The Proper use of the needle is discussed in the continued article The Theory and Method of Embroidery, Part 1. Equipment - How to Prepare for Work written by Mrs. L. Barton Wilson.
Published in Corticelli Home Needlework, 1899
Edited by M. Schlueter
An amateur at a frame has a tendency to make very hard work of it, to tighten and cramp the hands, to make every muscle rigid, not infrequently to hold the breath and to struggle as a boy at his first writing lesson. This attitude of mind and body is reflected in the work most accurately. The frame, the low chair, the high table, are insisted upon for no other reason than to make the worker perfectly comfortable and to secure to her every convenience. She has, then, but to accept these easy conditions, relax the fingers and wrists, hold the needle between the forefinger and thumb, secure, yet not tight, and let the thread fly loose and take care of itself.
Fig. 2. Correct Position at the Frame.
Let the beginner of frame embroidery set up a piece of plain linen and practice sending the needle up and. down without regard to design. Sit straight, without touching the frame with either hand.
Fig. 4. Sending the Needle Down.
Hold one hand above the surface, thumb and forefinger in position to receive the needle when sent up (see Fig. 2.), the other remaining in position after sending it up, to receive it when sent down. See Fig. 4.
Fig. 5. The Thread Drawn Down Full Length.
Fig. 5 shows the thread drawn out to its full length, giving the correct position of the hands at the end of the stitch just as the needle is about to be sent up through the linen again.
Fig. 6. The Thread Drawn Up Full Length.
Fig. 6 shows this same action culminated above the frame.
Beginners are sure to grasp the edge of the frame with the under hand and press the forefinger up into the stretched linen, thus loosening it. Many other odd tendencies are apparent in the efforts of one learning to work on framed fabrics. Therefore the exercise above referred to is of the greatest value, not only to give one the power of sending the needle up and down, but to overcome these tendencies.
When the hands are trained by this practice to the movement, mark out, on linen, large squares or curved figures and seek to send the needle up and do on the lines at will, thus training the eye to keep pace with the power acquired by the hands. The beginner will place her stitches very slowly and the effect may be more or less disconnected.
Only by constant practice of the right way, slowly and steadily, will speed come. One will soon come to embroider more rapidly and almost unconsciously will become able to lay stitches evenly and quickly. Rapid working is to be commended after the correct way has been acquired, because it insures smoothness and evenness.
Again, the process and the result are not different from those in music. First the notes are struck separately until their succession is familiar, then quickly so that there is no apparent interval between them, and the result is harmony. In embroidery, it is beauty.
The worker should learn at the outset to·use both hands, and to acquire a freedom and rapidity in laying stitches. This must be gained before the work can be satisfactory. Why not be as serious about it as we would be in learning to paint? No one would dispute the necessity of laying smooth washes in water color painting, yet many attempt embroidery without the least idea that there is a way and a proper way of laying in the colors .
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