X-stitch is another way of communicating “cross stitch”. This is a particular embroidery stitch involving the creation of a simple cross. X-stitch is often assumed to be synonymous with “counted cross stitch”, in which counting fiber threads helps guide the placement of the cross stitches within your design. Good technique demands that the cross stitch is created the same way for all your crosses. My stitching style is to stitch the bottom arm of the cross first, going from lower left corner to upper right corner, followed by stitching the top arm of the cross going from the lower right corner to the upper left corner.
Counted cross stitch involves transferring the pattern chart onto your fabric by counting and placing the individual stitches. On the pattern chart, each different color of thread is indicated by a different symbol. Stitchers often find it helpful to use a highlighter on the pattern chart to indicate which stitches have been completed, because it’s very easy to lose your place as your eyes move back and forth between pattern and fabric. I like to have my design centered on the piece of fabric I’m working with, so I start from the center of the design and work out to the edges as I stitch. Other stitchers like to start at the upper left hand corner and stitch across and down the design.
The detail of design one can achieve with counted cross stitch is remarkable. Some x-stitch projects use 40+ colors for the whole design, and those subtle shifts in shades lead to a picture that can have amazing depth and detail. The size of the fabric and how many threads of fabric you cover with each cross stitch can also enhance the detail of the final design.
Many stitchers find X-stitch more affordable than other embroidery techniques. Charted patterns are not as expensive as handpainted needlepoint canvases. You can keep the cost of a cross stitch project down by using regular cotton floss which comes in a vast array of colors, though I will admit I like the look and feel of stitching with silks or overdyed fibers which cost more than cotton floss.
Mostly I enjoy counted cross stitch because the rhythm of making the crosses relaxes me. I work counted cross stitch projects in hand rather than on stretcher bars or frames, which allows for greater portability. I almost always have a project tucked away in my purse in case I find myself faced with a waiting period of some kind. Large, complicated X-stitch designs can take a while to complete, so every bit of progress helps me get to the goal of the completed project. This Long Dog sampler took me 9 months to complete.