Sublime Stitching has some great how-to diagrams for those who don't feel comfortable with embroider or cross-stitch. Here's their picture of the split stich:
For the split stich you stitch a short line then you come up through the centre of the line to make your next stitch.
and their stem stitch:
For the stem stitch you just make a short stitch/line then come up close beside it and make another stitch.
Here are the atomic kitty towels:
My sister-in-law loves cats so I hope she likes them. If not, she can use them to dry her dishes.