While looking through some of my favorite blogs yesterday, I visited Rachel in the U.K. at Virtuosew Adventures, and saw this wonderful band sampler of stitches and threads.
She suggests trying out new stitches to see how they look - as well as using different threads to see how they perform, and how the appearance of stitches is changed. Also, by doing it in bands, it's easier to determine for what purpose a stitch might be used on other projects.
I like the idea of this format for a needlepoint practice piece, learning and developing, as the time and materials aren't wasted - it's a lovely thing, and could be used as a pillow inset, a purse - depending on size, etc. Lots of uses besides the ornament shapes and crazy quilts I've been using, but am so tired of. (Besides, ornaments should sparkle.)
Do go look at this, and, as she changes posts often, you might have to scroll down one or two posts to see it. It's all worth a look!! This sort of thing is wonderful for both beginners and experienced stitchers - we should all still be learning.