"No American woman, let her speak all the tongues, and play on all the instruments invented,
can be said to be educated, if she is not a good needle-woman."
-Catharine Maria Sedgwick

Monday, February 21, 2011

Heart in Hand History

Happy Presidents Day! I thought since we are celebrating a part of our country's history -- our Presidents -- I would take this opportunity to blog a bit about Heart in Hand Needleart's history.

I learned to cross stitch at an early age. My grandmother, Ferrill Shay, who was known to her grandchildren as Ben-Ben, taught me to cross stitch in elementary school. Ben-Ben lived in southern Illinois and I was raised in southern Ohio so we didn't see each other but once or twice a year. But when we did, she always had a project going. This was in the 1960s and 1970s so cross stitching was stamped on pillowcases and quilts. That was Ben-Ben's specialty.

Once I was in high school I was more involved in theater and music so there wasn't much time for cross stitching. But when I finished college and started my first "real" job, I had free time and so I began cross stitching again.

In 1985, I was working in television news in Cincinnati. Randy and I had been married for 3 years. I gave birth to a beautiful red-headed baby boy on Labor Day. Matthew died within 15 minutes of his birth. The death of our firstborn devastated our lives. I turned to my needlework for comfort. I stitched dozens of Christmas ornaments that fall to give away to friends and family. I don't know what I would have done without my needlework. It truly was my therapy. Many of you understand this because you have written me over the years and told me your story. You have shared with me how stitching has brought you through illness and sorrow. I truly am honored and humbled each time a stitcher shares his or her story with me. What a touch point this commonality gives us.

I started creating some of my own designs eventually and entered a "design a heart" contest sponsored by a needlework magazine. Winning the contest gave me the confidence to design even more and eventually, after being encouraged by others in the industry, I published my first designs in 1994. And here we are 17 years later and I am still stitching and designing.

Needlework buoyed me from grief when I needed it. Losing Matthew helped me realize what was important in my life. My daughters Elise and Allison are everything to me. With my heart in hand, I have raised them alongside Randy. Running my own business allowed me to work from home to be near the girls as they were growing up. Heart in Hand Needleart has allowed me to live my life and my work with my heart in hand.