When starting a new hobby, it can be daunting when you’re not familiar with the technical terms but getting to grips with the basic lingo can make a world of difference. Going into a craft shop with no clue what you’re looking can knock your confidence before you even begin. Here’s the jargon you need to get you started on your first cross stitch pattern – experts need not apply!
Aida Aida cloth is the fabric used for cross stitch, with an open-weave pattern for your stitches to fit perfectly within. It is manufactured with various sizes of open-weave for the stitches to sit within, and these are known as the ‘counts’. The most common count sizes are 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22 and 28. For example, a 10-count Aida has 10 square holes for stitches per linear inch. It’s available in loads of different colours and will usually form the background of your pattern – so pick a colour to suit.
Charts Cross stitch patterns are also known as charts. Each coloured block or symbol marked on the grid corresponds to one stitch on the fabric. Patterns often have lines or arrows to mark the centre but if not; it is helpful to mark the centre yourself before you begin stitching.
DMC DMC is a brand of embroidery thread, and it’s the one I use most commonly. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I like the quality of their products and their colour range – I probably have at least one skein of every shade from DMC and I am a self-confessed floss hoarder! Most designers seem to use this brand probably because is sold world wide and can be bought in most craft stores and haberdasheries.
Floss Just another word for embroidery thread. The most commonly used floss or thread is 100% cotton and made up of six strands interwoven. Threads come in lots of different types for you to play around with; including metallic, satin and ombre, to really make your designs pop!
Frog or Frogging When you ‘rip it’… because that sounds like a frog! In cross stitch, when you make a mistake, you rip the threads out to do it again; so it’s done on purpose, rather than by accident.
ORT Old Raggedy Threads! If, like me, you keep all your unused lengths of threads in a jar to use later, you are already cultivating your very own ORT jar. I was doing this for ages before I even knew it was a thing. I thought I was just being frugal! But no, lots of people do it. Who knew?!
SAL Stitch Along. This is when several people are working on the same pattern, often on social media groups. Designers will often release parts of a pattern over a period of time without those stitching it knowing what it will be when it’s complete, only the theme. This is something I plan to do with my subscribers so make sure you sign up to take part! They’re usually really good fun and you end up with patterns you may never have made otherwise.
Skeins Embroidery thread, or floss, comes in skeins. These are the little plastic or wooden reels holding the thread. If you’re anything like me, you’ll quickly accumulate quite a lot of them..!
UFO An Un Finished Object. I have vast amounts of these! They are projects that have been relegated to a drawer somewhere in our spare bedroom in favour of a new pattern that has caught my attention. Often, they are designs that were going to be sold in my shop but didn’t make the grade for one reason or another. I’ll get round to them eventually. Probably…
WIP WIP stands for Work In Progress. Not to be confused with UFO, this is a project you are actively working on.
If you come across an abbreviation or jargon word in the cross stitch world that isn’t on this list, let me know, and I’ll add it in! As with anything, the language around cross stitch evolves all the time so there’s always new terms being used. I don’t want anyone to be left behind or feeling like the lingo is too laborious, so keep at it and keep in touch. We’ll all get started together.