Where have all the students gone?

Are in-person sewing classes going the way of the Dodo?  And if you are asking, “What’s a Dodo?” then you actually have the idea.  There are a tremendous number of learning opportunities online, from blogs, to webinars, to videos, to vlogs, to online sewing education providers… I think it’s marvelous.  I love the fact that I can sit down at my computer at any time of day or night and take a class on just about any sewing subject, often for a reasonable sum.

But the key words for me there are “at my computer.” My computer cannot look at terrible thread nest that just occurred at my sewing machine at 2am and help me figure out

a) how to fix it


b) how to avoid it happening again.

If I want to really improve my skills both rapidly and to an exceptional degree, there are three things I require. First, I need to learn the skill; second, I need to practice the skill; and third, I need feedback on my skill.  Computers, books, and teachers can all give me the first two, but the last one can only be found with a local human teacher.  Yes, it’s true that I do not need feedback on every skill I learn – many are relatively simple to learn by myself – but there are skills and troubleshooting that are much more efficient and effective when another experienced teacher can look at your work and help you out.

And what about our social needs?  I don’t know about you, but I find my interactions with friends decreasing each year.  I feel I don’t have time, and even when I find time, my friends don’t have time to get together.  But a sewing class allows you to get together with other like-minded people and enjoy your hobby together.  Awesome!

Although I love the online community and opportunities for learning, I am sad to see the decline in the number of students taking sewing classes in local dealerships and fabric shops. Is this really what we want? No more quilting bees? No more touching fabrics and looking closely at another person’s excellently sewn hem in order to learn from her (him)?

I’d love to hear your opinion. What do you look for in a sewing class?  Do you ever take in-person classes in your community?  Do you learn exclusively online?  How important is it to you to develop your skills to a high standard?  Do you just want to complete the project? What kinds of classes draw your attention?

I wish you a very beautiful new year full of sewing opportunities of all shapes, sizes, textures, and techniques!


Original Sewing and Quilt Expo – Minneapolis, MN 2014

I have written about the OSQE before, and I was not complimentary. I have a new experience to share this year!

I have attended the OSQE four times now, and this was by far my best experience. To get the negatives out of the way right off the bat, the venue was not big enough for a conference of this size, making the vendor hall(s) and finding rooms confusing and frustrating. Next year they will be at a different location, which should solve this problem.

In the past I chose my classes according to the techniques or projects I thought sounded interesting, and I was consistently disappointed in the instruction and often in the projects. This year I took a different approach and chose the teachers instead of the topics. My classes were all I hoped for and I learned something in every class. The class I learned the least in was with an excellent instructor, but I apparently knew that topic better than I realized.

The instructors whose classes I chose were: Linda McGehee, Laura Murray, Cynthia Guffey, and Cindy Losecamp. Instructors I know are excellent, but I was unable to attend classes with this year are Lorraine Henry, Linda Lee, and Carol Steinbrecher. If you ever attend the OSQE, try to take at least one class with a few of these instructors and I think you will go home with new information.

Cindy Losecamp has great hands-on classes. The challenge is that although her projects are designed to be completed in the time given, and I have always finished mine, they are always tight on time. It helps if you know how to run an embroidery machine before taking her class, just because it will help you complete your project in the time allotted. Her projects are always beautiful and full of techniques you can replicate at home with your own embroidery designs.

Laura Murray is “the” Paintsticks lady, as far as I am concerned. I have owned paintsticks for a while, but I never took them out to play. It was fun to use them without being responsible for the clean-up. What a great workshop!

Cynthia Guffey is personality plus, but regardless of what you think of her personality, she is one of the most experienced dressmakers you will meet. She knows so much, and what I most admire about her is that she is constantly learning herself, and continually experiments and tries to improve on current sewing techniques. In her classes you will learn how to be accurate and sew more and rip less. She is one who believes in doing it right the first time. I tend to rush more than she would like… 🙂

If you want to learn about how to fit and alter patterns, Lorraine Henry is the teacher you just can’t miss! She will teach you how to alter patterns using the seam alteration method, and her experience as an excellent dressmaker means she knows how to fit patterns and then put them together beautifully. She is also one of the sweetest, most giving people you will meet.

Anyone who sews has probably had a friend or family member ask her to mend some clothing item, and we all know it is not as easy as it sounds. Carol Steinbrecher alters and mends professionally and knows all the ins and outs of replacing zippers and hemming pants, to name two commonly requested repairs. Take her image class also to learn about personal style and how to dress to impress.

