It’s the Count that COUNTS

What’s the difference in the various sizes of holes and threads, or “counts” of aida cross stitching cloth? That’s a question that is often asked by beginners, and even more experienced stitchers are sometimes a little fuzzy on the definitions.

The term “count” refers to the number of threads, holes or stitches (which will all be the same), per inch of fabric.  So an 11 count fabric, for example, will have 11 threads and holes per inch in both directions, and will hold 11 stitches in both directions.  A 1-inch square of stitches will be 11×11, or 121 stitches.  The higher the count, the more threads per inch, so the finer the fabric and the smaller the holes.

If you stitch the same design on different counts of fabrics, the finished picture on the lower counts will be bigger than on the higher counts. Why? Because it takes up more fabric to do the same number of stitches.  For example, say I have a design that is 100 stitches across and 100 stitches high.  On 11 count, it will take just over 9 inches of fabric to do 100 stitches. (100 divided by 11.)  On 18 count, it would take just over 5.5 inches of fabric. (100 divided by 18.)  So the higher the count, the smaller the finished design.

FYI:  All of this information also applies to other cross stitch fabrics, such as Lugana and Linen, the only difference being that those fabrics tend to come in higher counts such as 25, 28 and 32 count.

Here are a few thoughts on the various counts of Aida cloth.

8 count Aida cloth is often used when teaching new stitchers, especially youngsters, about the joys of cross stitch. It is also helpful when doing instruction, as the holes are clearly visible, and can be seen by all students at once.

11 count aida cloth is a another great fabric for teaching, and is also excellent for stitchers who may have difficulty seeing.  It can also be used to get a bigger finished project than the same design on a higher count.

14 count aida cloth is one of the most popular fabrics in the world for cross stitching. It creates a great balance between being big enough for visibility and ease of stitching and small enough to give good resolution on pictures and designs.

16 count aida cloth is another good choice for almost any project.  It creates an excellent balance between being still quite easy to stitch, with clearly visible holes, and giving a bit better resolution on pictures.  In many cases, with the finished design being a bit smaller, more affordable framing options are available. A very good choice for new stitchers and more experienced stitchers too.

18 count aida cloth is a very popular fabric for many stitchers worldwide. It is softer in the hand than some of the lower counts, with fine stitches creating a high-resolution picture or design.  A slimmer needle for this fabric is helpful (size 26-28).  The finished design will be comparatively smaller, making framing that much more affordable.

22 count aida fabric is also known as “Hardanger” for the specialty cut-thread types of projects that it is often used for. However, there is no reason it cannot also be used for more conventional cross stitching, and creates a beautifully fine, detailed design.  It is very soft in the hand, and will probably require quite a fine needle (size 26-28).

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