Counted Cross Stitch on
linen and evenweave fabrics

If you enjoy counted cross stitch, and are by now accomplished with working on Aida, you may like to consider working on an evenweave or linen fabric.

It is not as frightening as it may first appear. Many stitchers who try it, decide they don't want to go back to using Aida.

Evenweave and linen give a much more attractive "background" to a stitched piece. Aida has a "blocky" appearance, as shown by the photo on the right  below. 



As with cross stitch on Aida, it is important to make sure that all your stitches cross in the same direction. This keeps the work neat and looking good on the front, but it is also necessary to avoid trailing long threads across the reverse, as they could be seen from the front.

If your eyes aren't as good as they once were, don't forget to use a good light and magnification if necessary. Don't strain your eyes, needlework is supposed to be enjoyable!


Working over two fabric threads

Normally when I use evenweave fabric I stitch "over 2". If you are working on a 28 count fabric this creates a piece of needlework the same size as if you had used 14 count Aida: the stitches are the same size also. So how do we do it?



Evenweave fabric is woven in an over/under method. If you look at the vertical threads some go over the horizontal ones and some lay below. It is best to start your stitch beside an "over" thread. This helps to keep the stitch from slipping underneath. The saying goes "a picture's worth a thousand words" so check my diagram below if this is not clear.

Imagine if you can a tic-tac-toe board. You have two lines going horizontally and two vertically, giving you 9 places to put your cross or nought. With me so far?

Well just exchange the lines for fabric threads and you can see that you have 9 places where you could put your needle. We normally only use the four corner holes leaving one empty on each side and one in the centre.

So, you've brought your needle up in the correct hole. We are going to take a diagonal stitch "over 2", this involves missing out the first hole and using the second.

We will have an empty hole in the centre of our stitch. Then bring the needle back up two holes down, to form the bottom right hand corner of our cross stitch.

Complete the stitch by skipping the central hole again and going down in the top left corner. Look at the diagram again if you need to.

Working one stitch at a time like this when doing cross stitch on linen is know as the English method. You can use both the continental and English methods on the same piece of work. 

To help me find my place on a chart I use a highlighter to mark off the stitches as I work them.

There are advantages to always starting your counted cross stitch next to a vertical "over" thread.

It is much easier to spot when you have gone wrong!

Working on evenweave also makes it easier to complete fractional stitches

In this case that middle hole is used. If you have ever tried to do fractional stitches on Aida you will know how difficult it can be to pierce the fabric in the middle of a square. Somehow I never seem to get it positioned dead centre which makes the stitch look wonky!

Petit point

Stitching on evenweave opens up another possibility, that of stitching areas "over 1".

This technique is great for adding fine detail to a design and is often used for things like faces and hands. In place of 1 "normal" stitch you will be able to use 4 smaller cross stitches. In needlepoint this technique would be called petit point.

In summary

I hope this cross stitch tutorial on working counted cross stitch on evenweave fabric has been useful to you. At least if you try it, you can then make a decision as to whether you prefer these type of fabrics or Aida cloth to work on.

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