When you first foray into the world of stitching it can seem like everyone around you is talking in a different language.

What the heck are WIPs? Aren’t frogs little jumpy green things that live in swamps? Don’t you bury bodies, not threads?

Never fear, my friend, for after reading this post, you too will be talking the language of the stitchers.

When you first foray into the world of stitching it can seem like everyone around you is talking in a different language. What the heck are WIPs? Aren't frogs little jumpy green things that live in swamps? Don't you bury bodies, not threads? Never fear, my friend, for after reading this post, you too will be talking the language of the stitchers.

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Aida band – A strip of Aida which you can stitch a border or smaller patterns. These are often used for towel edgings or bookmarks.

Aida cloth – A type of evenweave cloth made for counted cross stitch. It is the most popular cross-stitch fabric as the threads are woven in groups that are separated by tiny holes, making a pattern which is easy for beginners to follow. Aida cloth is available in many sizes which can be identified by the number of stitches per linear inch. For example, 14 count Aida has 14 stitches (or squares) per inch.

Anchor – A popular brand of embroidery floss.

Aperture card – A card that has a hole pre-cut at the front for you, you can use these to make a cross stitch card. Some are tri-fold so you can hide the back of your stitching.


Backstitch – A method of finishing off areas that have been cross-stitched. Backstitching can go in any direction and are used to add detail to a pattern and/or to outline it. They are usually a darker shade of colour than the surrounding stitches.

BAP – Big Ass Project!

Basting  Basting stitches are long, loose stitches that can be easily removed. They can be used to find the centre of a chart by creating intersecting lines across the fabric.

Blackwork – A type of counted thread technique, traditionally worked in black thread on white even-weave fabric, but today is often worked in multiple or other single colours.

Blending –  (can also be called Tweeding). In a blended stitch, two or more floss colours are threaded together on the same needle and are stitched as one. This blends the colours together as they are stitched.

Blending Filament – light, delicate threads for combining with other threads such as stranded cotton to add glisten and sparkle.

Bobbins – Used as a holder for your floss, simply wind your thread around it and write the number at the top. These can come in plastic or paper. You can get stickers with the floss numbers printed on them that you can use as well

Bobbin box/embroidery thread storage box – These are the perfect size to hold your bobbins and are usually separated by dividers to keep them neat.

Bobbin ring – A ring used to store bobbins together. The little hole that you can find on your bobbin can be used to pop the bobbins that you will be using for a project on the ring so that you have all your bobbins handy in one place.

Bobbin winder – A handy tool that wraps your thread onto your bobbin for you.

Bury the ends, or bury the thread – A method of securing floss without using knots which prevents bumps on your finished project.


Chart – In counted cross-stitch, the pattern is printed on a symboled chart. Each symbol represents a colour and each square represents a square on your fabric. Charts are also referred to as a pattern, design or graph.

Colonial knot – An alternative to a french knot which is made slightly differently.

Colour Card – A floss colour card is a booklet produced by a floss manufacturer. It displays their floss colours with the corresponding number, and the floss types available in each colour.

Colour Key  This will be at the side of or near your chart and will tell you what symbol matches which floss colour. It will also tell you the brand of thread used.

Confetti – single stitches of different colours looking like little confetti being thrown.

Count – This refers to the size of the fabric which simply means the number of holes per inch. Often you will hear ’14 count’ meaning 14 holes (or squares) in one inch of the fabric.

Cross Country – A method of working when the thread is being used continuously across different sections of a pattern when stitching rather than being finished off in one section and started again.

Cross stitch, counted cross stitch – A form of embroidery that consists of crosses, or X’s, as the main design element. A cross stitch design may also contain “partial stitches,” such as half stitches, quarter stitches and three-quarter stitches, and accents, such as daisy stitches, French knots, as well as beads. “Counted cross stitch” is stitched on plain fabric, without pre-printing, and is completed by counting the holes in the fabric to determine the position of each stitch. A pattern or chart shows a graph, and symbols indicate each stitch type and the colour of floss to use.

Cross Stitch Symbol  Symbols are used on your cross stitch pattern to differentiate between the different colours. They come in handy when 2 colours are very similar or your pattern is printed black and white.


Daisy stitch – A special stitch that is often combined with others to make flowers, leaves, vines or to decoratively fill in large areas of a design. Also called a lazy daisy or detached chain stitch.

Danish cross stitch – This is when you half stitch your stitches in a row and then come back the other way complete your X’s. For example, stitch all //// across and then \\\\ on the way back.

Design Area – The size of your finished piece (excluding excess for framing). The size of your finished piece will vary according to the size of the fabric you used. For example, the higher the count of the fabric, the smaller your design size will be as there are more squares per inch.

DMC one of the most popular brands of thread (or floss) used for embroidery and cross-stitch. It comes in hundreds of different colours and effects.


Embellished Cross Stitch – Some of the design is printed, usually the background, you only sew the main features and add highlights.

Embroidery – A style of needlework where designs are stitched onto fabric using cotton, silk or other thread types. Most often, the artist uses embroidery floss to embellish fabric with a variety of stitches, like straight stitches, cross stitches, partial stitches, daisy stitches and the like.

