Cross Stitch

sample of contemporary cross stitch 2Cross stitch is extremely quick and easy to work usually done on even weave fabrics. Since it is one of the oldest stitches in the history of textiles and used world wide for creating patterns and embroidered images it is a familiar and favourite stitch of many hand embroiderers. As a stitch, it is simple to work making it ideal as a beginners stitch. However an advanced stitcher should not dismiss it, as this stitch has not survived thousands (literally) of years of textile history without reason. Cross stitch  is easily adapted and you can easily mix threads or change the scale of the stitch to create interest.

In the sample above I have used a metallic thread along side wool, cotton,  silk yarns and donut beads on hand painted Aida cloth. It is still cross stitch on Aida but with a contemporary twist. The same applies to the sample below. This is still Aida cloth but the surface has been hand painted.
sample of contemporary cross stitch

Also a tip to remember if you are interested in designing your own pieces, cross stitch is worked on a grid which means you can incorporate many of the cross stitch family of stitches to produce a rich and varied surface. You don’t have to limit yourself to the cross stitch family as the fact that cross stitch has such an even structure most Canvas stitches, or needlepoint if you are old school, can be combined with cross stitch.

How to work Cross stitch

step by step instructions for cross stitch Work cross stitch by first working a row of diagonal straight stitches pointing in one direction and then work a return journey of top diagonals laid in the opposite direction, as illustrated.

step by step instructions for cross stitch 2Although the construction of cross stitch is the same there are different ways of working. For instance cross stitch can be worked individually completing each cross before moving on to the next. This is a method if you are using a hand dyed multicoloured thread.

cross stitch sample worked in hand dyed threadsNo matter the method used to create the stitch one rule remains constant, and that is, that the top diagonals should always lie in the same direction. Although this rule is sometimes broken by some contemporary embroidery.

cross stitch sample 1

step by step instructions for cross stitch 3Half and Quarter cross stitch

Half and quarter cross stitch is just that. Half the stitch or a quarter of the stitch worked to smooth out the jagged edges of a design.

Cross stitch, which is also known as sampler stitch, Berlin stitch and point de marque.

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Take a Stitch Tuesday 108 Rice stitch and varieties 109 Square Boss

Rice stitch detailWhen I shared this little detail from my sampler I was asked to include this stitch in TAST. I said I would. It has taken me a month to get to it but here it is, another thing crossed off my stitching to do list! I also have a question for my readers towards the end of the article. I would love to hear your comments  about it.

Sampler detail 158This week the stitch is Rice Stitch and two varieties and a variation called Boss Stitch. This stitch is also known as crossed corners and William and Mary stitch. This is thought of as a canvas stitch, but as you can see it can be worked on aida or linen too. If you want to use it on another type of fabric you can use waste canvas.

Sampler detail 164
At first glance it looks a little boring but it is tremendously versatile. It is known as a canvas stitch background because it can be easily worked and builds up quickly.
Don’t let the fact that it is and canvas stitch put you off however because many of the canvas stitches can be worked on Aida (like the samples illustrated) or any even weave fabric with great effect. If you want to work it on other fabric or over an area of crazy patchwork use Waste Canvas.

How to work Rice Stitch

This is an illustrated step by step on how you work Rice stitch. As you can see it is very simple consisting of a cross stitch foundation with a second layer of diagonal stitches added to each arm of the cross.

Rice stitch illustrated stepsHow to work Variety 1 and 2 of Rice Stitch

I want to share 2 varieties (there are a lot more) As you can see they all have the same structure

Rice stitch V1 illustrated stepsThe first variety is a cross worked over more threads so that the diagonal stitches sit apart slightly.

Rice stitch V2 illustrated stepsThe next variety has 3 diagonal stitches worked across each bar.

Rice stitch sample 2You can really have fun with this stitch particularly if you change threads. You can use one thread or colour for the large cross and another thread of colour for the corner tie downs. Swap between thick and thin, metallic and dull or explore colour combinations. Change the size of your stitches and you can always add beads or French knots to really give the stitch a contrast of texture. It is one of those simple stitches that can produce interesting results.

Rice stitch sample 1??Square Boss Stitch
Square Boss stitch is also known as raised knot stitch. Don’t ask me why as I don’t know. However it is so similar to Rice stitch I have decided to group these two stitches together as many of the experiments you can do with Rice stitch you can also do with Square Boss.

Square Boss Rice stitch illustrated stepsSquare boss starts with a larger cross stitch and the tie stitches are tucked further to the crossed threads in the middle. This means that the pattern established varies from Rice stitch but it is really a variety.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with both these stitches.

I have a question.
Would readers like to see more of the canvas stitches included in TAST? I would still have the surface stitches as I still have lots to share. I also have the silk ribbon stitches, Beaded stitches and pulled and drawn thread stitches I could add. What would people enjoy? A mix of stitches or an emphasis on some styles? This year playing with the beaded stitches has made it more interesting for me, but what about you? If you like the canvas stitches is it better to see them worked in steps in thread, the way I have done or is the traditional diagramming better understood. Another thing I have been wondering about is, when we have varieties like this do readers want more time between the publication of stitches so they can “Keep up”?

I would really like to hear from readers. It does not matter if you stitch every week, pick a stitch occasionally or simply read every week. I would love to hear peoples ideas. Leave a comment as to what you like.

Like it? Join in!

Once you have worked a sample,  photograph it and put it online at your blog, flickr etc then swing back to the Last TAST post (you will find it under the category each week)  and leave a comment. If you are pushed for time and don’t get a chance to do it this week, don’t fret as next week I will also open a post so people can leave their details.

If you want to share the technique with friends do so but please link

You can also share your explorations on the  Facebook TAST group, and the flickr TAST site. All these sub groups are set up at request of members

Don’t want to miss our on any of the TAST stitches this year?

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For the Love of Stitching Sample 597

hand embroidery detail on needlework stitching samplerThis area is found on part 42 of The for Love of Stitching Band Sampler. It is a section of freeform embroidery. I also added beads to stitches.

hand embroidery detail on needlework stitching sampler

Stitches Used:

Straight stitch, Satin stitch, French knots, Cross stitch, Rice stitch, Square boss, Bullion knots and I added bugle and seed beads.


Hand dyed perle #5 perle cotton and wool also I used 1 stand of Caron watercolours  thread


Linda 27 count evenweave


This section of the sampler was worked mid 2009.


The For Love of Stitching Band Sampler is 15 cm (6 inches) wide and consists of different strips of fabric which are stitched together to form one long strip. It currently measures 96 feet 5 inches (2,938.78 centimetres), or  32.138 yards which is 29.3878 meters. It is still growing…

Sampler FAQ
For the full back story on this piece visit the Sampler FAQ page.

All posts in the series are in the category  the Love of Stitching Band Sampler.
Are you enjoying this series?  You may enjoy my online Sumptuous Surface Embroidery class which will start on the 7th march 2013

Details about the class, booking and purchase is here  If you are not sure how an online class runs visit this page