I love to cross-stitch and embroider. To start with a plain piece of fabric and let the design grow is the best.
Always sort your threads first.
Sometimes if I am using a more complex design I shade off the squares I have completed using a pencil .
Almost every wall in my house has a picture hanging that I have stitched. I always date the design, when finished. I used to put "'98 or '99" for the year, but now I put "2001 or 2002". When I was stitching before the year 2000, I did not think of "99" could by 2099 or 1999 or however long the picture is still around. My daughters have already told me which pictures they want, when I am ready to put another picture up in their place.