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Teach Your Child How to Do Needlepoint

Needlepoint has been used for hundreds of years to create beautiful visual art. Children are attracted to the colors and textures and of course to the needle and thread. Teaching your child to needlepoint can be the beginning of a lifelong pastime.

Knowing when your child is ready to learn will depend on two things: their small motor skill development and their desire to learn. If they have watched you or someone else work needlepoint, they will have a basic idea of the technique. If you are new to needlepoint, then you can learn together.

Grades K-6th

Young school age children can begin to needle point if supplies are selected carefully. Basic supplies for needle point include:

  • Tapestry needles with large eyes and blunt tips
  • Thread and/or yarn
  • Canvas
  • A scrollframe or stretcher bars
  • Something to keep your work in
  • Scissors suitable for your child
  • A needle threader

Younger children will need a blunt plastic needle and yarn or thread that is medium weight. They will also need a kit with a simple design on plastic or coarse canvas. Older children can use regular needle point needles and finer thread. They also can start with a kit. As they progress, patterns can become fancier.

Basic stitches should be practiced first. They are the basketweave, continental and half-cross stitch. There are variations on each of these stitches you can teach later. If you need to learn the stitches first, get a how-to book available at needle work shops, or go online to find a site that illustrates needlepoint stitches and techniques.

Keep sessions short, as frustration will come early and often! Children want to dive right in with a pattern. Finding a simple design that uses one type of stitch may encourage them. Let your child select the colors to use. Small projects will not need a frame, but larger ones will, and a frame may keep the canvas taught making it easier for your child to work.

The edges of your canvas must be prepared by binding the edges with seam tape or masking tape. This will keep the edges from raveling. Put the canvas on the frame if you are using one, stretching fairly taught.

Get comfortable. Have all supplies at arms length. Cut off about 18 inches of thread and thread the needle, tying off the end. As you begin to stitch leave some thread behind with the knot about 6 inches from the first stitch. Begin stitching, being careful of the tension. As you work, cover the thread end and clip the knot.

Children younger than 8 years old will probably need a kit designed for younger children. Help them follow the directions, reading through and highlighting key points.

Older children can create their own designs after mastering basic stitches. Teach them to work with a goal in mind for that session. For example, if they are working on a horse, they may be able to finish the mane or tail in one sitting.

As your child becomes more proficient, try different canvas meshes and threads. Yarn is easier to learn with but many children are very able with thread.

Picking out thread can be great fun. Being in a needleworking shop will inspire them! Take time to look through pattern books and how-to books. And eye the supplies and yarns.

Visit a museum that is featuring tapestry. Let them see the timeless beauty of pieces from faraway places and cultures. They will quickly see needlepoint is not just a craft. It is an art!

Make sure works in progress are stored carefully. Small projects will fit in a ziplock plastic storage bag. Larger projects can be slipped into a pillow case. All other supplies should be kept out of the reach of younger siblings and pets.

If you find your child gets bored with a piece, encourage continuation by admiring their progress. Generally, younger children should finish one piece before starting another, but serious needle pointers may have several projects running at once.

The Internet has several helpful websites that teach basic stitches and other needlepoint techniques. Some sites also have galleries you can browse and appreciate.

Remember to be patient with your youngster. Teaching too much too fast, or requiring them to sit longer than they want to or are able to will turn them off to this craft. Start with very short lesson times, say 10 minutes and follow your child’s readiness to extend sessions.

Showcase finished projects by blocking and framing. Needlepoint art makes wonderful gifts as the receiver usually appreciates the time and love that goes into a finished piece.

Main points to address:

  • Teach this exacting craft with patience and love.
  • Get comfortable. Begin small.
  • Use supplies that match your child’s ability.
  • Shorter sessions will prevent frustration.
  • Visit websites and museums to see the variety of needlepoint art and to inspire your child.
  • Block and frame your child’s finished projects to let them know their work is valued.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Leisure.

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