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Working A Cross-Stitch In Class 5

Discipline of symmetry and accuracy demonstrated by 11-year-old pupils. A beautiful and useful everyday artefact is created by precision cross-stitching, balancing out the more academic subjects in the Steiner Waldorf curriculum.


Handwork has been an integral part of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum since its foundation, developing a child’s fine motor skills, nurturing their creative soul and consciously growing their will.

Current neurological research confirms that mobility and dexterity in the fine-motor muscles, especially the hands, stimulate brain development, and are essential to the development of the intellect and academic capacities. Additionally, the patience and perseverance that handwork requires, strengthen focus and drive (will-forces). For this reason, Handwork is taught from Kindergarten through to Class 8.


It practises two modes of artistic activity. First, Aesthetics: based on artistic exercises in colour, line and form in which children learn the qualities and techniques of the media (e.g. water colour painting, form drawing). This approach is experiential (colour exercises, basic forms with elaborations). These are deemed to be formative experiences. Second: Art as mode of expression and communication (including illustration). Once children have learned the qualities of the media and techniques, they have opportunities to practise these freely.


New skills and techniques are learnt in each successive year through a main project, building on previous years, involving increased complexity: finger-knitting, knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, precise stitching such as cross stitch, machine sewing, simple hand weaving and fabric dyeing, which are then used to create useful items for school or home, such as a pencil case.


Pupils can express themselves and experiment through colour selection, pattern, design and by combining the new project with elements of previously learned skills.


Stories and sewn objects from different cultures highlight and create an awareness of the diversity of people, their art, their culture and their life experiences. where pupils learn how different cultures interpret and use colour differently.


The practical skills pupils acquire also provide them with direct experience of elements of some of the main lesson topics they will encounter in later years such as the industrial revolution where the production of thread, weaving and textiles played a pivotal role.



The cross stitch project is an exercise in precise stitching, incorporating symmetry into their work, experiencing the vertical and horizontal planes. Mathematical concepts such as parallelism, mirror-imaging, progression, and geometric forms are implicitly experienced through this tactile learning process. Through colour and form they explore how design can reflect the purpose of the object.


There is a change in the child’s awareness. “Here I am” and “There is the world”. The child stands at the “X” in their development. A precise stitch, such as the cross-stitch, helps the child move on from the circular movements (learned while looping their yarn around knitting needles or wrapping balls of wool) to one that allows for changing directions.


Consider the new movement as a lemniscate: whilst stitching part of the cross stitch from one side, the stitcher has to change stitch direction and travel in another to finish the stitch. Each time the stitcher travels through the middle of the lemniscate’s two circular sides meet creating a midpoint or connection between the two circles.


This specific cross-stitch method finishes each stitch individually before moving to the next one with the top of each stitch crossing in the same direction.

The aesthetic experience of creating something beautiful and practical – on the front… and when turned over – nourishes the child’s emotional sensibilities.


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Working A Cross-Stitch In Class 5 – Creative Arts

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