Everything Cross Stitch from A-Z!

Aida: The most common name brand for cross stitch fabric, comes in 10 to 18 count in various colours. Aida can also just mean the fabric type of the square woven fabric with holes.

Anchor: One of the major brands of 6-stranded embroidery floss. Probably the second most popular after DMC. Reasonably priced and comparable in quality to DMC. Tends to be slightly more common in Britain but widely available online and in North America too. Like most brands of floss, has its own numbering system in which colours are assigned a numerical code.

Back-stitch: Typically done with one strand of floss, this is most commonly the “outline” of your pattern.

Blending Filament: is a one-of-a-kind thread that gives you a unique effect in your stitching. The hint of metallic adds light, interest and a 3-D effect. It mostly feels like fishing line when working with it.

Bobbin: A small, flat card, usually plastic or cardboard, around which embroidery floss can be wound. Looks like this. Many stitchers store their floss by winding it on bobbins, labelling each bobbin with the appropriate numerical colour code, and then storing the bobbins in plastic boxes.

Chart: The Design Chart contains all the information needed to stitch a design. Each square on the chart symbolizes a cross stitch on your cloth. The color or symbol in the square indicates which color of floss to use. The Key includes all the colors used in the design and indicates how many strands of floss should be used.

Conversion Chart (for floss): Because there is a huge variety of brands available for floss, the most popular conversion charts are for Anchor to DMC and DMC to J&P Coates. The colours don’t match up perfectly, but they’re close enough that you should have no problem putting more than one brand into a project.

Count: The number of stitches that fit within an inch. For example, a 14 count cloth means that 14 stitches will fit in one inch, whereas a 32 count cloth means 32 stitches fit in an inch. Higher count cloths are typically designed to be stitched two holes over and two holes up, effectively halving the count (e.g. 32 count cloth is the same as 16 count cloth).

Cross-Stitch: The cross-stitch is one of the easiest and most popular embroidery stitches. Each individual cross-stitch is made up of two diagonal stitches; a bottom stitch and a top stitch that together form an X.

Dimensions: A popular brand of cross-stitch kits. Although there is some debate in the cross stitch community as to the quality of the materials in these kits, Dimensions kits are a great place for beginners to start. The price varies depending on size but a smaller kit should be affordable, and contains the instructions and materials that a beginner would need.

DMC: The “Gold Standard” brand of 6-stranded embroidery floss, as well as other needlework materials and supplies. By far the most popular and widely-used brand of floss.Made in France, the brand has a long history. Very reasonably priced and of reliable good quality, widely sold online and in brick-and-mortar craft stores such as Michael’s, Joanns, etc. In addition to your basic solid-coloured embroidery floss, DMC sells a wide variety of specialty floss including metallics, variegated, and even glow-in-the-dark, as well as materials for other types of embroidery and needlework, such as perle cotton.

Evenweave: Threads are even in width, and often have very high counts (e.g. 32 count). They can be stitched by going two holes over and two holes up; using this method, a pattern stitched on 28 count fabric will be the same size as the same pattern stitched on 14 count Aida. Evenweaves can also be stitched without skipping holes, in order to create a smaller or more finely detailed finished piece.

Floss: Also known as embroidery floss or thread, it’s a bundle of 6 strands wound together into a length, not knotted or bound together. Generally projects will tell you how many threads of this bundle you need, most likely two or three strands.

FO: Finished object; fastened off; or finished off

Frogging: When you make a mistake, and have to rip out some of your completed stitches, you have to “rip it! rip it!” Since this sounds a lot like “ribbit,” the process of pulling out your stitches due to a mistake is called frogging.

Gridding: Mark the grid of a pattern onto your fabric in order to help keep count and track of your stitching. Here is some information with pictures about gridding and how to do it.

HAED: Stands for Heaven and Earth Designs, a popular seller of large and complex patterns based on works by both modern artists and historical paintings. This acronym is often tossed around in the cross-stitch community but can remain mystifying to newbies!

Hoop: Can be used to frame a finished piece or to keep the piece taut while stitching. Comes in metal, wood and plastic and are usually round or oval in shape.

Joblean: A variety of evenweave fabric.

Kit: A prepackaged cross stitch project to complete. Usually includes pattern, floss, needle, instructions and color photo of what the finished project will look like. Small ones are great for beginners!

