You want to learn needlepoint. Are you ready to go?
At the risk of sounding like Guy Fieri (now what did I forget?), oh yes, I forgot turning the project into something so I will be more motivated actually to stitch and finish my first piece. For those of us who already stitch we know the high you get from finishing a project and displaying it or giving it away is fantastic! For a beginner it will be an enabling drug.
That’s what attracted me to the Beginner’s Kit from Needlepoint.com in the first place. It’s a well thought-out soup-to-nuts kit, with everything from a project bag to the self-finishing item included. The only thing missing, for me at least, were stretcher bars and tacks. And those are, of course, optional.
It’s clear that the folks who put together the kit really thought about what was needed to get started. Every bit of the kit shows great care. The project bag is generously-sized. It’s made from sturdy plastic with a zipper top. It’s big enough to hold a much larger project and sturdy enough to be used for years.
The canvas comes in your choice of two classic designs, Greek Key or Polka Dots, in two sizes, 3″ or 4″ rounds. In addition the polka dots come in two different colors.
Based on your pattern/color choice you can get the canvas as a 4″ coaster or a 3″ ID tag. The kit uses Lee Needle Arts self-finishing items. My kit had a luggage tag in its gift box, so you have what you need to make a present of it.
The canvas is stitch-painted with a nice 2″ margin of canvas. That’s great because it shows they have not skimped on materials for the kit. The edges are taped, a thoughtful touch. Two needles are included. Since I’m always losing needles, I’m glad the kit had a spare.
Three skeins of #3 pearl cotton are included. While I agree that a single-strand thread such as Pearl Cotton is the best choice for a beginner, I do have some problems with it being #3. Although, strictly speaking #3 works on 13-mesh canvas I find the scale of the stitches to be unattractively large. In trying out the kit I also found that the #3 was difficult to stitch and made my hands hurt. I think #5 pearl would have been a better choice.
The printed matter includes a book and a double-sided sheet on finishing. The finishing sheet is amazing. Using pictures to match your canvas (another great touch) it has detailed instructions on finishing these. The instructions have great tips and are far more complete than the ones provided by the manufacturer. I’ve made many of these tags over the years and these are the best instructions I’ve ever seen.
The book is an excellent introduction to needlepoint, written in a conversational tone. Overall it’s good and very useful, especially for the brand-new stitcher. I did, however, have two small complaints. First the book only covers four stitches: Continental, Basketweave, Brick, and Diagonal Mosaic. While this covers the most important ones for beginning, most beginners books and classes cover a few more. It would have been nice to add a page or two to bring the number of stitches to eight or ten. With so few stitches, I’m concerned a beginner will outgrow the book quickly and drop needlepoint, wishing there was a next step that was easy to find.
A less important concern had to do with the chart of thread sizes for different canvas mesh. I’ve already mentioned my concern over #3 pearl. And, although #5 is also mentioned in the chart for 13-mesh canvas, there is no pearl cotton listed for 18-mesh canvas, although this is a popular thread choice.
But these are small concerns. Weighed against all the great things in this package, I think this beginner’s kit is, by far, the best thing out there for teaching needlepoint to anyone from about 12 up. If you have someone who wants to learn needlepoint buy this as a gift for them, you’ll give them a great start and the gift of a life-long pleasure.