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Cross Stitch is a fairly recent phenomenon. The style that we know today as cross stitch became popular only in the latter half of the 17th Century and reached itīs heyday at the end of the 18th Century and in the 19th Century with Samplers. At the end of the 19th Century, it died out until a huge revival in Cross Stitch occurred in the latter half of the 20th Century. The stitch used (the crossed stitch), however, is one of the oldest known embroidery techniques (evidence of a crossed stitch has been found in Viking and Anglo Saxon embroidery).
In these two articles I shall be looking at cross stitch. Part 1 will look at the historical aspect, and Part 2 at different types of crossed stitches and at ways in which historical stitches can be used to enhance your modern Cross Stitch.
Historically, crossed stitches have been used in all embroidery techniques - from crewel work to canvaswork. They have, however, only been one element of the work.
Elizabethan Blackwork as well as Crewel Embroidery uses both free-style and counted thread cross stitches as part of their stitch repertoire - and these stitches were used both on linen canvas and fabric.
The advent of the Sampler as a form of artwork - rather than a "practice" piece in the 17th Century moved cross stitch into a technique on itīs own - although a number of different crossed stitches were used in these samplers.
This stitch was probably used because the cross stitch is a very easy stitch - and Samplers were used to teach girls the fundamentals of embroidery - and to keep them out of mischief.
Interestingly, many of these samplers had the designs drawn onto the fabric and then stitched - rather than working from a chart as we do now.
In the 20th Century stitchers have 2 different forms of Cross Stitch available to them - one is the counted cross stitch - where the design is charted and the stitcher translates the design onto the fabric by counting threads. To do this, the Stitcher must use even-weave or Aida cloth.
Charts are produced by many different publishers, and in a very wide range of subjects - from copies of historical samplers, to fantasy and television themes.
The second is the stamped pattern. A chart is still used in this to show the colour and shadings, but the actual design is stamped onto a piece of fabric. It is not necessary to use evenweave or aida fabric to do this style of cross stitch - however it is not necessarily easier to do - in fact it can be more confusing, as it can sometimes be hard to see where a stitch is to begin and end.
These are rather harder to find, and have limited subjects available.
In part 2, I will be looking at some of the different types of crossed stitches you can use.
Is there anything that you would particularly like to see an article on? If so, please e-mail me with your suggestions.