Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Needlework Price Tags: The Things We Save For


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Thumbing through the latest issue of Needle Arts Magazine (the EGA’s official quarterly publication), I fell into a reverie on all sorts of subjects related to the needleworker’s dedication to the pursuit of All Things Needle.

The cover started me off:

EGA: Needle Arts Magazine

I’ve long wanted to work one of Jane Nicholas’s stumpwork and metal thread embroidery kits, and this particular Persian tile is one of my favorites. Yet I’ve not made the investment in the supplies necessary to work the kit (though I do have her Persian Tiles book, with all the instructions). Why haven’t I done that yet?, I mused.

You’ve spent money on other things in the last year that haven’t interested you as much as these pieces, the inner voice nagged. And yet, I didn’t make the commitment (yet!) to invest in one of these projects.

Continuing through the magazine, I landed on what I was looking for:

EGA: Needle Arts Magazine

This is the announcement of the teaching faculty for the EGA’s 2012 National Seminar, which is taking place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in autumn, 2012.

I’ve wanted to attend one of these National Seminars hosted by the EGA for a long time, but they are Way Out of My Budget Range. I remember last year musing seriously over this year’s national event taking place at a resort in Naples, Florida, contemplating the projects that interested me most:

EGA: Needle Arts Magazine

There’s Kay Stanis’s goldwork (or nué) reef fish. Yep, sign me up for that!

EGA: Needle Arts Magazine

And Tanja Berlin’s goldwork peacock feather – put me on the list!

EGA: Needle Arts Magazine

Ohhh. And this Danish whitework class looks interesting – I’ll take it, too.

EGA: Needle Arts Magazine

And Marsha’s tropical parrot box?! Absolutely up my alley. They’re parrots. And they’re embroidered. And they’re on a box.

Granted, you couldn’t take that many classes in one EGA seminar, but as I poured over the catalog, I found myself becoming wistful.

And in that moment of wistful contemplation, I decided I’d start saving for the 2012 EGA national seminar, which is to take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the end of October, 2012. I thought of all the bonuses of saving towards Santa Fe: I love Santa Fe and its southwestern setting; it’s within what I’d call easy driving distance (8 or 9 hours); the event is distant enough to reasonably work it into the budget.

And that brings me back to this current issue of Needle Arts Magazine. I was looking for the faculty line-up for Santa Fe. And I was also contemplating Jane Nicholas’s Persian tile. Why haven’t I invested in the supplies to stitch that project? Simply because, like anything else in life, I made a choice, and I prioritized according to present and future needs and wants.

Koala Conventions

While perusing through the magazine, I came across the Koala Conventions ad for May, 2013, when Koala Conventions is coming to America. That was another thing I wanted to budget for, but two such events within 7 months of each other? No, I’d have to make a choice – it would have to be one or the other. Another choice to make. One or the other – or, depending on what Life deals out in the meantime, maybe neither. But if either, the planning has to start now for me.

Saving Money for Hobbies

And that brought me back to price tags and the things we save for. I think needlework must be a Very Important part of many people’s lives, given the fact that we are willing to spend a lot of money to pursue seriously our hobby. And I felt a twinge of guilt, momentarily. Should I save towards such an extravagant expense, given current economic conditions, given the general state of the world, given the charitable causes that could benefit from more of my help, given the repairs that should take place on the house, given the uncertainty of the future? ….

And that brought me around to the value of the needle arts.

Is it worthwhile to concentrate our efforts, and to spend spend (sometimes serious) funds, on the pursuit of excellence in needlework?

I think it is. On the grand scale, needlework is an important element in every culture’s social heritage. It is worth keeping alive, and it can only be kept alive if people pursue personal excellence in the art. On the individual scale, excellence in needlework is worth pursuing – it contributes to our well-being, it makes us more pleasant to be around (have you ever met a needleworker who was a mean crank? I haven’t…); it gives us focus and direction; it provides relaxation; it allows us to use and hone our creative processes; it forms strong bonds of friendship. In many ways, it defines us.

So, is it worthwhile to save towards Big Expenditure in the realm of needlework? Or, if you’re not in a position where you have to ‘save’, to spend what would, to many, seem an extravagant amount on a “hobby”? Do you consider the money you spend on needlework an “investment” (money well spent), or a frivolity?

I know it’s a sensitive subject, to talk about money and the ways we spend it. I’m not asking for a run-down on people’s budgets or salaries here, nor personal judgments on what you think other people should or should not spend money on. Whether you spend .00001% of your income on needlework supplies, or 50% of your income on needlework supplies, my question is this: Do you consider it money well spent? And if so, why?

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts, maybe to give ideas of how you manage your hobby budget if you have one, or to offer good reasons why it is (or is not) worthwhile to invest in one’s hobby. Any insights you give may be helpful for someone else out there, so if you’ve got experience to share, please do!

Of course, all this musing on such mundane matters is simply the forerunner to my big project for today: balancing the books! Argh. See you tomorrow!

For those looking for learning opportunities, there are plenty of alternatives to attending national seminars and similar large events that are generally pretty expensive. You can seek out online classes through many individual designers, you can take correspondence courses through the EGA, you can attend local classes or local seminars which are usually decidedly less expensive than big national events. Before plunging into larger events, you might assess what you want to learn, and then find out if you can learn it at the local level or online. Just a thought!


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(64) Comments

  1. My expenditures, and my feelings about them, seem to fluctuate. Also, I sew clothes, toys and animals, knit a bit, do a lot of papercrafting, so not only do I have to decide if/when to spend on my hobbies, but which art to pursue with my tiny bit of extra cash. Most of the time, I spend only after a period (6 wks or so) of non-spending so I sort of feel I deserve it and can afford a small splurge. However, there is ALWAYS some guilt associated with each dollar spent. These little projects of mine provide a bit of happiness to the recipients but they’re not art and they don’t promote world peace and they don’t cure diseases and for that, I feel guilt.

  2. I think spending money on needle arts is definitely money well spent as long as my bills are paid first. My mental health depends on the relaxation and pleasure I get from sewing, crocheting, embroidering, and quilting. I do have to put the stops on sometimes though because I have plenty in my sewing room to keep me busy yet I am always looking for the next deal or next millionth pattern I don’t need….my ideas far exceed my realistic timeframe to complete them all.

