How to Use Counting Pins in Your Cross Stitch

So we had a discussion on Facebook and here about using counting pins, especially on larger projects. I mentioned that I was looking at ordering some and wanted to hear everyone’s experiences. In an effort to better understand the whole concept of using counting pins in counted cross stitch I turned to Tommye J Bunce (aka TJB Designs) and asked for a brief explanation of how these beautiful tools worked to make our stitching easier……

(by the way, hop over to and give her fan page a “like” if you haven’t already)

—–TJB counting pins explanation for cross stitchers—–

Counting pins are a must for anyone who does counted thread embroidery. They will scare away that ugly frog!! The tips are blunt like tapestry needles, so they won’t split the threads of your fabric. Rubber earring nuts are used to hold the pins in place.

The most common way to use them is when moving from one stitched area to another spot where you want to start stitching. For instance, if your next stitching point is 12 stitches left and 15 stitches down from completed stitch “A”, using the counting pin to count 12 stitches to the left of stitched point A. Insert the counting pin into that hole, bring it back up 2 or 3 stitches away and put the nut on the pin to anchor it. Take a second counting pin and count down 15 stitches from where the first pin was inserted. Insert the second pin at that point and anchor it. Then you can thread your needle and start stitching.

TIP: if you are truly paranoid, pick a completed stitch “B” in a different area, and figure out how far your new stitching point is from point B.

Repeat the counting and marking process, as before, from point B. If you come up in the same place as you did when counting from point A, you’re ready to go. If you don’t, recount. If you still don’t, you probably made a mistake in your previous stitched area somewhere between A and B. (you probably weren’t using counting pins then. LOL)

Another popular use is when stitching long bands or rows. Insert a counting pin every 25 or 50 stitches, or whatever number you are comfortable with. That way you don’t have to count the whole row over and over again trying to figure out when you are done.

This photo isn’t a good demonstration of the counting and marking process, but it does show how to anchor them.

And, of course, all are welcome to visit my Etsy shop for more counting pins, many of which are color coordinated with (super pretty) scissor fobs.

And to keep up with new products, be a fan of TJBdesigns Facebook page.

A special thank you to TJB Designs for this great explanation and for getting me off the fence about ordering a set of counting pins. Actually, two sets. I ordered these and these from TJB Designs Etsy shop on Sunday afternoon. I figured if I didn’t get to stitch I could at least shop for stitching goodies!

I grabbed both the large and small size because even though I usually stitch on evenweaves and would be using the small size pins, I do have a project coming up in my stash that I think those large pins will come in handy for – besides that they were pretty and they matched! You know how that goes 😉

As always, happy stitching everyone!

About Loretta

Passionate stitcher. Mom of four amazing young men. Wife to a comic book geek who makes me smile every day. Transcriptionist by trade. Gluten-free by necessity. Writer at heart. Seeker of knowledge and reader of novels. Dreamer of big colorful creative dreams.


  1. Great article – thanks for sharing this.

  2. Great article!

  3. Very interesting! I was curious about these, and now realize that I have been using regular pins for this purpose for years! Thanks for posting.

  4. basically they are just long pins … but with some pretty details and something to grab onto and something to lock on with (the earring nut on the end) to hold your place for you — like those times when you put it down and go make a cup of tea and come back and forget where you were! LOL

  5. Even though they are called ‘pins’, they are made from tapestry (cross stitch) needles, so the tips are blunt and won’t pierce your fabric.

  6. That’s a good (and important) point about the tips! No pun intended LOL – No one wants extra holes in their fabric and the counting pins from Tommye’s shop will not pierce the fabric plus they’re pretty to look at while you’re stitching 😉

  7. Rhonda Polk says:

    It’s the last thing I need to buy in the way of “gadgets”……I have have had the frog visit me way to many times….it’s a must !

  8. Ruby via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Thanks…this is helpful! And I luuuuurve the matching scissors sets!

  9. Thanks for sharing, Loretta! Nobody wants to waste time frogging!

  10. Anything that keeps the frogs away is definitely a good thing!

  11. Seems a little confusing, but just might work.

  12. Joey via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I have not so fully understand how to using this, if have video I will more understand. May b I search around the video demonstration . Thanks for great idea !

  13. Henny via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Good idea, but since I interpret my own images to charts I simply mark off the spaces on the chart to keep place.

  14. The counting pins are for counting out space on your fabric though, not your chart. They’re particularly handy if you’re working on a sampler and there’s an area of white space between motifs. Or to keep a pin in the center mark for reference while you stitch a small design.

  15. Ok, thanks… I could have used a counting pin last night when I had to frog three rows of stitching…grrrrr!

  16. Oh noes! Frogs are just the worst 🙁

  17. It took me about 3 hours, and by the time I was done, I was cross eyed, and there were little pieces of floss all over, even on one of my cats…lol but now it’s good to go.

  18. Henny via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Yes, and I’ve also seen the pins used on knitting pieces.

  19. Sandy B says:

    I like using counting pins for smaller projects, they really can save you some heartache and frogging. For the really big projects, I use the method of marking the fabric off in 10’s horizontally and vertically to create a grid. Those pens used by quilters are great for marking the areas off and using the counting pins to verify each small grid comes in handy.

  20. thanks so much for sharing, Loretta

  21. Thanks, Mio Nishizu

  22. TY, Heather and Marion

  23. Thnx, Patti Allen and Jade

  24. Sometimes.

  25. Cindy via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Thanks for posting this.

  26. never have.. what a great idea

  27. Awesome explanation of how to use them from Tommye J Bunce 🙂


  1. […] How to Use Counting Pins […]

  2. […] minders (to keep you from stabbing your needles into your embroidery fabric when you take a break), counting pins (which I’ve had need of countless times in the past), and various other bits and bobs. […]

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