Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 3: Cross Stitch

Welcome to Sunday Stitch School. Today I will be focusing on another basic and fundamental stitch, the Cross Stitch. It is also known as Sampler Stitch, Berlin Stitch and Point de Marque, and in Swedish is called Korsstygn. I would be delighted to hear what other names, in other languages, it has.
Updated information:
French: Point de Marque is an old expression, now it is called Point de Croix
Dutch: Kruissteek

Cross Stitch features in almost every one of my stitch books. In one of them it says that this stitch is used traditionally in India, Central and Eastern Europe, the Greek Islands and Scandinavia, but I think it is a stitch that can be found in ANY country on Earth.
In Britain, in the 19th century, learning the Cross Stitch was an important part of girls' education and the name Sampler Stitch must refer to the many samplers that these girls made.
One unique form of Cross Stitch embroidery is the Italian Assisi work, where the background is stitched, but the motif remains void of stitches.
The name of Berlin Stitch, does it refer to the printed and coloured grid patterns sold in Germany from 1809?
Greece is a country of islands and there are many styles of Cross Stitch unique to the various islands, like the elaborate bed tents which were made on Cos and Rhodes.
In India, is Cross Stitch most commonly stitched on plain weave fabric, for clothing, where there is no help from large holes (like in the Aida fabric)? Chitra and Shami, is this a correct assumption?
For more reading, check Classic Cross Stitch.

As for Scandinavia, I bet there is some form of Cross Stitch embroidery in every home in Sweden.
For example the embroidered banners, so popular in the 1930s or 40s with a slogan or motto 'Home Sweet Home' or 'The Early Bird Catches the Worm' have now become a place for 'stitch graffiti' or political slogans by young and avant-garde stitchers and might include the Peace Mark or sculls.

My grandmother used Cross Stitch to monogram tea towels,

I worked this kit (Clara Weaver?)
for my mother's birthday when I was still a student.

I also have this aunt who is a stitch oracle and whose strands of thread lie flat in each stitch, although I am sure she has never seen a laying tool in her life. She got plenty of practise as she made hundreds of Christmas cards for charity. Even her father took up Cross Stitching after he moved to the Old People's Home, and stitched well into his late 90s.
I guess he was about 95 years old when he made this.

Now why would I need to have a Cross Stitch lesson, if it is 'in my blood and in my nationality'? Well, I need to learn how to make the strands flat and even, I need to learn how to let the thread travel neatly  to a new location on the back, and I need to make myself use the stitch more.


On Aida the Cross Stitch is easily worked like this:

For an individual stitch

 For a horizontal row
 For a vertical column

According to Sarah at Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials (a great source of stitch instructions) working the stitches horizontally is called Danish style. This is the way I learned it in school (Denmark is near Sweden so an obvious connection?) Maybe sticking to the Danish style only, is why I am not good at skipping from one area to another without making a mess on the back.

My homework will be to:
1) Practise on this free pattern (found in a pack of magnetic window markers), and aim for
flat strands on front and a neat back.

2) Monogram a tea towel (using waste canvas and a design from this book)
This has been a long and chatty lesson. I hope you haven't fallen asleep!


Anneliese said...

To the contrary - It awakes me and brings to light all my "sins" in cross stitching - conscious of my unexactness -

Chitra Gangadharan said...

very interesting post on cross stitch.
In India, the cross stitch is worked in fabric with holes, called matti cloth. they don't have equal number of warp and weft threads, making them rectangular and not squares. waste canvas is also used for working on plain weave fabrics. In some ethnic embroideries like phukari, the plain cloth forms the base for cross stitch and surface satin stitch, the people who work these are experts in their own way, it is hard for us though.

Pamela said...

Great lesson! There was a time when counted cross stitch was about the only technique I knew. In recent years I haven't done so much of it, but it is still a favorite.

Janie said...

I enjoyed your 'chatty' lesson. However, fault finding ain't in my vocabulary.

margaret said...

I love your birds you made for your Mother so colourful, vross stitch I am not a fan of found it made me cross as got so confused going from chart to fabric, mind you the first one I tried was on 36 count linen and was Praying hands, needless to say it never got finished but ended up in the bin!

Julie Fukuda said...

At one point I had a cross-stitched sampler hanging in my kitchen that was made back when I was a kid the first time. I wonder what ever happened to it.

Annet said...

Cross stitch is one of the first stitches I learned at school and I have made many stitches since then. In Dutch it's called kruissteek. Now I use it for Randje per week, but it's also fun to use it in freestyle embroidery like the border I made on the Sunbonnet Sue patch I shared last week. I hope you give that a try too!

Anonymous said...

En français on dit Point de croix
Point de marque est un ancien nom du point de croix
qui n'est plus utilisé aujourd'hui
Voilà - merci pour cet article

Chitra Gangadharan said...

very beautiful parrots on cross stitch.

FlashinScissors said...

Very interesting post..... particularly the history! I struggle to keep my stitches flat, even using the method of putting the needle between the two threads as you make the stitch ... if you know what I mean!
Barbara x

Linda Calverley said...

It brings back memories. I used to do cross stitch before I used other forms of embroidery.

Queeniepatch said...

It must be one of the very first stitches we learned at school (or at home). It is nice to see varioius ways to use this basic stitch.

Queeniepatch said...

I am not a historian but want to know a bit about the background of each stitch. Sometimes the information in books and online is conflicting so I'd be delighted to get comments with more info.
I have not heard of the splitting the two threads for making even stitches. I will have to try that out. Thank you for sharing.

Queeniepatch said...

Thank you. They ARE impressive, and I can tell you it took a fair amount of time to complete the picture.

