Glossary

a
Aida
The most common fabric used for cross stitch, and the best one to use for your first project. It is woven into blocks marked out by regularly-spaced holes. Use these holes to work your cross stitches. Aida is sold in various sizes or counts. The most popular size is 14-count.
Aida Band
This is a narrow strip of aida that has been finished off with a decorative trimming. It is handy for adding a cross stitch design to a towel or curtain tieback.
Assisi work
A type of stitching where the outline is stitched first and then the background is filled in with cross stitch, leaving the area inside the outline 'void' or unstitched.
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Backstitch
This is an outlining stitch that is used to add final details to a design over the top of the cross stitch. It is worked in a 'two steps forward, one step back' motion.
Balger
This was the name of a firm that made threads. Hence, many threads are known as Balger Filaments. Today Kreinik has the use of that name. Hence many Kreinik threads have a number starting with a "B". Often they are labeled BF which could stand for Blending Filament or Balger Filament. Others may be seen as, say, B5200.
Binca
A fabric with a low stitch count. It is really useful for teaching children to stitch, as well as adults who may have problems with their eyesight and not be able to see very clearly.
c
Chart
A grid or graph of symbols or colours that represents the stranded cotton colours, metallic threads, beads etc of the design. A key lists the symbols and the thread number used, as well as a list of materials and instructions.
Count
This refers to the number of holes there are per inch of fabric. It can vary from 6- to 55- count. The higher the number, the smaller your cross stitches will be, so choose a size that you're comfortable with. The most popular size in cross stitch is 14-count aida, and this is usually stitched in two strands. Try comparing this with 16- and 18-count to see which one you like best.
d
Daylight bulb
A special bulb that looks like an ordinary tungsten bulb but is moulded in blue glass which filters out the yellow light, thus giving a more natural light that is easier to stitch by.
e
Ecru
This color is similar to the color of raw silk, cotton or linen.
Evenweave
A general term for fabrics that can be used for cross stitch instead of aida. These are more loosely-woven and less stiff than aida, and come in a high count such as 28- or 32-count. They are stitched over two threads. Linda, jobelan and linen are three popular types of evenweave.
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Fabric
The material on which cross stitch is made, of the fabric is aida though evenweave and linen can also be used. Fabrics come in many colours and many counts. It can also be made of perforated paper or plastic. Only fabric especially made for cross stitching should be used for stitching, because the even spacing of the threads is very important – each type of fabric is made up of holes of an even stitch count. To stitch on other fabrics you can use waste canvas.
Flexi-hoop
This is similar to an embroidery hoop. It can be used either to hold your work while you stitch or as a simple plastic frame because it has a hanging loop at the top. You can buy round, square and oval flexi-hoops.
Flexi-hoop
This is similar to an embroidery hoop. It can be used either to hold your work while you stitch or as a simple plastic frame because it has a hanging loop at the top. You can buy round, square and oval flexi-hoops.
Floss
This is the American term for stranded cotton.
Flower thread
A fine cotton yarn that is used to achieve a subtle effect in cross stitch, typically when stitching delicate designs of flowers. It cannot be divided into strands.
Fractional stitches
A modified form of cross stitch used by designers to create more natural-looking shapes and outlines on a chart. Look out for half, three-quarter and quarter stitches. Half cross stitches are usually given a separate symbol in the key; three-quarter and quarter stitches are shown by a tiny version of the cross stitch symbol in the corner of a square
French knot
A knot used in cross stitch to add detail to designs. They are particularly useful for such things as eyes, noses, punctuation and for adding detail to flowers.
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Graph paper
If you wish to design you own pictures then graph paper is essential. You can buy ordinary graph paper from stationers or special cross stitching graph paper which comes in various counts such as 14- and 18-count.
h
Half cross stitch
Used by designers in addition to full cross stitch to add depth and dimension to their cross stitch designs. Half cross stitch should be worked in the direction of the top arm of the cross stitch so that it ties in with the rest of the design.
Half cross stitch
Used by designers in addition to full cross stitch to add depth and dimension to their cross stitch designs. Half cross stitch should be worked in the direction of the top arm of the cross stitch so that it ties in with the rest of the design.
Holbein stitch
Holbein stitch is sometimes known as double running stitch. You work a row of running stitch in one direction and then work your way back, with a second row, filling in all the gaps.
Hoop
An embroidery hoop is a round frame made of wood or plastic. This has an outer and an inner ring that hold your fabric taut while you are stitching. Stitching with a hoop can help to keep your stitches neat and even.
i
Iron on vilene
A material used for backing finished cross stitch designs to stop fraying and make them easier to handle when mounting. Generally used for small items such as designs for handbag mirrors, coasters and keyrings.
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Jobelan
Jobelan is an evenweave fabric made from 51% cotton and 49% modal. It has very regularly spaced holes that are easy to see, making it ideal for a first project on evenweave. It drapes well and can be used for table linen as well as samplers and pictures. There are 53 shades to choose from in 28-count jobelan. You can buy it from Fabric Flair stockists.
