Cross-stitch is a form of sewing and a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture. The stitcher counts the threads on a piece of evenweave fabric (such as linen) in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance.
This form of cross-stitch is also called counted cross-stitch in order to distinguish it from other forms of cross-stitch. Sometimes cross-stitch is done on designs printed on the fabric (stamped cross-stitch); the stitcher simply stitches over the printed pattern. Cross-stitch is also executed on easily countable fabric called aida cloth but the threads are not actually counted.
Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and can be found all over the world. Many folk museums show examples of clothing decorated with cross-stitch, especially from continental Europe, Asia, and Eastern and Central Europe.
The cross stitch sampler is called that because it was generally stitched by a young girl to learn how to stitch and to record alphabet and other patterns to be used in her household sewing. These samples of her stitching could be referred back to over the years.
Often, motifs and initials were stitched on household items to identify their owner, or simply to decorate the otherwise-plain cloth. In the United States, the earliest known cross-stitch sampler is currently housed at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The sampler was created by Loara Standish, daughter of Captain Myles Standish and pioneer of the Leviathan stitch, circa 1653.
Other stitches are also often used in cross-stitch, among them ¼, ½, and ¾ stitches and backstitches.
Cross-stitch is often used together with other stitches. A cross stitch can come in a variety of prostational forms. It is sometimes used in crewel embroidery, especially in its more modern derivatives. It is also often used in needlepoint.