How to Start Stitching
If you are using a kit take out all the components and check them off against the contents list, if necessary sort out the threads and label them, Decide if you are using a hoop or frame for the project and don't forget to wash your hands before handling the fabric as this helps to prevent the fabric from becoming dirty or stained.
Fold your fabric into quarters, this is to find the centre where the stitching starts and is essential to the presentation of your finished piece. Some stitchers then do a running stitch down the creases, others just mark the centre with a small stitch. Place your fabric into your hoop or attach to your frame making sure that the centre point is in the middle.
Look at your chart, find the centre point by following the arrows that are on the sides of the pattern. That is the first stitch. Check down key for the corresponding symbol and it will give you the thread colour that you need. Check to see how many strands you need (skeins usually have six strands in them but stitching is normally done with two strands unless specified).
There are various ways of starting off:
Waste knot - this is done by knotting the thread and sewing through the fabric leaving some thread at the back, then stitching over this loose thread trapping it, the knot is then cut off. Some stitchers don't bother with the knot, they just make sure that the loose thread is tied up with the stitching, this reduces the risk of snipping the fabric when you cut off the knot.
Loop - using a long single thread, loop it in two and put the two ends through the needle. Come up through the first hole in the fabric and back down through the second to form your first half cross stitch, run the needle through the loop of thread left underneath the fabric and pull, anchoring your thread, carry on stitching in the usual manner.
Running through the back of the fabric - you can run the thread through the aida at the back making sure that it doesn't show through on the front but this doesn't work on evenweave and linen fabric.
Try to keep your tension even (this will be helped by using a hoop or frame). Don't stretch threads across the back of the fabric for far apart stitches of the same colour, the threads can show through the fabric or get caught up and be pulled through the fabric in the wrong place and spoil your work.
When tying off weave the thread through the back of the stitches and cut (don't leave yourself so short that you can't tie off this is necessary to stop stitches from becoming loose)
When using lighter threads especially white used shorter lengths and try to avoid handling them as the dirt and grease from your hands will discolour them.
(Information kindly provided by Mrs Hazel Evans)