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AGREED! Lots of time, but not at all hard!

Here's what you can do to get a pattern.... trace or draw a basic outline of what you want to make a pic of... then get either some grid paper (or make your own on the computer) with grids 2-3mm square... trace the drawing onto it and voila! :D

As for using darker and lighter colours (ie darker blue and lighter blue for shading purposes)... if you take the picture of what you are making in when you purchase the cottons, you can match them... (you can also outline darker and lighter patches when you do the basic outline so you can count across and put them in...

Another tip... I know that it says to use the whole string... but I actually separate each one and use only two strands out of the string each time. I find that using the whole one makes it fairly thick and harder to work with - and I don't think it turns out as nice!

If you have a bit of an artists hand, you can even do pics of people - using a photograph!

I hope I'm making sense... hard to explain!!! LOL
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