Professionally, I’ve been involved in the needlework industry since the late 90’s, but I’ve been stitching since I was a young girl. At the age of 9, I was wandering the craft aisle of the local fabric store – my sisters were picking out patterns & fabric, I found the section with the stamped cross stitch kits. The pretty colors were mesmerizing. With permission from my mother to spend my birthday money on my very first kit and the promise to finish what I started … my career began.
I continued to stitch off and on through high school and college. Self-taught, I was limited to dmc on aida but that was all I needed at the time. Fun, cutsey, and crafty were pretty much in style then. I managed a custom framing shop for awhile after getting out of college where I learned how to frame – how to construct the actual frames and pin & lace my stitching. I also found a local needlework shop & easily transferred over to stitching on linen.
We lived in northern Virginia the first few years we were married & I joined the local EGA group. It was a large and active group that brought in lots of national teachers. I took many classes, worked to improve my stitching, and learn other techniques: hardanger, counted canvas, cutwork, pulled thread. The more I learned, the more I wanted to stitch.
We were transferred to the Orlando area in the late 80’s where I worked in a needlework shop for awhile while I was between my “real” jobs. It was during this time that I started putting together some of my own designs. One year for Christmas, every member of my family was gifted several handmade, personally designed ornaments.
We relocated to Sioux City in the early 90’s. Stitching kept me sane while I adjusted to a new area with a 9 month old and one on the way. Life in a smaller community had it’s advantages. I was able to create a business plan to open my own shop – I opened Hands On Needleshoppe (in my basement no less) on my youngest child’s 3rd birthday! It was perfect combo of working from home while being able to bring specialty stitching supplies to the community.
The shop quickly outgrew my basement and 2 1/2 years in, we moved out to our 1st storefront. I did all of the finishing services for the shop & put my business degree to good use creating events and activities to keep the customers visiting! I designed many of the shop’s class pieces.
About the time my boys hit middle school, I decided that I needed to be more available for them so I closed the shop to do finishing full-time. That’s when Hands On Finishing evolved. While I enjoyed finishing for shops & customers all over the country, I found I really missed teaching.
It was an easy decision to focus on designing in order to teach all types of finishing techniques. I designed as part of CherryWood Design Studios for a few years and enjoyed learning this part of the industry. I began Hands On Design in 2013 and completed the trinity of “Hands On” – shop, finishing & designing.
What I’ve learned about designing: the thought & inspiration can come from almost anywhere. Sometimes it’s a combination of colors, many times its the words, and more than likely, it’s the finishing that drives the design process. I like to collaborate with other women in this industry and learn from them in the process. There is always a story behind what I design and there always will be. I want my designs to be an extension of who I am and how I live my life.
Enjoy the Stitch,