Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Stitchers

I've been thinking and talking to people and thinking some more about how we get younger stitchers comfortable with what we know and love - lots of stitches and lots of threads.

I'm not talking kids. That's a different group but what can we do to help the 20 - 40 year olds who are interested but overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what's now available? Where do they begin?

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and she made some very good points that I think I'm going to try. She was thinking about a friend of hers who is semi-crafty might like to learn but wow, look at this pile of threads. Look at the price of the threads. She has a 6 year old son and is a single mom so we have to be smart with money and her time.

Step one select a canvas.

Step two, hopefully the canvas has a stitch guide so that once at home she won't panic. Otherwise the shop can help with this.

This is all good but even with a small canvas as a beginner you and I both know the cost of the project is mounting. Canvas, threads, stretcher bars. All that stuff that we need and love.....

We know she can buy her threads a few at a time but as a beginner, how does she begin to know that without agonizing over the stitch guide. Where to begin?

Lightbulb moment!!! Here's the suggestion. Write the stitch guide in segments. Okay, we do that. We as stitch guiders write the instructions a section at a time telling the stitcher exactly what to do where, but what we fail to do is tell them what threads they will need for just this section of the project. So, instead of here's the grocery list for the entire 4 course meal here's the grocery list just for desert. Wow, cool!

Encourage a new stitcher to buy just enough for this one section, make it easy and friendly and then invite them back with project in hand for the next segment of the project.

We can now break a stitch guide into more manageable bites and quickly learn what newbies are loving and what they may be struggling with. We make it fun and social. It's just a quick trip to the local needlepoint store to pick up a few things on a manageable budget.

I'm going to try it. Watch my new stitch guides and see what you think. We'll have a master thread list of all threads needed for a project along with threads for each section.

Looking forward to hearing from you on this idea.


The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Morning, Ruth! Interesting idea you had this morning!

I am writing a stitch guide for a Leigh canvas that has a list of all the threads needed at the end and also a list of threads needed for each section of the canvas to help folks know what they need right now from the pile. That sort of layout would work for someone buyin threads a little at a time.

I think another idea would be to do a canvas using only DMC cotton that is easily obtained and cheap. There's a lot one can do with DMC, even fake those lovely overdyes! I did this with a free Sundance line drawing two summers ago. I don't know how many folks took the idea and ran with it but my version didn't look really worse than the original model which Sundance kindly sent me a photo of. They aren't the same but they both look good.

Perhaps you can try that?

Anyway, stitching something just with DMC and wool is an interesting challenge. As a threadaholic, I'll have to think about that....

Denise & Linda said...

Hi Ruth,

I think that's an interesting idea. I personally underwrite my own younger stitcher. I know that our LNS has a "box under the counter" with stretcher bars & threads for those newer stitchers, especially when you want to try a little bit of a new thread in a small section, and a $6 card is a lot for an experiment. Good idea!


marianne said...

I see the point and it is an interesting one.

I also see a few obstacles to the premise.

It pre-supposes that most people have a *walls & doors* needlepoint store as a focal point and a destination and that a stitcher needs this kind of handholding or that a begninng stitcher should be messing with some of these ultra fussy stitches.

This, of course, gets into one of my *open sore* areas. I see our lovely art of needlepoint descending into a "championship race into ever increasingly difficult stitches".

I fear *we* , as a needlepoint community are losing touch with the simple beauty of the threads, colors, designs etc, that needlepoint used to be all about, before it was swamped by the "fancy stitch monster".

I know I have not set foot in an actual needlepoint store in almost a year. I know of none anywhere within an hour of me. To expect anyone, especially the suggested "busy young single mother" to have the time to trek over and over to the needlepoint store, is unrealistic and forgive me, elitist.

Then there is, of course, my issues with *stitch guides* When did they become essential?

Maybe the answer lies in not complicating our art even more, maybe in simplifying it.

Pat Riesenburger said...

What a great thread!!! Many women are afraid to jump in to a particular craft for fear that it is too complicated for them and too expensive in this economy. Breaking down the project into portions that are emotionally and economically palatable makes a lot of sense. One of the most exciting innovations I am witnessing is the "break the rules and just do it" mentality of many of today's Indie crafters. Some of the needle art I see out there is outstanding, in large part because the artist didn't have a preconception about what she was "supposed" to do.

beth rabin said...

Good thought on stitching but I think that the first project should be basketweave with dmc. Each section of the stitch guide should include an enlarged area that is to be stitched with an arrow or an x where the stitcher begins. If you make the first project user friendly and quick the success factor is there and then the stitcher is not overwhelmed.
Information can be included on needle threading, anchoring your threads, cutting the threads, ending the threads and these little hints can be repeated throughout the guide. Make it fun!!!!!

Erin said...

What a super blog! I am new to needlepoint - been stitching a little over a year and completely addicted. I am 35 years old and grew up sewing and doing cross stitch, etc. A dear friend of mine in her mid 50s is an avid, long time needlepointer and gave me two very simple ornament canvases and threads as a birthday gift last year and needless to say I am hooked. Have completed probably over 20 projects and started to design my own on blank canvas.

To be honest, even though our local needlepoint shops are lovely once you are "in the know" they can be overwhelming and a little snooty in my area. Prior to my friend's gift I had walked into some shops but walked out after seeing how much the canvases cost and the overwhelming selection of threads.

I am by far one of the youngest patrons of our local shops and it is important for these shops to cultivate clients my age - and younger!

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