    Having said all of that the way I budget (or my husband budgets) my needlearts related spending is for me to have a separate checking account separate from the household account. A small portion of my paycheck goes to this account to use however I want. It isn’t a lot of money but it gives me the freedom I like to get something if I think I just have to have it yet I don’t over-do it because it only goes so far and once it’s gone – it’s gone!

    One more thing….most of my birthday gifts, and other gifts I give to people/family are handmade by me so the supplies I buy really are less than what I would spend if I bought a gift.

  3. Oh Mary – you have hit the nail on the head! I have a reasonable (I think!) budget each month for needlework supplies, but I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in it! Somehow funds get used from other categories – clothing, food, entertainment (embroidery is my entertainment!). After giving it much thought, I realize that embroidery – of many types – is my “love”. And why would I starve that which I love? I have no hesitation wearing the same clothes season after season, eating simple foods, and living a simple life … just don’t take away my linens and threads! Can’t wait to see what you have for us tomorrow! πŸ˜€

  4. Hi Mary,
    Yes, I too, was drooling over the article about the EGA Seminar in Santa Fe next year while soaking in the tub the other day! I used to go to a lot of the SAGA conventions, using my frequent flyer miles and hotel miles from back in the day when I traveled a lot for work. But those perks are gone now, my son is in Connecticut, my daughter and family are in Colorado, my husband will be retiring this year, and all of these things take a toll on the budget. Like you, I can drive to Santa Fe, then on up to Colorado afterwards, so that may be doable. I am consciously trying not to spend too much on needlework, although I do think it’s money well spent. I am trying to use up the kits I have and spend more money only when I have a very specific project or technique I want to try, such as the Chinese Flower Project online course from Trish Burr I just finished. Your suggestions for less expensive learning opportunities are excellent, there is a lot out there, one just has to spend some time looking. Many people forget that while it’s fun to create beautiful things using silks, wools, and other expensive threads, once can create absolutely beautiful works of art using DMC threads from a local craft shop at $.29/skein. It’s also worthwhile to get on email newsletters from needlework and fabric shops to be notified of sales.

    Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet in Santa Fe!

  5. I am a student and I do not spend a lot of money on needle work. But every paisa spend on embroidery supplies ( A frame, some threads, needles, a piece of cloth to practice on and a basket to keep all these and pieces of clothing bought once in a while ) is well spent. I dream of doing needle painting and gold work someday. Frankly, I do not think I will ever manage that. Still, such dreams inspire me to have realistic plans such as to embroider on a useful piece of cloth. Some time in the far future, I would like to teach kids to do embroidery. I think I will manage that too. πŸ™‚

  6. I think it boils down to deciding what is really important to you as an individual and budget accordingly. I don’t think spouses always understand what embroidery means to us and that’s why we feel guilty about what we spend. I disagree with Laura B. – we ARE making art, no matter how big or small or if we’re stitching our own or someone else’s design or using silk or cotton…it’s all art. I started teaching embroidery within EGA to help with the budget; teaching doesn’t really cover all my costs but learning to design my own pieces has really pushed me artistically and given me confidence in other aspects of my life. I think life is too short to have regrets and that if you can afford to go to both National Seminar in Santa Fe and to Koala Conventions, that you should do both!

  7. I strive for balance in my choices–and I’ve recenty tried to focus my charitable giving on outreach to the community teaching embroidery (at a camp for kids with cancer, at the local YMCA, at stitch-in-public days at fairs and libraries). Trying to make the world a better place one stitch at a time.

    Money is not the only issue; for me time factors in, too. Time off work and time to finish the projects taken in class–I’ve gotten much more picky about how I spend my time as I’ve gotten older.

    The EGA has countless opportunities–I really enjoy their correspondence courses. The Great Lakes Region, where I am, has a wonderful annual seminar that’s much more affordable than the National and I find it’s scale more comfortable. Other regions also have great seminars. I think the National Seminar is a wonderful experience, too…how often are you in a room with hundreds of other people all as interested in needlework as you are? It’s inspiring.

    But there are boundless educational opportunities–online, by mail, with local groups, seminars, shops, national organizations–I sure wish I could do them all!

  8. Another blog I love recently posed a similar question only not about the money we spend on embroidery supplies but the time we spend in pursuit of our hobby.

    You both ask is it money/time well spent and to both I say ABSOLUTELY!

    Thinking solely about the financial aspect, I am very organised with money. I budget for everything, household expenses, holidays, Christmas, etc and embroidery. I do occasionally feel guilty about spending large sums of money on one small piece of fabric and a few reels of silk but I remind myself that I’ve earned my money, paid my bills, given some to charity and saved for a rainy day, what is left I can spend how I like!

    It does not matter if what we do is art or not, nor that it will not bring about world peace or an end to poverty. It is important to us.

    Now, if only I could manage my time so efficiently I could spend more of it doing embroidery :LOL:

  9. Mary, you can always do what I did — keep collecting supplies when you had the money and no time, and then when you have the time and no money (retired), you can go to work on the 10 lifetimes’ worth of fiber and material. Actually, I just wanted to thank you for your website. I’ve been trying to learn new stitches, going through all of my stitch books, but when I have trouble figuring something out, I go to your videos and suddenly it all seems so simple. So thank you for all your effort. And yes, the latest EGA magazine is filled with the most beautiful work. I purchased Jane’s book on Dragonflies recently. WOW. And I was moved by the article on Dave Collazo, especially since I have a handicapped husband and also a cousin. My cousin does embroidery, but she has severe RA. Inspirational stories.

  10. My husband and I both have hobby accounts. We deposit a specified amount of money into them at the beginning of each year and spend it on whatever we want. I sew, do needle work and make dolls. He races cars and is always working on a project car. We are both retired now, and it keeps us active and we’re always learning something new.

  11. Thanks for a very thoughtful, and thought-provoking, blog-post. Years ago I read a small self-published book entitled “I Don’t Do Guilt Anymore.” It was great — I had already decided that myself, but the book did the working through, thinking it all out for me really well.

    I also started thinking about the cost of golf that my husband paid, and I certainly didn’t begrudge him that because he enjoyed it so much. It was a wonderful thing for him to do. So I thought why should I begrudge myself if I didn’t begrudge others their preferences? I thought about the cost of tickets to sports events, the cost for plays and concerts, and those are fully acceptable expenses. Why not my embroidery? I think it has a lot to do with the money spent and the very tiny bag that I bring home for that amount (I love Au Ver a Soie and metal threads).

