I said I'd do an update on Sforza and Gaddi, but well, this isn't it.
If you're like me, you've found that you're unsatisfied with following the readymade cross stitch patterns on the market. You might, like me, long to create your own pieces. And, like me, you probably don't want to spend money on software to do it for you. I'm poor folk, and I can't afford a fancy schmancy computer program - Adobe already emptied my pockets.
Doing it by hand is easier than you might think. First and foremost, decide on what you want to embroider. If you have a photo or printout, you're about halfway there. If you're like me and can't find a big enough jpeg to print, you do it by hand on tracing paper.
Next step is to get ahold of some 1/16" graph paper. I can't afford to buy a pad, so my awesome boyfriend printed a few sheets for me. Slap your original image onto a light table, and tape it well while you're down there. Next, tape your (makeshift) graph paper on top of the image/drawing. If you, again, are like me and can't afford a light table, you can flip a clear plastic bin over and stick a bright light under it. Cheap and effective.
The next bit is coloring your graph paper square by square. This part is a bit of a painstaking process. Fortunately, after years of "dolling" I'm used to drawing one pixel at a time, so this part isn't so bad. Here's a snippet of what I've got so far. I'll be slowly working on this over the next few/several weeks/months, in between paying stuff. Here's hoping I don't forget about it in the meantime.