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Cross stitching is a great hobby for children. It can help to develop hand to eye coordination, shape and colour recognition, as well as encourage cooperative behavior, patience and creativity. Most of all, it can be good fun for you and your child — an interest to share together, and become a hobby that your child can enjoy without an adult being present, and a passion for life!

The first experience of cross stitching is important. You’ll want this to be a happy experience for both of you. If it isn’t, the child may be reluctant to start again. Children usually want to see fast results, and especially to finish their first sessions on a positive and successful note.

Let your child choose a simple design, perhaps a favourite animal or character that contains only two or three colours, and in whole stitches only. As for fabric, tiny hands may have difficulty with aida or evenweave, so you may want to consider using plastic canvas or 6-count Binca. As your child becomes more experienced, 11- and 14- count fabrics will be the next step.

You’ll also need to provide appropriately sized needles. A size 22 tapestry needle will do the job very well. An easier option is to choose a kit designed and manufactured for children (see below). Choosing a kit together can create a lot of pleasure and anticipation for the project ahead.

Gentle supervision will be necessary during the child’s first attempts. Make sure the child washes hands carefully before stitching begins. In the early days eating must be discouraged, as anyone who has tried to remove melted chocolate from fabric will testify.

Arrange things so that all items are within easy reach. The child must also appreciate the need to keep track of the needle and scissors, as these are potentially dangerous items to lose. You can stress the importance of returning the scissors to its special place, perhaps in the middle of the table.

Sessions should be short enough to keep the child’s attention and enthusiasm, but long enough to achieve some sort of noticeable progress. Starting the first stitches can be the most difficult part of the project, and it’s advisable to help your child by starting off the stitching yourself, anchoring the thread carefully at the back. It’s probably unnecessary to give too much information at first, but there are certain tips that can help your child enjoy stitching.

You may decide to let your child practise the basic cross-stitch on a piece of scrap material before attempting the real thing. You’ll need to explain and demonstrate that the square in the fabric matches the square in the design. You can also demonstrate allowing the needle to dangle and spin around, at regular intervals so that the thread untwists itself.

You may also encourage making each stitch in the same way, so that the top legs of the stitches go in the same direction. It’s also a good idea for children to complete each stitch before attempting the next one. The child can then see the picture growing in a satisfying way.

As with all new tasks, children learn best by having their efforts praised at regular intervals (don’t we all?). Stitching must be fun rather than being a test, a chore or a battle of wits. It’s rewarding for the child to finish the piece, rather than have you take over, even if this means that you may do some of the more difficult parts of the design and leave the last, easier stitches for the child to complete.

The finished article should be commented on in positive terms by all the family, and you could consider ironing the piece and then placing it in a frame and displaying it so that everyone can be reminded of the achievement. As well as giving the child added confidence, this can also mean that the next project will be eagerly anticipated.

Kits for children can be bought in the UK from:

  • Crafts Unlimited Link to: http://www.crafts-unlimited.co.uk/system/index.html
  • The Coleshill Collection Link to: http://www.coleshillcollection.co.uk/shop.asp?mode=cat&item=17
  • Chunky cross stitch for children by Pako Link to: http://www.sewandso.co.uk/ran1768-0.html

Article Source: http://www.articlewheel.com

John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of www.patternspatch.com an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.