Welcome to Star Stitch

We at Kansas City Star Quilts are pleased to welcome you to our cross stitch imprint, Star Stitch. We publish beautiful and inspiring cross stitch books by top authors, with compelling designs and stories.

We have three cross stitch books available, with more on the way later this year.  From the Star Stitch blog, you can visit our bookstore, go to our other blog sites and learn how you can submit a book proposal (buttons on the top menu).  Also, read some fun blog posts and get to know our authors. Enjoy!

Let it snow

By Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

The temperatures are dropping, and a winter storm is expected to bring 3 or 4 inches of snow by morning. It would be nice if my husband could stay with me all day, but he will not let snow deter him from his work. But I work from home, so I don’t have to worry about bundling up and battling the frozen world.

When the kids were at home, we’d get up early on snow days and watch the weather forecast for school closings. It was always fun to wait for the list to get around to our town and listen to the lad whoop it up if he got to stay home from school. SnowDay1.Sue stitchingJPG

In those days, the sleds would come down from the attic, and the neighborhood boys would all spend the day together. They’d trudge up and down the street from one house to another, pillaging for dry socks and gloves and raiding pantries. They’d make snow forts and have sled races, and when they’d get too cold, they’d come in and watch movies and eat popcorn, leaving their soggy gear draped over the banisters. Oh, yes. I miss those happy days.

With the kids grown and out of the house and the hubs at work, I start to think, “What will I do with a whole day all to myself?”

Never fear. I have a plan that I have been scheming about since the weatherman first started predicting snow.

First, I’ll wave goodbye to my husband. He’s a sweet guy and always suggests that I don’t go out in bad weather. To this I will reply, “If you insist, dear.”

I don’t want him to think I have it too easy, so I’ll try not to let the excitement about my snow day show on my face until he’s gone. Once he’s out the door, I will put my plan into action.

I’m going to stay in my nightie and cozy robe and slippers all day long. I will hunker down next to a crackling fire and pour myself a cup of steaming coffee (sugar and cream, please). I will pull my special chair up close to the fire, and I will arrange my side table so I can reach everything I need from the chair. I will position my phone with the charger so I don’t have to jump up from my nest to answer it. On second thought, I might turn off my phone.

Last, but certainly not least, I will have my stitching bag with my scissors and floss and a project or two that will be sure to entertain me for the whole dreamy day.

Since October, I’ve been working on stitching a poem I wrote. It’s coming along nicely, but I need to keep the ball rolling on that piece, so I’ll put that on my snow day list. SnowDay2_Progressonpoem

I got the pattern “The Big Red Ship of Life,” by Tracy Horner of Ink Circles, for Christmas. I will use 40-count parchment linen and a gorgeous cranberry Gloriana thread. I’m very excited to get started on that beautiful design. SnowDay5_BigRedShipofLife

It’s never too early to start Christmas stitching, so I might pull out “Four Pincushions,” by Jacob de Graaf of Modern Folk Embroidery.  I have already stitched one of the pincushions, but the other three are calling my name.  SnowDay3_Pincushion

SnowDay4_FourPincushions_ModornFolkEmbroidery

I am ready for my snow day, an unexpected gift of time with which I can do whatever I like. What would you do with a snow day?

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.

The paper trail

By Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

I recently found a beautiful piece of needlework at a local antique store. It is a 17-by-21-inch piece stitched on 16-count perforated paper. The design is a large red brick farmhouse with the motto “God Bless Our Home” across the top. It has beautiful bead embellishments, which include clear glass bead windowpanes and beaded swag curtains.

This beautiful treasure inspired me to call Claudia Dutcher Kistler, of Dutch Treat Designs in Livermore, California. Claudia has been collecting perforated-paper needle art and motto samplers for more than 20 years, and she possesses a wealth of knowledge on the subject.Perforatedpaper1

Perforatedpaper2

perforatedpaper3

perforatedpaper4

After seeing my photos, Claudia told me my piece is a motto sampler on perforated paper from the 1880s. It is an original stitched in wool in the original frame. The colors are still bright, and there are no tears or water stains. It is an amazing example of perforated-paper needle art.

