I have written about starting stitchery before, so please read this and be guided by the links for transferring designs onto fabric and how to do back stitch.
When you choose your first piece of thread you'll notice the thread has six strands. You will only work with two strands at a time so you have to divide the thread, taking two strands for your work. You do this by cutting the required length of thread, don't make it too long, and then carefully pulling two threads away. Untwirl the main thread as you go.
Stitchery is a wonderful thing to do in summer or winter and it's very portable so you can take it with you when you go out. I hope you enjoy this very likeable past time. Like everything else in our lives, start slowly, buy the best quality fabric you can afford and be mindful of your work. People have been stitching for hundreds of years so with your stitchery you are joining the long tradition of handmade craft.
ADDITION: I've just found this wonderful embroidery tutorial on Purlbee.
If you know of any good free pattern sites, please share them with us.