How to learn counted cross stitch
Learn cross stitch by starting your first project
If you've seen a stunning piece of stitchery but never tried the craft yourself, you may have wondered how to learn counted cross stitch. The best way to learn is to pick a small project and get started. You will learn counted cross stitch as you go.
Selecting a Kit
For your first project, you will benefit highly from a counted cross stitch kit. You can buy kits at craft stores, needlepoint shops, or even the craft sections of some general department stores. Kits will include the instructions and design chart, Aida canvas or linen, all the necessary embroidery floss, and a needle. The only other supplies you should need would be scissors and perhaps a highlighter or pencil if you want to mark off completed rows.
Larger cross stitch projects are best stitched on fabric stretched over a hoop or square. But for small projects, you will just hold the fabric in your hand. For your first project, choose a smaller design, which will seem less overwhelming while you learn counted cross stitch.
Beginning to Stitch
You will usually begin your design at the center. The chart will indicate a center arrow on either side. Follow these lines until the meet, and you will find the center of the chart. Then fold your canvas in half horizontally and then vertically; the shared point of the two folds represents the middle of your canvas. If you want to begin with the middle stitch, you can begin on the point of the folds. If this stitch falls into a row of same-color stitches, you may count over a few squares and begin at the start of that color's line.
Following the Chart
Following the chart accurately is a big factor in how to learn counted cross stitch. It's also a skill that can translate into other needlepoint crafts. The kit instructions contain a key as to which symbols on the chart represent which colors of floss. You will generally work an area of one color together before you move on to another color.
Some people like to mark off completed rows on the chart with a highlighter or pencil. The larger the design, the more helpful this practice is. Veteran stitchers use this trick, too, so it's not just for when you want to learn counted cross stitch.
Starting and Fastening Off Embroidery Floss
Observe this important tip as you learn counted cross stitch: Don't knot your embroidery floss. Knotting creates a mess on the back of your work, and knots can slip through the holes in your canvas.
When starting the embroidery floss, pull it through at the appropriate location but leave a two- to three-inch tail on the back side of the canvas. Work the cross stitches over this tail.
When fastening off the embroidery floss, leave a tail of at least several inches. Thread the needle under two or three inches of completed stitches on the backside of the canvas. Then trim the embroidery floss. When you keep the back of your work neat, the finished design will look good from the front. Others may not even know this is your first project, where you discovered how to learn counted cross stitch.
Working the Stitches
In most cases, you will want to work one horizontal row of cross stitches at a time. You will work the first half of the stitch (which looks like this: / / /) across the row; then you will come back and work the second half, slanting in the other direction (which looks like this: \ \ \), to complete the crosses (which look like this: XXX). After you complete the row, you will move to the row of the same color that is above or below the row you just worked.
Follow these tips, and you will soon learn counted cross stitch. Then you can move on to bigger projects.
Moving on to Bigger Projects
After you learn counted cross stitch and complete your first project, you may start itching to complete a larger, more intricate design. While you can purchase a pattern and supplies separately, choosing a cross stitch kit will save you a lot of time. And don't forget to purchase a needlework hoop or frame. It will keep the fabric taut while you work and make it easier for you to stitch.