Well we made a start yesterday. Two classes, 45 students and one teacher …male…all with needle threaded and some stitches to their credit. We have quite a short time before the holidays to complete a small tree in a pot and put a star on the top. Given that no one could thread a needle at the outset that is quite a big ask. But…..I have no doubt that most of the students will complete the assignment.
It really is a total pleasure to me to introduce a class of eager-eyed third graders to the art and craft of embriodery. They are at the perfect stage to take on embroidery. They have the dexterity and the ability to follow instructions and translate a paper pattern to the fabric. No one has ever asked this of them. I tell them at the beginning that their brains will be very busy while they are doing this. And it is true, the effort in the classroom is palpable, as with varying degrees of success each student does their best…and they really are all doing their best I know that…. to follow the instructions I have given. There are a lot of instructions at the beginning..a lot.
Today another two classes were introduced to embroidery. I think now there are 89 students and one teacher all starting out with a needle and thread. They all did an amazing job, by the end of the sessions every child had made at least one cross stitch and some has a whole row and were pretty pleased with themselves. One girl looked up from her stitching and said…” I have never done this before” and she was thrilled that she could. Some students can make stitches very well but then panic and take them out……..because they think they are doing it wrong even when they are not.
I have found over the years that the students’ stitches ” tell tales on them”. By which I mean I can tell by looking at the student’s work what they are thinking, whether they are focussing, talking to the person next to them, worried about their work, trying to be better than the student next to them, whether they are in a hurry to finish rather than understand that what they are making is art and no one cares how long it takes……well…. Actually we do not want to be stitching these Christmas trees in January…so it does matter….but I tell them it doesn’t at the beginning.
I have spent a good part of today preparing materials for 4 classes of third graders. I am not totally sure how many students exactly, probably about 90. As I may have said before it is a labor of love. Even cutting up almost 100 pieces of fabric is not a chore.
We have been been doing this for so many years now we have a system that works well.
There is a new principal at the school. Not sure what she thinks about embroidery in her school. Guess we will find out. I taught her sons embroidery reasonably recently…not sure they liked it much which might have some bearing on her opinion. We wait to see. The teachers have allowed 30 minutes for this….the absolute minimum. The beginning is the hardest with so little time. Once everyone has more idea of what they are doing it is easier with a small amount of time. I am doing two classes on Thursday and two on Friday. Four in one day would be a bit much. One hundred students unable to thread a needle…..yikes!!!
Every child has a zip lock bag with their name on it. In this bag they keep their fabric, needle and any threads they are working with, and a paper chart of the piece on which they are working. The emphasis here is on personal responsibility. I tell them at the outset that my most unfavorite sentence is “Mrs. Davidson, I have lost my needle” . Some students wear their needles to blackness and need for replacement before losing them and some lose them all the time…although it has to be said very few needles go missing given the number of the students and the opportunities for them to be lost.
The threads we use are DMC perle #5. This thread is fantastic. The colors are wonderful and it is a dream to stitch with when you have many students all starting out. I call it ” well behaved thread”. The students know exactly what I mean.
I have opened my very first store ever. It was quite good fun and a lot of work. I really enjoyed designing the pieces and I had always in mind my keen stitching students. I know that in the summer they really enjoyed the seahorse so I designed him some buddies. I am a little nervous about it all actually. Firstly that it will have been a monumental waste of time and secondly that I will make a muddle of the ordering process if I am lucky enough to get even one sale. Etsy has a good site and it was pretty simple to do the display part. The website did not really like me using my iPad and would freeze on the tag section. But we persevered.
So I am hoping that there will be a bunch of folks out there all itching to stitch a motley crew of ocean creatures or wanting to give them to their friends, neighbors, nieces, nephews, cousins for Christmas gifts. But not too many as I will have to do all the kit making myself.
So we will see. It has been a while since I posted stuff on this blog. I did not win the Royal School Of Needlework Sampler competition. Surprise there? I am woefully behind in my canvas work project for my RSN Certificate…..must get on with it this week if I am not to embarrass myself at class in a couple of weeks.
My friends here in town have instituted a get together with stitching as the theme. Our Stitch and Bitch sessions are a lot of fun and we are in the middle of a small blossom tree. I will take photos of us at work and post them here.
If I get a sale on etsy I will be sure to post about it.