What tips would you give to a new stitcher to help her stitch faster and neater while still keeping it enjoyable?
1. Use one of those sponge-in-a-box things to dampen your floss after you've separated it and are ready to thread your neeedle. I wrote about it and gave a picture here.
2. Check the back of your piece often for loops - before you've stitched another 50 stitches and have to go back to undo them.
3. Count twice. Count often. Our hobby used to be called "Counted Cross Stitch," and the emphasis is on counting, not frogging (undoing)!
4. I'll steal this tip from Nancy of Cross Stitches and Kitty Kisses: when you're stitching a long horizontal row, stitch one way, put a cross every 10 stitches, then go back the other way. Great idea Nancy!
5. Use a Q-Snap frame instead of a hoop. It's much gentler on your fabric, especially on your already-completed stitches. And I'll add a tip about Q-Snaps: to keep them from losing their tightness, turn the clamps inward to loosen them every time you lay your work down to do something else or quit for the day. It takes the tension off the clamps and also off your fabric.
For more info on SBQ, go here.