I hope I will get more opportunities to take classes with these awesome instructors. I am so grateful that they take the time to pass on their incredible skills. If you get a chance to take even one class with them, do so. Not everyone is willing or able to share their knowledge or talents in a way students enjoy, so it is special when you to study with someone who can teach you something, whether you are a beginner or an experienced needleworker.

Health, Pain Control, and Essential Oils

This last year I ran into people using essential oils on several occasions, and it made me curious. When I had to spend a painful week in the hospital following a horse riding accident in June, I experienced what they can do for a person. One night at 4am I was in a significant amount of pain and the hospital had already given me all the meds they could. I could not have more for another 2 hours, which was very upsetting. I talked to the nurse, who returned quickly with a cotton ball in a dosage cup. What? She explained that there were essential oils on the cotton ball and I could try inhaling them. I did, and I was amazed. I don’t know if the oil smells helped my pain, but they certainly helped me cope, which was really saying something. The rest of the night I held that cup on my chest and was able to sleep.
In the morning I called my husband and sent him to the health food store to buy me some lavender, lemon, and sandlewood oils, which were what were in the cup. When I was finally sent home several days later, I made sure I had an essential-oil cotton ball in a cup with me all the time, especially at night. My husband faithfully prepared it and made sure I had it in my hand before I fell asleep. It made such a difference and kept me sane when the pain meds just weren’t enough.
At that time, I didn’t know about doTerra, but I do now. DoTerra oils are certified therapeutic grade, which means they are safe, safe, safe. They can safely be ingested as well as inhaled or applied directly to the skin. (Some oils do need to be treated with a bit more care, but most of the oils are safe for all uses.) I am sold on DoTerra as a company and a brand. I also want to share what I have learned with others.
Right now doTerra has a wonderful promotion going on, where, if you purchase 200PV (personal volume, which is a little less than price), you will receive a bottle of Frankincense for FREE! That is a $93 value for one of the most coveted and widely used essential oils available. You can easily fill out your shopping list with an oil for each of your friends and family and get a bottle of Frankincense for yourself. Or put an order together with a few friends and keep the Frankincense for yourself for organizing it all. What a treat!! Smaller orders are always accepted as well.
If you are interested in ordering, please check out my site at http://www.mydoterra.com/sheriroach/.
If you have any questions or are looking for which oils would be good for starters, be sure to ask! Cherishedneedlecreations@gmail.com.
I wish you a healthy and blessed holiday season!

Craftsy: A great opportunity for excellent online learning

Read below to find out how to sign up for a free class!
What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Craftsy Class
Before filming even begins, hours and hours are spent determining what content will be covered in each class, and how to best teach specific techniques to the camera. Instructors work with an instructional designer to create an in-depth outline of each lesson, and decide how to best prepare props or “step-outs” that show what your project should like at different steps. Instead of a scripted class, instructors follow their outlines on camera to create an authentic and engaging teaching experience.

Most Craftsy classes are filmed in one of five Craftsy studios in Denver, CO, assuring that every part of the production process goes off without a hitch. They fly in instructors from all over the world to spend several days filming, then spend several weeks turning hours of footage into a two to three hour class experience that has been watched, rewatched, and reviewed by industry experts. The final result is an HD-quality video that takes you in-depth into specific topics in any given craft category- from cooking and fine art to sewing and knitting.

What IS the Craftsy experience?
Craftsy classes are designed to have all the benefits of an in-person class, with none of the drawbacks. Available online and on-demand, you always have world-class instructors at the tip of your fingers. You can retake the class as many times as you want, and the 30-second repeat feature allows you to watch the same section over and over again until you get every technique just right.

Watching a Craftsy class is like having a first-row seat with some of the best instructors in the world. Even better, classes have a 100% money-back guarantee.

Try online learning today with a free mini-class from Craftsy! Choose from 23 Free Craftsy Classes ranging from drawing and painting to sewing and quilting, from knitting to cake decorating and more.

Summer harvest

I am sorry, but since I have not been able to do any sewing this summer since my accident, I have not been able to make anything new and exciting, sewing-wise. But, I have been healing, which also means my husband has been insistently asking that I make him some jelly. Then we had an early frost; yes, even Fairbanks, Alaska does not usually have a frost this early in August, so, after our wonderful warm summer allowed our tomato plants to produce tons of tomatoes, they ended up frosted while still green. So, what to do with several pounds of green tomatoes?

