04 January 2013

X marks

Ever wonder why we cross fingers for luck? The internet tells us ....

"Crossing one's fingers, by curling the middle finger over the index, is thought to bring good luck. This dates back to when crossed fingers were used as a gesture to ward off witches and others considered to be or possessed by evil spirits. It is also seen as bad luck to cross your fingers on both hands.
"Some believe that the gesture originates from pre-Christian times, due to the fact that in early European cultures, two people were required to use their index fingers to form the sign, one to make a wish and the other to support it. It was believed that the cross was a symbol of unity and that benign spirits dwelt at its intersecting point—to wish on a cross was a figurative way of securing the wish at the intersection until it came true. Over the years, the custom was modified so one person could make a wish on his/her own."

This line of inquiry led to some musing about using the X or cross as a symbol. It has many meanings ... various Christian crosses, of course, but others besides ... cross cercelĂ©e in heraldry; the Jolly Roger pirate flag; the summit cross (Gipfelkreuz); the Nordic Cross of Scandinavian flags....

And there's cross stitch, counted and otherwise. Old dictionaries of stitches contain many varieties of cross stitch; these are from a 1934 edition of Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, with clever pictorial puns by Miss Margaret Agutter, who also did them for Mary Thomas's Knitting Book. (Apologies for the splodges; my camera desperately needs its sensor cleaning.)
Cross stitch on canvas; cross stitch (on material) "also known as sampler stitch"

Chevron cross stitch; crossed corners cross stitch (see Rice Stitch); diagonal cross stitch; double cross stitch
Half cross stitch; long-armed cross stitch;  marking cross stitch
Montenegrin cross stitch ; oblong cross stitch; reversed cross stitch; two-sided cross stitch
Two-sided Italian cross stitch (also known as arrowhead cross stitch, italian cross stitch and two-sided italian stitch)
Some modern uses of cross stitch - click on the links to see photos -
Evelin Kasikov (there's an article on her in the July-August issue of Embroidery magazine)

or, urban cross stitch ... kits with a difference - http://www.urban-cross-stitch.com/

Plenty of subversive cross-stitch sites are listed at http://www.xmarks.com/site/www.subversivecrossstitch.com/

My mother loved to do cross stitch, and I love this "silent" cuckoo clock she made at my request -

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