It decorates colourful garments, bags, animal trappings and furnishings, both large and small.
One of the most highly decorated items is the toran, a colourful embroidered frieze with a row of pointed pendants along the lower edge, which hangs over a doorway or window for a festive occasion.
There are many regional variations of similar cross stitch shapes, including eight-pointed star, heart, flower and bird motifs, as each basic shape is translated to fit the grid of the fabric in a slightly different way.
Many earlier stitches are now our most common and more easily executed ones One of the most important and widespread functions of cross stitch has been to ornament peasant garments and household linens, often as a way of indicating family wealth and status in the community.
The only certainty is that the technique and designs of cross stitch spread from many of these countries throughout the European continent.
The Crusaders probably brought home embroidered textiles from the Middle Eastern countries after the Crusades.
Designs and stitches have been exchanged between so many different cultures and geographical areas, through travel, trade and the availability of printed design books, that many design elements are now common to several cultures.
The term was first applied to decoratively stitched borders on medieval church vestments.To trace the history of cross stitch, we must look back to the very beginnings of embroidery, since it is only relatively recently that cross stitch has been used as the sole stitch in a piece.Ancient wall paintings and sculptures show that embroidery was worked on clothing from the earliest times.But over time it came to cover all stitched decoration on any textile fabric.The first textiles were probably made from intertwined stems and grasses, until a way of twisting short fibres and animal hairs into continuous strands evolved about 10,000 BC.