Monday, September 28, 2015

Byssus-Silk from the Sea

Silk is usually made from the cocoons spun by silkworms - but did you know that there is another, much rarer, cloth known as sea silk or byssus, which comes from a clam? A lady called Chiara Vigo is thought to be the only person left who can harvest it, spin it and make it shine like gold. Chiara lives on the Sardinian island of Sant’Antioco in the Mediterranean. A sign on her door says that nothing in her home is for sale.

Byssus, which is mentioned on the Rosetta stone and said to have been found in the tombs of pharaohs and some believe this was the cloth God told Moses to lay on the first altar. It was the finest fabric known to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and one of its remarkable properties is the way it shines when exposed to the sun, once it has been treated with lemon juice and spices.

The raw material used to make the silk comes from the glistening aquamarine waters that surround the island. Every spring Vigo goes diving to cut the solidified saliva of a large clam, known in Latin as Pinna Nobilis. Chiara dives in the early morning so she does not attract too much attention and she has company, as the Italian Coast Guard accompany her. The clam is a protected species. It takes 300-400 dives to gather 200 grammes of the material needed to make the silk!

So, if nothing is for sale, what does the lady do with the silk and the fabric she weaves from it? She gives it to those in need who call on her- couples who have recently married; women who want children as Byssus is believed to bring good fortune and fertility. Most of her visitors are Italian. If she is given a christening gown, she will use the silk to embroider on to it.

Years ago a factory was set up to weave the silk and it ran out of business in three months. It seems you cannot profit from the making of this silk on a large scale and something bad has always happened to those who have tried in the past.

Harvesting and weaving the silk has been a family tradition and Chiara was taught by her grandmother, who in turn was taught by her mother and so on for generations. There are a few other women in Apulia (the heel of Italy) who can weave the silk, but none can make it shine or dye it with the traditional colours as Chiara can. And Chiara is the only person who harvests byssus- the silk of the sea.

To read more about this incredible material please visit the BBC Magazine website

Photo from the BBC Magazine website.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Displaying Vintage Linens

Do you have a collection of vintage linens? You know the sort of thing, it may be hankies; hand towels, doilies or pieces of lace. Maybe you collect one specific type of linen or maybe your collection spans many areas. Whatever you collect, do you display them or keep them stored away somewhere?

I fall into the category of a collector of miscellaneous items. My collection contains something of everything and it is hard to know how to display them so that I might enjoy and be inspired by them, but at the same time keep them away from sunlight and dust.

Somewhere along journey looking for the ideal solution I decided that acid free clear storage pages from the office supply shop and binders was the way to go. This system affords me easy access to look at my pieces; a way to categorize the items and keeps them away from sunlight and dust.  The system also allows for easy expansion- just buy another binder and more clear pages!

I also acquired or rescued several beautifully embroidered collars. A couple of which were actually uncut. One of these even has some writing on waste area of fabric which I think is the name of the person who either embroidered or ordered it. It is very faint and illegible, which is unfortunate. These collars are so pretty that I decided to frame them and that decision made, I went with glass back and front so it is easy to see both sides of the pieces. These frames are displayed on a shelf in my spare bedroom, which is first and foremost a sewing room which I let overnight guests use to sleep in!

I still have linens and lace pieces stored in a cupboard. Pieces I hope to use to make something with one day and pieces for trimming that special piece. The pieces that are on display or in my storage folders are the crème de la crème items!

So how do you store your special collections? I would love to know. I am always looking for a better or alternative way to preserve my pieces and also have them easily to hand for inspiration.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Things to do in Valley Forge

The last SAGA Retreat in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania will soon be here and if while you are there you want to do something other than stitch, then the following will be of interest. There are many places from shopping malls to historical areas and local neighbourhoods and city centres to explore. It might be an idea to stay a little longer as the area is especially pretty and colourful in the autumn.

King of Prussia Mall (
The hotel is located just down the road from the largest mall in the United States, The King of Prussia Mall. You can shop in over 400 American and European retailers including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor, along with a collection of luxury shops. The mall is only a short distance away and is easily accessible from the hotel. Enjoy a nice walk or take the hotel courtesy shuttle directly to the mall complex. Details on the shuttle service are available at the hotel front desk.

Mall Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Premium Outlets (
Just 18 miles from the hotel are the Philadelphia outlets, so if you have access to a car an easy drive. The outlets are located in Limerick, Pennsylvania and has 150 outlet stores, including names like, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, J.Crew, Nike, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Coach, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Sony, Tommy Hilfiger and more.

