Embroidery: Stitching Over Two Threads
When we cross stitch on Aida fabric, we make Xs over nicely-delineated squares. We can embroider the same patterns on linen and other evenweave fabrics that have individual woven fibers instead of squares. We often do this by “stitching over two”; that is, we stitch over two threads, both horizontally and vertically. Watch, I’ll show you.
Aida and Evenweave Fabrics
We cross stitch over the squares on the Aida (left) fabric, and cross stitch “over two” on the evenweave Ariosa (right) fabric.
Funk & Weber Evenweave Diagram
This is how I draw evenweave fabric for stitch diagrams. Note how the fibers go over, under, over, under each other.
Yep, I actually draw–digitally–the fabric for stitch diagrams.
Yep, there is software that would do that for me.
Nope, don’t use it. You know me, I’m all about DIY; although, if I’m talking about me, shouldn’t that be DIM? Hmm.
Cross Stitch Over Two: First Leg
The working fiber is red; the gray area of the ground fiber shows the two threads that are being stitched over. 1H is the first horizontal thread, and 1V is the first vertical thread. You can guess what 2H and 2V are, right?
The needle comes up through the fabric at A and goes down, two threads to the right and two threads up, at B.
Now, I was taught to always begin stitching by coming up through the fabric on the lower left side of a “vertical-thread-on-top.” Note the 1V thread. Where the needle comes to the surface, the 1V thread is on top of the horizontal (2H) ground fiber. The stitch begins on the lower left side of this vertical ground fiber and travels up and to the right.
Naturally, I asked why I had to start my stitches there, and I was told the ground fibers are more likely to distort if we start by a horizontal-on-top thread. I couldn’t understand why that would be, so I tested and found no difference.
Nonetheless, I am generally a rule-follower, and since it makes no difference that I can see, I start to the lower left of a vertical-on-top thread unless I’m feeling rebellious.
Cross Stitch Over Two: More
And now we just keep going. The needle drops down two threads on the back side, comes up at C, goes down at D, comes up at E, and so on until we reach the end of the row and turn around, completing the cross stitches on the return journey (E-B).
I find that once I get started stitching over two threads, I develop a sense of how big the stitches are and where the needle needs to go. When I make a mistake, the stitch calls attention to itself: it looks funny.
So why do we stitch over two anyway? I can think of several reasons:
- Many evenweaves come in higher counts: 28-ct, 32-ct, 40-ct, 72-ct (uh-huh). Stitching over one means itty-bitty stitches. Sometimes that’s fun. Sometimes it makes sense to stitch over two.
Note: Stitching over two reduces the fabric stitch count by half! Stitching over two on 28-ct linen yields 14 stitches to the inch. Stitching over two on 40-ct linen yields 20 stitches to the inch. Need to review how to calculate design areas based on pattern stitch counts and fabric thread counts?
- Stitching over one on evenweave requires a special technique to avoid disappearing stitches. I’m sorry; what’s that? Sure, we can talk about that next time.
- When a pattern calls for a lot of fractional stitches, I prefer to work over two because there’s a hole in the center for the quarter stitches. No struggling to pierce a tightly-woven square, and no off-center quarter stitches.
Unless seeing the ground fabric is difficult for you, stitching over two isn’t particularly hard. Don’t be afraid to try it. Like everything else, you get used to it and better at it with practice.
Some people recommend learning to stitch on Aida, but both of my nephews learned to stitch over two right out of the gate. I think it’s more important for the person learning to love his/her fabric and project.