Get Started With Needlework Crafts You Will Love

So, what will it be?  What type of needlework do you think interests you the most?  

Let's start with explaining the very basics of some popular needlework crafts and then you decide. 

Counted Cross Stitch

Counted cross stitch is very simply creating one little 'x' at a time by following a pattern, also known as a chart. The pattern is made up of symbols. One symbol is a stitch, and each symbol represents a color.  This craft is called counted cross stitch, because you count how many symbols of a color you stitch. When the symbols are stitched, a picture or design is created. 

Here's an example of a pattern on the right. Each symbol (in this example numbers are used for the symbols) represents a color.  A cross stitch pattern will tell you what color to use for each symbol. Here are the symbols and colors for this pattern:

2 = Violet

3 = Blue

4 = Yellow

6 = Green

7 = Red

If you start the pattern in the top left corner, you would start with symbol 2 which is violet.  Looking at the pattern, you see starting from the top left corner there are 4 stitches in violet. The next row has three stitches in violet, the next row has two stitches in violet, and the next row has one stitch in violet.

Now remember, there are different thread types to use, different fabrics to use, and different methodologies in stitching a pattern all of which will be explained in more detail in other areas of the site.  This is just a basic pattern to explain the concept of counted cross stitch. 

Here is a computer mock-up of what the pattern will look like once stitched. 

Counted cross stitch can take some concentration, but it's amazing to see colors come to life on an empty piece of fabric!

The best way to get started with counted cross stitch is to buy a small kit to see if you like the craft.   A small simple kit will come with all the materials you need to complete a project.  

You can also start with an easy pattern and some fabric and floss from your craft store. While most large craft stores don't carry a large selection of kits, they usually have fabric for beginners and floss.

Here are some free patterns to start with.  The Fall Quilt Basket and the Turquoise Diamond are perfect for a beginner. 


Needlepoint is a very traditional needlework craft and while the name brings to mind cushions and foot stools, needlepoint projects also consist of beautiful wall art. 

Needlepoint has taken a back seat to counted cross stitch in terms of popularity, but it's starting to make a resurgence. 

Basic needlepoint is easy!  There is usually no counting of stitches needed since a needlepoint design is stamped or hand painted onto a mesh canvas.  Essentially you are filling in blocks of color with floss or yarn using a basic needlepoint stitch. 

Below is an example of a basic needlepoint stitch.  You can see the canvas has holes to stitch through.  

Needlepoint creates a beautiful finished project that is rich in color and texture! 

Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery is also a traditional needlework craft.  Hand embroidery projects consist of a design stamped in outline form on a piece of fabric that is tightly woven.  Different elements of the design are filled in or outlined with different stitches in different colors.

Learning hand embroidery stitches takes some time and practice, but the results are gorgeous!  Plus, there are plenty of resources online and in books that teach hand embroidery. 

Typically you can find hand embroidery kits in the form of quilt blocks, pillowcases, napkins, tablecloths, table toppers, and other household items. Sometimes simple hand embroidery stitches are incorporated into some complex counted cross stitch designs to add additional texture and detail.

Unfortunately, wall art hand embroidery kits are not as plentiful as they were in the past.  But plenty of designs can be found to be transferred to the fabric of your choice.  plus, there are plenty of colors and types of floss available for making a project unique to your taste!

Stamped Cross Stitch

Stamped cross stitch falls in between two categories - counted cross stitch and hand embroidery.  Stamped cross stitch is a design made of  X's stamped onto a tightly woven fabric. These X's are stitched over with floss or yarn. Some stamped cross stitch designs are a bit complex and require counting how many stitches are to be made in a certain color. 

There are many stamped cross stitch kits available in wall art, baby quilts, and household items just like embroidery.  

Stamped cross stitch works up quickly and is a nice alternative to a complicated counted cross stitch pattern. 

Here is an example of a stamped cross stitch quilt block. Image copyright Janlynn.