How to follow a chart

Our charts are printed with black-and-white symbols and with numbered grid lines to help you find your place. Work from an enlarged photocopy if you need to.

The thread numbers listed in the first column of the key refer to the brand of cotton we used to stitch the design, for example, Anchor. Conversions are then given for two other main brands (for example, DMC and Madeira) in case you prefer these threads. But since they are not exact equivalents it's best not to mix manufacturers' threads in the same piece of stitching to avoid 'patchy' results.

1. Make a cross stitch for each symbol shown on the chart. Bring the needle up in the bottom left corner of the square and take it down in the top right. You now have a half cross. Bring your needle up again in the bottom right corner of the square and push it down in the top left. This is a cross stitch. Work each stitch in the same order each time. When you need to work a row, make a line of half crosses and turn back to complete each cross in the line. Catch the thread end on the back under your first few stitches to secure it.
 
2. If you see a small version of a symbol printed in the corner of a square on the chart you need to make a three-quarter stitch. This is a half cross combined with a tiny quarter stitch that runs from one corner of the square and stops in the middle. You need to pierce the aidaThe most common fabric used for cross stitch, and the best one to use for your first project. It is woven into blocks marked out by regularly-spaced holes. Use these holes to work your cross stitches. Aida is sold in various sizes or counts. The most popular size is 14-count. fabricThe material on which cross stitch is made, of the fabric is aida though evenweave and linen can also be used. Fabrics come in many colours and many counts. It can also be made of perforated paper or plastic. Only fabric especially made for cross stitching should be used for stitching, because the even spacing of the threads is very important – each type of fabric is made up of holes of an even stitch count. To stitch on other fabrics you can use waste canvas. to make your own hole here. Where two different symbols share the same square, you need to make a three-quarter stitch in one colour and a quarter stitch in the other.
3. BackstitchThis is an outlining stitch that is used to add final details to a design over the top of the cross stitch. It is worked in a 'two steps forward, one step back' motion. outlines are added on top when all the other stitching is complete to create extra detail or highlight an area of the design. Bring the needle up at 1, down at 2, up at 3 and down at 1 again following the diagram. 
4. French knotsKnots can cause problems when you are stitching, suddenly appearing in your thread. In fact, they are not actually proper knots but just very tightly twisted thread. If one appears, take your needle and insert it into one of the loops of the knot and pull gently. You should find that this releases the 'knot' and you can carry on stitching. provide interesting detail on a design and are shown as a dot on the chart. Bring the needle up through the fabric, hold the thread taut in your left hand, and wrap the needle around it twice. Push the needle back into the fabric close to where it came out, keeping the thread taut. Gently pull the needle and thread through the fabric until a neat knot is formed on the front. 
5. To finish off a thread, push the needle through three or four stitches on the back and snip the end close to where it emerges.