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Well, summer is still kicking with the amazingly long days full of sunshine. Growing up in southern Alabama, I am accustomed to the heat and humidity of summer. One of the things that you could almost always count on during those Southern summers was an afternoon thundershower or rainstorm. Those rainy afternoons were almost always perfect for two things in my book: naps and stitching. This summer, the Midwest hasn't seen as many of those afternoon showers, but I still find myself itching to stitch in the afternoon. Maybe it's the laziness of summer, but I'm still looking to find small or easy-to-stitch projects and for ways to improve some of my basic techniques.

Your responses to the past three newsletters have been wonderful and promising -- thank you so much! I love hearing from each of you and hearing what you want to see as a focus in an upcoming issue. This time, I am going to take a step back from French knots and focus on something even more basic and fundamental in cross stitch. Let's take a look at our humble cross stitch and its cousin, the backstitch, to examine techniques, tips and maybe a few tricks of the trade. Grab a glass of cold lemonade, tea or water, and let's stitch through a bit more of summer.