    You’re so right that it defines us, too. And makes us nicer people. It’s very relaxing for me and I know I’m always in a very good mood when I’ve done some serious embroidery. I always knew embroidery was important because it was my grandma who taught it to me, and whatever grandma said or did was very, very important.

    I have bought two small pieces by Jane Nicholas and plan to buy the larger ones later. I haven’t yet simply because I’ve got too many other things I’m working on. I’ve also bought pieces from Tanja Berlin. I tried taking a class several years ago and discovered that as attractive as they are to me, I don’t do well in a class. It may be because the primary instruction was one-on-one from my grandmother and after that self-teaching from very good instructions. It also has a lot to do with my very heavy magnifier and lamp that I can’t lug around and which I desperately need.

    That ineptitude with classes has taught me to buy the supplies or do correspondence courses rather than go to seminars — OK, I always want to go when I see the lists, but eventually think better of it. Right now I’m working on Tricia Wilson Nguyen’s Tudor and Stuart Goldwork “Online University” course — and it is “university” level. It’s tough stuff and I love it.

    My other “fix for my addiction” is your blog. Since I discovered it, it goes with my cup of tea first thing in the morning. Sometimes you talk about types of embroidery I’m not interested in and other times it’s the stuff I drool over. I really appreciate the range and the people and products you promote. It feels like I have a very supportive community because of you. Thanks so much for the hard work you do — I understand that it is hard work because in my “real life” I teach at a university and have websites for all my courses. It’s a tremendous amount of work to keep this up, and it is very much appreciated.

  12. How right you are when you speak about spending and spending on our hobbies. I am one of these people who think every penny is worth it if you learn how to improve that problem or learn a new technique.
    I have been saving for a year now as I want to go to Australia next year to Beating about the Bush. I am killing two birds with one stone as I have a dear friend over in Adelaide who I haven’t seen for 12, yes 12 years and I have decided to go. There are some very good tutors this time and I am going to be spoilt for choice but I am going to enjoy every minute of it being careful not to over spend!!!!!!!

  13. What to save for? This is really really tough. Over time, what I want to work on changes as well. Currently I primarily do Brazilian dimensional embroidery, Hardanger and canvaswork. I also have not-done projects in process in knitting, crossstitch, whitework, Swedish weaving, needlepoint, blackwork, and my current passion types. If I were trying to be realistic, I don’t “need” any more things. I recently attended the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International seminar in Portland OR. It was quite reasonably priced so I could justify the expense. Expensive conferences I just can’t justify. Anything local I can justify as there aren’t any transportation or housing costs. The choices aren’t easy…

  14. I’ve stopped smoking recently (last September) I now justify my handwork (knitting, crewel embroidery, applique quilting, sewing, and card-making supplies to what I would have spent for a month of cigarettes. Now I joke about it when the bill comes for $50–cheaper than you-know-what. All of these soul-satisfying, and peaceful endeavors are worth every penny–to my husband especially. I make many as gifts–a way to try a new technique. I also try to add some beauty to our lives and get hours of enjoyment myself for over 60+ years. (Egads–I’m ancient!) I use the online tutorials for help with stitches, yours are wonderful and I thank you for them.

  15. Hi Mary,
    I have been a recipient of your web letter for a number of years and todays subject has set me thinking. Yes I definately think the money we spend on needlework is well worthwhile and I don’t feel in the least bit guilty about it. It may not feed the world, it may not cure disease but, oh boy, does it contribute to the happiness and mental wellbeing of everyone involved both stitchers and recipients. It is also a healing hobby – my daughter died 6 years ago and I don’t know what I would have done without embroidery to immerse myself in whilst the grieving process happened. I have also reached a time in life where I think if I don’t do/have it now I might never have it but, of course, whatever age we may be that might be true of all of us. So – as long as theres a roof over your head, food in the cupboard and bills mostly paid then go ahead – you don’t know whats coming tomorrow.

  16. To help put your mind at ease about spending money on your passion try being married to man who collects Mopar muscle cars. Many of us do give our time and money to our churches or other non-profits. We may not be able to save the world but every little bit makes it better. Yes, there will ALWAYS be more humanitarian ways to spend money. But is good to have hobbies. Some hobbies bring joy to ourselves and in turn we can extend that joy to others by sharing our knowledge, giving our fruits as gifts and as you pointed out not being cranky. Needlework keeps our brains active, our hands from being idle and out of the cookie jar. Excelling at something like embroidery is a gift. You Mary are gifted and you share your gift with us. You are an inspiration to your web friends and to the students you taught this year. Go ahead and invest in yourself. It’s okay. It is really okay. Can I get an Amen!

  17. I use needlework as my own little world where I can create. I spend a budgeted amount on books and needlework supplies periodically but I do save for the bigger purchases.

  18. Good question. To be brutally honest, YES it is money well spent, as it keeps my sanity……and in keeping my sanity, keeps the sanity of those around me. It is like paying for relaxation and calm, in a hectic world; that is worth every penny to me. While you need to take care of the people around you financially no question, if you cannot spent a cent on yourself, what does that say about your own value? I see far too many women short change themselves, then wonder why no one cares about how tired they are etc. “Don’t underestimate the lesson others learn by how you treat YOURSELF.” πŸ™‚

  19. What I’ve learned is that I don’t get around to all of my ideas anyway, so I’d rather spend my money on the best materials I can afford for the projects I can realistically expect to complete, than spend the same amount on a bunch of less expensive projects.

    I’m also making a concerted effort to complete the projects that I make–we’ve just been through my mother’s things in preparation for a move, and looked through dozens of beautiful projects that she never got around to framing–they’ve just been languishing in a drawer. To me, that’s the biggest waste of all.

  20. Hi Mary,
    What a far reaching subject!
    There are reasons I believe stitch art, learning and fun are so important.
    1. Stitch in its’ many forms are a continuity of the Human spirit, history and communication.
    2. Stitch is, for many, a continuity of the female spirit, (not to say that males do not engage or to devalue anyone). However, how many of us remember our female family members; their courage, strength, love and support through their stitched objects which we still hold dear long after they have gone? Of course this can be said of many male family members too!
    3. Stitch is a way to figure out what we like and what we would happily leave to those who do like it. Thus, learning to know ourselves, set our priorities and guide us to what we want to do in the future, be it tomorrow or “when we grow up”.
    4. There is always the relaxation and FUN!
    5. Our stashes are part of who we are, our hopes and dreams. A way to let others know the same. Even if we have countless projects undone when we leave, those we leave behind learn to know us through the fabrics we chose, the colours, the projects themselves. Who knows what inspiration our “piles of supplies” may be to some one?
    6. Did I mention the FUN?
    7. Budgeting is important for everyone, the size of the budget may be dramatically different from person to person, but a budget non the less, this too helps us set priorities. Give thought to what we REALLY want and REALLY like and enjoy.
    8. Stitch in its’ endless forms, from each country, region, village and our own creative juices is an overall learning experience – and when learning is so much fun the lessons stay with us for a lifetime!
    ……A bit heavy I realize, but heartfelt.