Claudia Kistler

Claudia Kistler

Perforated-paper samplers are somewhat overlooked in the industry, which largely uses linen or aida cloth for canvas. But punched or perforated paper was widely used in the 19th century for needlework.  It was a poor woman’s canvas because it was something that was easily affordable and accessible.

“If you didn’t have fabric or you couldn’t afford the new needlepoint things that were coming in, you used perforated paper,” Claudia said. “They didn’t have all the supplies we have today. The paper is like a thin cardboard with little holes in it. It is really quite durable. In the early paper, the rag count was almost like fabric, so it feels almost more like a fabric than a paper. As you go later in the period, it feels more like a cardboard.”

Perforated paper was manufactured in the United States and England in the late 19th century.

Perforated paper

Perforated paper

“The earliest sampler from England is from 1864,” Claudia said. “The motto designs came a little after, and the American ones started mid-1870s. The patent dates were in the later 1870s for the first ones in England. It started in the U.S. and went to the U.K., but perforated-paper needle art is an American product.”

Designs were engraved or stamped on the paper and mass-produced.  The most common designs were the mottos in the 8 ½-by-21-inch or 17-by-21-inch sizes.

Sunday school motto samplers are another interesting niche in perforated paper samplers. These were typically smaller, and they were always religious.

“The Sunday school mottos were not ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry,’ ” Claudia said. “They were ‘God Bless Our Home’ or a favorite Scripture.”

The stitches on perforated paper are simple cross stitch, straight stitch, backstitch and the long (or satin) stitch. The long stitch is any stitch that goes over more than one hole and is usually on a diagonal that slants to the right. Sometimes, you will see beads or embellishments. The backstitch sometimes appears in outlines on motifs.

perforatedpaper6A lot of people call perforated paper Berlin work. It’s not quite the right term for it, but it’s a term that’s accepted.

“Berlin work to me would be more needlepoint and all wool,” Claudia said. “Perforated paper really had a mix of threads. They used silk, beads or whatever they had available, and not just wool. A lot of the more traditional mottos you see will have wool, but it is not limited to that.”

Claudia uses a size 24 tapestry needle and bigger sheets of perforated paper for her projects.

“I use size 5 perle cotton or Caron Watercolours thread,” she said. “If you want to do a long (satin) stitch, you have to use a heavier thread that will cover across the holes on the paper. The Caron Watercolours are great because they cover really well.”

Because the canvas is paper, you cannot roll it on a frame or scrunch it in a hoop. The Dutch Treat frame is designed especially for use with perforated paper tapestry and is available on Claudia’s website.

“I needed something that would clamp the paper and keep it flat,” Claudia said.

You can work the smaller pieces in hand. If you crumple your paper, or if it gets a little wavy while you’re working on it, Claudia advises to iron it with a low-heat iron with no steam.

“Perforated paper doesn’t like to be wet, so never use steam,” she said.

perforatedpaper7Claudia sells supplies, charts and designs for perforated paper needlework on her website.  While you are visiting her site, be sure to check out her beautiful and popular Anne cloth cross-stitch table toppers.

If you’d like to read Claudia’s article on perforated-paper needlework, click here.

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.

The big reveal

By Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

I am finishing 2014 with my first big “finish.”

Here it is! This piece is called The Quaker Medallion Sampler by C Street Samplerworks.  Finished Sampler Front

In January, I joined a stitch-along in the Sampler World Facebook group. I joined the stitch along because I do not think of myself as an experienced cross stitcher, and I wanted to stitch something beautiful. I needed guidance and encouragement, and I also needed a schedule that would give me deadlines for each motif.

