle of the triangle, but you might be able to use quarter and three-quarter stitches to create diagonal effects. As long as you take your time with the stitching, you should be okay. 🙂

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