Philadelphia Premium Outlets Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 10am – 7pm

Valley Forge Historic National Park (
Nearby Valley Forge Historic National Park is a great destination for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike. Valley Forge National Historical Park is known for its role in the American Revolution. The park pays tribute to the ability of Americans to pull together and overcome adversity during extraordinary times. The Valley Forge National Historical Park is accessible in many ways. Formal tours are available by a themed trolley, bicycle or by foot. It is open from dawn to dusk year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Visitor Center and other park buildings are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The City of Philadephia (
Of course there is always the city of Philly to visit too! There are so many things to do that it is easier to visit their website to find out more, but of course some of the most popular are:

Reading Terminal Market- Established in 1892 at 12th and Arch Streets, it is the nations oldest continuously operating farmer’s market. A food lovers paradise, it is the place to shop for all local produce such as meats, cheeses and desserts.

The Liberty Bell Center-where you can learn everything about the Bell from fact to fiction! Do you know where the Bell was made?*

Philadelphia Museum of Art- the third largest art museum in the country.

Independence Hall-In the summer of 1776, 56 men gathered and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, creating one unified nation.

The Betsy Ross House- Of course you should visit the home of the lady who stitched the first Stars and Stripes flag! The home is also a museum alive with the sights and sounds of the 18th century.

You can also visit the local countryside and this link will take you to the website for the area:
*Cast at London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the bell arrived in Philadelphia in August 1752. Because the metal was too brittle, it cracked during a test strike and had to be recast twice. The final version—made of 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver—weighed around 2,080 pounds and measured 12 feet in circumference around the lip and 3 feet from lip to crown. No one really knows when the final version cracked but there are many theories!
Editors Note:
Some of the photos used in this blog were from the Visit Philadelphia website, Press pages.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

One Stitch at a Time.......

Don't you think those words say a lot?

'One Stitch at a Time.....'

I am sure like me, you have one or two (or more) projects on the go at one time and sometimes think you will never get to the end of them? Or maybe you have one really big project, like a christening gown, first birthday dress, SAGA class project-you get the idea.

But really, what does it take to get the project finished? Just 'One Stitch at a Time' !

The person who lives at this house in Lambertsville, New Jersey must think that too as they have those words stitched on a chair back and painted on a door sign!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Trisha Smith- A New Teacher at a SAGA Event.

Today we meet Trisha Smith who will be teaching classes at the last SAGA Retreat for 2015 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

1.      Who taught you needlework skills and when did you first start learning?
As a child I stood by my mother at her sewing machine and watched her sew and I remember thinking, I want to sew like my Mama does.  At age 9 I started sewing Barbie doll clothes by hand.  When I was 12 I made my first garment on the machine, which was a skirt with a waistband and a zipper.  (I didn’t know to be afraid of both)  I was hooked and sewed almost every day after that.  I made all of my clothes and most of my mothers.  I sewed home dec, made purses, and loved quilting.  When our first son was 13 months old I took children’s sewing at Watkins Institute in Nashville, Tennessee.   In 1982 I met a very special lady that many of you knew and loved – Elizabeth Travis Johnson!  What a treasure she became in my life.  In 1988 I started traveling with her so she could continue to teach and so she did for the next 11 years until she stopped at age 80 due to health issues.  She molded me into the person I am today as a teacher.  During those years of traveling with her, the knowledge I acquired from her teaching has continued to influence ever garment I make. She was an inspiration to everyone she taught and on one of those trips I thought, this is what I want to do some day.  I want to share my love of sewing with others so I can maybe make them a fraction as happy as Elizabeth did when she taught.

During my time with Elizabeth she introduced me to Martha Pullen.  Again, my life will never be the same because of the love and faith that Martha had in me.  After taking classes at Martha’s school eight times and assisting Elizabeth for many years there I was ask to teach at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion! I could hardly believe it.  Was this really happening to me?  Me, teaching at Martha’s school?  Yes, it was for real and so it went from 1997 until 2014.  Those are some of the most rewarding and cherished years of my life.  Thank you Martha Pullen for believing in me, and thank you to all the students that took my classes.  I am blessed.

2.      What is your favorite form of embroidery?
Even though I love doing handwork and I absolutely love embroidery on garments, I don’t get to spend that much time doing it.  I can do basic stitches but am by no means accomplished in this skill.