Knowing that others were stitching the same piece at the same time was really helpful. The other stitchers in the group were there for me when I had questions, and they offered tips and encouragement throughout the entire process.

Ginny Kellar, the administrator of our stitch-along, was a great leader for the group. I was intimidated at the beginning of the year, but she quickly set my mind at ease.  Ginny broke it down so we would stitch a portion every month.

I bought my supplies in December, before the stitch-along began, and was ready to go. For the first five months, I was on target and stayed on schedule, finishing each assignment on time. After that, I fell off the wagon for a while and was behind. Then, in the fall, I started seeing finished samplers other stitchers had posted in the stitch-along group. Seeing the finished samplers motivated me to pick up the needle again and get back on track.

I made a few changes along the way. I didn’t have the brick color in the pattern, but I did have a beautiful burgundy, so I just used what I had. I liked the changes and made sure I carried the color throughout the sampler, so it would make sense.

The best part of the alphabet sections for me was the specialty stitches.  Here is a close-up.

Specialty Stitches

I’m glad I started with the alphabets because I grew tired of stitching letters, and I was ready for the beautiful motifs in the bottom section.

There were some specialty stitches, which I really enjoyed stitching. I had never done a Queen stitch before, and it was challenging. But it turned out beautifully, and I enjoyed the challenge of learning new stitches.

Queen Stitches

I write about cross stitch, so I have learned some great tips from my wonderful sources that I applied to my project.  I followed Barbara Jackson’s advice and started with basting. These basting lines were a big help. Without the basting lines, I would have been counting from the edges repeatedly. The basting lines gave me 10-stitch sections, which I could rely on as I worked through the pattern.

I learned to make time for my cross stitch from Cindy Rush, who stitches every single day!

I got some great tips from Hallye Bone, who has been a stitcher and teacher for many years. Her expertise has been invaluable to me. Hallye taught me not to “travel” my thread across many spaces on the back. I used this tip right from the beginning, and the back of my sampler looks pretty tidy, if I do say so myself. I have to admit I was tempted to “travel,” but in the end, I followed the rules. I have heard this tip from many other sources, and I’m glad learned that before I started.Finished Sampler Back

I am so pleased and proud of my finished Quaker Medallion Sampler. What a great way to finish the year. I am ready to find something new to stitch for 2015!Initials motif

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.

Cross stitch good enough to eat

By Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

In my childhood, holidays were full of feasting, family and fun. I remember huge family gatherings, especially at Christmastime. My parents made gifts for everyone, including food, handmade clothing, cutting boards and wooden toys.

I also fondly remember the delicious food and smells from the kitchen – and always baking and decorating cookies.

My mother had a recipe for spritz cookies that she received as a wedding present. It became a constant in her family traditions, and I have carried it into my traditions with my own family.rollingpinandcookiecutter

Cookie baking and decorating was quite a production in my mother’s house, because she insisted on making a specially decorated cookie for each guest. My brothers and sisters joined our mother in decorating the cookies with sprinkles and colored sugars.

I had the idea that these cookies would be cute with a cross-stitch motif. I made a batch to show you, and I’ve included the recipe for you to add to your recipe file.candycanecookie

I used a rubber stamp X for my crosses, and it made a great single-stitch impression. I used the edge of a knife for the lines of stitches. I used colored sugar and nonpareils, which make perfect little crosses, for my decorations. bluebirdcookie

Here’s the recipe.

JOAN RUSSICK’S SPRITZ COOKIES

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon almond flavoring
2¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder

Blend butter, sugar and almond flavoring. Add flour and baking powder.

Mix together until soft dough forms. Tip: If the dough is too dry, add half-and-half, 1 teaspoon at a time. (I never need more than 3 teaspoons.)

Roll out on floured surface to ¼ inch thick, and cut with cookie cutters.

Decorate lovingly.

Bake at 350 for 8 minutes only. The cookies will still be white when baked.

