One thing has stayed consistent in to 40 years I’ve been doing needlepoint. And it’s not the canvas. It’s that needlepoint education sucks.
Originally I thought that I was the problem. My mom’s an artist and a tinkerer, and so we always figured out how to do it ourselves. So I took that into needlepoint and bought books and played. I didn’t take a class until I’d been stitching for a decade or more.
But I was always dissatisfied, both with the books and, mostly, with the classes I took. The books never seemed to tell me what I wanted to know and the classes, while the projects might be lovely rarely taught me the techniques I wanted at the price I could afford.
Even with the Internet this hasn’t changed much. If we want needlepoint to grow, be popular, and change the world, we need to embrace the Internet and change what we do and teach. I’ve come up with some guiding principles for needlepoint education.
First, needlepoint education needs to be targeted. It needs to teach you something specific you can go out and use on another project. A project-based class is fine for a treat, but if you learn many things you can use, that’s even better.
Second, needlepoint education needs to be achievable. The most exciting project in the world isn’t worth it if it doesn’t get done. The project should be small enough that I can both learn and see my progress. If I can use it, that’s even better.
Third, needlepoint education needs to be affordable. The materials shouldn’t cost the moon, the canvas should be inexpensive. I know that point differs for everyone, but what is your point? I rarely take classes that are more than $30, unless I adore the piece. And my DH keeps me from going to expensive classes. But what are you willing to pay? If the class fee is $30, how much is too much for materials?
Fourth, needlepoint education needs to explain things. When we aren’t face to face, the teacher has to be willing to explain things different ways. That can be hard to do, but if the student can do it, with the extra explanation, that’s worth it.
Finally, needlepoint education needs to be fun. The project should look like something fun to stitch, you should be able to pick things you like and go for it.
I’m struggling with defining what I see and what seems to be lacking. I’m trying to design a class right now and can’t find the proper balance. So I’d like to know what you think. What do you want? How much are you willing to pay? How do you want it delivered? What’s been good and bad in the classes you’ve taken? Let me know, no names please, and have at it. If you want to express your opinion privately, send me an email.