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Knots
Knots can cause problems when you are stitching, suddenly appearing in your thread. In fact, they are not actually proper knots but just very tightly twisted thread. If one appears, take your needle and insert it into one of the loops of the knot and pull gently. You should find that this releases the 'knot' and you can carry on stitching.
l
Linda
Linda is a 100% cotton evenweave fabric made by Zweigart for DMC that is available in 6 shades in a 27-count. It is an ideal fabric to choose for a first project on evenweave.
Linen
Linen is an ideal fabric for creating an authentic-looking sampler or an heirloom piece you hope will last for years. It is an evenweave fabric that is woven from fibres found in the stem of the flax plant. The threads alternate between thick and thin throughout the weave. The thick part is known as the slub and gives the fabric a wonderful texture that sets off a cross stitch design really well.
Loop method
Try this method of starting off when stitching with an even number of strands. Fold the cotton in half to thread your needle, then bring the thread up through the fabric to start. Take the needle down again and push it through the loop. Pull it taut and it will be secured.
m
Metallic thread
This thread can be used to great effect alongside stranded cotton to highlight parts of a design. It is available in typical metallic colours - for example, gold, silver, or bronze - and is available as a stranded skein or on a reel.
Mount board
This is the best material to use when stretching your stitching ready to put in a frame. It consists of a strong card and is best used with the white side facing up. Ask your framer for acid-free mount board to protect your stitching from becoming stained over time.
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Needles
Needles are essential for cross stitching. It is a good idea to have a selection of tapestry needles in different sizes in your workbox for the different sizes of fabric you use. Other useful needles include a crewel needle for working with waste canvas, and beading needles, which are much finer for adding beads to your designs.
o
Overdyed threads
These are specialist threads where a pre-dyed single colour thread is taken and 'overdyed' with other colours with stunning results.
p
Perforated paper
Perforated paper is a thin card that is punched with a grid of holes. It is available in a 14-count and can be stitched just like aida. It is ideal for Victorian-style cards, tree decorations and children's mobiles. Use three strands for the best coverage and handle it gently because it can tear.
q
Q & A
The best way to become a better stitcher is to ask lots of questions. If you have a stitching problem that really 'bugs you!' why not visit our Stitching forums and ask other stitchers to help you?
r
Rice stitch
Rice stitch is a variation on simple cross stitch. On an open or larger holed fabric it gives the appearance of denser cover, because the reverse side stitching shows through more. It can also be used to produce interesting textures using subtly different all highly contrasting colour.
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Stitching over two
When stitching a design on an evenweave fabric, such as 28-count jobelan, work each cross stitch over two threads of the fabric. This means you should count across and up two holes instead of only one to make each half of the stitch. This will make your design come out the same size as it would on 14-count aida. Try counting 'one, two' each time you make a stitch until you get the hang of it.
Stranded cotton
This is the most popular thread used for cross stitch and is sold as a skein. The thread is made up of six divisible strands. Pull out one, two or more strands to stitch a design, as directed in the key.
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Tapestry needle
This is the best needle to use for stitching a design on aida or evenweave. It has a blunt end that will pass smoothly through the holes of the fabric without damaging it.
Tweeding
Tweeding is a technique where two or more colours of thread are used in the needle at the same time to give a subtle blending of the colours.
u
Unbleached
Unbleached threads are available for stitchers wishing to experiment at dying their own threads.
w
Wadding
This is a spongy material that is used to stuff such items as a pin cushion or is put behind a design to make it stand out well in a card or frame. It is available in several weights and is also known as batting.
Waste canvas
Use waste canvas when you want to stitch a design on a non-stitching fabric, such as a tee-shirt or a hat. Tack the waste canvas over the area to be stitched, and stitch through the waste canvas holes onto the fabric beneath. Then pull out the waste canvas threads to reveal the design beneath.
Waste canvas
Use waste canvas when you want to stitch a design on a non-stitching fabric, such as a tee-shirt or a hat. Tack the waste canvas over the area to be stitched, and stitch through the waste canvas holes onto the fabric beneath. Then pull out the waste canvas threads to reveal the design beneath.
Waste knot
A method of starting your stitching when there is no where else to anchor your thread. Tie a small knot in the end of your thread and take the needle down through the fabric, slightly away from where you are going to start stitching. Now bring the needle up at the position on the fabric where you wish the first stitch to be and stitch as normal. The thread at the back of the work will be secured as you work your design and you will then be able to cut off the waste knot.
Waste knot
A method of starting your stitching when there is no where else to anchor your thread. Tie a small knot in the end of your thread and take the needle down through the fabric, slightly away from where you are going to start stitching. Now bring the needle up at the position on the fabric where you wish the first stitch to be and stitch as normal. The thread at the back of the work will be secured as you work your design and you will then be able to cut off the waste knot.
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X-stitch
Your favourite hobby!
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Yarn
Cross stitch can be worked in yarn on a larger count fabric such as 6-count Binca. Any type of wool is ideal for introducing children to cross stitch, as the yarn is non divisible and can be threaded straight onto a needle.
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Zweigart
Zweigart is a well known manufacturer of stitching fabric. There are a fantastic range of colours, fabrics and count. Visit your nearest stockist to ask about the range available.