PREPARING THE BASE
I would recommend that you cut your base fabric from 10-20 cm larger than the finished piece (5-10 cm round each side). It is worth then taking a little time to prepare the base for stitching. On aida and evenweave - make sure you lightly steam or press out any creases from the fabric. You can then take the time to either hand stitch or machine zig zag the edges to avoid fraying of the fabric, although this is up to you.
The larger canvas pieces do not fray as readily, but the open canvas edges can snag your yarn. So for this reason I usually tape the edges with masking tape, which stops both the snagging and any fraying.
WHERE TO START?
Tradition dictates that you start your project from the middle and work outwards. In order to mark the middle of your base - simply fold it in half and then half again. You can then co ordinate this with the middle of your project to start stitching. If you want an extra reference, you can use a ruler to mark the horizontal and vertical stitch rows which evolve from this point with a water soluble embroidery pen - which will be covered by your stitching and easily disappears with a touch of water.
You can then frame or hoop up your base ready to get started. Or if you are using canvas you can simply start stitching as is.
I would recommend that you cut your yarn before threading to no longer than 45cm maximum. The yarn length is to stop longer pieces being damaged as they constantly pass through your work, but also to make life a little easier with less thread to ‘handle’. Using your threader, thread up your needle with the number of strands required for the project, in the colour shown on the chart.
WORKING WITH THE CHARTS
Each of the charts is a grid of coloured squares. Each square represents a single stitch - and the colour of the square represents a different coloured yarn, which is shown on the yarn key. This method is called COUNTED CROSS STITCH. As most projects start in the middle - this is clearly shown by 2 large arrows on each chart highlighting the middle row. Also every 10th row/column, is highlighted in blue on my charts to enable you to count out your squares more readily. Some people find it easier to cross off the squares as they stitch - but I have only ever done this on really complicated stitching.
So now you are ready to stitch.. There are a number of different ways to start, make and finish your stitching..
It may sound a little silly to some, but it is important to start off your stitching in the proper way (without lots of knots!) otherwise your work will look ‘lumpy’ and may even unravel! There are 3 main methods for starting Cross Stitch: