Counted cross stitch is a type of needlework in which embroidery is worked on the grid-like surface of an openwork cloth known as aida. While stand-alone cross stitch patterns can be found in many places, including online, in magazines, and as individual worksheets for purchase, many stitchers like to work from a cross stitch book. Choosing the best cross stitch book is typically a matter of assessing one's experience and tastes and picking out a book geared toward that level and genre. A good cross stitch book will also be well-edited, include clear photographs of the finished product, have well-produced charts, and include accurate color guides for threads.
In cross stitch, the stitcher first locates a center from which to work on the aida cloth and then counts from that center the number of squares onto which they need to make their stitches. Eventually the stitches, which typically resemble an "X," though there are variations, begin to form the desired image. Because one mistake in a cross stitch chart can undermine the entire project, it is very important that the book's charts be clear and well-edited. It is also important that a book's thread chart guide be accurate as well. When buying a cross stitch book, check the pages to see if a list of corrections is added to the book either as a separate page or as a separate slip of paper before starting a project.
Other concerns in buying a cross stitch book include making sure the designs are appropriate for your skill level. Many craft and needlework books can be fairly explicit about the audience for which the book was written. If you are a beginner, look for such words as "beginning," "basic" or "easy" in the book's title or on its cover. More experienced stitchers should be able to gauge the suitability of a book by examining its instructions and photographs. Before buying a cross stitch book in a store, be sure to read through the instructions for at least a couple of patterns. If the instructions are not clear and you don't feel confident about your ability to decipher them, it may be best to resume your search.
Cross stitch typically is most fun when you are stitching something that you like. Fortunately, cross stitch patterns are available in a huge variety of themes, ranging from dolls and seashells to fantasy figures, astronomy, and garden scenes. Many cross stitch designers specialize in certain genres, so it can pay to do some research and find designers who not only produce charts that you like, but also write in a style that you find easy to follow. Choosing cross stitch books by author can be a reliable method of choosing the best cross stitch books for your needs.