Embroidery hoop – These are used to help keep your fabric taught and can also be used to frame your finished work. They come in sizes from 2-12 inches and are either round or oval. 

Embroidery Needle – Embroidery needles are sharp-pointed and are used for standard embroidery such as stamped designs on pillowcases, towels, etc.

Embroidery Scissors – These are small, sharp scissors.

English Cross Stitch – This is when you stitch one whole cross stitch at a time.

Étoile – A type of embroidery thread with glitter in that DMC released in 2018.

Evenweave – A fabric that has the same number of threads per inch in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. It can be much softer and more flexible than Aida cloth.


Fabric – what you use to cross stitch onto. This can be aida, evenweave, linen or other variations.

FFO – Finally Finished Object, Fully Finished Object or Finally Framed Object

Floor stand – Used to hold your frame when stitching so you have both hands free.

Floss Floss is the six-ply cotton thread most often used for cross-stitch. It can be separated into individual strands when needed, is generally sold in 8-yard skeins. DMC and Anchor are popular brands.

Fractional Stitches – if a design has curves, you can use fractional stitches to ‘smooth’ off the edges instead of having sharp corners. You can do 1/4 stitches or 3/4 stitches.

Frame – Used when stitching larger cross stitch projects, they work like an embroidery hoop in keeping your fabric taut while you are stitching. You can get scroll frames which are good for larger protests because you can roll the fabric you’re not stitching in around the rods and then just move around as needed. This also helps prevent your fabric from fraying. Another option is a plastic snap frame/Q-snap. These are plastic tubes that link together to hold your work while you are stitching. 

Fray check – Used for sealing the edges of your fabric to stop it from fraying.

French Knot – a small knot used to define small details in a pattern. Often used for eyes, buttons or other small details.

Frogging – A term used when undoing stitches where you have made a mistake.

FS – Forgotten Stash

Full Stitches – the traditional cross stitch using one full square on your fabric (as opposed to fractional stitches that appear as a half or quarter of a square).


Graph Paper – Graph paper consists of vertical and horizontal lines in a grid pattern. You can use graph paper to design or modify your own cross stitch charts.

Gridding – something many stitchers do to make counting easier. You draw a grid with soluble pen directly onto your cross stitch fabric, usually broken into blocks of 10×10 squares the same as a cross stitch pattern. 

Gridlines – Reference lines that you baste into your cross-stitch fabric to match the grid shown on your cross-stitch chart. Done to make counted cross stitch easier, quicker and more accurate, the grid lines are removed after stitching.


HAED – Heaven and Earth Designs

Half stitch – Just one diagonal stitch going in either direction “\” “/”.

Haul – when you’ve been shopping in person or online and have bought a large quantity of cross stitch related items you might show off your ‘haul’


Jobelan – An evenweave fabric about half cotton and half man-made material that feels softer than Aida or linen


Kit – A kit is a collection of items needed to complete a cross stitch pattern. These are usually made up of stranded cotton or thread, needle, fabric, chart and instructions.


Lap stand/Seat frame – Smaller and more portable than a floor stand these are great for holding your hoop when stitching. You sit on the bottom part and this holds your stand while your stand holds your hoop.

Light effects – A type of thread from the brand DMC. There are metallic threads, neon and glow in the dark. 

Linen – Made from flax, linen consists of somewhat irregular strands of evenweave, a consistent number of threads per inch.

Loop/knotless method – A way of starting your cross stitch where you fold 1 strand of thread in half and use the loop to secure your thread. 


Metallic thread – Metallic thread is often used in combination with or in addition to regular embroidery floss. It can be used to add sparkle to cross stitch designs, but must be worked in shorter lengths to prevent knots.

Motif – A small cross stitch pattern, usually of a single item such as a Christmas Tree, flower or an animal.


Needles – Tapestry needles that are used for cross stitch have larger eyes than other needles, which makes threading floss easier, as well as a blunt point to avoid piercing fabric in the wrong place.

Needle Eye – The small hole at the top of the needle where you put your thread through.

Needle Minder – Two magnets that attach to your fabric for you to place your needle on between your stitching sessions. You can get lots of different ones with fun designs on the front.

Needle Threader – A small tool used to help put your thread through the needle eye.


ORT – Old Raggedy Threads or Orphaned Random Threads

ORT Jar – A jar used to keep all your ORTs together. Read more about OT Jars here.

Overcast stitching This is a simple whipstitch that prevents the fabric from fraying while you work. You can cover the fabric edges with overcast stitching or whipstitches. Or, the edges can be secured by acid-free masking tape, binding strips, or machine zigzag stitches.

Over two threads –  (also called stitching over two) this is a term used when stitching on evenweave or linen fabric and you miss two holes before placing your needle and stitch as opposed to missing one hole like when stitching on aida fabric


Parking – This is a method used on large pieces with lots of colour changes. Instead of stitching all one colour then moving onto the next, you stitch in rows from one stitch directly to the next. When you have a colour change you pull your old colour thread through the front to “park” it while you change to the new colour then pick up the old colour when you need it again.

