What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Counted Cross Stitch

Counted cross stitch is one of the easiest hobbies and one I've enjoyed for years. The finished piece can be quite detailed as in our wedding sampler that took me several months to complete or can be simpler as in the following pictures. As with all my cross work pieces, my initials are added. For online purposes, I have blocked those out.

Cross stitch is done on aida cloth. This cloth looks like a miniature grid and it is. It is available in many colours. In order to work the cloth, you need a pattern. Each colour in the pattern is denoted by a symbol as in the final picture. The more complex the pattern, the more colours. The piece is generally worked with one or more strands of embroidery floss. You can buy a kit that includes the aida cloth, pattern, floss and needle or you can buy everything seperately. Be warned that there are some patterns that only come as kits. There is software online for creating unique cross stitch patterns using your own graphics or photographs. I've tinkered with these when I was using strictly PC but haven't checked out the Mac programs yet. I will do so shortly as I want to do a cross stitch of our new grandbaby for her second Christmas. At less than 2 days old she likely won't remember much of the first!

When getting started, take a close look at the aida cloth. You will see tiny squares with a hole in each corner. That is what you will be using. For a cross (X) you will load the thread into the bottom left or right corner then take your floss out the opposite corner at the top forming half of the X. Now go back to the open bottom hole and repeat forming the other half of the X. There, that is the most important step to master but see additional tips included with the picture descriptions. The next important stitch is the outline (-). In is usually worked in the outside two holes of the X but may be worked in the absence of a X as all the photos show. It is used for outlining and defining as well as lettering. Bring your floss up through the hole then go directly to the next adjacent hole and in forming a straight stitch. Now that you are able to do these two stitches you will be able to create your own cross stitch pieces. Watch for an entry coming soon showing some of the more detailed stitches on some of my other pieces.


This is one of my earliest pieces of counted cross stitch that actually got framed. Unfortunately unlike my later pieces I did not put my initials or date on the piece not that it matters as it was completed just before our wedding. Every home needs a blessing before moving is so this was it.

This sampler complete with 10 1/2" x 10 1/2" walnut frame has no glass, the traditional way for framing needlework. It is done entirely in cross (X) stitches.

A sampler is exactly what it sounds like. It is a piece of work in which you practice your stitchs before going onto more detailed work. Most samplers include letters of some kind and many as in my other samplers include numbers. These really are your learning pieces so ripouts (ribbets - a term from knitting) are a given. Learning to ripout your mistakes is as important as avoiding mistakes.

Amish Girls, 1987

This cross stitch piece was completed in 1987. It is 8" x 10" double matted framed in oak with a glare-free glass matching the following picture. A matchin Amish doll that came with the pattern sits beside the piece. It was one of my first semi-complex pieces. Only two stitches are used in this piece, the cross (X) and the outline (-). As you can see, with only two basic stitches the effect can be lovely. Much of the effect comes form the many colours used. In true Amish fashion neither the cross stitched piece or the doll is perfect. The piece contains one off stitch and the doll remains unfinished.

The trick to getting a profession look is to make sure all your X's run in the same direction. So if your bottom stitch for the first leg goes from the left corner to right corner and the second leg goes from the right corn to left corner, do all the X's the same.

Another thing with cross stitch is like any other needlework your work should be as neat on the reverse side. Work the beginnings and endings of floss into the back then snip off. There should be no knots of any kind!

Recipe for A Happy Home, 1987

This piece was also completed in 1987. This piece is 8" x 10", double matted in a oak frame with non-glare glass. It really is a very simple cross stitch that I didn't even have a pattern for. Instead, I found the recipe and charted it out myself using graph paper. It is rather simplistic by using only three colours. I did this piece for three reasons. First I really liked the recipe that does hold a lot of truth. Second, I wanted to do something that depended on the actual design of the pattern using graph paper. Finally, the majority of this piece is done in the outline (-) stitch something always worth practicing.

There is something very satisfying seeing your own creations warming your home. Cross stitch is just one of those homey, comfy hobbies that really help to make your house a home!

Sunbonnet Girl, 2006

A few years ago, I did up several Chrismas decorations using wood curtain loops, cross stitched centers and felt backing. I'll post on this craft later as it is rather cute if you can find the loops. Then awhile back I noticed the dollar stores were carrying mini cross stitch ornaments. They come as miniature hanging ornaments as this one or cutsy, country style vegetable bags stuffed to make it look like they are full. Well, I could resist picking up several just for those times I'm bored.

This piece measures about 2 1/2" x 2 1/2". It is a nice learning piece as it comes with everything including the little hanger and is only a dollar. It uses three stitches, the cross (X), the outline (-) and what I call a mini outline which is half of the outline. The mini outline is for attaching the bow. Go in on the front side leaving a longer tail, come up through the back side close to where the first tail started. Tie a bow and snip your ends to the desired length. Note in the picture what the pattern looks like. Work your cross (X) first, then your outline and finally any stitches like those required for the bow.

Anytime you buy a kit, keep the pattern. You never know when you might want to duplicate it. A good digital camera can be a real asset if you would like to try duplicating and antique piece but will likely work best for samplers rather than more detailed pieces. Finally, always try to add your initials and date to your work. I think that makes it so much more personal.

Have fun!

Garden Gnome
© 2007