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Cross stitch is one of the oldest forms of hand embroidery, popular all over the world, and it is little wonder that it remains so. Not only is it easy to learn – cross stitch is usually the first embroidery stitch taught to children – but it’s quickly arranged into patterns, pictures and letters by following grid charts where each square represents a single stitch. The pleasure in achievement can become quite addictive as the design grows and different colours are added.
This book has been prepared with beginners in mind. The essentials of counted cross stitch are set out here with plenty of illustrations to guide you, and a basic range of free-style embroidery stitches has been added in a supplement to the counted thread method. The book also aims to act as a refresher for those who first learned to cross stitch years ago and would like to pick it up again. There are sections on equipment and various threads and fabrics, as well as advice on how to read charts and create your own, including numerous motifs and alphabets for you to use. The terminology used throughout is UK-standard, together with the relevant US terms in square brackets [ ] to make this a practical guide for all readers.
The art of cross stitch dates back at least as far as the 6th or 7th century CE when it was used to decorate household linens with floral or geometric patterns, worked simply in black or red thread. Folk costumes, especially from northern and eastern Europe, are often decorated with similar traditional designs; medieval Assisi work and Tudor blackwork were beautiful, intricate developments of the same technique. Later came the familiar multicoloured sampler, which served several purposes: to record patterns or motifs in the absence of pattern books; to teach children how to stitch; and finally to demonstrate a young woman’s prowess with the needle.
Nowadays, we happily incorporate cross stitch designs into many items, from greetings cards to buttons, bookmarks, pot covers and paperweights; while larger projects – including elaborate preprinted kits – are stitched with skill and patience, hopefully to be framed as future family heirlooms.
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