Teaching Needlecraft, A Handbook for the Beginning Instructor

by Rosemary Cornelius, Peg Doffek and Sue Hardy
Reviewed by Linda Lee Mucha
Originally Published Summer 2004
When I began reading “Teaching Needlecraft, A Handbook for the Beginning Instructor”, by Rosemary Cornelius, Peg Doffek and Sue Hardy, I thought I would just read it and “get this task completed.” How could any book written in 1979 and published by Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York have a great deal of interest for me, a seasoned teacher?  To my delight, there were a number of gentle reminders long dormant from my teaching experiences.  Some include being aware of personal hygiene including breath (because one will be in close proximity to students).  In addition, a reminder to try not to repeat incessantly a favorite word or phrase and not to forget that men are also interested in needlepoint and need designs for their taste.  All of these ideas lead me to remember to take care that the light source is not directly behind the instructor when making a point or displaying to the class.  I have taken classes where the teacher forgets that element causing the students to squint into the backlighting or miss the point because it bothers their eyes to look directly into the light with the teacher in shadow.

Much of the preparation information in the book follows the NAN guidelines with which we are currently working.  I was interested in the part of the book involved in the legalities of contracting, setting prices, etc., which will be a new experience for me.

Class preparation, size, scheduling, registration, purchasing materials, classroom procedures and what the beginning student should know about “the usual stitching supplies” before attending a class are part of the first general section of the book.  Also included are planning design, colors, borders and corners, transferring the design, blocking, mounting and basic finishing and cording.  Some of these ideas could use updating to modern materials, but the basics are there.

The remainder of the book is divided into individual sections devoted to background information followed by prepared lesson plans for courses of different length concerning crewel embroidery, patchwork and quilting, needlepoint and cross-stitch.  Each of these prepared plans comes with patterns and permission given by the authors to reproduce and use as needed.  The lesson plans are of varying lengths.  Objectives for the course, kit suggestions, stitch guides, suggested visual aids, a suggested order of progression and an appropriate ending for each class are also included.  At the end of the sections on crewel and needlepoint are large, easy to understand stitch diagrams.

My favorite part of each section is entitled “Facts your student may find interesting.”  These nuggets run the gamut of history lessons in each of the categories.

This book is not for every teacher.  Since I had to purchase the book due to lack of resources in my area, it will be used as a source for the “nuggets to interject while teaching.  Other than that, it is a gentle reminder I could make into a checklist to use prior to the opening of teaching each new class.