Weaving in the Ends: Networked Learning Project Conclusion

Over the past few week, I have embarked on a learning journey.  Using only internet resources, with an emphasis on YouTube videos and Help Forums, I became a novice at embroidery.  This video shows my journey of learning how to embroider using online resources.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoI326L-8g4]

Through this Networked Learning Project, I was able to apply the learning and cognitive theories about which I had read in CEP 810.  As a teacher, I believe that educators need to be continually learning in order to better our instruction.  As a result of this project, I also believe that lifelong learning is essential to my profession in order to better relate to the learning taking place in my classroom.

Learning how to do something using the internet was not new for me.  I use the internet on a weekly, if not daily, basis to figure out how to fix technology at school, teach a specific skill, and search for resources for my students and staff.  For example, one day I was tasked with putting iPad cases on our school’s new devices.  Those cases were so stiff and protective that I wasn’t sure how to manipulate them.  I turned to YouTube, and sure enough, a middle school student walked me through applying the case and screen protector.

However, learning a new skill to complete a personal project using only video and forums was a challenge.  Being restricted to videos and other online materials was initially scary as I usually begin new personal projects searching books and other written materials.  I also wanted to go to my crafty friends and ask them how to embroider.  I thought I needed an in-person coach to examine my technique and give me tips. What I discovered through this project, though, was that I had resources available to me at any time and place.  I could go back and review a video if I got stuck in the middle of a stitch.  I could share ideas and gain tips from crafters around the world.

After reflecting on networked learning, I will definitely continue to learn in this manner, and I will encourage my students and colleagues to learn this way too.  It is a flexible, personalized, and ultimately community-based approach to learning.  The video format helped this visual learner, and the availability of text further supported my understanding.  I recognize that I wasn’t thoroughly connected to the embroidery community while learning basic stitches, and would have benefited from a more active participation in the online community.  In the future, I will take advantage of the online sewing circle.

Sew What’s New In My Networked Learning Project?

Before beginning this networked learning project, I was an aspiring textile artist, with a dream to recreate an image I had seen on a card.  While still firmly a novice, I have learned different kind of stitches, purchased embroidery supplies, and transferred patterns to cloth since the start of this project.

IMG_5018             IMG_5025

My embroidery journey began by searching blogs and tutorials for ideas of what kind of supplies I needed, and which stitches I should learn.  After research, I decided that my pattern used a backstitch, a stem stitch, a daisy stitch and some french knots.  I viewed tutorials and replicated the stitches on my test fabric.  As shown from my example above, my initial stitches were a bit uneven and my line wavered.  I learned that a stitching along a pencil line can make shapes more even, but that practice is the only way to improve stitch evenness.

One of the early challenges I faced was the question about which fabric to use.  I wasn’t getting clear answers from tutorials or blogposts.  I decided to reach out to a crafter by commenting on her blog, asking for her recommendations.  She answered my comment!  Cotton it is.

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Thus armed with fabric, floss and fear, I began.  I transferred the design from my postcard to the fabric, and stitched.  And stitched.  And stitched.  And ripped out stitches, re-watched tutorials on how to make those stitches, and stitched some more.  Several hours later…


I did it!  My stitches aren’t perfect, but I am so excited by the outcome.  I learned four stitches and recreated the pattern that I’ve had on my wall all these years! I am ready to take those mad stitching skills to the next level and work on a tea towel for my final project.

I made a stop motion video to recap my Merci project from beginning to end, using pictures that I took about every 2 minutes to document my progress.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUU6c7Z2kwc&w=560&h=315]

While I have enjoyed learning how to embroider, I’ve also discovered challenges.  Knowing which beginning resources to use, and how to bookmark them meaningfully for future reference was daunting.  Fortunately, I remembered that I had used Pinterest in the past to curate lesson plan ideas and created an Embroidery How-to board to keep track of resources.  Additionally, I found a community of embroiders on Pinterest, and have searched their pins to discover new tutorials and ideas.

My favorite tool for learning embroidery has been Mary Corbet’s NeedleNThread tutorial videos.  These videos are concise, with clear verbal explanation and visual demonstration.  Her tutorial series is extensive.  I also benefitted from the Kin Community videos on basics, stitches, and pattern transfer.  These beautiful videos demonstrated basic steps. My other pins link to other tutorials, and visual inspiration.

In addition to navigating and remembering in an overwhelming digital environment, I have been challenged by the somewhat isolated process of this project.  I have always learned in the context of a community, but for this project I had to chart the course of my learning and find resources I needed on my own, without the support of discussion partners or sewing circle friends.  Learning this way was not easy.  However, I was reminded of the interpersonal nature of online lifelong learning through my interaction with the crafty blogger.  She, and other teachers, were one click away.  Even if my stitches wavered, or my stem needed to be ripped out yet again, I could easily go back to the video lesson, review steps, and reach out to my online community.