Cross stitch fabrics explained
Cross stitch fabrics are those with holes arranged in regular rows and columns allowing you to stitch nice neat crosses.
The most common type of fabric is aida. Both the white fabric on the left of the image below and the fabric in the centre are examples of aida. The fabric on the right is a linen.
Aida is fabric woven with many strands in each row and column. When using this type of fabric you stitch 'over one'. Two holes across and two holes up make one square for your cross stitch.
Evenweave is any fabric that is woven evenly with the same size thickness of strands equally spaced throughout. Usually even weave fabrics have much smaller holes than aida fabric. Often when using this type of fabric, your pattern will tell you to stitch 'over two' which means that you skip a hole when making the stitch. There are three holes across and three up to each square and each cross stitch.
Fabric sizes are measured in 'counts' which refer to the number of stitches per inch for that fabric. The lower the number the larger the hole and resulting stitch. Aida fabric can go as low as 6 count, even weave and linen can go as high as 36 count and beyond. By stitching over two on 28 count linen, you will end up with stitches of the same size as stitching over one on 14 count aida. This knowledge helps you to know the size of your finished stitching if you would like to stitch it onto a material other than the one suggested in the pattern.
The preferred or more standard size tends to be 14 count aida/28 count evenweave/linen. As a rule it is easier to see the holes using aida fabric and therefore it is quicker to stitch onto and easier for beginners.
You can now also get fabulous stuff called soluble canvas, which is a plastic fabric with regular holes in the a grid formation which dissolves away in warm water. Therefore you can tack this to any fabric that is strong enough to hold a stitch, use the holes to make nice even, regular cross stitches like you would using normal aida, then remove the tacks and dissolve. The canvas will disappear and just leave your nice neat cross stitches behind. We put this fab bit of stitchy technology to good use in some of our kits.