Cross Stitching: It’s Not Your Grandma’s Sport

DIY GeekMom

Okay, so how many of you thought cross stitching and rolled your eyes? How many of you don’t know what it is? What started out as something to keep me busy when I was twelve has become a form of relaxation for the past 25 years. When life gets crazy, I bust out a needle and thread.

Cross stitching is an endurance sport that takes minimal equipment. Endurance, because if you’re like me, you will set it down for months at a time and a sport because it involves physical skill. The good part is, you can pick it up right where you left off. The only equipment needed is a needle, thread, an embroidery hoop, and a pattern. Cross stitching is a form of embroidery where you make small X’s using thread called floss in fabric, usually Aida cloth. Aida cloth has evenly spaced, easily counted holes. The embroidery hoop holds your fabric taut and the pattern tells you where to place your stitches and what colors to use.

There are three types of stitching: free hand cross stitch, counted cross stitch, and stamped cross stitch. Free hand cross stitch is what my great grandmother did. She would use little X’s and make patterns like roosters or some other animal on her tea towels. I have never tried this one and somehow I think it would be more frustrating than relaxing.

Counted cross stitch either comes in a package with everything you need or, if you’re adventurous, you can buy a pattern book and get your own materials from a local craft or sewing store. You can also download a pattern from numerous websites. With the package deal, you get detailed directions, all your thread, your cloth, and even a needle. They think of everything. I prefer the package deal, but you can’t always find the patterns you want in a package…say, I don’t know, an 8×10 size Dora and Boots with your kid’s name on it. In that case I made my own pattern with software called PCStitch. I simply uploaded the image I wanted, the program converted it to stitches, and gave me a color palette so I could buy my floss colors.

Stamped cross stitch is the easiest of the three. As far as I know, it only comes in a package. The pattern you need to follow is printed on the fabric as well as on the directions. All you have to do is sort your colors, thread your needle, and get started.

The variety of patterns is endless and you are only bound by your own creativity. If your kids’ room is done in Star Wars, then craft a pattern with your favorite one liners or images from the web. This person did a baby quilt and on eBay there is a fabulous pattern with your favorite droids.

Image: keenah5 and eBay

Over the years I have done many counted and stamped cross stitch patterns: from a pillow to Christmas stockings to a baby quilt for my eldest.  In my mind each item was a painting made with needle and thread. The best part about finishing a project is that it gives my children something that I can pass on to them. My great grandmother made quilts that we still use and I like to think that somewhere down the line my great grandkids will pull out that baby quilt and hang it on the wall once more.

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16 thoughts on “Cross Stitching: It’s Not Your Grandma’s Sport

  1. Well said! I feel that way about crocheting. Sure- my Nana was the one who taught me the basics when I was a child and then I didn’t pick it up for many, many years. But now I find solace in pulling the yarn through my fingers and creating modified granny squares.

    I love that crafts that were once considered “grandma” are now more wide-spread with those below the age of 50.

    1. Growing up, it was my Dad that did the cross stitch. He would do only two patterns: Snoopy “Curse you Red Baron!” and Snoopy “Feelin’ Groovy”. He gave those out to everyone. I have often toyed with the idea of learning how to cross stitch so thanks for throwing in the pattern generator tip! By the way, my Dad, the WWII vet and aircraft engineer, also taught me to knit. =)

  2. Well said! I feel that way about crocheting. Sure- my Nana was the one who taught me the basics when I was a child and then I didn’t pick it up for many, many years. But now I find solace in pulling the yarn through my fingers and creating modified granny squares.

    I love that crafts that were once considered “grandma” are now more wide-spread with those below the age of 50.

    1. Growing up, it was my Dad that did the cross stitch. He would do only two patterns: Snoopy “Curse you Red Baron!” and Snoopy “Feelin’ Groovy”. He gave those out to everyone. I have often toyed with the idea of learning how to cross stitch so thanks for throwing in the pattern generator tip! By the way, my Dad, the WWII vet and aircraft engineer, also taught me to knit. =)

  3. i decided I wanted to start cross stitching so my husband makes me patterns in Photoshop. I did cross stitches of both of our Miis, Obama’s Mii, cupcakes, Kitchenaid mixer, Polaroid camera, record player…
    My daughter was born 6 weeks ago and I’m trying to think of something awesome for her.
    I cross stitch while watching movies or tv. It’s so easy to just get into a rhythm.

  4. i decided I wanted to start cross stitching so my husband makes me patterns in Photoshop. I did cross stitches of both of our Miis, Obama’s Mii, cupcakes, Kitchenaid mixer, Polaroid camera, record player…
    My daughter was born 6 weeks ago and I’m trying to think of something awesome for her.
    I cross stitch while watching movies or tv. It’s so easy to just get into a rhythm.

  5. I LOVE cross-stitching! My mom taught me when I was little and I have loved it since. She recently gave me her sewing bag full of thread, patterns and other various supplies. I am about to have a son and his nursery is completely decked out in Super Mario Bros. so I plan to do a lot more cross-stitching for him in the near future.

  6. I LOVE cross-stitching! My mom taught me when I was little and I have loved it since. She recently gave me her sewing bag full of thread, patterns and other various supplies. I am about to have a son and his nursery is completely decked out in Super Mario Bros. so I plan to do a lot more cross-stitching for him in the near future.

  7. Of all the crafty, homemaker things I learned as a kid, sewing was the only one that stuck, and I always liked cross-stitching. I think it appealed to the OCD math nerd in me. I also used it to relax and relieve stress. I don’t do much right now, but I always know I can if I want to buy a new pattern.

  8. Of all the crafty, homemaker things I learned as a kid, sewing was the only one that stuck, and I always liked cross-stitching. I think it appealed to the OCD math nerd in me. I also used it to relax and relieve stress. I don’t do much right now, but I always know I can if I want to buy a new pattern.

    1. I have cross stitched a stocking for my husband, bro in law, sis in law, and daughter. I like to do birth announcements for people too.

      Forgot to mention that my father in law has taken up the “sport” as well since his grandkids were born. I showed him the basics and he took to it like a duck to water 🙂

    1. I have cross stitched a stocking for my husband, bro in law, sis in law, and daughter. I like to do birth announcements for people too.

      Forgot to mention that my father in law has taken up the “sport” as well since his grandkids were born. I showed him the basics and he took to it like a duck to water 🙂

  9. My favorite craft is cross stitching too. I’ve used PC stitch to make a Rainbow Brite pattern and a Garbage Pail kids pattern. The patterns are addictive! The possibilities are endless and there’s never enough time to stitch all of them!

  10. My favorite craft is cross stitching too. I’ve used PC stitch to make a Rainbow Brite pattern and a Garbage Pail kids pattern. The patterns are addictive! The possibilities are endless and there’s never enough time to stitch all of them!

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