  21. Mary, if I were you I would auction some of my finished embroidery to get money to go to both seminars. No, I don’t sell my embroidery; I only give them away as presents to those that I know will appreciate them.


  22. Oh, Mary, what a great post. Sure, maybe a touchy subject for some but you worded this post so nicely. Have been a fan of yours for many years. I think that this is my favorite of all.

    Do I budget? Not for anything. I’m one of those “in one hand and out the other” type of people. ja ja ja. And on a small fixed income… gets a little tight sometimes.

    Again, I think that this is one of your BEST POSTS ever.
    Sorry I didn’t answer the question better. In reading them … there is nothing more I could add.
    Thanks so much,

  23. It is such a passion – and it must be fed! Embroidery has influenced every part of my life and been responsible for so much – people I meet/know, places I go, things I do. Guilt comes and goes w/ the money spent, but as I get older, the guilt is just about GONE! Needlework makes me happy. It is the consistent thing in my life that does so, and has served me well.

    I particularly like what you said about its importance culturally. So VERY true. While often overlooked, it is ALWAYS there. A museum director once made the comment that while architecture makes the house, it was always the needlework/textiles that made the “home.” The personality.

    I was also reminded of a story I read long ago about a woman spending time in a prison overseas for drug trafficking — and to get through the days, she unraveled her towel (for thread) and stitched designs on her clothing. How lucky we are to have all the tools and materials we have.

    As long as the bills are paid and I’m not going into debt, I have no guilt for needlework dollars spent!

  24. After retiring from working outside the home, having my own pin money became very important to me, as I started feeling like I had to justify any purchase I made from the joint checking account.

    I have my own checking account into which I put all my monies earned from my craft work, stitchery, sewing and the occasional mystery shop job. This is money I can spend guilt-free on my craft, my art; be it another length of cloth, another pattern or the tuition for a class.

    I also have an envelope of cash earned from having a garage sale that I have earmarked for my other weakness…gardening. From this stash of money I can indulge myself on the occasional trip to the nursery without raiding the grocery budget!

    I have never thought of my recreational stitching and heirloom sewing as a ‘responsibility’ of preserving knowledge for future generations (a new view point for me) but more as something precious I want to leave for my (someday) grandbabies!

  25. I live on a tight budget. As with everyone, there are things that are beyond my financial reach. That doesn’t keep me from continuing to embroider (or sketching, crocheting, sewing, etc…). I wait for things to go on sale, use coupons, pick up linens at yard sales, buy my books used or check them out from the library, etc… To me, it makes finding some new little treasure all that more special. I am currently saving money to purchase supplies to try some metal work. I am so excited!!
    I think it’s important to wait for the things we really desire. Our society has become one of instant gratification. My children had to work (and save) for their ‘wants’. They appreciated and valued their accomplishments when the goal was achieved. As adults, they are good with money and have a very good work ethic.
    Without spending there is NO ECONOMY! Supporting the Arts (this means the small art business owners as well) is an important charity as well. Maybe I’m justifying MY spending. But without things that bring us joy, life would be awfully sad….
    ~Sandi R. (Happy Stitcher in FL)

  26. Dear Mary,

    Such a thought provoking post! I struggled with this topic for most of my life, as it affected a variety of crafts and my real love of embroidery and fine fabrics and threads, as well as books of all sorts. Now, semi-retired with more clock time available and arthritis in my hands, budgeting the time is even more important than the money. I’ve finally come to the realization that the money and time spent on the things that give me such pleasure are surely less expensive than a good psychiatrist, and that makes me, and my family all happier πŸ™‚

    However, being somewhat impulsive, your wise questions made me stop and think today, take my fingers off the internet order I was thinking of placing, and ask myself “Save for Santa Fe for embroidery and visit my dear cousin at the same time?!?” That old “9 minutes of thinking and 1 minute of acting” rule is still good advice, even for something you really love, because there might be something else you love more …

    And, for those times when the money must be budgeted, you can still make something you really love with DMC and maybe a courtesy pattern from the internet. Did that last week too, and gave it away to a dear friend as a combination birthday/thank you gift; we both walked away feeling good πŸ™‚ Another budget tip: Bought some bags of luscious hand dyed silk threads from a dyer; the ends from the hanks, the ends from the spooling machinery … spent a couple of months of “free time” in the car, at the nursing home talking with Dad etc., winding the threads on balls and cards. A little frustrating at times to untangle, but the reward was a couple of boxes of jewel colored overdyed silks ready to use when inspiration strikes, at a fraction of the cost otherwise. Also bought a whole selection of chartpacks from an online shop at less than half the original retails as the owners were downsizing due to illness; again a “win/win” situation for both of us.

    Thanks to your post, my extra pennies today went into my new “Santa Fe” savings fund; I look forward to meeting you there and thanking you in person ? πŸ™‚


  27. Patricia, you just gave me the BEST excuse for stash-building I ever heard… πŸ™‚ As if I needed one!

    I’m on a fixed income, as my name says, and it gets more and more limited every time I turn around, so little indulgences can mean a lot. And I don’t count my sanity as an indulgence–it’s a necessity, just like food or air.

    My animals and my hobbies are what keep me sane, so after everyone gets fed, I get to try to stay sane…with fiber arts, writing, everything I do.

    It’s worth it. I’M worth it. And ‘when I’m gone’ (with dramatic arm fling over forehead LOL), someone will have one heck of a yard sale. πŸ™‚

  28. Dear Mary,

    I read your blog and notes for my stitching continuing education. It is joyful and you give so much more than you know–for FREE! As a sewing/quilting instructor, I know that if we do not continue learning we do not know the latest techniques and discover the new materials which stagnates us in the market place. I am still processing what you shared about Z vs. S twisting thread, but it has helped my stitching look much better and for that I give you thanks. And I was able to pass the info along to someone else this week, which was even better.