Queeniepatch said...

Thank you for your comment. I had to use Google Translate to read it!
Good to know that Point de Marque is the old and Point de Croix is the modern name of Cross Stitch in French.

Queeniepatch said...

I, too, learned Cross Stitch early in childhood, but I have never felt that I truely mastered the stitch, which I why I included it in Sunday Stitch School. I used free style Cross Stitch in my Sumptious Embroidery work with Sharon.
Randje per week is a good project to do a bit of Cross Stitch on a weekly basis.

Queeniepatch said...

When you were a kid the FIRST time? Ha, ha!
Embroidery in the kitchen? Could it have been soiled by cooking fumes?

Queeniepatch said...

Oh, yes, Cross Stitch can make you cross! The charts can be hard to follow and you need to concentrate all the time. The magnetic window frames I show in the picture with the tea towel are handy for keeping track of the chart.
Pity that the Praying hands should end up in the bin, but I understand such fine fabric to work on must have been hard.

Queeniepatch said...

Well I know you make beautiful Crosses - with pieces of fabric! Keep up the good quilting work.

Queeniepatch said...

I think Mary Corbet of Needle 'n Thread also said Cross Stitch was the first kind of embroidery she did, then she was bitten by the embroidery bug and learned all the other stitches and techniques.
Unfortunately my old aunt, and her father, never got beyond the Cross Stitch and always worked from a printed chart or kit.
I often feel the need to CREATE something with the stitches I learn.

Queeniepatch said...

Thank you for sharing this information.
I Googled matty cloth and phulkari. Fantastic and colourful embroidery! To make such even stitches without using waste canvas or evenweave fabric must need a lot of training.

Queeniepatch said...

There are no 'sins'! For free form embroidery, the uneven and rough Cross Stitch is perfect, and so easy to stitch.
I want to learn to make even stitches for the kind of kit embroidery, like the picture of the three parrots.

jacaranda said...

I enjoy cross stitch, find it very relaxing. I found a piece I did with my Grandmother when I was 10, still looks in good condition. Have been following your stitching posts, today I can finally leave you a message, my blog posts have been playing up. Take care, pleased you are safe in your area.

Lis Harwood said...

Such a great lesson about a stitch that is considered simple and basic - after all children can do it!! Yet it is difficult to work consistently and to be neat on the back. Cross stitch is where I started in my crafting life so I owe it everything.

carorose said...

Oh Cross Stitch!!
The piece I did in school was so terrible (although my grandmother loved it). Then I arrived in Denmark as a young adult and saw all that Cross Stitch. I just had to master it. I joined the Danish Embroiderers Guild, bought all the Clara Weaver Catalogues (which I still have in the book case), haunted her shop, though I couldn't speak Danish. ) I had to pay excess on my bagagge to get them home. (I toyed with buying those birds). Then I found a shop in Australia, Stadia, and kept stitching. Although I did think I was getting a bit obsessive and gave it away for a while.

Then I went to a new school and I had to teach Cross Stitch to teenagers. So the obsession began again, this time with samplers.

Some tips I have found for laying those threads. I keep a little damp sponge to run my thread over before I thread the needle. This staightens and separates the strands helping them lay flat. And now I have taken to using a frame that helps as well. The latest technique is to use the stitching method they use at the Royal School of Needlework. I am still working on this one as stitching 2 handed is still difficult but it does leave that thread lovely and flat.

Now, back to my Cross Stitch.

Queeniepatch said...

Cross Stitch relaxing? Hm, if you are filling in an area with only one colour and no pattern, I'd say it is relaxing. With change of colours and areas, I would need to concentraate so much I could not call it relaxing.
We are safe, although there have been some after shocks.

Deepa said...

Very interesting many others who commented above, I too started off with cross stitch.Though Matty cloth is used in India for cross stitch, there are experts who can embroider the tiniest of cross stitches in plain fabric.I happen to own one such beautiful piece.

Queeniepatch said...

One good thing about Cross Stitch is that it is usually (and supposed to be) worked on evenweave fabric. The clearly visable holes help to make the stitching easy. From there you can be creative and stitch on any fabric.

Queeniepatch said...

I have always been impressed by fine embroidery, where handkerchiefs or clothes are decorated with the tiniest of stitches on the finest of fabric. I too have a few items where the stitches are so small you can hardly see them. Who has good enough eyes to see, and small enough hands to make such delicate stitches?

Susan Hook said...

very interesting, you have some beautiful cross stitch pictures. I find cross stitch relaxing but to get it right you have to keep the stitches going in the same direction which with me doesn't always happen,

Queeniepatch said...

With a bit of concentration I can get the stitches in the right direction. My main trouble is 'travelling' - jumping a few squares and continue with the same thread there. The back can be one big tangle of treads. I read that on old Chinese embroideries ALL the stitches on the back were vertical and neat! The question is how!

Queeniepatch said...

You have such a solid relationship with Cross Stitch.
There are a lot of avid followers of Clara Weaver in Scandinavia and as I said in the post I guess there is at least one work with Cross Stitch in every home in Sweden. The young used to think it nerdy, then the stitch graffiti came, and now it is the most common form of stitch.
To fully ,aster the stitch I would have to learn the RSN method, but I will skip it for now. I think I have made good progress in my learning curve. Sticking with two hands have never been my thing and as for a frame, that would be OK for a larger piece. I stitched the parrots without a frame or hoop!
Have fun with your Cross Stitch.

Renee said...

These are such wonderful cross-stitch pieces with such sentimental memories attached.

Queeniepatch said...

YOU are the Cross Stitch Queen and I should have interviewed you for advice.