Cross stitch is a type of needlework done in "x" shaped stitches, worked on cloth that is usually even weave or the like. The cloth is pulled tight on a hoop or embroidery frame. This ensures that the cloth will not move around while you work, and allows for an easily discernable center.
The cross stitch has a rich history that stretches back farther than almost any other kind of needlework. Though difficult to trace concretely before approximately 600 A.D., there are plenty of cross stitched pieces found together within the remains of ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, the Persians, the Israelites and the Babylonians. Until the sixteenth century or so cross stitching remained mostly a clerical decoration, being used on priestly robes, wall hangings, and other ornaments for the church. Around the sixteenth century, however, the lovely stitch became a popular activity for people to enjoy at home, as well. This was due, in part, to the invention of the printing press. With this brilliant new piece of equipment, books on a tremendous variety of topics were made much more accessible to the common man and woman. Many books on cross stitch were published around this time period.
The early 1900's was a particularly popular era for cross stitch in America. Women found cross stitching to be a wonderful leisure time activity, one that produced beautiful and useful items as well entertainment. Cross stitch kits were purchased through catalogs or at local stores, and a whole plethora of linens, tableware, and wall hangings were produced during this time. Often these lovely pieces were included in a young girl's dowry. Samples of the art have been found all over the world, including Europe, Asia, and the United States. The oldest cross stitched article located in America can be seen in Pilgrim Hall in Mass. It was done by Ms. Loara Standish, daughter of the venerable Captain Myles Standish.
Cross stitch was originally done in simple coloring, usually black and red against a white linen cloth. Many examples of this can be found in Hungary and other Eastern European countries. You will find a few more colorful pieces in places like Denmark, where floral patterns were very popular. More recently, however, the cross stitching market has exploded in an array of colors and shadings, and now much diversity exists in the area. A wide variety of helpful products as well as pattern choices are available.
Cross stitching is very often combined with other forms of needlework such as blackwork (strikingly beautiful detail done in black thread on white or off-white cloth), or crewel embroidery (an ornate form of embroidery heavily focusing on intricate floral and leaf detail). In addition, there are many different forms of cross stitch, as well. Counted cross stitch is done on an unmarked piece of cloth placed behind a marked cloth that is later discarded. Marked cross stitch is a type of cross stitch that has a pattern printed directly on the cloth. This is excellent for beginners of the art and younger craftsmen.
Cross stitch possess a wonderful duality. Often cross stitching will be used to decorate or embellish a pre-existing piece, be it clothing, linens, or tableware. Growing in popularity, however, are cross stitch patterns that are meant to be free standing (or hanging, in this case) projects of their own. People will often frame and hang or display these items by themselves. Truly beautiful in its design, cross stitch pieces are able to hold their own in either field.
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| February 23, 2018
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