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Traditionally, cross-stitch was used to embellish items like household linens, tablecloths, dishcloths, and doilies only a small portion of which would actually be embroidered, such as a border. Although there are many cross-stitchers who still employ it in this fashion, it is now increasingly popular to work the pattern on pieces of fabric and hang them on the wall for decoration.

Cross-stitch is also often used to make greeting cards, pillowtops, or as inserts for box tops, coasters and trivets. Multicoloured, shaded, painting-like patterns as we know them today are a fairly modern development, deriving from similar shaded patterns of Berlin wool work of the mid-nineteenth century. Besides designs created expressly for cross-stitch, there are software programs that convert a photograph or a fine art image into a chart suitable for stitching.


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One example of this is in the cross-stitched reproduction of the Sistine Chapel charted and stitched by Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts. There are many cross-stitching " guilds " and groups across the United States and Europe which offer classes, collaborate on large projects, stitch for charity, and provide other ways for local cross-stitchers to get to know one another. Individually owned local needlework shops LNS often have stitching nights at their shops, or host weekend stitching retreats.

Today, cotton floss is the most common embroidery thread. It is a thread made of mercerized cotton , composed of six strands that are only loosely twisted together and easily separable. While there are other manufacturers, the two most-commonly used and oldest brands are DMC and Anchor [1] , both of which have been manufacturing embroidery floss since the s. Other materials used are pearl or perle cotton, Danish flower thread, silk and Rayon.

Different wool threads, metallic threads or other novelty threads are also used, sometimes for the whole work, but often for accents and embellishments. Hand-dyed cross-stitch floss is created just as the name implies—it is dyed by hand. Because of this, there are variations in the amount of color throughout the thread. Some variations can be subtle, while some can be a huge contrast. Some also have more than one color per thread, which in the right project, creates amazing results.

Other stitches are also often used in cross-stitch, among them quarter-, half-, and three-quarter-stitches and backstitches. Cross-stitch is often used together with other stitches. A cross-stitch can come in a variety of prostational forms. It is sometimes used in crewel embroidery , especially in its more modern derivatives.

It is also often used in needlepoint.

Venus of Urbino - Titian cross stitch pattern by Cross Stitch Collectibles

A specialized historical form of embroidery using cross-stitch is Assisi embroidery. There are many stitches which are related to cross-stitch and were used in similar ways in earlier times. Italian cross-stitch and Montenegrin stitch are reversible, meaning the work looks the same on both sides. These styles have a slightly different look than ordinary cross-stitch.

History of Lace

These more difficult stitches are rarely used in mainstream embroidery, but they are still used to recreate historical pieces of embroidery or by the creative and adventurous stitcher. The double cross-stitch, also known as a Leviathan stitch or Smyrna cross-stitch, combines a cross-stitch with an upright cross-stitch. Berlin wool work and similar petit point stitchery resembles the heavily shaded, opulent styles of cross-stitch, and sometimes also used charted patterns on paper.

Though no longer fabricated in the island, the women at Naples still make a coarse lace, which they sell about the streets. The punto di Napoli is a bobbin lace, resembling the punto di Milano, but distinguished from it by its much rounder mesh and coarser make. Towards the middle of the last century, many of the Italian sculptors adopted an atrocious system, only to be rivalled in bad taste by those of the Lower Empire, that of dressing the individuals they modelled in the costume of the period, the colours of the dress represented in varied marbles.

The art of making gold thread, already known to the Etruscans, took a singular development in Italy during the fourteenth century. Genoa [] first imitated the gold threads of Cyprus. Lucca followed in her wake, while Venice and Milan appear much later in the field. Gold of Jeane formed, as already mentioned, an item in our early statutes.

The merchants mingled the pure gold with Spanish "laton," producing a sort of "faux galon," such as is used for theatrical purposes in the present day. They made also silver and gold lace out of drawn wire, after the fashion of those discovered, not long since, at Herculaneum. When Skippin visited Turin, in , he described the manner of preparing the metal wire. The art maintained itself latest at Milan, but died out towards the end of the seventeenth century.

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Our earliest mention of Genoa lace is, [] as usual, to be found in the Great Wardrobe Accounts of Queen Elizabeth, where laces of Jeane of black "serico satten," of colours, [] and billement lace of Jeane silk, are noted down. They were, however, all of silk. It was not before the middle of the seventeenth century that the points of Genoa were in general use throughout Europe.

