When using stranded cotton, pull the thread from the skein at the end where the thread number is. If it has a 'tab' on the other label at the other end of the skein (as D.M.C does) pull this tab off but leave the label on. The thread will easily unravel whilst staying neatly on the skein.
I have been designing Cross Stitch charts for about 10 years now and have contributed to magazines such as Cross Stitcher and The World of Publishing. I have also written books for David & Charles. I love all things crafty my most recent books are '3D Rubber Stamping' and '100 Cross Stitch Cards' which combines Cross Stitch with other Paper Craft techniques.