Counted Canvas

This is a general discussion of what a stitcher desiring to try counted canvas work or counted needlepoint would need in order to get started:
STEP ONE: dipping your toe in 
First I would suggest choosing a Counted Canvas Work/ Counted Needlepoint design that is relatively simple to get the hang of reading the pattern and learn how to lay threads competently. 
A really great designer to start with is: 
Nancy's Needle offers a large variety of designs that will introduce you to working on canvas, and all the beautiful threads that are available today for needlepoint. I have done several of these pieces and they always turn out beautiful.
After you get your feet wet and complete your first project, the sky is the limit on Needlepoint Designers. Just google Counted Needlepoint and watch the feed fill with gorgeous designs. Some that you may look up is: Carole Lake of Stitch Play Designs, DebBee's Designs, Gay Ann Rogers, Needle Delights, Kurdy Biggs, Orna Willis...these are just a few of my favorites...there are lots, lots more.

STEP TWO: ground cloth for needlepoint
Most Counted Canvas Work is done on 18 ct. Mono Canvas which 18 ct. and very heavily starched so it is very stiff.

Counted Canvas Work can also be done on Congress Cloth which is typically a 24 ct woven cloth and also heavily starched and stiff. 

Both of these ground cloth options come in a variety of colors. 

The pattern  you choose to stitch will tell you which cloth to stitch your piece on. It will also tell you, exact size of canvas you should purchase. There is no adding on extra allowance for framing or finishing. That takes added stress and anxiety about worrying if you will have enough room to finish  your piece. 

STEP THREE: stretcher bars
Now mono canvas needs to be mounted on stretcher bars. You buy them in the exact length and width of your project. The come in sets of two. And they look like this: 

They have dove tailed ends and any size fits together. So for instance if a piece is: 18 x 10 you would buy a pair of 18 inch bars and a pair of 10 inch bars.
Any shop will be able to help you. If you don't have an LNS just call a shop and they will be able to help and mail you the products you need. I will have a listing of shops available in my tabs section with their websites linked that I do business with and know are fantastic to work with. Remember however that shop owners always can't run to the phone because they are helping other customers, leave a message or send and email to them and they will get back to you: patience is a virtue!
 Like all things stitching, there are several other options for stretching your canvas that are higher end products Ever Tight bars, slate frames...and their are more....however to get started these simple stretch bars are good enough.

STEP FOUR: tacks
You will need to purchase brass tacks sometimes referred to as "Japanese tacks" 
to mount and hold your canvas on the stretcher bars. They look like this:

The little blue plastic piece is the tack "remover". Some people feel that pushing the tacks into the wood hurts their fingers. If that is the case you can find these:
which comes with a magnetic "pusher" and a very nice "extractor". Or you can do what I do and use a hammer :)

STEP FIVE: Needles
Most canvas work is accomplished with two different sizes of tapestry needles: 22 and 24. I have my favorite brand which I will share with you here: 

With the threads being used much larger and thicker than what most cross stitchers use, I HIGHLY recommend a needle threader. I prefer this simple one by Loran which is easily found in stores and rests right on my needleminder so always right at hand on my canvas. There others available, of course, so pick your poison - but have one on hand, because you'll need one. 
So there you go:
1. pick a simple piece to begin and buy threads indicated
2. buy the ground cloth you need as specified in the chart
3. Get stretcher bars
4. Get Brass tacks
5. Needles
6. Threader

JUMP IN WITH BOTH FEET!! You won't regret that you did!