Saundra Cox owns the building on Frankfort Avenue that houses The Finishing Touch, her counted cross-stitch shop that originally opened in 1978 as a handcrafted gifts and consignment shop. After a move to and 20 years at the store’s next space in Plainview, she and longtime employee Carol Huffman have come back to the historic Clifton location and are happily supplying colorful embroidery threads, fabrics, and patterns to seasoned needleworkers as well as those new to the craft.
What is counted cross-stitch?
With counted cross-stitch there is no pattern printed on the fabric. The embroiderer counts x-shaped stitches, usually out from the center of the fabric, to form a picture.
Is it difficult to learn?
Counted cross-stitch is one of the easiest forms of needlework as it combines a simple, straight stitch with a fabric that has evenly spaced holes to pass the thread through. The charts for cross-stitch designs are similar to paint-by-numbers. The design almost looks like it has been printed and it’s just fun to watch the image — a house, an animal, an angel — appear.
What tools do you need?
Choose a pattern you like and use the colors of thread suggested by the designer or pick your own colors. A plastic Q-snap frame will hold the fabric taut and will not leave marks on the cloth. A needle, a good pair of sharp embroidery scissors, and maybe a pair of peepers (reading glasses). You can use a highlighter on the pattern paper to help keep track.
How to use the finished piece?
A wide variety of items: samplers, purses, decorative pillows, framed images, bell pulls, holiday ornaments. Some finished pieces incorporate charms or buttons and beads. I like to do seasonal patterns, especially winter and autumn, and Carol likes autumn colors and designs.
What is the appeal?
People are excited about doing this type of needlework again. We have seen the craft grow and are finding new designers from Europe. Younger people are taking up the craft.
During pandemic lockdowns, we were delivering patterns and supplies to customers and leaving orders on the front porch of the shop. These times spent at home have really brought on a resurgence of interest in counted cross-stitch with people picking up the craft again after many years.
By Lucy M. Pritchett | Photos by Erika Doll