History and Origins
The basic definition is to sew or embroider using crossed stitches to form a picture, one / and one \ stitch in each direction to form a X. The cross stitch is repeated numerous times to create a design. One important note here; it does not matter if you do the \ or / first as long as you are consistent and always have your top stitch pointing in the same direction across the whole design. Here are some examples…
First row of stitches, note they are all in the same direction
Top row of stitches to complete the X
Example of a simple design
Other stitches often used in cross-stitch are ¼, ½, ¾ stitches and back-stitches, depending on the complexity and detail of the design.
Cross stitching is one of the oldest forms of stitching, historical examples of cross stitching are usually in the form of samplers, which are a combination of simple pictures or letters of the alphabet or both together
Example of a sampler
Historically cross stitch was used to embellish and decorate household items such as table cloths and linens or to stitch initials to identify the owners. One of the oldest examples of cross stitch is at Pilgrim Hall Museum and it dates back to the 17th century
Early example of cross stitch and historical information can be found here:
Today cross stitching has become very popular and people use it to complete tapestry styled pictures which can be framed and hung for decoration.
For me and many others it is a hobby that allows me to relax and de-stress and eventually create something beautiful which is rewarding and will last a lifetime. Personally I work on multiple projects depending on my mood although a lot of people focus solely on one until they are done, for me cross stitching is not necessarily about getting the most finishes possible (although it is always nice to finish) it’s more about the journey and having multiple project keeps my interest and stops me getting bogged down on one project - if cross stitching is becoming a chore you’re doing it wrong !