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Cross stitch is a form of needlework in which the crafter creates a design or picture by sewing small x-shaped stitches with embroidery floss. Stamped cross stitch projects are those in which the pattern is printed directly onto the piece of material, creating an easy guide for the crafter to follow. Stamped cross stitch projects are good for beginners and for those looking for an easy needlework project.
In traditional or "counted" cross stitch, the pattern is not pre-printed on the fabric; crafters must use an accompanying diagram to place their stitches. Because there is no printed pattern, this type of project is usually performed on aida, a special woven fabric with regularly-spaced holes that allows crafters to form even stitches that are consistent in size and spacing. Since stamped cross-stitch projects have the pattern printed directly onto the material, and therefore give the crafter a built-in size and spacing guide, the need for aida is eliminated. While many stamped projects do use aida, sewers can also work directly on linen, cotton or other materials.
Craft stores often sell cross-stitch kits that include a stamped piece, an instruction guide and the colors of floss necessary to complete the project. Some also include a needle, a frame for the project or an embroidery hoop to keep the material stretched tightly to make stitching easier. Common stamped cross stitch projects include pillow cases, hand towels and wall hangings, such as birth announcements, pictures or samplers.
Some stamped cross stitch patterns are printed in a single color, allowing the crafter to choose the shades of floss she prefers, while others are color-coded. For example, a stamped cross stitch picture of a rose might show green Xs for the leaves and stem and red Xs for the rose itself. Of course, a crafter can opt to use a different color than what is printed on the pattern, but if the stitches do not completely cover the printed X, the printed color may show through, marring the appearance of the finished piece.
Beginning needle-workers, children and those with poor eyesight often find stamped cross stitch projects easier to complete than counted cross stitch projects because the work involves no counting, and the printed Xs are usually easier to see than the tiny, unprinted squares woven into aida. Printed patterns also eliminate the possibility of miscounting, an error that can force the crafter to remove several rows of work and re-stitch. Done correctly, both types of cross-stitch can turn out beautiful needlework projects that crafters can be proud to show off or give as gifts.
My friend's mom was big into counted cross stitch, but I never could get the knack. She also knitted and did a lot of other crafty stuff like quilting.
I bought a beginner's counted cross stitch kit and she tried to teach me, but it was hopeless. I found the stamped kind easy to do, but the counted? Not a chance. Still, I admire anyone who can do it, but I'll have to stick to the stamped variety.
I do hand embroidery, but only do stamped cross stitch. I could never get the hang of counted cross stitch. Suffice it to say, the margin for error is much smaller with stamped cross stitch.
It's getting increasingly more difficult to find nice stamped kits. It's getting to where about the only way to get the patterns I want is to buy transfer patterns which iron on and are, thankfully, much easier to find.
Stamped cross stitch looks just as nice as counted, and you'd never know the difference if it weren't for the fabric. That's the main giveaway.