Ready to Cross Stitch
Now you are ready to start stitching! Make sure you have clean hands that are free of lotion or oil. Look for the center of your fabric by folding it in half sideways and then again lengthwise. Mark the center with a small pencil mark. Look for the center of your cross stitch pattern (generally marked by arrows) and count up from the center of the pattern to the top of the design for an efficient starting point and another way to check that you have cut your fabric to the correct size before you stitch for weeks and find out you miscalculated. Each grid on the pattern is 10 stitches for easy counting.
I prefer to start my cross stitch projects at the top of the fabric and work my way down. Some people like to start their cross stitch in the middle, which can be easily located on the pattern because it is marked. Did you know that you can even start your cross stitch by turning your pattern upside down (180 degrees) and stitching your pattern from the bottom. Try it. Make a cross stitch on your fabric and then turn it upside down and look at it. It looks exactly the same as it does right side up.
Most patterns call for 2 strands of floss for most cross stitches. For a softer effect, one strand is used. One strand floss is normally used for outlining with back stitches or fabric with a very high stitch count like 22 count Lugana or Hardanger. When using a 22 count, it is generally stitched with one strand of floss.
For shading on a piece, blends or tweeding is often used. This is the use of two or more colors of thread at a time. You can also use one strand of floss and one strand of a metallic blending filament for a shine to your work. You must stitch carefully when using blending filaments because they can break easily.
Use even tension when making stitches. Do not pull the thread too tight so as to distort the fabric and make the stitches uneven. Work from left to right and right to left when making rows of cross stitches.
Hold the hoop with your left hand and stitch with your right. I usually put the hoop on my fabric with the screw off to the left side towards the top. That way I don't catch my floss on the screw when I am sewing and it doesn't get in the way. Some people prefer to stitch without a hoop. Especially stitchers who use Linen rather than Aida. Linen can get distorted in a hoop where as Aida is a stronger fabric that doesn't distort easily.