The Top 65 Essential Cross Stitch Terms and Acronyms

October 24, 2017

You love to cross stitch and most of the time you know what other stitchers are talking about in those Facebook groups or in Flosstube videos. But there are still a few acronyms and weird terms used in the cross stitch world that go over your head. Well you’re not alone! Here’s my comprehensive list of 65 terms, to help you understand why on earth people are talking about frogs!


Aida – the most popular fabric to use for cross stitch with brands including DMC, Zweigart and Charles Craft. Threads are woven evenly to form squares and the most popular counts are 14 and 16 (see Count below)

Back Stitch – a method of stitching to outline a cross stitch piece, usually in a dark colour.

Beads – can be stitched onto a project to add depth, colour and detail.

BAP – Big Ass Project!

Blending – (also called Tweeding) using two or more colours of thread (usually one strand of each) in the same needle at the same time to blend the colours together when stitching.

Confetti – single stitches of different colours looking like little confetti being thrown!

Chart – the cross stitch pattern to work from when stitching.

Count – the number of holes per inch. Often you will hear ’14 count’ meaning 14 holes (or squares) in one inch of the fabric.

Counted Cross Stitch – the fabric is plain and you use a printed or digital pattern as a guide to help you place each stitch.  

Cross Country – thread being used continuously across sections of a pattern when stitching rather than being finished off in one section and started again hence, looking a bit ‘cross country’ from behind!

DMC – one of the most popular brands of thread (or floss) used for embroidery and cross stitch. It comes in hundreds of different colours and effects. This is the brand of thread we use in all Caterpillar Cross Stitch kits!

Sign up for the VIP Stitch Club newsletter here and receive 10% off your first order and a free eBook of 7 cross stitch patterns to get you started!

gnome needle minder


Evenweave – a popular type of fabric used for cross stitch. Woven with a single thread and usually worked over two threads.

Fabric – what you use to cross stitch onto. This can be aida, evenweave, linen or other variations.

FAD – Fun and Done!

Floss – another word for thread used in cross stitch e.g. DMC floss

Frog / Frogging – when you’ve made a mistake and have to cut out and remove/rip out some of your stitches – comes from the sound frogs make ‘ribbit ribbit’ sounding like ‘rip it rip it!’

Fractional Stitches – if a design has curves, you can use fractional stitches to ‘smooth’ off the edges instead of having sharp corners using only full stitches which are obviously very square!  

French Knot – a small knot used to define small details in a pattern e.g. an animal’s eye.

Full Stitches – the traditional cross stitch using one full square on your fabric (as opposed to fractional stitches that appear as a half or quarter of a square).

FFO – Finally Finished Object, Fully Finished Object or Finally Framed Object

FS – Forgotten Stash

GA – Gentle Arts Thread


dmc threads


Half Stitch – (see Fractional Stitches above) also called a ‘tent stitch’ this uses one diagonal stitch instead of a full cross stitch with two threads crossing each other over a square in your fabric.

Haul – when you’ve been shopping in person or online and have bought a large quantity of cross stitch related items you might show off your ‘haul’

HIH - Happiness is Homemade, the first ever Caterpillar Cross Stitch stitch-a-long project in 2017

Jobelan – a type of evenweave fabric made from cotton and modal, softer than aida.

Kit – as opposed to a pattern only. A full cross stitch kit (like those here at Caterpillar Cross Stitch!) comes with everything you need – fabric, threads, needle, instructions and full patterns.  

Sign up for the VIP Stitch Club newsletter here and receive 10% off your first order and a free eBook of 7 cross stitch patterns to get you started!

Linen – made from 100% linen thread and woven in the same way as Evenweave (see above). Linen has a natural traditional look and can be more difficult to stitch on. 

LNS – Local Needlecraft Shop

MCBAP – Massively Complicated Big Ass Project

Needle Minder – a small decorative magnetic item fixed onto your cross stitch fabric which holds your needle safe and secure when not in use. We offer over 23 different designs!

Needlepoint - (also called Tapestry) a form of embroidery where yarn is used to stitch through a mesh canvas much like aida but larger and more structured.

OAP – Old Abandoned Project

ONS – Online Needlecraft Shop


beehive cross stitch


OOP - Out Of Print 

ORT – Old Raggedy Threads or Orphaned Random Threads. Ort also means a scrap. 

PAD – Project All Done

Parking – to use multiple needles with different threads on each to make it easier when stitching over larger areas but with fewer stitches of each shade of thread (to avoid re-threading your needle over and over).

PFO – Pulled From Oblivion (if you haven’t worked on a piece for quite some time!)

PHD – Project Half Done

PAD – Project All Done

Q-Snap – a type of frame used for cross stitching that snaps together around a frame to keep your fabric taut and in place.

Railroading – passing the needle between two strands of thread already stitched to give a flatter look to the stitch.

RAK – Random Act of Kindness – where one stitcher will post or buy a kit/pattern for someone else. Often found in Facebook groups or as a surprise gift for someone they feel deserves it.

RR – (Round Robin) a system whereby one project is passed from one stitcher to another and so on until completed.

SABLE – Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy

SAL – (Stitch-a-Long) can also be a mystery stitch-a-long where the theme is a secret. SAL projects are broken down into several parts where the pattern for each part is released at regular intervals and many stitchers join in stitching each part simultaneously. Find our more about our current stitch-a-long here!

SINS – Stuff I’ll Never Stitch

SIP – Stitching In Progress

Skein – how your thread (or floss) comes in 8m lengths wound around into loops with a small paper label attached detailing the brand and colour coding.

Stash – a collection of cross stitch related items (e.g. look, your stash is out of control!)

Stitchy Buddy – any pet that sits with you (or on you!) when stitching.

Stitching Over 2 – a term used when stitching on evenweave or linen fabric (see above) and you miss two holes before placing your needle and stitch as opposed to missing one hole like when stitching on aida fabric.

Tapestry – (also called Needlepoint) a form of embroidery where yarn is used to stitch through a mesh canvas much like aida but larger and more structured.

Tweeding – (also called Blending) using two or more colours of thread (usually one strand of each) in the same needle at the same time to blend the colours together when stitching.

TOAD – Trashed Object Abandoned In Disgust

UFO – Unfinished Object

USO – Un-Started Objects

Waste Canvas – for stitching a design onto a fabric without a grid. Use it as a guide and it can be removed afterwards either by washing away or pulling out one piece at a time leaving only the finished design behind.

WHIMM – Work Hidden In My Mind

WDW – Weeks Dye Works – a popular brand of cross stitch thread.

WIP – Work In Progress

WISP – Work In Slow Progress

WTF – Waiting To Finish

If you have any cross stitch friends who would enjoy this, please go ahead and share the blog post with them! Shop the full range of kits here.

 caterpillar cross stitch terms and acronymns

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