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When choosing the best counted cross stitch kit, the first thing to remember is to pick simple, small projects if you're a beginner and save the heavily detailed pictures for when your skills are more advanced. Unlike stamped cross stitch in which the design is printed onto the cloth, you're going to have to accurately count where on the material the various stitches are to be placed. As a general rule of thumb, look for a counted cross stitch kit that will allow you to start from the center of the cloth outward; this method can help center the design to help keep you stitching the whole pattern with accuracy. You should also select a cross stitch kit with clear instructions and embroidery floss colors you love.
Some counted cross stitch kits don't include frames, so keep the kit's cost in mind as you factor in the cost for the type of frame you'll want. Since you'll be counting the stitches from the graphed, or charted, picture pattern included in the kit, it's crucial you can read it clearly. Not all cross stitch kits have a color-coded chart, but instead use a different symbol for each color such as a triangle marked in some graphed squares to indicate that those stitches should be red, while spaces showing circles signify blue cross stitches. Some counted cross stitch charts can be rather complicated to read if many different shades of the main colors are needed for the project.
Good counted cross stitch kits for beginners often include tiny, simple pictures and bookmarks. Intermediate kits may feature cross stitch projects such as a ring pillow for a wedding or a baby name sampler for a nursery. An advanced counted cross stitch kit may look almost like a photograph, as it's likely to be a picture with many different shades of embroidery floss used to add depth and detail. No matter what level of counted cross stitch kit you're looking for, pay attention to the floss colors. If you don't care for them, it's best to choose another kit with more appealing colors.
Keep in mind though, that because the kit is for counted cross stitch rather than a stamped design, it may be possible to remake the project using your favorite shades of embroidery floss. You may want to re-create the project in different colors to display as a group in your home. Making the same project in different colors might also work as gifts.