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The Way of Embroidery

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I haven't done any embroidery before, can I do this?
A: While many of my fellow students do other needlework, anyone with patience and persistence should be able to learn.  Practice matters more than previous experience.

Q: What's a 'Phase'?
A: The Center has designed a curriculum that teaches the techniques in stages, called Phases.  Several designs are available at each phase.  As students progress through the Phases, they practice the techiques they already know and add new ones to complete the design.  Phases 1-3 are introductions to the basic techniques.  Phases 4-9 emphasize specific areas while Phase 10 is the 'graduation' where all 46 techiques are used. After the first few phases, most students work on other designs as well to add variety and practice.

Q: Is it expensive?
A: It seems that way when you start, since you need to buy tools such as needles, frame and tekobari (a thread-laying tool). But those tools are one-time purchases.  Fabric and fibers (silk and metal threads) are purchased as needed for each design, plus class fees. With each project, you build up supplies that can be reused as well. As with many other hobbies, you can spend a lot of money if you choose to.  Cost per hour is definitely lower than a round of golf!

Q: How long does it take to finish a picture?
A: It depends on the size and complexity, of course.  My phase 7 piece (Camellias) was about 40 hours of work, Phase 10 was over 200.   I've done several miniatures that were less than 15 hours.

Q: How many classes does it take to finish a picture?
A: A beginner can learn everything required to complete Phase I (Hanazume) in two weekends, provided some 'homework' is done in between.  With later phases, more classes may be needed. Since everyone moves at their own pace, how fast they move depends on how much work they are able to do at home.     

Q: Why do the classes take a whole weekend? 
A: The classes are almost entirely actual stitching time and one-on-one instruction at the appropriate level for each student.  Two days gives plenty of time for practicing new techniques and most students welcome the chance to have un-interrupted time to devote to their work.

 Q: How did you get started?
A: I attended a 'Spirit of Cross Stitch' event at which Carl Newman, my current teacher, was demonstrating Traditional Japanese Embroidery.  I was smitten and put my name on the 'more information' list.  Two years later, I was contacted when Carl began teaching in Rocky Mount. Our first class was in the fall of 1998.   I completed Phase X class at the Japanese Embroidery Center in November 2005 and finished the piece the following September