Nine years ago today, I wrote my first article here on Needle ‘n Thread.
Looking back on the beginning of Needle ‘n Thread reminds me of my mom looking back on baby pictures of her grown children. Sometimes, you’ll hear her say, “She was so cute!” and sometimes, you’ll hear her say, “I thought she was so cute!”
There’s a world of difference in those statements! When I look back at the beginning of Needle ‘n Thread – in the relatively early years of blogging – I have to say, at the time, I thought it was …
… No. Actually, I never thought it was attractive at all. There wasn’t a lot to choose from back then, when it came to free blogging templates.
This is what the content color scheme looked like:
Yes, that is orange and grey. Throw in a bit of split-pea-soup green, and you’ll have the whole picture.
Needle ‘n Thread – the Beginnings
When I started Needle ‘n Thread, it was just “by accident.” I’m sure I’ve told you the story before, but for those who are new, here’s the short version.
I was a teacher at the time, and during the summer break, I hosted embroidery classes for children in our community here in rural Kansas. After a couple summers of doing this, my brother, who is an IT professional, said, “You should start a blog.”
I said, “What’s a blog?”
And that’s where Needle ‘n Thread started. The tools were pretty basic: a free Blogger template, an old point-and-shoot 2 megapixel camera, an IBM laptop that weighed about 15 pounds, and a dial-up connection.
I didn’t know what to expect with Needle ‘n Thread. My plan was just to extend my summer class instructions so that they could be accessed away from the classroom and beyond summer break, and maybe reach a wider online audience that might be interested in learning embroidery. It was really fun to watch the website grow and the audience extend!
After a year, though, I was really sick of the look of the site. And so, in 2007, the next phase: tweaking an almost-free template to try to improve the looks of Needle ‘n Thread.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you might remember this old header:
For the next several years, I balanced my teaching career with Needle ‘n Thread as a side hobby. But as the site grew, so did the amount of time it took to keep it up.
During the academic year, I’d put about 20 hours a week into the website, which became a bit burdensome. During summers and holidays, working in 20 hours wasn’t so hard, but wow. It was a bit draining when I was also teaching full time.
So, for a while, I let the website coast a bit, going pretty light on blogging.
Still, the website grew. And more and more people asked questions, left comments, got involved in the subjects we were chatting about.
Finally, in 2010, with the ever-increasing sleekness of internet technology, it became evident that the site needed a face-lift and a new structure to build on.
Actually, two things became evident: 1. The site needed some serious work; and 2. It was either one or the other – teaching or Needle ‘n Thread. They were both full time jobs.
Considering the possibility of going forward with Needle ‘n Thread full time in the future, and since I still had a regular salary and benefits and an income, I decided to go ahead with a whole site re-design. I contacted a professional design company, Imagemakers, Inc., in Wamego, KS, and they set about designing a better Needle ‘n Thread, with WordPress as the foundation.
Meanwhile, I pondered the great question: Do I leap, or don’t I?
After the site re-design, an interesting thing happened. Needle ‘n Thread tripled in traffic volume and subscriber numbers in a period of about six months.
By then, I had also realized that I was happier embroidering and writing on my website, interacting with so many people over the subject of needlework, and I felt as if Needle ‘n Thread made a real difference in the lives of many people. How could I just drop it?
In 2011, I didn’t renew my teaching contracts for the next year.
In short, I leapt.
I’m approaching the fourth year of Needle ‘n Thread full-time, and I think it was a good choice. Perhaps it’s not been the most stable situation, as far as income and security are concerned, but it’s been ok. I love what I do, and it is truly a blessing to be able to do it.
What’s next for Needle ‘n Thread and me?
Well, you know that ever-changing Internet out there? It’s ever changing! Right now, Needle ‘n Thread is in need of some serious work on the website, so later this year, you’ll see a site re-design (though it’ll still be recognizable as Needle ‘n Thread), with a much more user-friendly mobile interface.
There’s also a new book in the future – as in, commissioned by a publisher. So that’s exciting!
Other plans include a new online classroom set-up so that I can offer you a few online classes now and then.
And finally, there’s the content, the projects, the tutorials, the discussions, the fun of chatting up embroidery with you!
Needle ‘n Thread and You
Because really, Needle ‘n Thread isn’t about me. It’s about you. I wouldn’t be doing this at all, if it weren’t for you. It wouldn’t be fun, if it weren’t for you.
You make Needle ‘n Thread what it is – a dynamic community of embroidery enthusiasts who inspire, create, stitch, discuss, and learn together.
Thanks for sticking with me through nine years of embroidery bliss!
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