If you are interested in needlepoint as a hobby, you have to be patient with yourself. If you picked up this hobby in the hopes that it was going to be relaxing, you might be in for some disappointment. At least at first.
I don’t really recommend starting with a design right away. That’s not what a lot of people want to hear because it’s easy to go out and buy a kit that looks pretty. But if you really want to do a good job with that design, it is best to familiarize yourself with what you need to do before you jump into something like a design. If you’ve never driven before, the first time you drive isn’t the time to take a race car on the Autobahn, right? So don’t do it with needlepoint, either.
To get started, visit a craft store and get some thread and canvas to practice on. There are two most common methods of needlepoint: stabbing and sewing. They are both pretty straightforward. Stabbing means you drive the needle from one side of the material to the other. Then after you pull it tight, you bring it back to the first side again. This style of needlepoint is much easier for beginners. You have more control over the tightness of the thread. Then there is the sewing method, which is faster and used often by more experienced crafters. You put the needle through the front and back at the same time and pull it through. It can be harder to get the thread as tight this way, and you have to be a little more accurate with your stitches.
Once you’ve tried them both a few times and learn what works best for you, it is time to move on to the next step. You need to practice some of the different stitches. You can find a decent list here with pictures to show you what they should look like. Familiarize yourself with a few different stitches so that when the time comes to use them in a design, you are comfortable doing it. You won’t feel so bad screwing up a stitch or two on a practice canvas as you will a beautiful (and pricey) design kit that you were planning to give to someone. Give yourself the time to become proficient at it first, and you’ll be less frustrated with yourself when you start your first project.
Once you get to the point where you feel you are competent with a variety of stitches, you are ready for the fun part! Find a kit that has an appealing design. Be sure not to get something that has too many threads or is too large—remind yourself that you are just starting and there is time to get to those other kits after you have a few small ones under your belt. I usually mark out the different color threads in the design first, but that’s because I like being organized that way. Regardless of how you determine your plan of attack, definitely study the instructions and the layout of the design. The more you understand it before you start, the better the end result.
I really hope that you have found this little intro helpful and that you are on your way to enjoying this hobby for a long time to come.