Remove to a wire rack, and let cool.gridcookie

It turns out that no matter what medium you choose, cross stitch is a labor of love. Making the cookies was almost as fun as stitching, and I think they look great!cookiedisplay

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.

Precious memories — and a free download

By Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

When you think of the people at the top of the cross-stitch pyramid of success, you think of Ginnie Thompson, who brought the revival of cross stitch to America; Betty Ring, the great sampler aficionado and collector; and Pat Carson and Gloria Steele, whose Precious Moments charts ignited the cross-stitch craze in the 1970s and ’80s.

Pat Carson is truly one of the few remaining people who rode the tide of success when cross stitch was in its heyday. Pat is also a lovely and gracious lady with a generous and kind heart. Her cross-stitch journey has been lucrative, and her business, Designs by Gloria and Pat Inc., is still in operation after more than 41 years.

Pat learned embroidery as a girl, stitching stamped pillowcases.

Pat Carson

Pat Carson

“Every summer, we girls were given a hoop and a stamped pillowcase and a needle and thread,” she said. “I hated it.”

She was introduced to cross stitch when she was a military wife with two little girls and a son. To meet people in her new community, Pat joined a club and embarked on a journey that would change her life.

Pat met Gloria Steele at the Newcomer’s Club in Sumter, South Carolina. Gloria owned The Cross Stitch Cottage, a small embroidery shop, where she taught needlepoint and Japanese Bunka embroidery. At the time, Pat was doing macramé and making Dip and Drape dolls.Pat's Dip and Drape doll

Her new friend told her: “Pat, I’ve got a little room in the back. Why don’t you come and do some arts and crafts classes? We don’t have anything in Sumter like that.”

Pat started teaching in the back room of Gloria’s shop, and about three months later, somebody came into the shop with little cross-stitch ornaments.  Pat was immediately drawn to the ornaments.  She remembered the stamped pillowcases from her childhood.

“There was nothing printed on the fabric,” she said. “With this cross stitch, you were the artist. If you could follow the chart, you could do it. I thought, ‘Now that’s for me!’ ”

The ornaments came from The Hammock Shop in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

“We got in the car the very next day and drove to Pawley’s Island and met Ginnie Thompson, the most gracious woman in the world,” she said. “We sat down in The Hammock Shop, on the side porch on a small settee, and she taught us her famous 10-second course in a hoop. She said, ‘One, two, three, four, cross them back, one, two, three, four. Now you know how to cross stitch, and that is all there is to it!’ ”

Ginnie decided she needed to do some research to find out where cross stitch came from and how it began. She found out it started in Copenhagen, Denmark. There was a school called Danish Handcraft Guild for Foreigners.

“Ginnie went to Denmark and took classes, and then she invited me and a few others,” Pat said. “We went for 15 years, and we learned all the techniques from cross stitch to pulled thread to drawn thread and so many of the techniques that I used later in teaching. For many years, I studied at the Danish Handcraft Guild. I have now taught in 10 different countries.”

Even the queen of Denmark did cross stitch. Pat remembers that she would visit the class from time to time.

“You presented your work to her as she came in after you curtsied,” she said. “You presented the back of your work, because your backs were always supposed to be as neat as your fronts.  She would look at it and smile, and if she didn’t say anything, it meant maybe you should improve a little bit. Or she might say, ‘That was very nice,’ which meant it was acceptable.”

For Pat, it was a joy to be able to go with Ginnie and Ken Thompson on those trips.DesignsbyGloria&Patlogo

In 1973, they started Gloria and Pat Originals.  They incorporated in 1975 and changed the name to Designs by Gloria and Pat Inc.

In 1974, Dorothy Downey invited them to the Southeastern Yarncrafters show in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We went and were shocked at how well we did,” Pat said. “We were very grateful to Dorothy Downey.”

Gloria and Pat joined the National Needlework Association. Pat was on the board for a year. They traveled to six or seven trade shows a year.