    In order to afford my continuing ed., I have been blessed with a husband who has supported me and knows the importance of keeping up in the work place, but I also attend lots of free seminars through my local sewing and quilting guilds. We both consider it part of the price of doing business and have no issues with the other attending specialized national events once in a while as well. We are both members of several different organizations that offer cont. ed. Money being what it is, we do have to be somewhat careful in choosing what we attend. Since we live in a major metropolitan area, we do not have to travel which helps alot. When we do travel, we try to do it together and combine it with our vacation to share the time and culture with each other. He may sleep or take in some television time while I go to the actual learning event or I may go visit museums, quilt and stitching shops while he leads or attends his events, but the rest of the time is purely our fun time to explore the culture, food, landscape of where ever we may be going. We are also blessed with family and friends from our Navy life all over the country and we often save $$$ by staying with our extended family along the way and this adds to the value of going. You are right, however, it is about choices. This year I chose to attend my Godson’s First Holy Communion and Confirmation rather than go to the National Quilt Show in KY even though I drove 9 hours instead of two to get there. When, where and how we take in these events says something about who we are. If we do it purely for the learning, electronic classes are fine. If we also value friendship, cultural anthropology, and meeting the teachers in person, yes we should go. I’ve never been to the Southwestern US. Meeting you in person there–worth the price of admission. Discovering you on the teaching list when I arrive–PRICELESS! I’ll keep waiting for the day!

  29. Thank you Mary for yet another wonderful and thought provoking article which has raised lots of fantastic responses. I particularly liked Patricia Nieoff’s idea (no:9) that we can buy it now and keep for retirement! Only trouble is I hope I live long enough to be able to get through everything I already amassed! perhaps I shouldn’t have worked at all and started years ago lol. It appears that I am not the only one who resembles a magpie. I love all of my stuff and enjoy many hours, when I am supposed to be sorting and tidying, just looking, touching and rearranging it all!
    I don’t have a budget to cover all of my hobbies, or should I say I never got around to organising one as I am too busy playing! For me it is always money well spent as I enjoy it even if it’s still in a box. However, I do complete many projects and the enjoyment, relaxation and pride I get from my needle n thread are priceless.

  30. There is beauty in needlework, sometimes extraordinary beauty, and that beauty is a source for peace, contemplation, and happiness.

    There are those of us who enter finance, make music, raise children, join the military, teach, create, type, paint, build bridges, join the Peace Corps, roof, do surgery, practice psychology, translate, manufacture, plant crops, harvest food, whatever – all are elements of our society. All contribute to the betterment of everyone in society. We can’t do it all, nor should we compare the needleart effort with other activities meant for the betterment of humanity. All are stitches in the fabric of humanity.

    What a precious right it is to congregate and share ideas freely! If one can make it to Santa Fe, terrific! If not, wait for the annual event to come closer. These events are moved around the country from year to year for just that reason. Just because one can fly to a destination doesn’t mean one should do so nor can afford to do so. Besides, flying isn’t the joy it once was.

    But I agree with Mary, needlework contributes to our well-being and therefore the well-being of all society. Revel in it. Smile. It is a source of wonderment!


  31. Hi Mary ~ It sounds like most of us agree – our stitching is a priority in our lives. I do not have a budget for stitching, but pay the bills first. I save to go to the Nordic Needle Stitcher’s Retreat every April to learn new techniques. It is a great way to find out if you like something and want to go further or walk away from it. Stitching is my entertainment, gifts to friends, donations to the library (bookmarks)and it certainly is a lot less expensive than a Therapist. I have enough stash to last me until I am 200… but there are so many irrestible colors and fibers and differnt styles of embroidery to learn, I can’t resist getting more. I would like to retire, but I need the money to get those supplies and travel to the Retreat.
    My passion is Brazilian Embroidery, although I do enjoy dabbling in several other needle arts to use all those lovely fibers.
    I hope no one ever feels guilty about stitching – it is so much more than thread and needle – and you meet wonderful people from all over the world when you attend a Retreat or Seminar. I feel bad for people who do not have something like stitching to give them pleasure and a relaxing escape.

  32. Oh my, yes. Decisions decisions decisions. Always the pragmatics of what to choose to do with a limited income. And are needlework kits, supplies, courses, a justifiable part of my spending? Absolutely! Creating something beautiful is as necessary to my general health as food, shelter, clean air, and exercise.
    As for Tanja Berlin, in three years of attending Seminar (Embroidery Association of Canada) I have never been fortunate enough to get into one of her very popular classes. She has the repuation of being a wonderful teacher and her teaching designs are gorgeous. As for Jetta Roy Finley, I had the good fortune to meet her at (Canadian) Seminar three years ago. She too is a born teacher. Her passion for hedibo convinced me that I had to try one of her exquisite kits. A future heirloom for sure. So every year I save up to go to Seminar. I heartily encourage you to go for it, Mary. The wonderful classes, almost a whole week of mixing with so many others from across a vast country and whose love of needlework is as deep as one’s own will give anyone a lift that will last through the coming year.

  33. Hi Mary,
    Your musings are thought provoking. Every needle art I do is expensive. We’re talking quilting, rug hooking, needlepoint and crewel embroidery.

    I was taught in art school that you should buy the best brushes, watercolors, oils, etc. And, no, I don’t paint anymore. Sewing from 12 years old, fabric and textiles are the mediums I loved the most.

    I try to stay within our budget, but I’m a really, really weak person. If I see beautiful threads, I buy them.

    My stitching helps me so much with my depression, which by the way, came with menopase and never went away. Luckly me!

    And then there is the matter of my horse and vet bills and board. I paid vet bill of $1100 last month and waiting for the bill for June which will probably be $800. I have a $350 prescription to refill (3 month supply) and I’m not sure which to hold off on for 2 weeks or so. Yikes!!!!!!!!

    I feel for the people in our country that have nothing, no jobs, no homes, no foods, so I don’t like to complain. Somehow we will manage.

    In October there is a two day lecture/workshop at Winterthur starting off their new exhibit of Four Centuries of Needlework. I wanted to take the crewel embroidery workshop given by someone from RSN. Also Tricia from Thistle Threads will be giving a lecture. And the Plimouth jacket will still be there under Jan. 2011. Well, I can do to the exhibit, but I don’t think the lecture/workshop is happening.

