When I cross stitch should I use a hoop to keep my fabric taut or is it better to pull it tight with my hands so as not to create dents in the fabric?
Seriously, use a hoop. The few dollars you'll spend on this will be so owrth it. You can ruin hours and hours of handwork if you stretch your art work. Come on guys, if you are spending that much time on a coll project, you'll be bummed if it's all stretched out. Give me a w00t if you agree.
You can always lightly iron those dents out later.
Use a hoop!
Always use some kind of hoop or loom. The dents can be fixed, but stretching your fabric is forever.
I have to agree with the rest. Hoop it or lose it!
The chance of dents will be lessened if you first bind your hoop with white cotton twill tape. The narrowest one winds around the hoop more easily. Bind only the inner ring. This is a common technique amongst emroiderers I believe - I learned it at a specialty workshop.