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NEEDLEWORKER

Education And Training

To learn to do a specific type of needlework, take a class at a craft shop or through an adult education program. Once you're comfortable with a technique you can buy your own equipment (needles, canvas, and a frame if necessary) and experiment with different styles, designs, and stitches. Books are also a great source of information for the beginner. Look for books with lots of descriptive diagrams and explanations.

Be patient when learning needlework, and start small! Large projects can be overwhelming to a beginner. As you progress, the quality and complexity of your pieces will improve.

A Short History of Needlework

Egyptian embroidery is visible in tomb paintings that show decorated clothing and hangings. The Romans, who called it “painting with thread,” held needlework in high regard. Basic needlework stitches probably haven't changed much over centuries, although the needles are much different. Ancient people probably used bone, wood, or ivory to sew warm, simple clothes from animal skins. Today, needles are made of plastic or steel.

Needlework was also used to adorn garments worn by clergymen during the Middle Ages. The embroidery was stitched by monks and nuns.

The embroidery on the traditional clothing in Russia and central Europe reflected where a person was from. Homemakers embroidered many household items, embellishing curtains, bedspreads, and towels.

Needlework was very popular in America during colonial times. Learning to stitch was part of a girl's education, and she often created a cross-stitched sampler. A vehicle for practicing stitches and learning to read and write, samplers often featured numbers, letters, poetry, and prayers, as well as flowers, buildings, and animal motifs. Many samplers hang in historical societies and museums today, reminders of the beauty and durability of embroidery.

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