    So after all of that, I will not give up my needlework. I will hold the purse strings a little tighter.

    Thanks Mary for your words of wisdom and everyone’s comments.

  34. While I drool over the seminars and expensive fabrics & threads, I don’t feel my skills are up to doing them justice. I don’t have quite the same reservation about buying more expensive tools however. I realize that great tools don’t neccessarily make a better stitcher, but not-so-good ones can definitely hold you back. You can’t do hardanger with a kindergartener’s scissors!

    I realize that I may spend as much, if not more, buying less expensive items more often. Like calories, an extra 5-10 here and there doesn’t *seem* like much, but added up over the weeks and months – OOOPS! Hmmm, if I’d plan AHEAD, I could afford nicer kits.

    But no matter how much (or little) I spend, it’s not a waste. After all, those patterns and threads will wait patiently for me. Even if I never get to them, I’ve helped support the local needlework shops. And it’s interesting to see how my tastes have evolved over the years when I look back through the patterns I’ve bought over the years.

  35. I have just read Danielle’s comments on this topic and I was so struck by the following:

    “Our stashes are part of who we are, our hopes and dreams.”

    I had never looked at my stash this way before and it really struck a chord. Yes yes and yes. Hope for the future. Dreams of goodness and beauty and loveliness and gentleness and a better tomorrow. And if that isn’t worth the money spent on it I don’t know what is. Thank you Danielle.

  36. Dear Mary,
    what a wonderful post. I like the fact that you mention two wonderful learning opportunities, and then you have to make a choice. I think it also depends on the season of life you are in. I often look at the beautiful needlework tours that are offered in the UK, where you can visit grand country homes and stitch at the same time. I would love to do that. But I know, with two children under four, it is not my time. Neither financially, or time wise.
    Financially, my husband and I have a small budget from every paycheck intended for our amusement or whims. This budget covers everything from a piece of clothing that is not a necessity but just a wish, my needlework supplies, and so on. It helps against feeling guilty that this money is set aside for splurging. I can save up for bigger things, or keep it.
    Another idea is to make gifts: christmas, bridal, etc. If you would not be an embroiderer, how much would you spend on that person? Can you use part of that money to buy supplies and instead make something for that person?
    You do end up like the cobblers wife with no shoes that way. I have been embroidering for about 25 years and have almost nothing in our house that is embroidered. Everything is give away.

  37. Hi Mary–I was amused to see your postings for classes you would take at the EGA seminar. I gave up my pre-registered status to take a chance on getting into the Kay Stanis fish class. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but I know someone who just registered and she got in, so I think I’m good on that one.

    As for the money spent on needlework, I was also thinking about this topic and the size of my stash recently. I decided that I’m spending the money now to accumulate stash for when I’m retired and may not have the money. So what if my needlework room looks like it could support an episode of “Hoarders”? I have it now for when I might not have the ability to get it. If I still have that ability after I retire, or lose my job, or whatever, then even better for me.

    Carol S.

  38. I can not think of one thing more important in my life than my needle work . It brings me joy every day of my life. I dream about it, I enjoy planning for it … I love collecting the fabrics and threads and then of course I love quietly stiching with my thoughts. I too am close to retiring and have been collecting materials in case my new budget will not allow me the financial freedom that comes with working. I think my new freedom will be the ability to have more time and less money…. I hope that I can stitch with joy for the rest of my life … I have been stiching since I was in the third grade and had a very special public school teacher that had all of us do a sampler on burlap with yarn. We learned many stitches and lessons about life working that samplwer.t That that passion as been with me since.

  39. I make a comfortable amount of money. I pay all of my expenses and anything left over is mine to do with as I please. Three years ago I was out of work for three months from depression. I learned quickly that my needle work, sewing or crocheting kept me sane and helped me heal. I can’t imaging a day without creating something.

    The only thing that may keep me from spending too much on needle art supplies is buying new clothes or toys for my grandson.

    I love your blog and look forward to reading it every day.

  40. Needlework is not my hobby, it is my passion. I cannot go more than a couple of days without picking up a needle to do some sort of stitching or I feel as if I am going through some kind of withdrawal. I am a long time quilter (30 years) and fairly new (5 years)to serious embroidery. I am lucky enough to live close to a museum that has had an annual quilting seminar with national teachers. I have been attending almost every year since I began quilting taking at least one (though usually more) class/es. I am a 5 year member of EGA. My only experience up to the time I joined was with cross stitch on 14 count aida and with very simple quilt related embroidery.
    EGA opened up a whole new world to me. I wish I had discovered it years ago. Although I have not attended a national conference I have been exposed to some national embroidery teachers through the regional conferences. In fact I just took a class with Marsha Papay Gomola last month at the Mideastern region conference held in Erie, PA. She was wonderful.
    I have been a long time subscriber to Inspirations magazine and have checked the online catalog to their annual Beating Around the Bush seminars held in Australia. That has been my dream, to attend one of those. Well now I can. They are bringing their seminars to the US in 2013 and I am hoping to attend the show held in Atlanta. I am a planner and I am setting the groundwork now so I can make that happen. For me the hardest part of making this happen is getting there. I live in western NYS and am planning on flying. I am a very nervous flier and have never flown alone. I am working on networking with fellow members of my EGA chapter that are also interested in going so that I will be traveling in a group. The other major consideration is cost but that also is achievable. I will determine how much $ I need & set aside a particular amount each month to reach my goal by the required deadline.
    I have taken numerous quilting classes from national teachers over the years and fewer embroidery classes but I have never walked away from a class without learning at least one worthwhile thing whether it be from the teacher or from another student.
    As they say on the Visa commercial (or is it Mastercard?) the seminar experience is priceless.

  41. Thank you for your thoughts on costs and courses. It has never been more relevant! I have taught for many years and run Blackwork Journey which reaches round the world to touch people who turn to needlework for so many different reasons.
    To lose yourself for an hour in something that you enjoy, gives satisfaction and produces results in such a complicated world is worth the expenditure. It does not have to cost a fortune if you think carefully about what you want to embroider. Threads and materials can be obtained through ebay etc and some techniques such as blackwork or whitework do not require vast amounts of stock.Needlework can be a true “life saver” in so many ways for so many people and whilst courses may be out of reach because of finance there are sites such as yours which inspire, instruct and encourage at the touch of a computer. There are also on-line forums and groups ready to share their experiences with those of us who may not be able to physically attend classes and magazines which can teach and inspire. Money spent on something that brings real pleasure is never wasted and what you create will be your heirloom for the future.

