What tips would you give to a new stitcher to help her stitch faster and neater while still keeping it enjoyable?
When I started stitching (around age 12), I didn't have anyone to help me. My mother tried, but she only dabbled in needlework, and even then only stamped kits or surface embroidery. The best advice she gave me was to always cross my stitches in the same direction! So I would definitely pass that on. Count carefully. Also, I would tell them to be careful when carrying threads on the back -- several of my early pieces ended up "puckered" where I carried a thread too far and pulled it too tight. And in connection with that, I might recommend that she (or he...) start with something that doesn't have too many color changes. But most importantly, I think I'd tell them that stitching is supposed to be FUN! don't worry if your project "doesn't look like anything" for a while -- just relax and enjoy the process. If you run into problems, it is ok to throw something out and start over, or improvise and adjust. Look at those wonderful antique samplers....the charm and interest often comes from the fact that they are unique, errors and all.
I'm off to the LNS this weekend -- the owner called me yesterday to tell me that the Rainbow Gallery fibers I requested came in, and I have the baby gift to drop off for framing. I'm considering having a piece framed for my sister, too -- this one. Her bedroom is decorated in green and purple, and I've tried finding a suitable fabric to make this into a pillow, but I'm just not happy with anything. So maybe a very basic frame? Hmmm. Oh, and I should have picture of the little Knotted Tree NeedleArt Santa ornie soon!