Lacing: A technique used to frame cross-stitch and other embroidery and needlework pieces. There are different methods but generally the fabric will be washed (if materials used were colour-fast), ironed and sometimes blocked. Then the framer will measure and cut a piece of acid-free foam board/foam core that fits inside the frame. Using pins, the fabric is stretched over and around the edges of the

Linen: Threads are uneven in width, but often have very high counts (e.g. 32 count). Similarly to evenweave, they are designed to be stitched by going two holes over and two holes up.

Loop start: The easiest way to secure threads without knots on the back, best to be used for a two-strand project. You cannot use a loop start to stitch with an odd number of threads. To use the loop start: Cut one strand double the length you wish to use, fold in half and thread the two ends into the needle. Go up into the fabric where you wish to start stitching, leaving a few inches of the loop end. Bring the needle back down and pass the needle through the loop end left on the back of the fabric. Pull to fully tighten and go about the rest of the regular stitching.

LNS: Local Needlework Shop (ie. small businesses). The cross-stitch equivalent of a mom and pop shop. Not a chain store. Most stitchers find it good to support their LNS and these shops tend to have excellent, personal customer service but typically their pricing will be a bit more expensive than a large chain store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.

Long-stitch: The long stitch is one of the most fundamental stitches in embroidery. It allows you to cover large areas, fill in spaces and shade your work. Commonly this will be used with a back-stitch when you need to cover a little bit more space, but the fabric doesn’t allow you to make a full backstitch.

Lugana: A variety of evenweave fabric. Most commonly comes in 28 and 32-count. Known for being soft and for taking dyes (if you are buying coloured fabric or dying your own) in beautiful mottled shades.

Needles: There are lots of different sizes and styles of needles. Tapestry needles are blunt and have a large eye, making it easier to thread them. These are typically used for cross-stitching. The higher the number, the smaller the needle. What size you need will depend on the count of your cloth. If you’re doing beading work, you’ll need a beading needle.

ORTs: “Old ragged threads”; the remnant pieces of floss that are either too short or damaged for future stitching use. Some stitchers save these colorful pieces in jars or other containers to repurpose in some way later or just to have them on display.

Q-Snap: A plastic frame used by stitchers to hold their fabric taut while they stitch, as an alternative to the traditional embroidery hoop. Q-Snaps are easy to assemble and unlike hoops, do not usually mark or crease the fabric. They are fairly affordable and come in a variety of sizes.

Parking: A technique which makes your stitching neater by not leaving "holes" between rows as you stitch, and faster because you don't anchor floss and thread a new needle as you change colors. A "hole" is a spot not stitched (yet), wholly or partially surrounded by completed stitches. Going back and inserting the stitch into a hole is more difficult than if the adjacent stitches were not already in place. (You can avoid leaving holes without parking, but then you have to anchor colors each time you finish a contiguous section, which can make the back messier in areas with a lot of color changes.)

Railroading: A technique which keeps your stitches laying flat and threads from twisting as you stitch. This is a technique that is best explained with photos.

SAL: SAL Stands for “Stitch-A-Long”. Sometimes sewing circles will make the same project, and often times on the internet major stitching websites will host a stitch-a-long where they give you the floss colors and size fabric you need, and will release the pattern to be completed in chunks.

Sampler: A sampler is a piece of embroidery produced as a demonstration or test of skill in needlework. It often includes the alphabet, figures, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered it and the date.

Scroll-Frame: Used like a hoop or Q-Snap this keeps your fabric stretched, making holes easier to see and allows for a more even stitching.

Skein: Loosely coiled thread, commonly how you will buy your thread in the store. Looks like this.

Stamped Cross Stitch: A pattern that is stamped directly onto the fabric. Usually stamped onto cotton to make things such as bibs, blankets, quilts, towels, table runners etc. You stitch over the printed pattern and upon washing the printed pattern will fade away.

Stash: Many avid stitchers hoard/collect large supplies of floss, fabric, charts and other items over the years. Collectively these items are referred to as one’s “stash.”

UFO: UnFinished Object (i.e. a stitching project that is started but never finished).

Waste Canvas: A stiff type of cloth that you can use to stitch onto fabric (e.g. t-shirts), then remove afterwards. There are ones that dissolve in water, and those that you have to pull out manually (tweezers help).

WIP: Work-in-Progress (i.e. a stitching project that you are currently working on but that is not yet complete).