3.      When do you find time to embroider/sew?
Everyday of my life, except for Tuesday (which is the day I spend with my babies).  It may be drafting a pattern, sewing a garment, or writing a class handout, but you can be sure that each day has something to do with sewing.

4.      What inspires your designs?
Oh my, it is funny where ideas come from, a pleated lamp shade, a pillow in a department store, a garment that I see on an adult in a TV show has inspired a technique to place on a child’s garment.  I love vintage clothing and get ideas from looking at them.  And of course a child never goes by that I am not checking out what they have on and thinking, Oh that would be even cuter if it had … on it.

5.      Do you attend classes and workshops as well as teach at them?
Yes, I think ever teacher should be required to take at least one or two classes a year.  Whether it be in your local SAGA chapter or a workshop.  I have found that it is hard being a student.  Learning a new skill while trying to listen to the teacher and keep up with the class all at the same time is hard.  I think taking a class gives you a better understanding of what a student is thinking and feeling when they are in your class.  Hopefully it makes me a better teacher.

6.  On average, how long would you say it takes for you to complete a piece from design concept to end?
Let’s just say, longer than I would like.  I enjoy every step of the process but I am not a fast seamstress.  But having said that, it seems that almost everything I make is a new garment and I am figuring out the design and steps as I go so therefore it slows down the process.  Sometimes I think I want to do it a certain way and then once I am into it, I change my mind because I decide another way will be better.  It’s all just a part of designing.  Also, all of my patterns are drafted and drawn by hand, by me, in all sizes, one size at a time.  This takes a lot of time but the final result is worth it.

7.      Do you belong to a sewing guild of any kind?
Yes, I am a member of two SAGA chapters where I live.  Even though I don’t get to be at many of the meetings because of my teaching and travel schedule, I do go to the meetings when I can.

8.      Do you smock?
Yes, I love to smock.  Before I started my pattern line and started traveling so much I smocked a lot.  Not having a daughter, I smocked some for my second son and then I smocked to be smocking.  Every time we went on a trip I smocked all the way there and back.  I smocked while I watched my boys play at the playground, I smocked by the pool, I smocked for friends.  I also smocked for a local store on their custom made garments.  Now I have two granddaughters (be still my beating heart), and even though traveling and teaching prevents me from doing as much as I would like to, I smocked for them when I can fit it in.

9.      Where is your favorite place to stitch?
On my deck or in the bonus room so I am close to my husband.

10.  Are you married? Children? Pets?
Yes, as previously mentioned I have been married to Rob for 38 years and would do it all over again. We have two wonderful sons and those two boys choose precious girls to become “Our Daughters in Love”. And then to top it all off, we have three grandchildren that are 3 and under.  Lily, Christian, and Violet.  My cup runneth over.   

11.  What is your most favorite sewing tool?
Oh my, how do I decide:  I guess I can narrow it down to three – The first two are Roxanne’s Glue Baste It and the Groovin Piping Trimming Tool. I almost can’t make a garment without putting corded piping on it - sometimes 5 or 6 yards on one garment. 

Another product that I love to use in my garments is Baby Interfacing from Farmhouse Fabrics.  One of the main reasons I prefer it is because it does not need to be pre shrunk and it adds so much body to the garment without weight.

12. What sewing tool do you carry everywhere and why?
Glue Baste It (three small bottles, in my purse, to every class, just in case students don’t have it with them) and the Grooving Piping Trimming Tool.

13. What other hobbies/interests do you have?
Our grandchildren.  After waiting so long to be a grandmother, I just can’t get enough of those little ones.  I spend ever minute I possible can with them. 

I also thoroughly enjoy listening to audio books when I am on the go.   If I sit still, my body thinks it is time to sleep, which prevents me from actually reading a book.

14. How often do you travel to teach?
I try to keep my teaching trips to one per month so I am not away from home too much.  I love teaching so much that from time to time I book two in a month but I want to be sure to keep my family first as much as possible.

15. Have you a favorite location where you most enjoy teaching?
My favorite location is where I am at the moment.  Every location is special and every student is important because without them (the store or chapter, and the students) I would not be there.  Another location that I love is Children’s Corner in Nashville, Tennessee.  I have taught since 2007 at the sewing schools they host three times a year and love all the students that come back again and again to take the classes that are offered.  Every Monday I teach a sit-n-sew there and look forward to spending the day with a group of ladies that come week after week.  We have built strong relationships and it is a lot of fun.

