You will need: graph paper, colored pencils, fabric, piece of sewing tracing paper, masking tape, embroidery floss, scissors, needle, and embroidery hoops (optional).

Cross-stitching is as easy as counting squares. First, select a piece of graph paper with squares the size you want your stitches to be. Then draw a simple object or design on paper with colored pencils to match the colors of thread to be used.

If fabric has raw edges, bind with tape. Fold fabric in half both horizontally and vertically and mark its center. Then center design on fabric. Place tracing paper on fabric with design on top, matching centers. Pin edges together. With dull pencil press firmly and mark an X in each square of graph paper that contains part of design. Make certain your X touches the four corners. Take design and tracing papers off material. You may want to try stitching a design freehand by counting threads on special cross-stitch fabric. Such fabric is available at most craft stores.

If you use embroidery hoops, tightly stretch material. Cut length of embroidery floss and separate into two, three, or more threads. After threading needle, check design to make sure you match colors. Bring needle up through fabric, leaving a tail on wrong side to be worked into stitching later. Make one row of diagonal stitches, come back and cross stitches, and begin next row, checking design for correct colors (see illustration). All stitches should cross in the same direction. Half stitches can be used to make diagonal lines.

When thread becomes twisted, let needle hang free and thread will unwind and lie flat. To end working stitches, run thread under several stitches on back.

Your finished cross-stitch design could be framed, mounted on wood, or sewed onto cloth to decorate pillows or pincushions for thoughtful Christmas gifts. With your mother’s permission, you could sew a design on your blouse or jeans.