How to Use the Smyrna Cross Stitch in Your Needlepoint Projects

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    Little Known Secrets of the Smyrna Cross Stitch

    The Smyrna Cross is a highly textured bumpy needlepoint stitch also known by two other terms with special names that describe how the stitch is made:

    • The Double Cross Stitch - a combination of two types of cross stitches: a) the basic diagonal cross stitch and b) the upright cross stitch.
    • The Standard Leviathan Stitch  – Two Slanted Gobelin Stitches facing in opposite directions with one vertical and one horizontal straight stitch worked on top of them.

    No matter what it is called, the Smyrna Cross is worked over an even number of canvas threads (2, 4, 6 or more) in either vertical or horizontal rows or individually as a decorative element.

    Some Known and Little Known Secrets

    The Smyrna Cross can be used as a filler needlepoint stitch for large areas with leafy bushes and trees, in backgrounds and border areas. It also makes great dots for small flowers and buds in a landscape scene.

    Although its bumpy texture is quite beautiful no matter the thread that’s used to work it, the surface of each Smyrna Cross is quite fragile and will wear faster than other stitches worked on the same canvas with the same thread.

    Use this needlepoint stitch sparingly to create a rounded appearance to motifs in your needlepoint projects. For example, if a needlepoint design has an area large enough to work a Smyrna Cross for an animal eye or the pupil of a human eye, the completed stitch would add an attractive accent to the rest of the design.

    Take a look at these easy instructions for working the simple Smyrna Cross Stitch.

    Continue to 2 of 2 below.
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    Steps for Making Foolproof Smyrna Cross Needlepoint Stitches

    The Smyrna Cross can be stitched over 2 intersections of canvas mesh (standard) or over multiple intersections provided you are working over an even number of intersections. It is made in two steps - a standard cross stitch, followed by an upright cross stitch.

    Make an enlarged copy of the stitch diagram above and follow these instructions to make foolproof Smyrna Cross needlepoint stitches.

    1. Insert your tapestry needle from the back of the canvas at position (1) and move it diagonally over as many even number of canvas intersections as desired from lower left to the upper right at position (2).
    2. Bring the needle up at the lower right at position (3) and cross to the upper left, matching the same number of canvas threads to position (4). This completes the first half of the Smyrna Cross--the diagonal cross stitch.
    3. For the second half, bring your needle up at the bottom center at position (5) and insert your needle at the top center, position (6)
    4. Bring the needle up again at the center left, position (7), and work over the other stitches to the center-right at position (8). The entire Smyrna Cross stitch is now completed!

    Tips for Great Smyrna Cross Stitches

    • The rest of the stitch diagram illustrates how the Smyrna Cross stitch looks if worked together in rows.
    • When working multiple stitches, make sure that the last half of the stitch is crossed in the same direction; or your stitches will look unsightly and uneven.
    • If multiple rows of Smyrna Cross are worked over 4 or more canvas mesh, you may need to backstitch between them if blank canvas peeks through.
    • For left-handed stitchers, simply reverse the positions when making the stitch. For example, begin at position (2) and work down to position (1), etc.

    Cautions for Using the Smyrna Cross Stitch

    The challenge for this stitch is learning how to combine it effectively with other needlepoint stitches in one design without ending up with a cluttered completed needlework piece. Careful thought should go into the placement of the stitch.

    Here are a couple of hints to help you choose the best place to work Smyrna Cross stitches in your needlepoint projects.

    1. Study the needlepoint design chart to determine the best placement for the stitch. As you look, consider how the textured stitch will impact those around it. Will the bumpy texture accent the piece or sink into the canvas and be lost once other stitches have been worked.
    2. Select other decorative needlepoint stitches that will complement the Smyrna Cross. Not every stitch in your repertoire will look good alongside this stitch; so experiment with those you think will work and use them sparingly.


    Edited by Althea R. DeBrule