16. Where can we get to see your projects (magazines, stores etc.)?
Past issues of Sew Beautiful magazine.  Upcoming issues of Classic Sewing Magazine.  I have two Facebook pages:  Personal – Trisha Owen Smith, Business – Patterns by Trisha’s Treasures.  Various stores as they post about my future classes.  I hope to have a website in the near future.

17. What do you do with your completed projects-frame and keep, give away, etc.?
Most garments that I sew are for an upcoming class, which means I keep them for my sample rack.  When I go to a location to teach, I will take between 50 – 70 garments depending on whether I am driving or flying.  I also love to sew for my granddaughters and give garments to them.

18. Do you have a favorite color(s) that you tend to use more than others?
I love so many colors but I must admit that pink is my absolute favorite which is evident by my pink sewing chair and my pink laptop computer.

19. Have you had another type of career other than in the sewing area?
Yes, I started out in Banking.  I was head teller at a bank for 4 years and then worked in accounts receivable at a department store for a few years before we started our family.

20. How do you see the future of your sewing career?
I hope to continue to teach others to do what I love and to help them learn new skills and techniques that will enhance their sewing experience.  I also want to continue to publish patterns with easy to follow directions so even a person that is new to sewing will be able to understand and make special garments for the children in their lives.

21. What do you do to recharge your creative spark?
Sometimes just sit still and think, other times look at vintage garments or browse through a rack of clothes in a department store.  And don’t forget, I always look at lampshades and pillows for ideas.

22. What technique still can’t you get the hang of……..?
Cutwork!  I cannot do it!  I don’t like to say I can’t do something but it is the truth.

23. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
In my personal life - I don’t know that I would say proud but I am so very thankful for our two sons.  I did not do everything perfect for sure but I did devote years of my life and put everything else on hold to raise those boys to love the Lord, respect others, and always be kind and friendly. God blessed those efforts and I am thankful to Him beyond words for the way they turned out. 

In the sewing world – I am thankful and honored that students will spend their time and money to come take classes with me.  I am humbled by their support.   I still can’t believe that I can draft a pattern. 

24. What is the biggest enemy to your creativity?
Oh my goodness….TIME.  There just simply doesn’t seem to be enough of it to accomplish all I would like to do. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth breaks a record

Today, September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II will go into the history books when she overtakes her great-great-grandmother. Queen Victoria reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes (yes someone took time to work that out, and took into consideration leap years and the time of accession and death).

The hankie in the photo is a souvenir of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeded to the throne on the death of her father, King George VI on 6 February 1952. Her coronation was held on 2 June 1953, just over a year later which allowed for mourning the King and gave time to prepare for the great event.

The photo above  shows the Queen in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace wearing the wonderful Coronation Dress designed by Norman Hartnell. The gown, made of white satin, has embroidery in gold and silver threads and pastel coloured silks. It is encrusted with thousands of seed pearls and crystals giving it a glittering latticework effect. The design incorporated the floral emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The Queen and Mr. Hartnell worked closely together on the design of the dress and it was the ninth design that became ‘the dress’.

The silk for the dress came from Lady Hart Dyke’s silk farm at Lullington Castle and the embroidery was created by six embroideresses in utmost secrecy. Construction was done by three seamstresses. The fabric of the dress was backed with cream taffeta and three layers of horsehair. This solved the problem of the dress falling to one side due to the weight of the jewelled skirt and also gave the dress stability, by dispersing some of the weight over the whole bell shape. It was actually very light to wear.

Every country in the Commonwealth at the time was represented: the Tudor rose for England, the thistle for Scotland, the leek for Wales, the shamrock for Ireland (despite the fact that by that time only Northern Ireland remained), wattle for Australia, the maple leaf for Canada, the fern for New Zealand, protea for South Africa, lotus flowers for both India and Ceylon, and Pakistan's wheat, cotton, and jute. Unbeknownst to the queen, a single four leaf clover was added on the left of the dress, just where her hand would brush throughout the day.

The Queen wore a robe of purple silk-velvet, embroidered by members of the Royal School of Needlework with wheat ears and olive branches to represent peace and prosperity, when she left Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace. This work alone took 3,500 hour and the robe is 21 feet long.

Queen Elizabeth wore this glorious gown six more times after Coronation Day: for receptions at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse as well as Parliament openings during her coronation tour in New Zealand, Australia, and Ceylon in 1954 and Canada in 1957.

