An alternative to making knots or weaving the thread through the first few stitches when starting to stitch is the 'loop method' which involves cutting the stranded cotton twice it's usual length of around 12 - 18 inches to about 25 inches. Take one of the strands and fold it in half. Thread the two ends through the needle which leaves a loop at the bottom. Bring the needle up through the fabric and then back down to form the first diagonal of the cross stitch. Once the needle has passed back down, take it through the loop and this will then secure the thread. Continue with the stitch to complete the first cross stitch -the result is neat stitching on the back of the fabric without any knots or loose tails of thread. This method is also great for metallic thread as it helps anchor the thread and achieve a more even tension, which can be difficult because of the nature of this type of thread.
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.