“When we were on the road, we would try to go to church if we could,” Pat said. “I decided to stay and take care of the show one morning, and Gloria, who was Catholic, went to St. Patrick’s. On the table at St. Patrick’s were two little cards with these children’s designs on them. They were Precious Moments cards.

“Gloria brought them back to the booth and said, ‘Pat, these are so precious!’  There was no name, no anything on them, and we had no idea they were called ‘Precious Moments,’ but they were the Precious Moments cards that Mr. Samuel J. Butcher had created for a line of Christian booksellers.

“We took them home with us. Gloria was having her bedroom redecorated, and the interior designer noticed them and said, ‘Where did you get those? We just got something in the mail that they are going to be producing Precious Moments figurines.’ That was how we found out what they were called.”

Samuel Butcher and Pat Carson

Samuel Butcher and Pat Carson

Pat called Grand Rapids, Michigan, and talked to Samuel Butcher, who invited them to Michigan. They charted those two little designs, then showed them to him. He leaned over the table and asked, “How did you do that?”

They signed the contract that next day. They were the first licensees to sign a contract with the company. Pat recently received an award at the Precious Moments Family Reunion in Carthage, Missouri, honoring her 35 years with the company.Pat receiving 35year award from Precious Moments

Pat used to store her books in a 29,000-square-foot warehouse.  In those days, an 18-wheeler from Wal-Mart backed up to the warehouse to take away 100,000 books at a time.

Hobby Lobby worked with Pat to design 15 exclusive titles. The first order was for 5,000 each.

“When I printed my first Precious Moments book, I thought, ‘I don’t know if it will sell,’ ” Pat said.

The women printed 25,000 copies, which were gone in two weeks. They printed 100,000 more, which also sold fast.

“We ended up printing 150,000 copies at a time,” Pat said. “Those were the glory days of cross stitch. But you have to remember that we were one of the first companies to print books, so people just bought it up. They were learning and excited, and they wanted something to stitch, so they bought everything that was cross stitch. So I was fortunate, because I was one of just a few. Everything that was printed, they wanted it.”

Gloria Steele died in 1984.

“Many people ask me why I kept her name,” Pat said. “She was my best friend, and I couldn’t have done it without her. I’ve kept her name all these years as a tribute to her.

“I believe God has a plan for all of us, and I met Gloria at a time when He knew I would need something I could do, and do well, to make enough money to raise my children and help others along the way. Cross stitch has taught me patience, how to teach, and how to accept others and their way of life. It has blessed me to help women in many other countries use this gift to earn money for their families, too.”

Pat Carson at home in front of her sampler wall

Pat stitching her design at homeFor 41 years, Pat has been active in contributing to women’s shelters, orphanages and children’s hunger efforts in the United States and the Philippines.

At 70, she is slowing down. She has trouble with arthritis and finds traveling too difficult. Her days of traveling to the Philippines are probably over, but her work there will never be done, she said.

“Right now, I’m just trying to pay back for all the good I’ve had all my life,” she said.Pat with Children in Philippines - 2

To find out more about her charities, visit her Facebook pages, “Pat Carson–Because YOU Count!” and “Precious Moments Collectors– Care, Share and Give,” and her website.

Pat keeps a pad of paper by her bed to write down the ideas she gets in the middle of the night. One night she wrote “Owl.”

“I had this idea to have a little kit that we could use to teach cross stitch,” she said. “It was very simple, and we gave it to whoever wanted to learn to stitch. We gave away 1.5 million owl kits in my lifetime.”Pat Carson Owl - Stitched out

That little owl taught a lot of people to cross stitch.  Pat and Gloria gave them to Girl Scouts and schools and made them available to retailers so they could teach everyone who wanted to learn how to cross stitch.

Pat has graciously provided us with that owl chart to give away. To download the chart, click here. (Be sure to download the file to your hard drive before attempting to print it out. You might not be able to simply open the PDF on your screen and print from there. Instead, please open it on your screen, then click the download button to load it on your hard drive. Once the PDF is on your hard drive, open your Adobe reader, find the file, click on it to open, then print it from there.)

