How to start
Threading your needle
Use a length of silk that’s about 20-24” long. Any longer and it’s hard to manage, and the last bit of the silk strand might become worn. Some of the colors provided in your kit will already be precut to this length. The full skeins will need to be opened – you’ll see that half of the skein is approximately 21” – a perfect length.
Unless you have a needle threader handy, the easiest way (we think) to thread a needle is this: fold your silk around the eye of the needle, and use your thumb and finger to pinch it tightly. Slide the thread off the needle and slide the fold through the eye. It helps to push the eye onto the fold, rather than the other way around.
Should you stretch?
Some stitchers swear by stretcher bars - others can't stand them. Stretcher bars keep your canvas taut and in shape, which is helpful if you are planning to frame your work by yourself. Stitching needlepoint with stretcher bars requires an "in and out" motion - the needle goes down into the fabric, is picked up from the back, and then pushed up through the canvas. The bars are purchased in pairs, and the measurements should match the size of the outside of your canvas, not the pattern. Most often the canvas is tacked down with brass tacks which will not rust.
Stitching "in hand" allows you to use a sewing motion - as the canvas is folded and softened, you move the needle in one place and out the next in one move. Your hand stays on top the entire time. The canvas eventually becomes soft and pliable, and is easier to transport. That also means it will need blocking before framing.
In order to avoid snagging your lovely silk on the raw edge of the mono canvas, most stitchers bind the edges. This keeps the unfinished canvas edge from catching on the silk (or your sweater). You can use masking or artist tape to bind, applying half the tape on the front, and folding it around to the back. If you have your sewing machine handy, bias tape folded around the edge works nicely. Many stitchers just fold over the raw edge and tack it down using a running stitch with some waste yarn or heavy thread. Your choice!
You're going to have to start your first stitch somewhere. There are a few ways to start a new thread when you don't have other stitches to anchor to. One way is to make a waste knot in the end of your thread, and push your needle through the canvas front to back, about an inch away from where you will make that first stitch. As you continue to stitch, work over the tail of the thread on the back side. Eventually the tail will be anchored with your new stitches, and you can carefully clip the knot on the front.
You can also just hold the tail in place on the back, and work your new stitches over the tail until it is anchored.
Eventually, anchor a new thread by drawing your threaded needle through existing stiches on the back.