I’ve never been trendy. At 46, I can honestly say I’ve been slow to adopt anything new or popular for more than four decades. Which is why no one was more surprised than me when embroidery became popular again!
Three years ago, I launched Hook, Line & Tinker with four nautical themed designs. But before that, I grew up in a family business and then jumped from project to project, office to office. All the while, I made things – lots of things – in my spare time.
When I landed on embroidery in 2016, I struggled to find patterns that spoke to my own sensibilities – classic with a modern twist. I started sketching and playing with stitches. Most were hideous! But I loved experimenting and learning. Looking back at my work in the beginning, it seems silly that I knew right away I wanted to design patterns to sell. I was determined, and I learned quickly.
As someone with a history of crippling anxiety and panic attacks, the act of making has been a comfort in good times and bad. Crochet, painting, sewing, cooking, collage. I’ve dabbled. I still dabble, but I arrive at stitching over and over again. When I’m stitching, the needle goes in, it comes back out, again and again. It’s a meditation. Because I am following the lines, the part of my brain that spins all the time goes quiet and I can just breathe.
I’ve been reading about the history of embroidery, and my experiences are not unique. It’s been a tool to heal wounds of the soul, it’s an outlet for grief, a force for activism. But mostly, it has a long history of quieting the mind and freeing a creative heart.
I just make kits. At a minimum, I create an excuse to just take some time for yourself, and that’s not such a little thing.I hope I help bring some small comfort in the chaos.
You know what’s best of all? There is no experience necessary. It still amazes me when I see people sharing their final hoop on Instagram with a note that says “my first embroidery project!” Those are the people I design for – first time stitchers. Some of my patterns are more ambitious than others, but they are adjustable. And they are “finishers”, like a good book. It’s a weekend project, not a lifelong commitment.
Because the patterns are printed onto the fabric in thin lines, folks change up the colours and the stitches all the time. I’ve seen some truly brilliant adaptations. It’s like a collaboration – I create the foundation, and then stitchers add their own hand and creativity. Magic!
There’s something to be said for “working” while sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, a podcast, and a new embroidery project. It doesn’t happen nearly as much as I imagined, but it’s still pretty awesome. Over time I’ve learned that perfect only comes from a machine. There is something beautifully human about imperfection, and that understanding has helped me in every aspect of my life. My anxious brain is still there, only much less “stabby”. I save the stabbing for the hoop!
Creativity, in its multitude of forms, is an essential part of happiness. Embroidery happens to be my go-to. If you want to give it a try, you don’t need a kit to get started with embroidery. Everything you need is inexpensive, doesn’t take up much space, and is practically limitless in possibilities. Fabric, floss, hoop, needle, scissors. Stitch a hoop, stitch your clothes, stitch onto canvas or paper…whatever makes you feel how you want to feel in the moment.
Of all the materials I have ever worked with, fibres are my favourite. The feel of quality fabric (and yarns too) in my hands is soothing. I source natural fibres and materials, such as bamboo embroidery hoops, unbleached cotton muslin, and mercerized cotton floss. If the materials you work with don’t feel good in the hands, what’s the point? It’s all about the experience. Plus, I’m conscientious about the environmental impact of my kits. Single use plastics are a no-no.
Poverty alleviation has always been important to me. As someone that grew up in a successful family business in New Jersey, I really came into my own when I moved to Canada and transitioned to non-profit work and ethical business consulting. Hook, Line & Tinker is more than a creative business for me, It has given me the opportunity to bring craft, and business, and values into one career, and I could not be happier or more grateful. I donate 5% of profits to organizations that support women and children experiencing homelessness.
Although I haven’t been able to teach in person these past months due to COVID-19, I’ve been leading embroidery and creativity workshops at a local women’s shelter for the past three years. It’s an honour to be able to work with women overcoming adversity, and I’m grateful to be able to see first hand the benefits stitching has on their well-being. Everyone should have access to self-care, and I hope others find comfort in stitching and joy in what they’ve made.
To look through my current designs head over to Hook Line & Tinker.