Another problem is centering that poke. If you look at aida you'll see that there are usually 4 threads vertically and 4 horizontally (these are warp and woof or Worf and Spock or something!). Anyway, you want to sink your needle in the exact center of these threads to make your partial stitches look nice.
Sometimes you can get your needle through easily and in just the right place. Sometimes you can't. If so, take a regular needle (the sharp, pointy, "dangerous" kind) and pass it completely through the fabric in the place you want your stitch to be. This opens up the threads of the aida enough for you to insert your tapestry needle. (A long straight pin works, too. I actually prefer one because I can grasp the head well and wiggle it around in the hole to open it even further if needed.).
copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.