Follow these tips to make sure you always choose a design that is both attractive and suited to your stitching needs

1. Size … think about what size design you prefer to stitch and how much time you have. Anything over 130 squares wide is a large design.

2. Difficulty … look at the picture on the kit front to see what stitches are used and how frequently you will have to change color.

3. Fabric  don’t try out too many new techniques in the same design – for example, stitching on evenweave, working on a dark fabric background, French knots or partial ¼ stitches – unless you’re up for a challenge.

4. Chart style … is the chart filled in with blocks of color, symbols or a combination of both? Color charts can be hard to follow especially if the colors are different from the actual threads. Symbol charts can be enlarged on a photocopier.

5. Picture … it’s much easier to complete a design if you can see what it is going to look like from a photograph. Use it to check details and to identify color shades.

6. Practicality …do you need a hoop or a frame to stitch your design? Some designs are so large that they have to be stretched out on a floor stand. Small designs are more portable.

7. Organizing the threads … are the threads pre-sorted on to an organizer? If not, will it be an easy job to identify the colors and mark them on an organizer?

8. Instructions … this is important for beginners. Ask your needlework store  which kits are likely to contain the clearest instructions.

9. Presentation … you may find it a good incentive to make you finish the design if you buy a frame for it and decide where it will hang before you start.

10. Price … if it brings you many hours of stitching pleasure and a beautiful object for your home, the kit may be worth the expense. If in doubt, go back a few days later to see if it thrills you as much as it did when you first saw it.