Cross Stitch Glossary

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Agneta Engman Designs - Angeta Engman is the designer and manufacturer of Agneta Engman Designs cross stitch kits inspired by her love of intricate and detailed needlework and her love of the countryside. 

Aida - Aida fabric is an open weave or block-weave fabric that is particularly suited to cross stitch as it has the same number of thread groupings horizontally and vertically (and technically an evenweave). Typical counts (holes per linear inch) are 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 22 count. Aida is usually stitched into every hole which means partial stitches are harder to do. Aida comes in a variety of colours but common colours include White, Cream, Ecru, and Tan. It shouldn't be laundered prior to use and a finished item only hand washed with soap and water. 

Aida Band - Aida Band is a strip of Aida fabric trimmed to size for items such as bookmarks, cushion trims and cake bands. It is usually neatly edged with a decorative trim. 

Anchor - Popular brand of threads and kits, that includes Disney, Elliot and buttons, Forever Friends, Humphreys Corner, Lilliput Lane, Louise Gardiner, Me to you, Newton's Law, Premier Collection, Solo


Back stitch - A stitch technique usually done after other stitches have been completed to outline/ highlight a cross stitch area. It essentially creates a row of stitches and usually only uses one single strand of thread. Most kit manufacturers include instructions in their kits on how to back stitch. 

Basting Stitch - A basting stitch is a long, loose running/straight stitch designed to be easily removed and sometimes used to temporarily hold two pieces of fabric together. They are also used to divide up a fabric into areas for easier reference. 

Batting - See Wadding 

Beads - Beads are sometimes added to cross stitch designs for decorative effect or to add impact. For example, jewellery, wands, stars, etc. 

BF - See Blending Filament 

Binca - A low count (usually 6 count) block-weave cotton fabric, which makes it ideal for beginners, starter kits and for those with less than perfect eyesight. 

Blanc - DMC name for its white (number 1) thread. 

Blended Stitch - See Tweeding 

Blending Filament - Blending Filament is a very fine flat metallic thread that comes in many colours, for example, gold and silver. It can be used on it's own or more often together with one or more strands of ordinary thread. 

Blending/ Blending Floss - See Tweeding 


Cewec - Cewec was founded in 1923 and is one of the leading manufacturers of embroidery in Scandinavia. 

Chart - A counted cross stitch chart is typically a grid of squares, where each stitch is represented in a square with a symbol. The chart legend will list the colour of thread, number of threads and stitch type for each symbol on the chart. 

Color key/Colour key - The colour key on the chart is a list of symbols and colour numbers (and names) that are used in the kit. The colour number will correspond to the colour number found on the skein of floss or thread organiser. 

Count - The count is the number of holes per inch (HPI), and therefore stitches, between the warp and weft in the fabric. The higher the count (higher number of stitches per inch) the more detailed the design will be, but will also take longer to stitch. For example, 14 count has 14 stitches per inch, etc. Counts vary widely (from 2 to 100) and different fabric types typically come in different counts. Binca is usually 6, Aida is usually 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and Evenweave is usually 24, 26, 27, 28,30, 32. Fabrics with counts over 20 are sometimes used for stitching "over two threads", which doubles the size of the design and also makes partial (quarter and three-quarter) stitches easier to stitch accurately. For example, instead of using 11 count, you could use "22 count over two threads". 

Counted cross stitch - Counted Cross Stitch is stitched on plain fabric by counting the holes in the fabric and referencing a chart to determine the position, type and colour of each stitch. 

Crewel needle - See Embroidery needle 

Cross Stitch - A type of stitch that forms a cross (X) shape, which can be worked in various ways, however all of the bottom stitches should go in one direction, and all of the top stitches should go in the opposite direction throughout. Cross Stitch is also the term for the form of embroidery that includes this stitch type as the main element, but also includes other stitches: partial stitches (half stitches, quarter stitches and three quarter stitches), daisy stitches, french knots, and back stitches. Cross stitch has been popular for hundreds of years. 


