Cross-Stitch Vocabulary: From Aida to WIP


or pick your answer by popular questions:


ADOT – cross-stitch community acronym for “Awaiting Delivery Of Threads.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day)

Aida count applies to the number of squares per inch on an Aida cloth. This means that a 14-count Aida cloth would have 14 squares per linear inch. Typical sizes are 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 count. The higher the number of squares per inch, the finer and more detailed the design will be. DMC recommends Aida with larger squares (between 7 – 12), which are easier to count and stitch for beginners. All of my designs are designed on 14-count Aida cloth.

Aida cloth (or Aida fabric) is “an open, evenweave fabric traditionally used for cross-stitch embroidery.” (Source: Wikipedia) Aida cloth can be purchased in needlework supply stores per metres or by yardage; or it can be bought pre-cut into sheets. The sheet type of Aida is conveniently sealed on the edges to prevent fraying. Aida cloth is usually made from cotton or cotton blends and can be washed by hand in warm soapy water, air-dried, and ironed without damage.

Anchor is a brand of floss/thread used in cross-stitch. The Anchor brand can trace its history back to 1866 when the Clark family adopted the Anchor brand for their embroidery threads manufactured in Paisley, Scotland. (Source: Anchor)

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Back – in cross-stitch lingo, the word ‘back’ refers to the back of your cross-stitch project. Some people concern themselves with making sure that not only the front but also the back of their work is neat. Some champion “messy backs”. Personally, I do not know why anyone cares about this topic.

Back Stitch (or backstitch, often abbreviated as BS) – is a method of stitching using 1 or 2 strands of floss to create more detailed lettering, to outline a cross-stitch piece, or to add details onto a block of colour. Traditionally, back stitches were done in black/dark colours and are done last, after the main colours are stitched in, as an accent.

BAP – cross-stitch community acronym for “Big Ass Project” or “Big Awesome Project.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day) See also: MCBAP.

Beadwork is “the art or craft of attaching beads to one another by stringing them with a sewing needle or beading needle and thread or thin wire, or sewing them to cloth.” (Source: Wikipedia) Beadwork is a fascinating tradition and can be traced back to ancient times.

Blending – using two or more strands of different colours of thread together to create stitches blending colours seamlessly. Commonly used to create smooth colour transitions.

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Carpet refers to the canvas (Aida cloth or different fabric) being completely covered in stitches. Sometimes also called full coverage cross-stitch.

Counted cross-stitch is a form of cross-stitch, where the stitcher counts squares on a blank Aida cloth reading the design from a gridded cross stitch chart. With bigger projects and/or higher Aida cloth counts, it is recommended to use a water-soluble marking pen to create an erasable pattern grid on your fabric.

Counted-thread embroidery is “any embroidery in which the fabric threads are counted by the embroiderer before inserting the needle into the fabric. The opposite of counted-thread embroidery is free embroidery.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Confetti – single stitches of one or more colours spread out on canvas in such way that they look like confetti.

Craftivism is a form of activism, which heavily incorporates crafts as a form of expression or medium of communications. A memorable and widely publicized example of craftivism are pink pussyhats worn at the United States 2017 Women’s March. The term, craftivism is a portmanteau of the words Craft and Activism.

Cross- stitch or cross stitch is a “form of sewing and a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches are placed on an evenweave canvas to form a picture.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Cross-stitch kit is a pack of cross-stitch materials used to prepare one specific pattern. Usually, the kit will contain the printed pattern itself, the canvas, as well as exactly measured threads to finish the cross-stitch. Always consult the seller or the info page to find out what the kit’s contents are.

Cross-stitch pattern (also known as a cross-stitch chart) is a gridded plan of a cross stitch pattern. In the past people would get these in print; individually, in housework magazines, or in form of books; currently, the easiest and most popular choice for pattern makers is to offer the charts as an instant digital download. The chart will show you the gridded pattern with the design represented in colour blocks and/or black and white symbol blocks (each symbol symbolising a colour). A modern cross-stitch pattern will also include information on the design size (in inches, centimetres, as well as measured in the number of stitches), and the threads needed (with the information on the number of strands per floss; and the colour floss codes). Check out also: cross-stitch kit.

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DMC (an abbreviated Dollfus-Mieg et Compagnie) is a French textile company created in Mulhouse, France in 1746 by Jean-Henri Dollfus. Today it is, amongst other things, one of the two biggest embroidery thread (floss) sellers worldwide. (Source: DMC) Its main competitor is Anchor. Most of the patterns you will come across will specify which brand of thread they use or provide colours codes for both DMC and Anchor threads.


