History Of Cross Stitch
Thursday, June 6, 2019
There could be a number of reasons why one takes up cross-stitching as a hobby or pastime: could be for health benefits—both physical and mental; as a relaxing activity; or even as a business or trade. Cross-stitching has proven to be one of the more enduring hobbies in human history, having roots in the past and a continued hold in the present day.
Although its origins are rather obscure, cross-stitching is regarded as one of the oldest forms of embroidery known to man; with forms dating back to the middle ages, where the pastime enjoyed widespread popularity. It is not unfamiliar to find examples of cross-stitch techniques in various historical garments with origins in parts of Europe and even across the sea in East Asia, showing how wide reaching the activity is. Cross-stitching employs an X-shape sawing technique, embroidered upon an even-weave fabric, using wool or yarn to create pictures and symbols. This form of embroidery can be used to depict anything from casual drawings, to ornate decorations—based, of course, on the user’s proficiency.
History shows us that cross-stitching as an activity was very important, as cross-stitches were used to embellish various garments around a household, adding a customized touch of beauty, class and refinement to the plain fabric. It was not uncommon to walk into a home and see various items enhanced with some sort of cross-stitch; from tablecloths, to pillows, to even dresses for special occasions. People would even cross-stitch their names or initials on their clothing and household linens to signify ownership. Cross-stitchers who were adept at their craft often had what was known as a Sampler, which was a piece of linen that held recurring patterns that would often be used time and again by the crafter. These could also act as a portfolio of sorts for cross-stitchers to display and advertise their craft to potential buyers.
Over the years, cross-stitching evolved and changed; what was once a modest method of decorating plain linens has become much more. Cross-stitching is no longer seen as just a pastime; it has become a business trade for some, and others have hailed the practice for its mental health benefits. Infact, cross-stitching has also spawned groups or “guilds” of enthusiasts around the world who aim to foster a sense of community among practitioners, providing everything from classes to retreats for their very active community.
In contemporary times, cross-stitching is often used as a tool for mental wellbeing. Cross-stitching has even been compared to forms of therapy and meditation, with cross-stitchers saying that working on a particular pattern has given them a sort of calming effect. The pastime has even been employed in mental health facilities, where patients are taught to cross-stitch and make their own patterns. Cross-stitching acts as a form of relaxation and reflection for patients when the rigors of everyday life become overwhelming for them to handle. Cross-stitching has also been linked with increased mental focus and acuity. Owing to the often repetitive nature of the stitching techniques and patterns, one must remain in deep focus on their stitches so as not to make a mistake. This has had the effect of increasing mental sharpness and focus among cross-stitch enthusiasts. The virtues of cross-stitching have also been applauded for their effect on increased dexterity among practitioners, with some elder practitioners giving credit to the practice for helping them deal with their arthritis. Cross-stitching not only provides you with the ability to produce beautiful artwork, but also has the added benefit of keeping your mind and body healthy and engaged.
As well as being a ubiquitous hobby shared among many, cross-stitching is also a bustling industry in its own right. Companies like Black Sheep Wools and DMC provide all the tools one would need to engage in cross-stitching; from embroidery kits, wool, yarn and free patterns, to knitting needles and crochet hooks. What started as a casual hobby is now a humble, but quiet worldwide phenomenon. Cross-stitching is an activity that can be engaged in by amateurs and experts alike, as well as older and younger folks. The mental and physical benefits have proven to be a great motivator for both hobbyists and professional enthusiasts. With an immeasurable amount of patterns to create and materials to embroider, cross-stitching as a hobby will continue to endure for ages to come.