Danish Method - The Danish method of Cross Stitch which is also called "here and there" is where one completes a line of half stitches and then returns to complete the line. The more traditional method is where each cross stitch is completed before starting the next one. 

Design - See Chart 


Ecru - Ecru describes the shade greyish-pale yellow or a light greyish-yellowish brown. It is often used to describe such fabrics as silk and linen in their unbleached state. Ecru comes from the French word écru, which means literally 'raw' or 'unbleached'. In the 1930s and before, ecru was considered to be the same colour as the colour beige (a synonym or alias for beige), but since the 1950s ecru and beige have been regarded as two different colours. (source: 

Embellished Cross Stitch - Embellished cross stitch typically has the background of the design already pre-printed to reduce the amount of cross stitch required to complete the design. 

Embroidery Hoop - An embroidery hoop is a round frame (usually wood or plastic) that incorporates two rings that fit together to hold embroidery fabric taut whilst stitching. This keeps the fabric flat and even and makes it easier to stitch. 

Embroidery needle - Embroidery needles are sharp pointed and used for embroidery on non-evenweave fabric e.g. Tablecloths, T-shirts, caps, etc. 

Evenweave - The common use of the term evenweave is used to refer to very smooth and regular fabrics, usually made from cotton or a blend of natural and man-made fibres, where the warp and weft threads are the same size, which results in square stitches. Most evenweave fabrics are worked over two threads, so a 28 count evenweave would result in the same size cross stitch as 14 count Aida. (n.b. Technically an Evenweave fabric or canvas is any woven textile where you have the same number of warp and weft threads per inch, which therefore includes Aida, evenweave linen and needlepoint canvas, however the common use of the term evenweave excludes these, especially Aida). 


Fabric - Cross stitch can be completed on a wide range of materials including Aida, Evenweave, Plastic Canvas, Vinylweave, Perforated Paper and other materials. These 'fabrics' come in a wide range of colours and counts. Fabric designed for cross stitching will have the same count/number of threads horizontally (weft threads) and vertically (warp threads), which is important when cross stitching. You can cross stitch using other fabrics if you use a waste canvas. 

Filament - See Blending Filament 

Flat Stitch - See Straight Stitch 

Floss - American term for Stranded Cotton. See Stranded Cotton 

Fractional Stitches - See Partial Stitches 

French Knot - A French knot stitch creates a small raised knot above the fabric. They are used to add texture and a three dimensional look to a design. They are also used for eyes, curly hair or for the centre of flowers. 


Gauge - See Count 

Graph - See Chart 


Half Stitch - A Half Stitch is one single diagonal or half of a cross stitch. The direction is usually indicated on the chart. Half Stitches are used for a variety of effects including shadows, light and shading. 

Hoop - See Embroidery Hoop 

HPI - See Count 


Instructions - kits come with the original manufacturer instructions (where applicable). A lot of kits also include instructions on the required sewing techniques to complete the project. 


Kit - A kit includes all of the materials you need to complete a cross stitch. A kit usually includes a chart, fabric, threads, a needle, instructions, and a picture of the completed project. 

Knots - Avoid creating unwanted knots, which will make your work lumpy, by keeping your thread tidy and untwisted. If you do get a knot try to very gently untangle the knot using a needle. If you're unable to untangle a knot cut the thread behind the knot and sew in the loose ends. 


Linen - Linen is an evenweave fabric is made from flax. The threads used to create the fabric vary slightly in diameter which means the holes in the fabric aren't all consistently spaced, and therefore cross stitches won't all be the same size. This makes linen harder to work with and usually more suitable for experienced stitchers. Linen will very much be in character with a traditional sampler or other design and will also age well. Linen is usually worked over two threads (which helps to smooth out irregularities), so a 28 count linen would have 14 stitches per inch. Linen counts vary from 14 to 40. The two main brands are Zweigart and Permin. 


