Itching to stitch

Did you know that July 30 is World Embroidery Day? I stumbled across it on Instagram, and with a little digging, learned a bit more. The first World Embroidery Day was in Sweden in 2011, started by the Swedish Embroidery Guild. In my research process, I discovered the manifesto for World Embroidery Day. While only a single page, I think it really sums up why I’ve been drawn to embroidery. There’s a sense of calm when I work on a project, a way time passes so quickly, and also a camaraderie, since I started it alongside friends and my grandma.

This seems like the perfect day for a post about getting started with embroidery. Showcasing my projects on Instagram and Twitter has garnered some attention and I wanted to more widely share how I got started, people I look up to, and resources if you want to give it a try!

My first embroidery project, a little more than halfway finished, June 2019.

My first embroidery project, a little more than halfway finished, June 2019.

Getting a kit is a great place to start, if you’re interested in trying out embroidery. What’s great about a kit is that it will give you the necessary supplies (fabric/pattern, floss, a hoop, and a needle) along with an instruction book that will introduce to you the basic stitches. Etsy and Instagram are great places to discover kits. I’m partial to Cozy Blue, since she provided my first pattern. What I loved about the Be Still pattern is that when I opened the kit, it felt achievable and I felt welcomed to the craft.

As I got started, I relied on YouTube videos to learn some of the more complicated stitches. I’m a visual person, so it helped to have a video to watch how the needle moved. Not everyone might need the videos, so there are plenty of great blogs out there with images on stitches.

Now you might be thinking, how on earth do you not lose your needle? That’s where the infamous needleminder comes in. A needleminder is simply a magnet that you can put on your fabric and it keeps your needle close. Etsy has so many shops that sell needleminders; I found a cute little bike from Flamingo Toes that I adore. While this probably isn’t a necessity to getting started with embroidery, it is a handy tool to have.

My first four embroidery projects, July 2019.

My first four embroidery projects, July 2019.

Once you get started and have your first project under your belt, many possibilities exist for next steps. Many shops sell either PDFs or printed patterns that you can purchase; DMC has a robust selection of free patterns, just waiting to be stitched on something. Floss can be purchased at a craft store like Michaels or through DMC directly. Instagram has kept me and my gals very inspired; we have high hopes for future tote bags and denim skirts filled with satin stitches and other floral arrangements. For me, I loved Cozy Blue so much, I signed up for her monthly stitch club. At the start of each month, I get a new pattern and a set of floss. So far, it has been nice to have a pattern coming each month, and gives me a goal to work towards. There’s also a nice little community on Instagram, so it’s fun to see how other people interpret the pattern and what stitches they choose!

Finally, every good project needs a way to be displayed. I’ve relied on books like Hoop Dreams to help guide some of that post-project work. I also recently purchased some beautiful frames from Stitch Life Studio, which have been a lovely addition to my apartment wall.

My new wall, filled with my embroidery projects.

My new wall, filled with my embroidery projects.

Even though I started this hobby a few months ago, I feel like I’m stitching for the long haul. If you stitch or get started with embroidery, let me know. I really love to see what others create in this community.

Hitting the road: Student engagement roadshows

Penn State operates under the motto, “One campus, geographically dispersed.” Before I moved to Pennsylvania, my knowledge of state systems came from growing up in Wisconsin, under their UW system. UW Madison is the mothership, and while students might move between the various campuses, each campus operates on its own. Each campus has a library, with its own dean, librarians, staff, etc. Once I started at Penn State, I adjusted to the idea that we have one Libraries Dean, and many of my colleagues aren’t in the same location as me. Thank goodness for technology like Zoom, so while we would prefer face-to-face, we still can have a way to communicate and share ideas.

Part of my job description as the Student Engagement & Outreach Librarian is to help create a framework, vision, and approach to student engagement within the Libraries. This means I have the opportunity to work with my colleagues throughout the library, on many different campuses. It feels like a daunting task at times but it is also one of my favorite parts of my job.

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