First, I made some chokecherry jelly from the chokecherries on the tree next to our house.


Then I was able to make 9 pints of green tomato mincemeat. That will sure make some yummy pies this fall. Finally, I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce with lots of fresh veggies. I included some chopped starting-to-ripen green tomatoes, which worked really well. Now there’s tomato sauce in the freezer as well. I still hope to make some relish, but we’ll have to see if I get around to that or not.

At least I am starting to contribute to the family again, even if sewing will have to wait a little bit longer.


Internet Safety: What you need to know before posting pictures

I have heard before about the geotagging on pictures, but just today I was reminded about how important it is. Chances are that if you are reading my blog, you also publish your own pictures online somewhere, if not in a blog, then perhaps Facebook, Instagram, or some other photo site. With my recent injury, I have had more time to read more blogs and involve myself more in the blogging community, making me think more and more about all the pictures we post, especially of our children.

I have trusted www.Snopes.com for years for helping me distinguish rumor from crisis, and today I was reminded, via snopes.com, about how important it is for all of us to consider how our phones are set up before we take more pictures. I was glad that I had previously turned my geotagging photos off, but I am sure we don’t all know about this. Please take the time to read this Snopes article and watch the short news video attached to it. This is important.

The link is: http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/smartphonepix.asp

Pain, Zentangle, Creativity, and Perfectionism

On Friday, June 21, just over a week ago now, I had a bad fall from my horse, breaking my collar bone, 3 ribs, and puncturing a lung. I am home from the hospital now, and I am getting better day – by – day. I am on good pain drugs, but, as those of you who suffer from chronic pain can attest, it often seems that the good drugs still aren’t strong enough or often enough.

This morning I was having a more painful time, about a 6 on the pain scale, and I was amazed and crestfallen when my husband told me I was 3 1/2 hours away from my next dose. Had I really just taken one so recently? Was he sure? How could that be?!

Before the accident I had explored the art of Zentangle just a bit. I had been intrigued by it for a long time, but only recently actually played around with it. If you are not acquainted with it, Google the term and you will find tons of information. The key is that it was designed as a meditative art form. I had used it already to help me take the edge off a migraine earlier, so this morning I thought of it again.

I asked my husband to help me set everything up at a desk and I started drawing. For those who want the short story – I do believe it helped me through a tough spot and I will use it again. For those who are willing to stay and listen a bit longer, it gave me some important insights into how we view time and productivity.

As I drew, I focused on the drawing, one stroke at a time, just as the process describes. As my attention was more on my drawing and less on my pain I was very grateful, yet I kept finding myself getting frustrated with my shaky lines and with sloppy coloring while trying to darken areas. I was struggling with the idea that if I was taking time to do something, I might as well do it well. I was dealing with perfectionism. How silly is that? It wasn’t like I would be off doing the dishes or vacuuming the carpet if I weren’t drawing. And I have not been able to visit my sewing room yet, so I wasn’t able to work on my projects awaiting me there either. All I needed to do was BE, and all I really wanted was to be BETTER. I wanted the pain to stop. So, if drawing helped the pain ease, wasn’t I doing exactly what I needed plus letting my husband get some much-needed sleep? I was not going to hang this drawing in an art gallery. I was to live in the moment, meditate, create, and let the creative process heal me for the moment. (As a born again Christian, I think all of that sounds strange, but that is another sad thought – and another blog entry for another time.) It was NOT the product that mattered this time, ONLY the process. I needed to let the process take over completely. I had to laugh at my silliness in this matter.

So, I have decided that I do need to keep myself working only on projects and drawings where the product does not matter when I am dealing with pain. No sense setting myself up for unnecessary frustration in that arena. Then, focus on the process. Since I can’t do much more right now, my choices are to spend my time in pain or to work to alleviate that pain. Pretty simple, really. Process is all that matters. Product perfection will be a part of my life again soon enough, I am sure.

As a final recommendation, I would not claim that Zentangle is an kind of cure of that it might even be helpful for high pain levels. The last thing I wanted to do when I was at an 8-9 of pain was draw! But for those times when the medium pain just isn’t going away for any other reason and you’re too frustrated to cope, Zentangle is one more thing to try, so you do not have to feel quite so helpless. Look it up. I wish you hope, peace, and freedom from pain.

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