Unofficial guide to cross stitch abbreviations

Rhona Norrie shares her light-hearted look behind the scenes at the at-times baffling lingo we use from time to time in the cross stitch community!

Cross stitching in a hoop
Published: September 8, 2019 at 7:39 pm
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Hi I'm Rhona, cross stitch fan and designer and I'm guest blogging here for you today! Maybe you've seen my designs in The World of Cross Stitching and Cross Stitch Crazy magazines? Or perhaps you've seen my personal blog at Tangled Threads? Join me as I explain some of the secrets behind those weird-and-wonderful stitching abbreviations....

Rhona Norrie

Ruth at The World of Cross Stitching has kindly asked me to be a guest blogger here so I thought I'd share a few tidbits to reveal what on earth those acronyms mean!

When I first started cross stitching, many moons ago, I would rush to the newsagents to pick up the latest issue of The World of Cross Stitching, read it from cover to cover devouring every word – in fact I still do that! I was amazed and I must admit, tad bit confused at some of the cross stitch lingo, it was like a foreign language. What on earth were q-snaps, over-dyed thread, couching? But it's not just those more 'technical' terms that were a mystery…
Many years later, thanks to the internet and The World of Cross Stitching magazine, these terms are not confusing any more… and nor are those strange habits that we stitchers do have, nor of course the very strange terms for them. Let me explain!


Anyway… Then for bloggers, a strange sub-species of stitcher, we post pictures of our ort jars every new moon and entitle the post TUSAL, which stands for Totally Useless Stitch-A-long. Ort jars are great – not only do they keep all those loose snippets corralled, but the lack of them in your jar really spurs you on to stitching more! There’s no prize for filling up your ort jar, just the personal satisfaction of getting as many orts in there as possible.


So with all the ort collecting, your WIP (Work In progress) should be completed in no time!


And showing some mighty self-control, instead of buying some new stash (yeah, right!!), I know you’ll head over to your work basket and pull out that UFO (UnFinished Object) and have that completed too!


If the ort jar isn’t motivating you enough to finish a project, you can always enlist some help from a fellow stitcher. Find someone else who is stitching the same design and you can have a SAL (Stitch-A-Long).
There are several ways a SAL can work. If you live close enough to each other, you can get together and stitch on your project either weekly or monthly, or whatever works best for both of you. If you don’t have anyone living close by, a SAL is still possible by taking pictures of your stitching progress and showing your partner(s) by either blogging, posting on a forum, Facebook or even good old email! If you’re brave enough you could always join a mystery SAL. This is where a designer releases part of a design and stitchers begin working on it without knowing what the completed design will be. I don’t think I would be brave enough to do one of these, except perhaps if it were a Joan Elliott design! (Big fan here, just in case you hadn’t realised!!)



And if you need a guilt free weekend of just stitching (who doesn’t?!!) you can always join in with the IHSW (International Hermit and Stitch Weekend.) IHSW takes place on the third weekend of every month with the simple rules of stitching as much as you can over the weekend and then posting your progress pictures on your blog the following Monday or Tuesday. Any time I want to get some stitching done, I just use IHSW as the reason no matter which weekend it is….my poor hubby is none the wiser! Tee hee! (Please don’t tell him!) I’m not saying you should use this as way to get some peace and quiet for a weekend of stitching, that would be wrong – productive, but still wrong. I can tell that you’re contemplating this one…but it’s wrong!
Ok, use it as an excuse if you need to!
So, I hope you enjoyed my post today, and thanks again to Ruth for allowing me to stop by. Here’s to more stitching and full ort jars, no matter how you accomplish it!


Rhona NorrieCross stitch designer

Rhona Norrie is a prolific and popular cross stitch designer from Scotland who now calls New York home. Her work is regularly featured in magazines including The World of Cross Stitching, Cross Stitch Crazy, and Just Cross Stitch. Rhona is a total cross stitch addict! If she doesn’t have a needle in her hand, then it will be a camera that she’s carrying to capture the wonders of nature and she shares her nature pictures (and cross stitching!) on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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