Maia - Maia is a premium counted cross stitch brand intended for fans of beautiful design. Created expressly for a dedicated stitcher or someone who is wanting to make a statement with a framed piece, Maia kits are of the highest quality imaginable. So whether you are new to stitching or you have been practising the art for many years, Maia is for you. 

Metallic Thread - Metallic threads are used to give work a glittering sparkly effect and come in a wide range of colours (though gold and silver are most widely used), thicknesses and brands. They are best used in shorter lengths than standard cotton as they tend to tangle easily. 

Mounting Board - Mounting Board is a strong cardboard used for framing pictures. It is best to use acid free mounting board to avoid future discolouration and weakening of the fabric. and is either padded or non-padded. If using glass in the frame use non-padded mounting board. 


Number of Threads - Number of threads usually refers to how many strands of thread are used in a particular stitch in a design. Usually two strands of thread are used for cross stitches and one for backstitches. 


Organiser - See Thread Organiser 

Over one thread - Over one thread is the default on how cross stitch is normally carried out, which is, you go up one hole and down the next diagonal hole. i.e. Over one thread horizontally and vertically. Aida is usually sewn over one thread. Also see Over two threads 

Over three threads - Over three threads means rather than going up one hole and down the next diagonal hole (as you would normally), you instead go up one hole, skip two diagonal holes and then go down the next diagonal hole i.e. over three threads horizontally and vertically. This makes the cross stitch three times the size (a 32 count over two would be roughly the same size as an 11 count over one). Also see Over two threads 

Over two threads - Over two threads means rather than going up one hole and down the next diagonal hole (as you would normally), you instead go up one hole, skip a diagonal hole and then go down the next diagonal hole i.e. over two threads horizontally and vertically. This makes the cross stitch twice the size (a 32 count over two would be the same size as a 16 count over one), but does make partial stitches easier. Linens and Evenweaves are often sewn over two threads, though some designs may include a mix of over one and over two (to give extra detail to elements of the design). 


Partial Stitches - Partial or Fractional Stitches are part complete cross stitches and are used to give a design a more natural/ rounded shape and/or more subtle shades of colour. Partial stitches include half stitch, three-quarter stitch and quarter stitch. 

Pattern - See Chart 

Perforated_Paper - Perforated paper is lightweight card with regularly spaced holes in imitation of embroidery fabric. When stitching is complete the excess paper around the design can be cut away to create a regular or irregular shaped decorative item. Typical uses for such items include ornaments to decorate Christmas trees, bookmarks and greetings cards. It is also used in larger sized sheets to embroider motto sayings to frame and display on the wall. Since the paper is of a heavy weight, it does not require a hoop or frame when stitching. Perforated paper is manufactured in a number of different colours and is typically sold as 14-count A4 size sheets. It is not ideal for partial/fractional stitches. (Source: 

Permin - Brand of linen fabrics. 

Plastic Canvas - Plastic canvas is a rigid lightweight plastic with regularly spaced holes used as an alternative to embroidery fabric. It is useful in teaching cross stitch to children as it comes in low counts, can be cut to any shape, doesn't fray and doesn't require a hoop or a frame. Plastic canvas is manufactured in a wide range of colours and counts (typical counts are 5, 7, 10 and 14 count). It is available in A4 size sheets which can be cut to any shape and pre-made shapes such as circles, triangles as well as novelty shapes. Due to its rigidity, it can also be used for making 3D projects. It isn't suitable for designs with partial/fractional stitches unless you stitch over two (which doubles the amount of canvas required). Also see Vinylweave 

Plies - Alternative name for strands or threads. See Threads 

Pre-printed Cross Stitch - See Printed Cross Stitch 

Printed Cross Stitch - A printed cross stitch has the design printed on the fabric and the chart and/or colour key shows you what colour to use for each stitch.  The printed design is sewn over so isn't visible once completed (and will usually disappear once washed). 

