So you want to know a bit about me, my life, and my stitching journey – OK, here goes:
I came from a creative crafty family and have been stitching since I was eight years old. My first stamped cross-stitch piece was a small design made from a kit that I received after mailing off two box tops and a quarter to General Mills. I was hooked.
While my children were in elementary school, I volunteered as a docent for the Spectra Art Cart program, teaching a monthly art lesson in each of their classrooms. Each lesson began with a bit of Art History and then ended with a hands-on art experience. Eight years later, I knew that I loved teaching and I especially loved teaching art, so I headed back to school to get the degree I had always wanted.
It took a bit, but in 2009 I took a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, with Teaching Preparation from San Jose State University, graduating summa cum laude. My emphasis was on textiles and it was here that I learned to weave. I became a student assistant for the weaving classes and taught a unit on Surface Embroidery, thus combining the two loves of my life – stitching and teaching.
At SJSU, I came to appreciate embroidery as a form of individual expression – in other words . . . as Art. I spent some time studying Art History in graduate school, but found that my like for Art History was eclipsed by my love for creating actual embroideries. I was fascinated by the evolution of different embroidery techniques, their histories, and the role that handwork played in the lives of women, but I wanted to spend more time creating. Sharing the historical context of the embroidery became part of my teaching philosophy and I always include a bit of the technique’s history in my classes.
In the late 1990’s, I found the Gavilan Hills chapter of the Embroidery Guild of America and became an active member. I have served in many leadership positions, but my favorite has been Education Vice-President since it gives me the chance to help other guild members learn more about embroidery. I have taught many, many guild programs and facilitated several group correspondence courses. These experiences have broadened my knowledge of embroidery techniques, given me teaching experience, and gave me a platform to help others increase their skills.
All this led me to pursue my current path of teaching embroidery as a career. I began designing my own patterns in 2005 and published a book, Embroidery Techniques: An Educational Display, which demonstrates eight different embroidery techniques and their histories. Since the beginning of 2013, I have been teaching Hardanger at my local needlework shop, Madonna Needleworks. I also have been privileged to evaluate the work of others as a Needlework judge.
The other part of me is centered around family, home, and faith. I have a wonderful husband, six grown-up children (5 sons and 1 daughter) and two lively granddaughters. We live in the countryside near Morgan Hill, a small community south of Silicon Valley in California, where my husband and one son work in the high-tech industry. I spend my non-stitching time working in the garden, tending our small orchard and berry bushes, grapevines, and strawberries, enjoying my rose garden and caring for our two cats and two sheep. We regularly attend church as a family and are currently working with the young single adults in our area.
It is important to us to help others whenever possible, especially if we can ‘teach them to fish’. One of the ways we have done this is through a Family and Friends Garden. For the last five years we have planted, weeded and harvested a large garden on our property. In the process, we have taught hands-on organic gardening to about a dozen families and continue to have a really great time.
Learning and sharing – isn’t that what it is all about? I think so.