Chapter One


The Darkness Before the Dawn or
How Needle & Thread Got Me Out of Bed or
Life-Saving Stitches
(In other words: How I found sewing and sewing found me!)

Most everyone I’ve talked to about sewing has a story about how she and the hobby come to be. So by way of introduction to Thread and Pen, and to me, here’s mine!

It was winter. It was cold. Snow fell and refused to melt. The sun came out and promptly went away. I got sick—like, can’t-eat-sleep-breathe-talk-read-write-or-even-watch-Gilmore Girls sick—for the first time in years. After weeks of rest, antibiotics, and hubby’s TLC, I still hadn’t fully kicked whatever was ailing me. And I was starting to feel something even worse.


I was over winter. Done being sick. Tired of being cooped up indoors. I wanted spring! Warmth! Sundresses! Flip-flops! Flowers! I wanted to pack a picnic basket, spread a pretty quilt in the middle of a lush green field, and marvel at the cloudless sky. But I couldn’t. Grass may have lay beneath the frozen tundra, but if it did, it was deep. And I was too weak (and cranky) to dig. The best I could do was put on my favorite floral sundress, pretend the three down comforters covering me were rays of sunshine, and wait.

Okay, snowy doldrums didn’t push me quite that far. But I did miss my sundresses and flowers, and knew that if only I could have a picnic on a pretty quilt, I’d be instantly, happily cured. Since that wasn’t possible, I did the only thing that, in the thick of those cold, dark, Nyquil-hazy days, provided any consolation.

I sewed.

Even now, nearly four years later, it feels odd to write that. I had a hunch I’d enjoy the hobby, because I loved fabric—floral fabric in particular. I’d noticed a regular purchasing pattern of skirts, dresses, pillows, and table linens, all made from pretty floral fabrics, and playing with such material myself was my main motivation for buying a sewing machine. BUT, before the Winter of My Discontent, I’d never picked up a needle and thread. Like, ever. In college, if a button came loose or seam undone, repairs weren’t made until the next break, when I went home and Mom performed her mending magic. Of course, I knew I was officially too old to ask my mother for such things after college, so when a button came loose or seam undone then, I did what any self-respecting young professional would do. I retired the garment indefinitely. Also, as a children’s author, I exercise imagination muscles every day. After a seven-hour writing stretch, I wouldn’t have thought I’d have enough creative juice left to fuel a three-hour stitch session.

I was wrong. I realized that quickly after buying my very first sewing machine. The life-changing purchase was a Brother SE400, and it worked like a dream. At least it did after I learned what a bobbin was, figured out how to thread the needle, and picked up many, many tips from Professors Google and YouTube. My very first project, a potholder, was crooked and messy and nothing like the store-bought potholders in my kitchen drawer. But it didn’t matter. Making it was fun. Rather than depleting my creative juices, sewing replenished them. And in a matter of stitches, snow melted, flowers bloomed, and I stopped sneezing. At least that’s how it felt!

Today, I love everything about the sewing process. Finding or devising a project. Picking out fabric. Cutting up fabric and putting it back together. And experimenting with color and texture. Since that first potholder I’ve made table linens, bags, quilts, baby blocks, skirts, dresses, scarves, and pillows, and given many handmade items to friends and family members. Which, it turns out, is my very favorite part. As much as I love using my creations myself, I enjoy sharing them with others so much more. Mom’s now setting her table with place mats I made rather than fixing my loose buttons, and that just warms my heart (and probably gives her great relief)! I also LOVE connecting with crafters, seeing what others are working on and excited by, and finding continued inspiration in such a positive, welcoming community.

Of course, I’m still learning, and I hope to keep learning every day. But I’m so grateful for the teachers I’ve found—most of whom are online and have no idea they once helped pull a cranky thirty-something from the depths of her winter despair! And now that I’m happily basking in sewing sunshine year-round, I want to return the favor. That’s why I’ve started Thread and Pen. Through tutorials, product features, interviews, and other sewing-related posts, I hope to offer inspiration and connect with fellow fabric fanatics. And since my worlds often overlap, I may occasionally chat a bit about books and writing. In time, I hope this site becomes a comfy creative nook in which all feel welcome!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to getting to know you!


4 thoughts on “Chapter One

  1. Oh my goodness, it’s so nice to read your words – it’s as if I can envision you saying them even though it’s been so many (too many) years! This is a lovely site and I wish you all the best. I hope all is well in your world 🙂


    1. Tracy, it’s wonderful to hear from you! Thank you so much for being in touch, and for your kind words. I agree it’s been far too long! I hope you and the fam are well–and that we can catch up some day, some way! Thank you again! 🙂


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