Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stitch of the Week : Smyrna Cross

Last week's Stitch of the Week class featured the Smyrna Cross. This basic stitch is also known as the Double Cross. Essentially it consists of a "regular" cross stitch (i.e., an "X") with an upright cross (or "+" symbol) on top.
The stitch can be worked over two or four threads and our group was struck by how differently the stitch appears when it is done in the larger vs.the smaller version. Over two threads, the Smyrna Cross appears basically as a plain bump. It is too small for one to notice the individual thread elements of the stitch. The larger version allows the individual stitch elements to appear. However, some in the group were disturbed by the open canvas areas.

The Smyrna Cross is an incredibly useful stitch. It can be used for architectural details on houses and buildings such as molding or corbels. It can also be used for buttons, stars or anywhere a bumpy texture is desired.

As the Smyrna Cross is a stitch that a lot of people are familiar with and a stitch that is relatively easy to learn, I decided to devote the majority of the class time to exploring numerous variations. We tried working the "X" portion of the stitch in one color and the "+" portion of the stitch in another color. We also tried alternating which stitch was on top, first the "X" then the "+" and in the next row we alternated placing the "+" stitch below the "X" stitches and vice versa. The group concluded that this was not worth the effort unless one decided to also alternate the colors thus making the finished effect more noticeable. An example (albeit small) of this stitch is on the upper sampler, last item on the left hand side.

Another variation that we tried was the Elongated Smyrna Cross. This has the appearance to my eye of a sheaf of wheat gathered at the center (most attractive). Another attractive variation that would be useful for mimicking cobblestones is the staggered Smyrna Cross. This is done by leaving space between Smyrna Crosses and filling in the spaces with the second row one half step below the first row. This creates a pleasant pattern somewhere between random and geometric.

The Horizontal Elongated Smyrna Cross makes a very brick-like finished product as does the Long Arm Smyrna Cross. In the Long Arm Smyrna Cross, two Smyrna Crosses are done side-by-side. In the first Smyrna Cross, the final horizontal portion of the "+" sign is omitted and on the second Smyrna Cross the horizontal portion of the "+" sign covers both units. This makes for a pleasant effect and is illustrated on the blue sampler (second row from left, bottom item).
The Smyrna Cross is a great stitch with lots of uses and don't think that you know all there is to know about it. In needlepoint, there is always something new to learn.


  1. My favorite stitch for 40 years, only I like the canvas covered, so always do the four stitches (2 x 2). It is also called "St. Andrew and St. George" as it involves those crosses. I just refer to it as "bump stitch" as I like to use it in something sparkly for "jewels." I have always seen it, tho' and use it myself with the upright stitch on top - consistently. It does't really matter, but for some reason it just looks more logical. I do a "modified" version too over 3 x 3 stitches - not really smyrna cross, but gives that "bump" effect when needed for an accent, and it's the same principle.