I have long kept a basket with some small balls of leftover yarn, needles, and burlap in an embroidery hoop in the living room for Julia and Asher to play with when the mood struck them. Until recently, their preferred play has tended toward winding the yarn around the furniture, getting it so horribly tangled that I've often had no choice but to cut it free and throw the scraps in my wool bag. (I actually put the basket away for a while when I tired of having to untangle yarn day after day.)
A few times Julia has sat down with needle and hoop in hand, but she wasn't quite ready, I think; easily frustrated with the fine movement required, she might make a stitch or two before getting it all hopelessly tangled and giving up.
Last Monday morning, she pulled out the basket and asked me to help her. So I showed her again how to thread the needle and knotted the yarn at both ends (a large knot at the very end, and a smaller knot just below the needle to keep the yarn from slipping out of the eye), and she was off.
She pulled the yarn from the back of her burlap to the front, then back again, and each time she said, "Mama! I made a stitch!" When she was finished she told me she didn't want to make any more stitches, and could I cut the yarn for her?
We hung her very first needlework creation on a nail above her play kitchen—her very own art on the wall in her very own kitchen! She is just thrilled with it; she takes it down to look at it a few times a day and then hangs it back up again.
A mama couldn't be any prouder. Truly.