Samplers don't have to be cross stitched alphabets. It's been ages since I had the attention span to do cross stitch (I was 8 the last time, I believe).
Samplers are lovely when they display a few different embroidery stitches. I was looking at some stitches a couple months ago, and thought a lot of them reminded me of organic, growing shapes. Different stitches can make great leaves, vines, flowers, or seaweed.
When I first tried some crewel type embroidery... a few months ago, I think...
I originally had grand plans of making a comprehensive, modern, elegant stitch sampler. I looked up a bunch of stitches (I found a GREAT resource here, by the way: http://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/reference/picture-dictionary/ ), drew some lines on some fabric, embroidered a few... and then put down the embroidery to stop a kid from squashing banana into the carpet.
This sampler only shows a few stitches. It doesn't take too long... so that works for me.
Step 1: Transfer the Pattern
Print out a pattern and trace it onto fabric. Watercolor pencils can be cheap and don't usually stain fabric (but the red ones can a bit more easily).
Usually if I'm actually drawing my pattern on before I stitch it, I draw the basic design first, then add the details when I'm ready to stitch that area. Otherwise, some of the pigment might rub off before I get to all the areas, and I'm too lazy to do things twice.
Oh, right... you need supplies. Unless you're doing imaginary embroidery. Man, I think those excedrin PM that I took are definitely kicking in...
You will need:
embroidery floss in whatever color you want
some sort of writing utensil, preferably one that can write on fabric but will wash out later
scissors or very sharp teeth
embroidery hoop (optional... helps to keep the fabric stretched at an even tension
some sort of pattern (once again optional... some people doodle with a needle and thread instead of a pen and paper)
I've attached the pdfs for this sampler pattern. One has the stitches in color, and the other just has simple black lines.