Whenever I ask folks how they learned to cross stitch, a great percentage answer in one of two ways: my mother/sister/aunt/grandmother taught me or (with some degree of apology in their voice) “I’m self taught.” I fall into the self-taught category and am here to say that there is absolutely nothing to apologize for.
Those who are self-taught are seekers. There is something they want to learn and they find a way to learn it. I gained most of my needlework knowledge from trial and error or a source like a book.
But when you’re in the company of another needleworker, you’re bound to start swapping tips. I’m sure I have learned as much from others as I have been able to teach. I teach and learn informally and formally. I learned the loop starting method many moons ago sitting in the backyard of a stitching friend in New Jersey. I have taught while shopping in a LNS or traveling by train, bus, or plane.
But I also love to teach in a more deliberate, planned way. Just before Thanksgiving, I had the wonderful experience of teaching at Country Crafts, a needlework shop in Greeley CO for the owner, Sherry Baker.
Sherry’s customers are the smilingest folks I have ever seen. They welcomed me with open arms and I felt like I had known them all forever. Isn’t that the way needleworkers are?
That feeling of being among kindred spirits is one of the very best reasons to take a class or go to a weekend retreat. You just get to feel so normal!
Another reason to find that class or stitching get-away-weekend is to learn new stitches or a new technique. In the Country Crafts class, I taught a series of whitework stitches to create an ornament.
Every teacher has their own style and you’ll find your favorites over time. Generally, I will demonstrate a stitch and hit the do’s and don’ts. If I know the history of a stitch I include that, too. Or I tell the story of how I learned it. Every time I teach one of the eyelet variations I think of Ginny Thompson, the First Lady of Cross Stitch, and how she always used the analogy of diving into a pool when teaching an eyelet. I learned a lot from Ginnie!
Once I’ve demonstrated the basics, I circulate to help everyone who needs a little extra guidance.
Open yourself to learning and a teacher will appear, be it in the form of a just-met friend, a book, or a class full of smiling stitchers. I hope to see you in a class, too!
Here are a few places where I will be teaching in 2016:
The Work of My Hands Retreat with two full days of whitework techniques taught by Terri Bay and me and a special excursion on Thursday.
Stitchers’ Escapes Cruise to the Pacific Northwest
An 8-day cruise sailing from Seattle WA with two classes taught by me on days we are at sea with special excursions in each port-of-call: Astoria OR, SanFrancisco CA, and Victoria BC.
Spirit of Cross Stitch
A 4-day retreat including classes with a variety of teachers, including me, Thursday through Sunday and a merchandise mall on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
A weekend retreat for Cross Stitch Club members with a variety of teachers, including me, on Friday and Saturday and a merchandise mall on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
When you’re not stitching, be sure to take a look at my Etsy shop. If you’re a self-taught sort of stitcher, you’ll love my easy-to-understand stitch diagrams and clear instructions.
And go to Facebook and “like” the Jean Farish Needleworks page. That’s the best place to leave comments about this blog.