One of the things I have never done before is to teach embroidery to someone else. I am a mainly self-taught embroiderer and if I can't find a method or tutorial in a book or the internet, I just figure it out for myself.
I have now taken the big step to offer a Beginners Embroidery Class at my children's school. The class will start after the Spring break in April and will be aimed at children aged 9-11. The course will run for 10 weeks, with a 1-hour lesson once a week. I have limited the class size to 12 kids, but I am thinking about inviting their mothers to join us too.
I am now in the process of designing my class program, and I need some advice from all you creative people out there, please! I was thinking about giving each child a simple butterfly design and then teach them one (or maybe two, if it is simple) stitches per lesson. They can do a few practice runs and once they get the hang of it, do it on the design, filling in the butterfly as the weeks go by.
As I was browsing the web the last few days, looking for some guidance I found this post on Needle 'n Thread. Mary uses the butterfly design to practice on first and then do the 'final run' on a sampler. Should I do it this way too? It means that every child would have two hoops, one with the butterfly pattern and one with the sampler...
I was also thinking of providing a variety of pre-cut floss ready for the kids to choose their own colour scheme in stead of providing a pre-packed kit. It gives them a little bit more freedom and creativity. Should I use normal DMC (or similar) floss with 6 strands or should I use a cotton perle that won't split? I was thinking of using the stranded floss, firstly because I have a good stash and secondly because I thought it would be good for the kids to know how to split the strands. They will also see how a variety of thicknessess will influence the final design. Now I think it might be to complicated for them to start with and they might be put off when they tangle the loose strands... What do you think?
Another issue where I need some input is this: I am left-handed. I have never felt handicapped by it and I can embroider, crochet and knit without any problems. I just wonder if I won't confuse the kids if I work 'the other way round' from them. (I assume they will be mostly right-handed.) My mother and grandmother taught me to do needlework by using the mirror-method. That is the teacher and pupil sit facing each other and the pupil copying everything the teacher do in a mirror image. Are you a left-handed teacher, or were you taught by a left-handed person? How did you do it?
My main goal for these lessons is to teach the children to love needlework. I want them to understand that to be able to embroider is to open a whole new world of creativity and fun. It is something you can do anywhere and at any age. Most life-long embroiders will tell you that they learned the craft at around this age of 9 to 11, and that even thought they might have neglected it during their teenage/young adult years they never forgot the pleasure it gave them, and eventually returned to the craft.
So, even though it will be a challenge and achievement for me to teach, I would feel very happy if I can succeed in passing on the love of the craft and not just the skill to a few children.
(All photos in this post comes from either Mr X-Stitch or FeelingStitchy. Unfortunately I do not know the names of the individual artists)