Although all the eager embroiderers from third grade are very keen carry on with their embroidery and grow their skills with this art into their 4th grade year it is not possible. Their curriculum is very full and there is no discretionary time for this kind of activity.
So …we compromised and offered embroidery at the after school program. This is not perfect as it only can be offered to the students who attend the program.
This year I thought it was time to branch out from the counted thread embroidery with which the students have become so comfortable. So for the fifth grade group I offered an elementary goldwork class featuring a Christmas Tree. I have 17 students all learning the skills needed to embroider with gold thread. Very exciting and they love it.
For the 4th graders, building on their counted thread embroidery skills we are using the same fabric as third grade, same threads, same needle but seven new stitches which the fabric is designed to help them master. They choose their own colors and we discuss choices by looking at the color wheel. They will need to design their own names and center the lettering on their project.
How many years have I been introducing the third graders at El Granada Elementary School to the delights of embroidery? This is, I think, my seventh consecutive year.
So, how many students now know how to thread a needle and make a stitch…well quite a few stitches actually? The answer is…..somewhere in the region of 440 El Granada Elementary students have learned how to embroider over the years. Some love it, some are not so sure, some will never pick up a needle again if they can help it. But they can all sew on a button if they need to and mend something if necessary.
The students have made huge progress this year. From knowing nothing about the task at hand to being masters of the materials and designing their own samplers, with an understanding of the rules of design and with the grit to see through a difficult project to completion over several months.
I am am very proud of them. The perseverance required is considerable. The final project, a birth sampler, a repeat of the project from last year. The students have to design their name and birthdate and center the lettering and numbers. The they can choose from a series of motifs which have birth and love as their symbolic message. There is a stork, obviously, hearts…obvious too, then there is a butterfly= joy and a mushroom= everlasting life. These motifs have all been taken from samplers stitched by students from the 19th century, when all students had to learn how to embroider and stitch as there were no sweat shops in Asia filling the stores with cheap clothing.
I am finishing this post with a PS. Now these third graders are 4th graders. At their after school program 17 of them have elected to take an embroidery class after school. So we have a large class of very motivated students. New projects. New stitches. New adventures in creativity. Exciting.