Cross Stitch is probably the oldest and best known of the embroidery stitches. It's essentially two straight stitches worked on the diagonal with one placed crosswise over the top of the other. You use an even weave fabric like linen, coarse cotton, or Aida cloth and you count the threads to keep your stitches the same size and evenly spaced. You'll sometimes hear this referred to as counted cross stitch and that's why. I'm using linen for my examples but will also show you an example of Aida below. Personally, I don't like the stiffness or look of Aida, but you may find it easier to work with at first—at least the holes are easier to see.
Cross stitch is done in a row, with the first half of the stitches worked in one direction and then completed on the way back across the row. Most people probably won't be able to tell if you haven't kept your stitches all in the same direction, but it makes for a neater and more professional look.
To start, bring your thread up in the space between threads in your fabric. Count up a certain number of threads (I used four) then to the right the same number. Take your needle to the back and pull the thread through.
Come up again directly below where the last stitch ended. And down again diagonally at the same spacing as before.
Continue until you reach the end of the row.
Now, working backwards and using the holes from the first stitches as a guide for your needle, complete each cross and finish the row.
And this is how it looks when finished.
Here’s what it looks like on Aida cloth. For the top row I used every other hole to make a larger stitch; on the bottom row I used every hole and made a smaller and more densely-packed stitch. You can see how pronounced the threads are on this fabric (that's what I don't like), but the holes are also more visible. It's really just a matter of personal preference.
Now for some examples. Black crosses used for a border on a towel with cherries (the cherries are done with straight and outline stitches)—
Crosses worked in a grid to fill the inside of a plum with color—
A cross stitch flower with three shades of pink and red—
A row of cross stitch chicks and flowers decorating a baby pillow—
A morning glory motif from a vintage towel—
And I have a little surprise for you this week—your very own pattern for this beautiful morning glory. Just click here to download a pdf that you can print out (you'll need to have Adobe Acrobat to open the file). Enjoy!