Mr. Hartnell was also commissioned to make the outfits for the queen's six maids of honor, all single aristocratic girls who were in charge of managing and carrying the heavy train via invisible silk handles. Each wore white satin gowns with pearl blossom and golden leaf embroidery with gold tissue wreaths of forget-me-nots, freesia, and heather.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Needlework Book Covers

Book publisher Penguin UK have republished several of their popular recent fiction books with new covers and titled the series ‘Penguin by Hand’.

Some of the titles featured in the series are:

The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards; cover by Dominique Falla

The Help by Kathryn Stockett; cover by Brenda Ripple

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake; cover by Jenny Hart

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The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak: Cover by Emma Ruth Hughes

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The new covers make use of handwork techniques such as embroidery, crochet and quilting in their design and heavy embossing to give ‘feeling’ to the paper cover. The books look very tactile. Hopefully they will be available in the US soon too.

Maybe we need to find a title that could have smocking and heirloom sewing on the cover to add to their collection?

Friday, September 4, 2015

SAGANews Meets Cindy Foose

      Today I share an interview with Cindy Foose who is teaching at the SAGA Valley Forge Retreat in October.  I had emailed Cindy about an on-line interview a few months ago and she replied she would respond later that week. Well, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and email, her response did not make it to me. Cindy realized this and sent the response again and I am pleased she did, as now we can all learn a little more about her and her life as she candidly answers all of the questions I asked her. 

      So read and enjoy learning something about Cindy and, if like me you have met her, I am sure you will be reading the responses and hearing her voice!

     Who taught you needlework skills and when did you first start learning?

When I was about five-years-old, my Aunt Carrye decided it was time for me to learn to do simple embroidery. She believed that every home should have embroidered cup towels and/or fingertip towels. Her long suit was lazy daisy flowers, French knots, and stem/outline stitches all of which graced many items in her home. Guided by her early, gentle instructions I found a lifelong passion. My construction skills have evolved over the last sixty years by applying what I describe as “The Three Ps” – patience, practice, and perseverance. Successes coupled with failures have bred an ongoing determination to improve and hone all my needlework/sewing skills. This quest keeps me awake at night!

What is your favourite form of embroidery?

 I love all forms of needlework and appreciate the skills needed to accomplish any finished piece. But, I have to admit I am a big fan of those charming embroidered pillowcases from the 1940s and 50s. Somehow, more than 300 of them have found their way into my linen cupboard. I love looking at them, contemplating the person who took the time to beautify her home even though I might question her color choices, and relish waking up each morning with a cheery, hand-stitched design welcoming me to a new day. Am I in too deep?

 When do you find time to embroider/sew?

Oh, this is a constant problem for me as with many others, I’m sure. I always have a couple of projects by my chair and try to stitch on one of them every evening, and usually tuck a bit of stitching in my travel cases. When I am working on a new project, or have a deadline looming, I stitch every possible minute around the clock. My fingers don’t like to be idle.

 What inspires your designs?

This question makes me laugh! I wish I knew the answer to this question. If pressed for a real answer, I would have to say that visiting museum collections of antique clothes and perusing vintage photos and patterns of children’s clothing. Inspiration can be anywhere; you just have to open your mind to all possibilities.

Do you attend classes and workshops as well as teach at them?

I do. Not as often as I would like as my schedule is pretty busy. But, I am always on the prowl for a good online tutorial, an exceptional magazine article, or museum exhibit/lecture. I have a bucket list a mile long of future workshop and classes that I want to complete. At the top of that list is a three-week class in Scotland to hand make a bespoke kilt.

On average, how long would you say it takes for you to complete a piece, from design concept to end?

This varies so much depending on how quickly the ideas gel into a workable design. The ideas will usually perk along in the recesses of my mind until one day they demand to be stitched. Patterns take the most time as I have to remember that my ideas must be able to be translated into a workable format. Some projects almost make themselves in a few hours fueled by a rush of excitement; others take weeks to hew from a pile of fabrics and trims.

Do you belong to a sewing guild of any kind?

I am a SAGA Member at Large. Unfortunately, I don’t have a group close enough to me to participate in regular meetings. Small town living has its disadvantages in this respect. I am very lucky to get to visit with SAGA chapters all over the country, so I feel like I belong to a big wide sisterhood of stitchers.

 Do you smock?

Indeed I do! Smocking is still number one on my list of favorite forms of needlework.

Where is your favourite place to stitch?

I think I have already answered this question…sitting in my very own chair with my feet propped up on an ottoman, and my handy, dandy magnifying light shining over my left shoulder. Ah, heaven!