Please feel free to share the owl chart, or better yet, in the giving spirit of Pat Carson and Gloria Steele, use it to teach someone to cross stitch.

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.

The lessons of history

By Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

Sue Fenwick

It wasn’t easy being a little girl in the 18th and 19th centuries. The boundaries set for girls were severe by modern standards, with few opportunities for individuality or ambition. There were set roles and rules for women and girls, and it was rare for them to stray from the strict parameters.

Today, we idealize the image of the sweet child sitting at the feet of her fond teacher, happily stitching away. But the verses in these samplers reveal what may have been a harsher reality for those little girls.

Photo courtesy Vickie LoPiccolo Jennett and Maegan Jennett, from their book, "A Schoolroom Alphabet: Cross-Stitch Projects Based on an Antique ABC Handkerchief." www.pickledishstore.com/productDetail.php?PID=1414

Photo courtesy Vickie LoPiccolo Jennett and Maegan Jennett, from their book, “A Schoolroom Alphabet: Cross-Stitch Projects Based on an Antique ABC Handkerchief.” http://www.pickledishstore.com/productDetail.php?PID=1414

In the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, in an article “American Needlework in the Eighteenth Century,” Amelia Peck, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, says, “The verses found on many samplers reinforced … the importance of female virtue, the value of education, and obedience to one’s parents and to God.”

She also writes, “The acceptance of death and the remembrance of the dead, including the sampler maker herself, is another frequent theme.”

Here’s a verse from 1825 that is rather grim for a little girl to ponder while she stitches.

“Come let us think on death
While we are young and gay
For God who gave us life and breath
Can take them both away.”
Ellen M. Barrett, Age 11, Staten Island, NY 1825

Photo courtesy Susan Mesick, www.rubylane.com/item/523892-0002093

Photo courtesy Susan Mesick, http://www.rubylane.com/item/523892-0002093

Compared to today, death was certainly more prevalent in 1825. Because people had to accept the idea of death at such an early age, they must have balanced that notion with prayer and praise as consolation and relief from fear. Religion was most definitely the guiding force then. However, in some verses, the sentiments hover between consolation and threat.

Children were taught to spend their youth diligently praying and praising God. These were virtues to which all “good” people aspired in the 19th century, and we find evidence of this in the verses stitched into student samplers from that era.  In the next example, the verse starts sweetly but ends in a foreboding tone.

“Let the sweet work of prayer and praise
Employ our youngest breath
Thus we prepare for longer days
Or fit for early death”
Elizabeth A. Thomas, Baltimore 1830

 

Photo courtesy Pia's Antique Gallery at Rubylane.com, www.rubylane.com/shop/piatik

Photo courtesy Pia’s Antique Gallery at Rubylane.com, http://www.rubylane.com/shop/piatik

 

The verse on Sarah Elizabeth Brooks’ sampler is something different. She starts out aspiring only to humility and poverty, admitting no ambition for herself, and ends asking God to grant her independence and freedom, if only in her own mind.

“No glory I covet no riches I want
Ambition is nothing to me.
The one thing I beg of good Heaven to grant
Is a mind independent and free.”
Sarah Elizabeth Brooks, 1842

Photo courtesy the Scarlett House, thescarletthouse.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy the Scarlett House, thescarletthouse.blogspot.com

I hope Sarah found the independence and freedom she coveted. Maybe it was her teacher who guided her as she wrote this verse?

In 1842, the year Sarah stitched her sampler, slavery was still widely accepted in both the North and the South, but the anti-slavery movement was rumbling. It is interesting to note that the first child labor laws were passed around that time in Massachusetts. Did Sarah feel sympathies when the child labor laws were passed?