Punched Paper - See Perforated Paper 


Quarter Stitch - A Quarter Stitch is half of a half stitch, a fractional stitch, usually used to give a design a more natural/ rounded shape and/or more subtle shades of colour. A quarter stitch can go in any diagonal direction and  ends in the middle of a normal cross stitch, where there is usually no hole, so the needle needs to go through the fabric halfway between holes. Use a sharp needle rather than a blunt tapestry needle. However, if stitching over two holes (i.e. doubling the size of the design), then there would be a hole. 


Royal Paris - With over 120 years of expertise, Steiner et Frères is a leader in tapestry and embroidery with its Royal Paris needlecraft kits. With an extensive tapestry range covering scenery, flowers and animals, there's sure to be something for everyone. 

Running Stitch - See Straight Stitch 


Sampler - A sampler is a cross stitch design that traditionally included an alphabet as an educational aid/ reference. Today samplers generally refer to any design that can be personalised with a name and/or date to celebrate special occasions e.g. Wedding Samplers, Birth Samplers. 

Selvage/ Selvedge - The selvage is the term for the self-finished edges of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unravelling or fraying. The selvages are a result of how the fabric is created. In woven fabric, selvages are the edges that run parallel to the warp (the longitudinal threads that run the entire length of the fabric), and are created by the weft thread looping back at the end of each row. In knitted fabrics, selvages are the unfinished yet structurally sound edges that were neither cast on nor bound off. Historically, the term selvage applied only to loom woven fabric, though now can be applied to flat-knitted fabric. The terms selvage and selvedge are a corruption of "self-edge", and have been in use since the 16th century. (Source: 

Sewing Method - The sewing method (as opposed to the stab method) involves working only on the front of the fabric by pushing the needle through to the back and bringing it back to the front in one action. 

Skein - A skein is typically an 8m length of six-strand embroidery thread. The skein packaging usually includes the brand and colour number. 

Stab Method - The Stab Method (as opposed to the Sewing Method) involves pushing the needle through the fabric from front to back and then pushing from back to front. 

Stamped Cross Stitch - See Printed Cross Stitch 

Stem Stitch - Stem stitch is a variant of backstitch, in which each stitch overlaps the previous stitch to one side, forming a twisted line of stitching. It is generally used for outlining and for stitching stems of flowers. 

Stitching paper - See Perforated Paper 

Straight Stitch - The running stitch or straight stitch is the basic stitch in hand-sewing and embroidery, on which all other forms of sewing are based. The stitch is worked by passing the needle in and out of the fabric. Running stitches may be of varying length, but typically more thread is visible on the top of the sewing than on the underside. Straight or Flat stitch is a class of simple embroidery and sewing stitches in which individual stitches are made without crossing or looping the thread. These stitches are used to form broken or unbroken lines or starbursts, fill shapes, and create geometric designs. Running stitch, Holbein or double-running stitch, satin stitch and darning stitch are all classed as straight or flat stitches. Backstitch is also sometimes included in this category. (source: 

Stranded cotton - Stranded Cotton is a 100% cotton, mercerised to give it a soft sheen, often supplied in skeins 8m in length and made up of 6 strands or threads. Anchor and DMC are brands that are widely used and have a good reputation for their quality and are available in hundreds of colours. Cross stitch charts will indicate how many strands/ threads of cotton to use for each stitch (typically two strands for cross stitches and one for back stitches). 


Tapestry needle - A Tapestry needle has a blunt end which is perfect for finding the holes in the fabric and avoids piercing the fabric or catching the threads of previous stitches. It also has a large eye to hold multiple threads. Tapestry needles come in a variety of sizes depending on the fabric count and number of threads: 11 count fabric - 3 threads - needle 24 14 count fabric - 2 or 3 threads - needle -26 18 count fabric - 2 threads - needle 22 count fabric - 1 thread - needle 

Thimble - A thimble is a hard protective cap that is worn on the finger used for pushing a needle when sewing. Thimbles are usually made from metal or plastic, but also from leather, rubber, wood, glass and china. 