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Embroidery “is the craft of decorating fabric or other materials using a needle to apply thread or yarn.” (Source: Wikipedia) Embroidery is a broader term describing the act of decorating fabric with thread or yarn, while cross-stitch refers to a particular style of embroidery on a canvas with evenly spaced holes (evenweave canvas, see below).

Embroidery hoopplease see entry for ‘Hoop’

Evenweave means, that “the fabric has an even number of warp and weft threads per inch. Warp threads run the length of the fabric, while the weft threads run side-to-side.” (Source: DMC)


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FAD – cross-stitch community acronym for “Fun and Done.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).

Floss refers to the bunch of six strands/threads/plies of cotton, which can be separated. Cotton floss is the standard thread for cross-stitch. Any number of strands may be used in the needle, depending on the desired thickness of the thread, or the pattern instructions. Easy to Make Designs made a very comprehensive guide on this! See also: skein.

FO – cross-stitch community acronym for “Finished Object.” Sometimes extended to FFO – Finally Finished Object/Fully Finished Object. (Source: World Cross Stitch Day) You use this tag to showcase your finished cross-stitch online.

French Knot is a type of decorative stitch in embroidery, perfect for dots, eyes, flowers, confetti, etc. To make a french knot, the thread is wound around the needle, which is then passed back through the fabric at almost the same point the thread came from to form a small dot.

Frog / Frogging – pulling out some of your stitches. “Comes from the sound frogs make ‘ribbit ribbit’ sounding like ‘rip it rip it!’” (Source: Caterpillar Cross-stitch)

FS – cross-stitch community acronym for “Forgotten Stash.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).

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Gridding refers to transferring cross-stitch pattern’s grid/guides onto your blank Aida cloth. Scarlet Quince has a comprehensive tutorial on grinding.

Grime guard – is an elasticated piece of fabric that fits your embroidery frame or loop’s edges to protect it from dirt. Very useful, especially if you stitch holding your cross-stitch in your hands (as opposed to on a stand). The Little Lion Stitchery has a nice guide on how to make one.


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Haberdashery – “In the British English, a haberdasher is a business or person who sells small articles for sewing, dressmaking and knitting, such as buttons, ribbons, and zips; in the United States, the term refers instead to a retailer who sells men’s clothing, including suits, shirts, and neckties.” (Source: Wikipedia)

HAED is a commonly used acronym for Heaven And Earth Designs cross-stitch pattern and supplies online store based in the USA. You can visit HAED here.

Half stitch is “a simple diagonal stitch and is most commonly worked in horizontal rows. Usually, when a design calls for a half stitch it is listed under a separate heading in the colour key and indicated on the chart by a diagonal coloured line.” (Source: DMC, DMC explains the half stitch (and other types of stitches you should learn) in a very plain and easy to understand language)

Hoop (also called embroidery hoop) is a pair of two wooden or plastic rings with a tightening screw on the outer ring. An embroidery hoop is used to keep the fabric taunt, therefore, allowing for cleaner stitches. Another advantage of using a hoop is keeping the edges in place and out of your hands, which prevents unnecessary fraying. It is not necessary to use a hoop for embroidery or cross-stitch (especially if you buy Aida cloth in sheets, which tend to be stiffer than Aida cloth bought by metre) but it is a tremendous help. For serious stitchers, there are also special wooden frames and stands that allow for a more comfortable position when working on your project.

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LNS – cross-stitch community acronym for “Local Needlework Store.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).


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MCBAP – cross-stitch community acronym for “Massively Complicated Big Ass Project.”

MSAL – cross-stitch community acronym for “Mystery Stitch-A-Long.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day). See SAL for more details.

Mystery Fibers refers to unidentified fibres that are not thread, yet somehow got stitched into the project.


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Needle minder is a decorative token with a magnet, that keeps your needle safe. The needle minders are customary quite light, made of silicone or plastic, which makes them easy to attach to your canvas without distorting it. It’s a whole subcategory of cross-stitch supplies!

Needlepoint is a surface embroidery technique that is worked on very fine canvas. Cross stitch, on the other hand, is a type of embroidery that uses stitches that are x shaped. (Source: Difference Between). “Traditionally needlepoint designs completely cover the canvas. Although needlepoint may be worked in a variety of stitches, many needlepoint designs use only a simple tent stitch and rely upon colour changes in the yarn to construct the pattern. Needlepoint is the oldest form of canvas work.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Needle threader is the greates invention of the mankind. Threader “is a device for helping to put thread through the eye of a needle. Many kinds exist, though a common type combines a short length of fine wire bent into a diamond shape, with one corner held by a piece of tinplate or plastic.” (Source: Wikipedia)

NIP – cross-stitch community acronym for “New In Package.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).


