All posts by Anna

I am a Brit who has been living in Half Moon Bay California since 1987. Which is also the year I started embroidery and the year our son was born. I am a teacher who has been volunteering in the classroom. I have been teaching embroidery in a local elementary school for many years. I love to design my own embroidery projects with younger stitchers in mind. I have published a book of designs for the cross stitcher. 500 Cross Stitch Blocks. I love to run on the beach and cliff tops close to my home. I am taking a digital art class at the local community college and have been learning to paint with pastels., portraits mostly. I am also taking a Certificate of Technical Hand Embroidery with the Royal School of Needlework and have fallen in love with goldwork which I have introduced to children. Predictably, they love it.

vestigial craft

Embroidery has fallen off the map; dropped off the end of the cultural conveyor belt. Or has it?

I have many reasons for thinking that embroidery is vestigial, once essential, now, no longer needed. I also have many reasons for thinking that what I have just written is not so.

Which is true?

Sitting in the Dr’s office waiting for my mammogram appointment, I was diligently stitching a freehand piece of embroidery for the top of a lovely box from Sudberry House. It was to be a birthday gift for my daughter. My work attracted the attention of another patient. She moved to sit next to me. She watched for a little while I couched some gold thread into the letter Z in my design. “what are you doing she asked? Are you knitting?”  Trying not to show my surprise, I explained what I was doing and how and why. She was clearly fascinated, loved the colors and the idea of creating something but she had absolutely no idea what she was looking at. No idea at all. She had never seen anyone  embroider, never heard of it, never wondered how logos and other embroidered motifs are introduced to fabric. One hundred years ago or less no woman would be without detailed knowledge of what I was doing.  This is not an isolated incident in my experience. So embroidery is vestigial.

Yes…..and No.

Its essential part in the lives of women has gone forever; lost to the massive machine embroidery industry and third world wonders of infinite variety and color and inexpensive clothing. If you want pretty flowers embroidered on your shirt, go to Forever 21, pay $5 and get a shirt with colorful stitching. You do not need to be able to thread a needle or know a chain stitch from a French knot. Cool.

Or is it?

What is lost? Creativity. Satisfaction. Skill. Individuality, ( you are likely to find the lady standing in front of you in Starbucks wearing the same shirt .Oops…she might even look better than you do in it).

I have been very fortunate in being invited to teach embroidery to all 75 third graders in an elementary school. It is an uplifting experience. Seen through young eyes embroidery is exciting and engaging. They are enthralled by its creativity and eager to learn more. I ought to be entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the only person

ever to receive a round of applause for forming a French knot.

Embrace Embroidery

I have been meaning to write a blog for a very long time.  Which means, I suppose, that I have a lot to say.

This blog is about embroidery, as an art, as a craft, as a hobby, as a passion and as a tool for teaching not only art and craft but so much more to students in the classroom. ( more on this later)  I have been teaching third, fourth, and fifth grade students to embroider for many years. I currently have 75 third graders stitching 5 different, mostly cross stitch designs. I have customized the designs and over the years found the right threads and fabric which makes this activity a successful for all.

This seahorse is one of a series of embroidery projects undertaken by third grade students at El Granada Elementary School.  The students absolutely love the bright, electric blue of DMC #995 perle #5 cotton. They are also very pleased to be able to use the variegated threads which lend themselves so well the this project.
This seahorse is one of a series of embroidery projects undertaken by third grade students at El Granada Elementary School. The students absolutely love the bright, electric blue of DMC #995 perle #5 cotton. They are also very pleased to be able to use the variegated threads which lend themselves so well the this project.