At times I feel sad for the little girls who stitched the old samplers.  Their lives were so constricted by societal convention.  I wonder if they enjoyed their stitching lessons or felt confined by them?

We are lucky to live in an era where needlework has become a leisure art and pleasant pastime. How will the verses in our samplers be interpreted in 200 years?

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.

Cross stitchers of the future

By Sue Fenwick

Back in the day, when a woman’s worth was measured by her ability to stitch and mend and sew, needlework was a compulsory part of every girls’ education.

We see samplers from 200 years ago by girls as young as 6 years old, and we marvel at their proficiency with the needle and thread. Today, we rarely see needlework completed by little girls. Cross stitch and the needle arts have become a leisure activity for women.

Amy Morrow of Ward, Arkansas, a parent teacher with the Cabot Christian Home School Co-op, is taking steps to change that. Amy is teaching children to cross stitch.

Amy and her husband, Michael, have three children, Olivia, 11; Mackenzie, 9; and Isaac, 5. All three are home-schooled.

“We are part of the Cabot Christian Home School Co-op,” Amy said. “It is a large co-op, so our children can have class time with other children. So with other home-school families, we get together and the moms and dads all pitch in and teach classes. The kids get exposed to all different sorts of things.”

Hard at workAmy has been stitching for as long as she can remember, probably 25 years. Her mother, who works at Leisure Arts in Maumelle, Arkansas, taught her to cross stitch. In high school and college, Amy was a pattern tester for Leisure Arts.

Amy is an accomplished, long-standing cross stitcher with years of experience, so it makes sense that she would teach others. The great thing about Amy’s class, though, is that all of her students are children. Amy wanted to bring cross stitch to as many kids as she possibly could.

“It’s exciting to see their little faces light up when they get it,” she said. “I had quite a few kids take the class, which thrilled me. To see them enjoy it was great.”

First Finish for cross stitch studentBecause an hour a week isn’t enough time to get a whole lot done, the kids took their projects home with these instructions: “If you get a knot, or get stuck or confused, stop and bring it back on Monday and we will work on it in class.”

“They did fantastic and were very motivated to keep going,” Amy said. “It was wonderful.”

Cross stitch studentsShe had a beginning and an intermediate class. One student had done needlework before.

For the beginning class, she used a freebie pattern, a simple birdhouse with vines around the edge, from Wichelt Imports Inc. that she had in her files. The pattern had just a few color changes, so it was easier for the students. As an incentive, the local needlework shop gave a charm embellishment for every finished project.

Happy young stitcher with finished projectAmy had 16 children in the six-week session. One has ventured into design and charting.

“She had done needlework before, and she would show me her graph paper at class,” she said. “She would design her own charts during the week and bring me the things she had worked on that she had designed herself. That was exciting to see.”

Three girls finished their birdhouses, and several others are almost finished. Overall, the responses were very positive.

“Once I got started and got used to it, it was easy,” one student said.

“Cross stitching is awesome!” another said.

The one boy in the classes was not quite sure he liked it.

“I kinda like it, I kinda don’t,” he said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again.”

His older sister was in the older kids’ class and liked it, so he thought he would try it.

“I thought that was absolutely fantastic that he tried it,” Amy said.

coloring the chartShe will teach a “History of Antique Samplers” class in January. She wants her students to hear about 6-year-olds who stitched samplers.

“Kids today don’t have to sew their own clothes or darn their stockings,” she said. “Just threading a needle is a new experience for modern girls and boys, so those kinds of things are frustrating to kids when they are trying to learn cross stitch. I also want them to learn what it was about.

“The old samplers all have such history behind them, and I want to pass that on to the children.”

Smiling little girl studentIt’s wonderful to see the smiling faces of these children and to see how proud they are of their beautiful needlework. If we want the needlework industry to flourish, we should all teach children to stitch.

Amy Morrow is a great example for us all.

Sue Fenwick is a freelance writer who lives in Springfield, Missouri. She writes every other Tuesday.