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ONS – cross-stitch community acronym for “Online Needlework Store.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).

OOAK – cross-stitch community acronym for “One Of A Kind.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).

OOP – cross-stitch community acronym for “Out Of Print.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day).

ORT – cross-stitch community acronym for “Old Raggedy Threads”, meaning trimmed ends of thread or unusable bits of thread you discarded.

ORT jar – a container to store your ORTs.


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Parking is a cross-stitch project management method, perfect for BAPs and MCBAPs. When you are starting with a pattern that has a lot of colour changes and complicated grids, you can use the parking method to continuously stitch multi-coloured blocks. The best way to learn about it is to watch a tutorial. Peacock and Fig has a cool step by step description of the parking method.


Quarter stitch (1/4 stitch) falls into the fractional stitches category. DMC advises the following: “To stitch a quarter stitch, bring the needle up from the lower-left hole of the square of the fabric and down into the centre of the square. Quarter stitches may be stitched from any corner of the Aida square. Use a smaller size needle when stitching quarter stitches. Do not pierce the fibres in the centre of the square. Wiggle the needle to shift the fibres and slip the needle between them.” (Source: DMC)

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Railroading or rairoad method is a simple stitching method that keeps your stitches flat. Here’s a good YouTube tutorial on how to do it.


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SAL – cross-stitch community acronym for “Stitch-A-Long.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day) Lord Libidan has an amazing guide to SALs, which he describes as “a single cross stitch pattern that is broken up and given to you week by week. The idea is that you stitch it at the same time as other stitchers and you can all guess what it is, little details, etc.”

Sampler – Samplers date back to the 15th century and were used as both the showcase of maker’s skills and practice of needlework needed to decorate textiles at home. (Source: The Dacorum Heritage Trust) Traditionally they included letters of the alphabet, numbers, figures, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered it and the date. The word sampler is derived from the Latin exemplum, which means ‘example’. (Source: Wikipedia) Modern samplers are pretty much similar in that they include themed samples of elements.

SBNF – cross-stitch community acronym for “Started But Not Finished”.

SINS – cross-stitch community acronym for “Stuff I’ll Never Stitch”.

Skein is one bunch of floss as they come, wrapped in a paper tube with the details of the thread (material, colour, maker, etc.)

Stamped cross stitch pattern is a piece of a cross-stitch canvas (commonly Aida) with the pattern printed onto the fabric, commonly in colour.

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Tapestry is, as stated in Wikipedia, “a form of textile art, traditionally woven by hand on a loom. Tapestry is weft-faced weaving, in which all the warp threads are hidden in the completed work, unlike most woven textiles, where both the warp and the weft threads may be visible.” (Source: Wikipedia) See also: Warp & Weft

Tent stitch “is a small, diagonal needlepoint stitch that crosses over the intersection of one horizontal (weft) and one vertical (warp) thread of needlepoint canvas forming a slanted stitch at a 45-degree angle. It is also known as needlepoint stitch and is one of the most basic and versatile stitches used in needlepoint and other canvas work embroidery. When worked on fine-weave canvas over a single warp and weft thread it is known as the petit point in contrast to stitches, such as Gobelin, worked over multiple warp and/or weft threads. “Petit point” comes from the French language, meaning “small point” or “dot””. (Source: Wikipedia)

Three-quarter stitch is another example of a fractional stitch (see also: quarter stitch). 3/4 is done by stitching the short quarter stitch first and then adding a half stitch to complete the 3/4 style.

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UFO – cross-stitch community acronym for “Unfinished Object.”


Warp & Weft are “the two basic components used in weaving to turn thread or yarn into fabric. The lengthwise or longitudinal warp yarns are held stationary in tension on a frame while the weft is drawn through and inserted over and under the warp to create a canvas.”(Source: Wikipedia)

Waste canvas “is made up of woven threads that are held together with a type of starch, which dissolves when wet.” (Source: Needlework Tips & Techniques) This type of canvas is used on top of the fabric that is normally not suitable for cross-stitch, making it possible to create a cross-stitch pattern on most clothing. Once the pattern is ready, you wet the clothing according to the waste canvas’ instructions to dissolve the waste canvas fibres.

WIP – cross-stitch community acronym for “Work in Progress.” (Source: World Cross Stitch Day)

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Other cool resources about cross-stitch for you to check out