How to Read a Cross Stitch Pattern
This is a guide to help you read a cross stitch pattern on several letter sized pages.
There are different types of cross stitch patterns, you may find them in a large poster page or several letter sized pages. The pattern in a poster page will usually include the whole pattern in one large page. The pattern in several letter sized pages is the one which needs a little bit more reading and attention.
Lets just start by explaining what a cross stitch pattern is. It looks like a graph paper with grids made up of tiny squares. Each tiny square on the grid represents a square of aida fabric. While there are a lot of tiny squares, there are darker lines that mark off 10 x 10 sections of the pattern.
The darker lines enable you to follow the pattern easier. Some people might even mark these lines on their fabric, with a water soluble marking pen.
You will need to lay out all pages in your pattern and look for the centre arrow. There is a small arrow on one of the top row pages, then another small arrow on the left middle page. Follow these 2 arrows until the intercept. This should be your first stitch on your design. You must always start stitching from the centre to ensure the design is perfectly centred in the fabric allowing extra fabric at the edges for framing.
When a pattern has multiple pages it usually includes 2 overlap columns. Gray shaded columns indicate overlap from previous page. Do not stitch shaded area.
The cross stitch pattern includes a lot of letters or symbols in each square. These letters or symbols represent a certain color of thread.
Instructions and color key is usually located in the last page of the pattern. The color key tell us what symbol or letter to use for which color and how many strands of thread to use for each stitch (usually 2 strands).