Handkerchiefs, aprons, collars, [] seem rather to have found favour with the public than lace made by the yard. No better customer was found for these luxurious articles of adornment than the fair Madame de Puissieux, already cited for her singular taste in cut-work. On portoit en ce temps-la," writes St. Gold and silver lace was prohibited to be worn within the walls of the city, but they wear, writes Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, exceeding fine lace and linen. The femmes bourgeoises still edge their aprons with point lace, and some of the elder women wear square linen veils trimmed with coarse lace.

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The Genoese wisely encouraged their own native manufacture, but it was now, however, chiefly for home consumption. Savary, speaking of the Genoa fabric, says: As regards France, these points have had the same lot as those of Venice—ruined by the act of prohibition. In , there were only six lace-sellers in the city of Genoa.

The women work in their own houses, receiving materials and patterns from the merchant who pays for their labour. Lace, in Genoa, is called pizzo. Punti in aco were not made in this city.


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  • The points of Genoa, so prized in the seventeenth century, were all the work of the pillow, a piombini , [] or a mazzetta , as the Italians term it, of fine handspun thread brought from Lombardy. Silk was procured from Naples. Of this Lombardy thread were the magnificent collars of which we give an example Fig. The Ligurian or Genoese guipures have four entirely distinctive characters. It is an adaptation of guipure-like ribbons of weaving, with open-work variations, held together by a very few bars.

    In all these laces, as in Neapolitan and Milanese lace, a crochet needle is used to join the bars and design by drawing one thread through a pin-hole in the lace and passing a free bobbin through the loop to draw the knot tight. Genoa Point, Bobbin-made. From a collar in the possession of the Author.

    The plaits almost invariably consist of four threads. The lace manufacture extends along the coast from Albissola, on the Western Riviera, to Santa Margherita on the eastern. Santa Margherita and Rapallo are called by Luxada [] the emporium of the lace industry of Genoa, and are still the greatest producers of pillow-lace on the coast.

    The workers are mostly the wives and daughters of the coral-fishers who support themselves by this occupation during the long and perilous voyages of their husbands. In the archives of the parochial church of Santa Margherita is preserved a book of accounts, in which mention is made, in the year , of gifts to the church, old nets from the coral fishery, together with pisetti pizzi , the one a votive offering of some successful fishermen, the other the work of their wives or daughters, given in gratitude for the safe return of their relatives.

    There was also found an old worn parchment pattern for a kind of tape guipure Fig. Much of this description of lace is assigned to Genoa. In these tape guipures the tape or braid was first made, and the ground worked in on the parchment either by the needle or on the pillow. The laces consist of white thread of various qualities, either for wear, church decoration, or for exportation to America.

    Later, this art gave place to the making of black blonde, in imitation of Chantilly, of which the centres in Italy are now Genoa and Cantu.

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    In the year the lace-workers began to make guipures for France, and these now form their chief produce. The exportation is very great, and lace-making is the daily occupation, not only of the women, but of the ladies of the commune. The maestri , or overseers, receive all orders from the trade, and find hands to execute them.


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    • The silk and thread required for the lace is weighed out and given to the lace-makers, and the work when completed is re-weighed to see that it corresponds with that of the material given. The maestri contrive to realise large fortunes, and become in time signori ; not so the poor lace-makers, whose hardest day's gain seldom exceeds a franc and a half. A coarse thread outlines the embroidery.

      Lace Pattern found in the Church at Santa Margherita circ. Italian, Genoese. Width, 5 in. Parchment Pattern used to cover a Book, bearing the Date The laces of Albissola, [] near Savona, of black and white thread, or silk of different colours, were once an article of considerable exportation to the principal cities of Spain, Cadiz, Madrid and Seville.

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      This industry was of early date. In many of the parochial churches of Albissola are specimens of the native fabric dating from , the work of devout ladies; and parchment patterns drawn and pricked for pillow-lace, bearing the earlier date of , have been found covering old law books, the property of a notary of Albissola.

      The designs Fig. Princes and lords of different provinces in Italy sent commissions to Albissola for these articles in the palmy days of the fabric, and four women would be employed at one pillow, with sixty dozen bobbins at a time. Each of these ladies, called a maestra , had a number of workers under her, either at home or out.

      She supplied the patterns, pricked them herself, and paid her workwomen at the end of the week, each day's work being notched on a tally. The last fine laces made at Albissola were bought up by the lace-merchants of Milan on the occasion of the coronation of Napoleon I. This lace, however, like that fabricated in the neighbourhood of Barcelona, would not stand washing. There exists a beautiful and ingenious work taught in the schools and convents along the Riviera.