Most people do counted cross stitch on three main varieties of fabrics or backings: 1) Plastic canvas, 2) a pre-woven fabric called Aida, which has large holes and comes in standard sizes, or 3) on finer fabrics: linen or even-weave fabric. The linens are not the same sort of linens that you would use to make clothes, but special embroidery linen where the warp and weft threads are evenly regulated so that the resulting stitches come out square shaped and not rectangular.
More than one novice cross-stitcher has tried to stitch on the easier to obtain and cheaper linen cloth meant for clothing and discovered to their dismay that it produces uneven rectangular stitches and a distorted image.
Linen used in embroidery has the distinctive linen “look” in that the threads go “thick-thin” repeatedly at irregular intervals of the thread length, it’s not too dramatic a difference, but a noticeable one, and so some thread intersections could be a connection of “thick-thick” threads and other ‘”thin-thin”.
Normally this wouldn’t matter because cross-stitch on linen is usually done “Over-Two”. The weave is tighter than with Aida fabric and this is reflected in the thread count that denotes the fabric.
The Thread Count number is simply refers to the number of threads per inch of fabric, so a single stitch done on 14 count Aida fabric would be the same size as a single stitch done on 28 count linen or even-weave Over-Two threads.
This means that each stitch is done two threads high x two threads wide, so any variation in the thickness of the threads is generally evened out. It’s another story when stitching “Over-One” though.. more on that shortly.
Even-weave fabric is made especially for embroidery, there are many varieties but as the name implies, there is no thick-thin variation within the threads and so a more uniform look is achieved. When used in cross-stitch it gives a more classical look to any background fabric that shows around the surrounding stitching.
Even-weaves, like linens, are usually stitched “Over-Two threads” but for some of us who like an extra challenge, there is and added dimension for which even-weave fabrics are ideally suited… and that is stitching Over-One thread.
Patterns stitched on Aida fabric have a more “blocky” looking background…
Since I’m a detail fanatic I quickly gravitated to the challenge of Over-One stitching… this means taking an even-weave fabric and instead of stitching a cross-stitch that is two threads high and two threads wide, I stitch it one thread high and one thread wide.
This means that instead of getting 14 stitches to an inch Over-Two, I can now get 28 stitches to the inch Over-One.
Effectively there will be 4 Over-One stitches in the same space of a single Over-Two stitch, and a finished pattern that would have been for instance: 6 inches by 8 inches would stitch up Over-One with a resulting size of 3×4 inches. This will give a more photographic effect and allows me to stitch small items like Christmas tree ornaments using patterns that would normally be too big for that purpose.
I usually have at least one ” mega” cross-stitch project on the go, but like to also have a small series of projects on hand for quick and easy transport. I came up with an idea.. I would stitch Christmas Tree ornaments for my children… using a variety of subjects and there will be one each for every year, from baby styles to more grown up ones, all with the same border pattern and they will be made into ornaments later and presented to them when they leave home and have their first Christmas tree of their own. These are all stitched Over-One thread on, in this case 25 count Lugana even-weave fabric.
The one in the next photo isn’t finished because I need to stitch the last highlights with metallic gold thread, which is less forgiving to stitch with and is pone to breaking if the fabric is folded or clamped in a frame, so I will stitch the rest of this fabric full of ornaments first and do the gold and backstitch for this one at the very end.
On the edge of the fabric I have stitched the numbers of the two colours I use in the border… just in case I forget.
This one also needs backstitching and the odd gold highlight to finish it off..
This one was especially for my daughter, then aged three, to celebrate the pink frenzy age..
I hope that when the whole project is completed that my son and daughter will each have a set of 18 or more hand-made ornaments to decorate their first tree with… and I hope that even though it will mark a new chapter in their independence, that each time they look at it they will know that Home is not far away. Of course I also hope that they will be close enough to us that we will still be celebrating a Family Christmas together either at their house or ours.
So if you want to get inspired, start a family tradition… make something that tells your kids: “made for you with love” that will hopefully be treasured and passed on though future generations.