  42. Don’t forget about the possibility of scholarships for some of these unattainably expensive workshops. They aren’t plentiful but they do occasionally turn up. And if you have funds, consider donating to one for a fellow stitcher!

  43. My husband and I have always lived on a budget, and we each get a weekly allowance of money to spend as we wish. We have done this ever since we were married 38 years ago. Now that we are retired and living on a small pension, our allowance is $15.00/week. This money goes for our choice of expenses: meals out with friends, hobbies, gifts for friends, etc. I have quite a few hobbies: music, reading, tatting, embroidery, oil painting, watercolours, acrylics, beading, knitting, CQing, and my supplies are paid for with my allowance and with money gifts like Birthdays. So, for me, a trip away for classes would be an expense I’d have to save for for a long, long time.

  44. I don’t have a budget but qualify my purchases by saying that I won’t have as much money when I retire so I had better buy all these “Things” while I’m working. Or do courses while I still have good eyesight. Also when my hubby complains about how much money I spend on “Supplies” I tell him I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, if he’d like me to take up those pastimes instead I can. I think if it keeps you sane and you enjoy it, then spend what you like and can afford.
    Thanks for a great newsletter, love getting it each day.

  45. I loved your comments on keeping needlecraft alive. I would like to take your thoughts to my sewing guild ladies, I’m sure it will give them food for thought.

  46. I suppose I’m lucky that all of my committments in life keep me too busy to stitch more than I do or it could be a serious budget breaker. After expressing guilt to my husband over the cost of my hobby, he laughed and said, you don’t do drugs, drink or gamble so relax!

  47. Hi Mary,

    I think needlework is one of the least expensive hobbies one can have. Yes I have drooled over some kits but know they are outside of my budget.

    Think of the hours of creative pleasure that can be obtained by some nice cloth (linen if we are lucky) and some shanks of floss or wool.
    A big plus is that you don’t need a lot of room to set yourself up to work needle to your heart’s content. I am exploring all versions of needle work and I am doing it for the sheer joy of working the needle. I get that much pleasure from it.

  48. Just want to respond to Jeanette..I have horses too! I wondered if anyone else has tried to combine needlework with horse. I am in the process of stashing a number of potential needlework/equine related projects.

  49. Mary,

    I want you to go so badly. You of all people deserve to go to the seminar. Can we donate to your piggy bank? I’ve spent several books worth of time reading your blog and learning from you. If you lived in my city, I’d pay to take a class from you.

    I do want to say this though. I went last year, and it was a big emotional and financial stretch. I think I spent my entire year’s book budget on it, but it lives on in my memory as the best money I’ve ever spent, right up there with a trip I took to Europe that was at the top of my bucket list when I was 25.

    While there is a good chance I may never go again to another seminar, I chalk it up to the equivalent of taking that trip to Europe or a fancy vacation, which one would budget for too, it’s just mentally readjusting how we value the expense.

    The difficulty lies in claiming the worth of the experience. When someone has the skill and ability to craft something as finely as you do, and it starts to feel like it’s easy, I believe that because you are playing. You know, like how kids play and climb trees. And when we play, it becomes labled…not worthless, exactly, but not worthwhile. And yet, imagine playing with people who are master players.

    When I went to seminar, it felt like my local EGA meeting times a hundred. I agree with you – I’ve met a few cranky knitters, but no cranky embroiderers. I felt like I found my flock when I sat down to sew with everyone. It inspired me like nothing else. It made me *so* happy. I must have glowed or levitated or something. Happy, happy, happy. I had a big grin, ear to ear.

    I also had to get over the guilt. So much else to finance, and a wish list that has items that come on and go off as time moves along and the kids get older. Braces, roof, bathrooms, cars, computers. There is always a big expense looming as each year marches along. As a stay at home mom, I get the double whammy of being on the receiving end of my husband’s income, and the manager of it. And while he would never begrudge me, and while I would never begrudge him money spent on his hobbies, I also had to say, “Hey. I’m worth it” and then believe it enough to go spend it on me, and not him, not the kids.

    I feel like this experience gave me a certain kind of confidence if only because it was so great to realize that I was learning from real people, *who still felt like celebrities in my book*, but who also just get up every morning and practice being creative. I’m still not sure about how it all worked, but it opened up windows in my soul, and that was priceless.

    I hope you go. *crossing my fingers for you!* And yes, I’ve seen a few scholarships announcements. You know what ran through my head? “Oh, that’s for the real needlewomen out there.” There is no explaining our thought processes sometimes, but you know, I think that would be you. Yes, you are a bonafide real needlewoman and needlework teachers. One of the best there is. πŸ˜‰

  50. Such deep questions, Mary. Why feel guilty because we spend money on ourselves to pursue a creative life? Like anything else in life, creativity is a journey, and along the way, we discover who we are, what we are passonate about, enhance other people’s lives as they enhance ours, bring beauty into the world, evolve a different perspective on our experiences and how we look at life, and have a rich and fun life.

    My vacations have included attending national seminars in whatever medium I am interested in. I learn a new technique, fuel and feed my soul, meet new people, see new things and places. Oh, and have some fun. I do it when I can, but not as often as I would like. But am grateful and will always remember the ones I have been to.

    I don’t drink, do drugs, gamble, throw my money out the door, lose my house over it, and I prioritize my needs versus wants. And most important, it keeps me sane.

    So save for your seminar, whichever one you decide to go to, and put your intentions out there. You never know what will come back as a result.

  51. I make things for gifts and the home, so it is well spent.
    Then the items I make for fun and creativity, are good for the soul, much cheaper than a psychiatrist, lol. I buy on sale, with coupons and I stash up, so I always have supplies to work with.


  52. I don’t have a needlework budget as such; it’s just that I manage from time to time to spare some money to spend on new threads, fabric, beads, or yarn. Besides the simple joy of playing with these things, I consider the time and money I spend on them to be a worthy investment in my mental health.

    My big indulgence year was to spend one day (and take two classes) at Stitches West Market in February. I came home with some beautiful yarns that I haven’t used yet, but they sit by my window in clear plastic tote bags so that their colors can inspire and cheer me.

