Counted cross stitch is a form of embroidery where a tiled pattern is replicated on gridded fabric (called Aida). The pattern is not printed on the cloth so stitches need to be counted in relation to each other. Most stitches will have the shape of an X, thus giving this needle art the name of cross stitching.


A cross-stitch pattern consists of a grid with numbered rows and columns. Each pattern is accompanied by a colour key in which the different thread colours are represented by a symbol and the official DMC code. One square on the pattern represents one stitch. Each corner in this square represents one hole in your fabric. As you read your pattern, be on the lookout for two things:

One more important thing to locate on the pattern is the centre. It is indicated by the intersection of the two red lines or by following the black arrows on the top and to the left of the pattern.

Your first stitch should be one near the centre of the pattern. From there, you can make the other stitches by counting the squares. Once you identified which stitch you will start with, find the middle of your fabric by measuring or counting squares.


The needles typically used for cross stitch are blunt-ended and are often referred to as tapestry needles. For stitching on 14 count fabric, a size 24 needle is a good choice.

Embroidery thread is made up of 6 individual strands. Rarely will you stitch with all 6 strands; refer to your pattern of choice for information on the number of strands to use. The more strands you stitch with, the bulkier your stitches will be. Using 2 strands is usually recommended when stitching on 14 count fabric.