Are you married? Children? Pets?

I am not married (divorced). I have two talented children and two fabulous grandsons. I am not at home enough to care for a pet, but do get a kick out of the family’s animals.

What is your most favourite sewing tool?

That’s easy to answer, my sewing basket full of needles of every size, shape, and point type imaginable. My sewing friends are probably saying to themselves, “Oh, here she goes again with those needles!”

What sewing tool do you carry everywhere and why?

I am never without my sharp-pointed embroidery scissors. The crown jewel of a stitcher’s treasure chest is a fine pair of scissors sheathed in a pretty case. Actually, I usually have a couple of different kinds of scissors at the ready. Why? Snipping close and with precision is paramount for many finishing techniques.

What other hobbies/interests do you have?

Knitting socks often keeps me from finishing my sewing projects. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t wrestle with which one to choose. I am a sock knitting machine as Christmas draws near. My family members assume there will always be a new pair of socks in their Christmas stocking.

I love to prowl around in antique shops and malls; adore visiting historical sites, and am hard at work on my family’s genealogy. I guess my history degree background laid the foundation for research and exploration into the details of the lives of those who forged the way for my generation. I’ve uncovered some fascinating, hither-to-unknown facts about the characters perched among the branches of my gnarly old family tree.

How often do you travel to teach?

In the last couple of years, I have usually been on the road twelve to sixteen weekends a year. I intend to cut back on my travels over the next year. I’ll never stop completely, but I want to start working on my bucket list. There are so many museums still to visit, ideas to design and stitch, and friends to visit.

 Have you a favourite location where you most enjoy teaching?

I have been traveling and teaching since 1987. In that time I have made so many dear sewing friends in so many lovely locales, that I could never choose a favorite. Connecting again with old friends in dozens of repeat visits brings joy while arriving for classes with a new group of ladies cranks up my engine with excitement to learn about them and their interests. There is nothing in the world more fun or rewarding than spending time with fellow needle enthusiasts,

Where can we get to see your projects (magazines, stores etc.)?

Since Creative Needle Magazine ceased publication, my projects and designs are mostly available only in my classes. Right now a partner and I are busy working on a line of patterns inspired by all those hours spent researching vintage children’s clothing. Keep tuned, they should be ready soon.

What do you do with your completed projects-frame and keep, give away, etc.?

Most of my completed sewing projects go into my ‘traveling dog and pony show’ as models for class techniques. Although most of the knitted socks are given as gifts, I do love wearing them myself.

Do you have a favourite colour(s) that you tend to use more than others?

Recently, I realized most of my model garments are in bright colors. When wandering through a fabric store, I will end up with a stack of fabrics in yellows, lime greens, clear orange, and cheerful blues. What do you think this says about me? Give me a handful of brightly colored rick-rack and my head starts to buzz with possibilities.

Have you had another type of career other than in the sewing area?

I taught history and government on the secondary school level for many years and for a few years was in the administration end of education. Additionally, I have worked as a medical office manager and managed the office of my daughter’s bakery. Mind you, I said the bakery office…I don’t have any cooking skills.

 How do you see the future of your sewing career?

Over the next few years, I see myself moving toward retirement from so much traveling. However, I hope to continue to be productive and creative. I’ll never stop teaching, it is too much a part of my life.

What do you do to recharge your creative spark?

At the risk of sounding trite, I would quickly answer that the wellspring of my creative spark is my interaction with the students in my classes as I see them light up with excitement when mastering a new technique and/or watching their creative juices start to flow. For days after a stimulating weekend with a group of talented women, my mind often overflows with ideas for new classes or projects. Or, I will be spurred on to delve deeper into a fresh concept.

What technique still can’t you get the hang of…….. ?

Tatting! I had limited success with needle tatting, but oh, dear, that shuttle and I need to make peace. I want to make a tatted baby cap from an old pattern I found in an antique stall, but first I have to learn to do the basics. Sigh.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Without a doubt, I am most proud of my children and in turn of their children.

What is the biggest enemy to your creativity?

Housework and the computer. Dust, dirty dishes, and laundry all work in tandem to stymie my creative efforts along with the time-gobbling gremlins of email, Pinterest, Facebook, online videos and an occasional game of Candy Crush.

 Cindy enjoys a ride in a Model A Ford driven by David Valauri,
with Lisa Hawkes in the front passenger seat.
                                 Bye-Bye Cindy and see you soon in Valley Forge!!!