Thread Organiser - A thread organiser is usually a piece of stiff cardboard or plastic that has holes to store different colour threads. Kits that include pre-sorted threads will usually have printed on the card, the thread colour numbers that correspond to the threads used on the project (as shown on the chart). 

Threader - A device, which can be manual or automatic, used to insert thread through the eye of the needle. Cross stitch threaders tend to use a different type due to the thickness of the thread. 

Threads - Stranded Cotton is supplied in skeins 8m in length and made up of 6 strands or threads. Cross stitch charts will indicate how many strands/ threads of cotton to use for each stitch (typically two strands for cross stitches and one for back stitches). 

Three-Quarter Stitch - A partial stitch that consists of a half stitch and a quarter stitch 

Tweeding - Tweeding involves using two (but sometimes more) different thread colours in the same needle, usually to give more subtle colour shading. Also a blending filament can be used to give a metallic effect. 

Two over One - Two over one means, use two strands of thread in the needle, and stitch over one thread (up one hole and down the next diagonal hole i.e. Over one thread horizontally and vertically). Also see Over one thread 

Two over Two - Two over two means, use two strands of thread in the needle, and stitch over two threads (up one hole, skip a diagonal hole and down the next diagonal hole i.e. Over two threads horizontally and vertically). Also see Over two threads 


Un-picking - Un-picking is the process of removing incorrect stitches or other mistakes. For example, using the wrong colour thread or incorrectly counting the position of a stitch. 


Variegated Thread - Variegated thread gradually changes colour along the length of the thread: usually light to dark (and back again), or from one colour to another (and back again). 

Vervaco - Designed by the Belgium needlework company Verachtert. Over the past 57 years Vervaco has established a reputation as a manufacturer of exquisite needlework kits. With a variety of themes there is something to suit everyone. From Audrey Hepburn, to Elvis, wedding and birth samplers, animals, romantic designs, flowers and so much more. 

Vinylweave (vinyl-weave/ Vinyl Aida) - Vinylweave is a pliable plastic canvas that imitates the look of Aida or Evenweave fabric. It can be cut to any shape and bent or folded. It is great for place mats, coasters, fridge magnets and other ornaments. Also see Plastic Canvas. 


Wadding - Wadding or batting is a cushioned layer used under a mounted or framed cross stitch picture on a card or in a picture frame to give the picture a subtle 3D appearance. 

Warp Threads - Warp Ends are the threads that run the length of the fabric (longitudinally) and parallel to the Selvage. In weaving cloth, the warp is the set of lengthwise threads that are held in tension on a frame or loom. The thread that is inserted over-and-under the warp threads is called the weft, woof, or filler. Each individual warp thread in a fabric is called a warp end or end. Warp threads, when pulled out of the fabric, are almost flat. 

Waste Canvas - Waste Canvas is used to provide a grid to cross stitch on to non-evenweave fabrics, for example, T-shirts, caps, etc. Lightly tack the waste canvas to your non-evenweave fabric and then cross stitch the design using a sharp needle. After completing the cross stitch, the strands of the waste canvas can be pulled out to leave the completed cross stitch design on your non-evenweave fabric. Waste Canvas comes in a variety of counts and sizes. 

Waste Knot - A waste knot can be used when starting a cross stitch to secure the thread. A knot is tied in the thread, which keeps the thread from being drawn completely through the fabric. The knot can be cut away once the end of the thread is secured by other stitches. 

Weft Threads - Weft or woof is the thread which is drawn through the warp threads (running laterally from edge to edge) to create cloth. In North America, it is sometimes referred to as the "fill" or the "filling yarn". Weft threads, when pulled out of the fabric, are wavy. (Source: 

Wichelt - American name for Permin brand of linen fabrics. 


x-stitch - See Cross Stitch 


Zweigart - Brand of linen fabrics.