  53. Sheila, I know just what you mean! I spent years terrified of going to an EGA meeting, thinking it was for “real” embroiderers. Then I found that they all unpicked, had the thread pull out of the needles, were real people … and began to realize they were just like me. I still have to fight that “it can’t be for me – I’m not worthy” thing. But squash it on the head, and just apply. The worst they can do is say no, and if you actually get a scholarship, not only is the money itself helpful, but sometimes a spouse who doesn’t fully appreciate the stitching will value it more, seeing that someone else does.

  54. Hi Mary,
    This question definitely crosses our mind before we make any expenditure which is beyond our basic needs. I personally think this is NEVER a waste of money.

    Here are my views: Embroidery or any hobby for that matter is essential because it is what saves me from a dull life, and as you say provides relaxation for our mind. Its a thing which one enjoys doing most (I don’t think anyone will call something a hobby which they don’t like to do). An indulgence now and then for a thing I love to do gives me enormous joy. After all I’m earning for living my life and do things that please me. Pls don’t think that I’m a self-centered lady πŸ™‚

    If I’m going to spend money to buy a kit, what I have in mind is the outcome, how beautiful it’d be if I hang the finished piece in my drawing room. If I’m going to gift that to a loved one, how happy they’d feel. That justifies that expenditure.

    Thanks for asking this question. Hope you’ll be able to attend one of those events that would make you happy.

  55. In the UK those who join an organisation eg The Embroiderers Guild, or Women’s Institute often have access to classes at a much reduced rate than those available commercially. I appreciate you have to factor in the cost of membership but as the groups also have access to speakers, social opportunities and some negociated shopping discounts its a win situation. Long exploited by older people with fixed incomes these groups need an injection of younger people whose extra energy and enthusiasm will keep these organisation alive and focused for the good of all.

  56. Hi Mary,
    I know that for me the money I spend on needle work or quilting supplies is a small but very important part of my household budget. I have a bit of high stress job – a high school special education teacher. I also work at school in the summer times helping with state paperwork (always a fun thing.)
    Needle work helps me to relax my brain, body and soul by producing something pretty. I give the things I make to family and friends and even keep some of them for myself. I think of it as the “video game” of my particular life – a break from the rigors of everyday. It is restful and keeps my attention in ways that nothing else does. So yes, definitely yes, the part of the budget that goes to needle work is worth it.

  57. “My Stash”, really has two meanings. You know the one, where you just had to have that canvas or fabric or fiber?

    My other stash, is my cash stash, where I keep dollars (that started as cents) to support my habit(s). Every day I save my change (and sometimes a few dollars, if the wallet is heavy with ones) and then when the jar is full (nothing bigger than a quart jar please) I cash it in. Get big bills, because they are more difficult to spend, and each time get bigger bills. I keep 2 one hundred dollar bills folded and hidden in my wallet and the rest in an envelope in the safe at home. You may even want to start a seperate “seminar” envelope.

    I’m attending the Needle Arts Mystery Retreat in July and all my expenses have been covered by my “cash stash”.

    My favorite sound, coins in a jar at the end of the day. Very sweet music indeed.

  58. My husband is always against the idea of me spending money on supplies for needlework so I always finish the project I start. And when I want to start a new one I remind him of all the beautiful things that are around the house properly framed and how our friends admire them. I also try to have all my supplies properly stored so he won’t complain.
    I try not to go window shopping before ending the projects I already have because it makes me want more than I am capable of finishing.
    You go girl!!! Save and make your dream come true!!!!!

  59. I have to watch what I spend. I think it is worth while to spend my extra income on needlework. It relaxes me gives me a way to express myself. It gives me confidense that I can do something well. It lets me learn new things and that keeps my brain working. With needlework I am keeping something important alive for atleast another generation. I don’t have to spend money on psychratrist, or medicine to relax me. I spend that money on my needlework.

  60. Hi Mary,
    As an ardent addict to your daily email and look forward to it immensely. I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend Koal Conventions here in Australia for the 5 years and am looking forward to attending again in 2 weeks time. I would like to recommend this stitching event to everyone. Wendy and Andy leave no stone unturned to organise a fabulous event, they are very “user friendly” people and go out of their way to make Koala Convention a very happy stimulating and enjoyable time. The event is packed with stitching and social events and just gets better and better each year. The tutors produce a great range of work to choose from for classes. If you’ve got the chance go and indulge yourself for a few days take the opportunity you won’t regret it.
    happy Stitching. Helen

  61. Hi Mary,
    I love your wonderful reflections. I have thought about that same topic-Am I to consumed by my hobby? Shouldn’t I save more money for my children’s education? I have so much thread, do I need more? Yes!!
    I do give to others, I do save for my children, I always put household expenses before my hobby. But… the thought of a new project? It requires some supplies I don’t have, so…if I think I will enjoy it and it will benefit those who recognizes it’s beauty and I learn something from it, I go for it!
    It my life and there’s no time like the present.

  62. Mary:
    I Love getting your e-mail everyday and have learned so much!!!
    I know I have too many art hobbies I spend too much money on. I make my own money teaching dance to spend on them. I don’t expect my husband to finance my habits which is why I don’t feel too guilty about it.
    My big spending is on china painting. I have saved money to go to the world china painting convention in Denver next month.

    This is my thoughts about any of the arts.
    First of all think about how many years ago they all came about. The fact that they exsist should say allot! These days we can buy our food in the store, we have a car for transportation etc… Life was so hard,Yet all these artists way back still acomplished wonderful things. They still found a way to invent and do what they loved. I am sure they were told to think about real life and work rather than fiddle around with their hobbie but they still did it and paved the way for the rest of us.
    I think if your not taking food out of someones mouth then do what you love.
    Not to mention the joy you give other people with your art.

    Robin Marks

  63. I was recently asked what websites would be a good place to start learning embroidery. Needle ‘n’ Thread was one of the first that came to mind. I learned basic embroidery and counted cross stitch years ago, but between your blog and all its extras and Sharon Boggs’ PinTangle and her stitch dictionary, I have learned a LOT!

  64. The value of Craft Retreats is wonderful, you meet new friends and old. I have attended the Koala Conventions here in Brisbane for 10 years when it started just as a two day weekend session. Each year we have a payment plan and meet the costs by May each year for our attendence in July. Ten days of two or four day classes, just pick what you want to do even if you can only afford a two day class. It is very nourshing to the spirit to do nothing and play for two days and be fed and catered to.

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