A Cross Stitch History Lesson

Mar 26, 2023

Ah, cross stitch...my favourite hobby that even my great, great, great grandmother probably took part in! Before all the modern-day technology and video-game distractions, cross stitch was a popular pastime for many people throughout the ages. Today, it still remains popular as a hobby for people all over the world. Whether you're just delving into cross-stitch or are a needlework aficionado, have you ever been curious about the history of cross-stitching!? I have, and I went down a rabbit hole online to find out. There is a ton of information out there but here is a quick "Coles Notes" version of what I learnt...

Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and can be found all over the world since the middle ages. I think (not really sure, I read conflicting articles) that the ancient Greeks and Egyptians were among the first to use cross-stitch. One of the earliest samplers, discovered in a tomb in Egypt, dates from the 6th century.

Throughout history, cross stitch was also used in churches all over the world, where intricate tapestries featuring animals and plants were hung for decoration. The importance of needlework was so great that skilled artisans created entire scenes and religious figures using only a needle, thread, fabric, and beads. These pieces are now considered artistic masterpieces that showcase the skill of generations past. One cool fact about cross stitching that I came upon is that it was believed to contain magical powers! This is why it often found its way into churches and palaces—as it was believed to protect against harm and bad luck.

The 20th century saw a bit of a boom of interest in needlework, especially cross stitch. It was a popular form of art amongst the English Upper Class in the late 19th century, and by the early 1920s could be found in social clubs throughout Europe and America.

It wasn't until the 1970s that needlework really exploded though. This was due to a few influential figures like Mary Corbet who created Needle 'n Thread and sparked an entire generation's interest in needlework. With publications like her magazine, Needlepoint Now, and Jean Estes' Cross Stitch Pattern Library, the craft was once again popularized.

These days you can find cross stitch pieces everywhere - from small projects to framed masterpieces hanging on people's walls. It's no wonder that this ancient form of art is still around and making its way into modern lives all over the world!

This craft has come a long way from the simple geometric forms of its early days. Modern cross stitch designs are more detailed and intricate, making them even more interesting - and challenging - to create.

Within the world of modern cross stitch there is a wide array of patterns and techniques to try. Here are some of the most popular:

- Backstitch

- Half Cross Stitch

- French Stitch

- Needle-weaving/Bead-weaving

- Blackwork

You can use these techniques as a starting point that will allow you to explore your own creativity and discover even more unique methods for making pieces of stitched artwork.

From ancient Egyptian tombs to churches spanning all around the globe, one thing that has remained constant throughout history is the presence of needlework and cross stitch. It's clear that this hobby has withstood the test of time, and it's no surprise that it still continues to be a favourite hobby today.

Whether you’re a beginner just getting started in the craft or a professional looking to expand their repertoire, one thing is for sure: cross stitch is here to stay, and so are its avid fans.

If you interested in learning more just hop online, there is a lot of information out there! Hope you enjoyed my quick history lesson. Happy Stitching!