PDF pattern – This is a cross-stitch pattern that you can download directly to your phone/tablet/computer. 

Perle – A type of embroidery thread that is usually used for embroidery rather than cross-stitch this thread can’t be separated and is silkier than regular cross-stitch floss.

Petit point – You can only do a petit point stitch on linen or evenweave. Another name for stitching over one, instead of stitching over two you stitch as you would on Aida. This gives you a tiny stitch on your fabric and makes your pattern smaller

Pin stitch – In cross-stitch, the pin stitch is a tiny stitch used secure the ends of your floss at the start or end of stitching. A pin stitch is ultimately hidden underneath the overlying cross stitch.

Plastic canvas – Generally used for children’s kits the holes in plastic canvas are quite big.

Ply There are six plies of thread in one strand of embroidery floss. Cross-stitch instructions should indicate how many plies of floss should be used to complete a project which depends on the count of your fabric. Larger count fabric will use fewer plies.

Preparing fabric – Refers to the steps you do to your cross stitch fabric prior stitching. Usually includes finding the center, securing the edges and stitching gridlines.


Q-Snap – a type of frame used for cross stitching that snaps together around a frame to keep your fabric taut and in place.

Quarter stitch – A diagonal partial stitch often used for fine details. It goes from the center of a fabric square diagonally to the corner of the same square.


Railroading – passing the needle between two strands of thread already stitched to give a flatter look to the stitch.


SAL – (Stitch-a-Long) SAL projects are broken down into several parts where the pattern for each part is released at regular intervals and a whole bunch of stitchers join in stitching each part together. Find some awesome SALs to join here

Sampler – A sampler is a cross-stitch design that often combines an alphabet, motto and a picture or pictures.

Seam Allowance The distance between the outside (cut) edge and the stitching line. This allows enough room for framing.

Seam Ripper – a tool used to rip out stitches.

Seed Beads – these are small beads stitched on top of your cross stitch work, used to add some texture. They can also be used instead of French knots. 

Skein – Usually around 8 metres of floss wound up into bundles/skeins.

Soluble Canvas – A type of fabric you can use to stitch onto clothes and the like which dissolves in water.

Stamped cross stitch pattern – This type of pattern is stamped directly onto the fabric and you stitch over it.

Stash – a collection of cross stitch related items

Stitch Count – The stitch count of a design tells you the maximum number of stitches the design spans horizontally and vertically at their widest points. Divide the stitch count of your design by the count of your fabric to determine how many inches your stitched design will be.

Strand Count – The number that appears on cross stitch charts or legends to indicate the number of floss strands you should use when stitching.


Tapestry Needle – A blunt-tipped needle that is used in cross-stitch.

Temperature Stitch – A type of pattern that you stitch one section per day/week/month that represents the temperature of that period. This is usually stitched over a longer period of time such as a year. Check out these temperature stitches that you can join in on

Thread conditioner/beeswax – Used to condition your thread so it glides through the Aida more easily and make your thread last longer. 

Three-Quarter Stitch – A partial stitch used alone or in combination with a quarter stitch in the same fabric square. It consists of a quarter stitch and a half stitch.


UFO – Unfinished Object


Variegated Thread –  A type of embroidery thread that has many colours in each strand so you have subtle colour changes as you are stitching.


Warp – these are the threads that run horizontally through your cross stitch fabric

Waste Canvas –  Is used for stitching a design onto fabric without a grid. It is used as a guide and it can be removed afterwards either by washing away or pulling out one piece at a time leaving only the finished design behind.

Waste Knot – A knot that is tied in the end of the floss when beginning to stitch in a in a new color. It is threaded from the front of the fabric, a few squares away. Stitches will cover the floss and the knot is then cut away. One of the traditional ways to secure the end of your floss.

Weft – these are the threads that run vertically through your cross stitch fabric

Whole cross stitch – A full “X” stitch.

WIP – Work in progress


x-stitch – An abbreviation for cross stitch.


Zweigart – The inventor of Aida

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, you are now a cross-stitch lingo expert.

What new terms did you pick up?

Are there any I have missed that need to be added? Chuck ’em in the comments below and I will add them to the list.

When you first foray into the world of stitching it can seem like everyone around you is talking in a different language. What the heck are WIPs? Aren't frogs little jumpy green things that live in swamps? Don't you bury bodies, not threads? Never fear, my friend, for after reading this post, you too will be talking the language of the stitchers.
When you first foray into the world of stitching it can seem like everyone around you is talking in a different language. What the heck are WIPs? Aren't frogs little jumpy green things that live in swamps? Don't you bury bodies, not threads? Never fear, my friend, for after reading this post, you too will be talking the language of the stitchers.
When you first foray into the world of stitching it can seem like everyone around you is talking in a different language. What the heck are WIPs? Aren't frogs little jumpy green things that live in swamps? Don't you bury bodies, not threads? Never fear, my friend, for after reading this post, you too will be talking the language of the stitchers.

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