This morning I stumbled across an interesting article on the Ridgewood shop blog that talks about a painted canvas embellishment class Jan took at the ANG Seminar. This class was team taught by Suzanne Howren, Tony Minieri, Beth Robertson and Meredith Willett. Jan came home with a stitch guide she developed under their tutelage but she wasn't happy with the sky so she posted a question on the ANG email list asking for ideas. You can follow the link Elaine put in her article if you want to see the piece and Jan's thoughts on it.
The reason I mention this (besides it's being a quite interesting discussion) is that I wanted to point out there are many reasons for buying a stitch guide. Most people buy one because they don't know how to stitch a painted canvas they bought except for tent stitches. That isn't something everyone wants to do these days, so a stitch guide is very helpful.
Other folks use a stitch guide as a jumping off point. With a guide, you don't have to make every decision yourself. Many folks want all the decisions made for them so they can just sit and stitch in a relaxed manner, but others take the guide as a general map and substitute threads and stitches for spots where they have ideas of their own they think will work better. That is what Jan ended up doing and in my experience, many folks have very decided ideas about how they want to stitch a piece--they just have a problem area they are unsure of or they need help figuring out how to execute their plan.
The third reason for buying a stitch guide is to learn. Each stitch guide writer has an individual style that probably is different than your own. I love reading stitch guides to analyze them to learn how a master approaches a certain canvas. I keep them and re-read them periodically, using the stitches diagrammed inside in other similar places, and just for the joy of watching a really good stitcher at work.
Whatever your reason for adding a stitch guide to your collection, I hope you have great fun stitching your piece with a stitch guide leading the way.