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!!!