I present to you a fiber art project made by Ninna, 4 1/2--"A House with a (Pink) Ladder":I've mentioned before that I save all the mesh bags we get from fruit and vegetables (avocados, onions, etc.) I really can't remember how I thought of this, but one day it occurred to me that we might use it for simple, preschool-level embroidery. I wrote myself a note about it and put it on the fridge, and that's where it sat for a couple of months until I decided to try it today.
It's easy and a good way to repurpose those mesh bags that are just screaming for a life that extends beyond the mere storage of produce. Want to try?
Here's what you need:
**an embroidery hoop
**various pieces of yarn approximately the length of the distance of your child's hand across to her opposite shoulder (any longer, and it becomes difficult to pull the yarn all the way through)
**a tapestry needle (I much prefer metal tapestry needles, but I couldn't find ours and had to settle for a plastic one that came in a craft kit.)
**veggie mesh (at minimum, about an inch wider than your hoop)
Here's what to do:
1. Attach the mesh to the hoop the same way you would attach fabric. I didn't take a photo of this, but if you've never used an embroidery hoop before, you can find an explanation online (sorry!). Pull it tightly and evenly all around so you have a nice, firm surface on which to embroider. Trim off any excess mesh so it doesn't get caught in your child's embroidery.
2. Have your child choose a piece of yarn. Ask where he/she would like to start embroidering. At the chosen point, attach the end of the yarn by tying it onto the mesh. Then trim the excess length as close to the knot as possible (being careful not to snip the mesh!) This allows the child to freely embroider without worrying about the yarn pulling out.
3. Let your child embroider! Ninna has done both embroidery and hand-sewing, but she still sometimes needs a little reminder about when to come through the back, and when to go through the front. In retrospect, I think I could have just let her do it without the reminder, since it wouldn't have mattered if she sewed around the hoop--we ended up hanging it on the wall as is. My initial intention was to remove the embroidery and hang it another way, so if you'd prefer to do the same, just be sure your child does not sew around the hoop, or you won't be able to get it out.
4. When the yarn runs out, which will happen relatively quickly, tie the end to the mesh the same way you did in the beginning, making sure to trim the end. Have your child choose more yarn and continue this way until he/she is done.
And that's it--a fun, easy, crafty, and eco-friendly project. While I'd say preschool is the ideal age for this, others will enjoy it as well. Bojey, still more of a toddler, had fun with it, just in a different way from Ninna. She sewed through a few times with one piece of yarn and then enjoyed pulling it out. Older children who have never embroidered or sewn before might enjoy this as well, at least as a beginning project.
The one mistake I made was that I accidentally used the term "picture" when describing to the girls what they would be doing. I think I said something like "you'll be sewing a picture onto the mesh." I didn't mean to imply that they had to create a specific image, but that's how Ninna interpreted it, hence the "house with a ladder." Next time I'll be more careful to avoid accidentally pushing them to do something specific as opposed to just freely creating whatever they want.