Introduction to Cross-Stitch
When I first started stitching about 11 years ago, I chose a pattern that was not exactly meant for beginners. It was a Calendar Bear kit from the Mary Maxim catalogue. I saw that pattern, and being a Gemini type person--meaning my emotions make the decisions, and my brain catches up sometime later--ordered it to make for my Mother's birthday. The pattern arrived in the mail, and I dutifully read the directions and looked at the chart. That is about when my brain stepped in and voiced its opinion. To quote: "uh oh." Stubbornness also being a Gemini trait, I was determined to stitch that pattern. I muddled through, made one or two mistakes that weren't really noticeable, called my Mom's cousin long distance so that she could give me a left handed explanation on how to make French Knots, and completed the pattern. My Mother thought the picture was wonderful, mistakes and all-she didn't see them, but I showed them to her anyway. While I very much enjoyed working on the pattern-most of the time-- in hindsight I feel that it is very important to choose a pattern within one's skill range. Here are some guidelines you may want to consider when just starting out.
Choose a small design that isn't too intricate or has too many colours. A sampler such as my Pentacle Blessing is a good project to learn the basics on. It has very few colours, is easy to read, and is made up of both full stitches and partial stitches.
Smaller patterns also have the advantage of not costing a lot in supplies, so should you decide that cross stitching is not something you would enjoy, at least it hasn't cost you lots of money. Another cost effective way to try out cross-stitching is to buy a kit for beginners. It comes with the fabric, chart, instructions, needle and floss.
Sometimes it is more fun to learn with a group. Check your local night school class listings to see if a cross-stitch class is offered or better yet, ask at your local needlework shop. These classes are usually very affordable and sometimes the cost of materials is included in your registration fee.