The Idea

Needle & Tome was conceived from a desire to synthesize the love of reading and the love of making. For me, it's not about choosing one thing, narrowing focus, or becoming smaller. It is about embracing all of one's loves and identities, and combining them. It's permission to be expansively individual. When we each bring our unique alchemy to the table, we can create amazing things!

The Story

My earliest memories of fiber arts are of sitting with my dear babysitter Mary, an accomplished crocheter, watching her make blankets and garments as I chained single stiches, one after another. She would always act so excited about my simple chains, bless her! I cherish those memories. Later, I tried my hand at knitting in high school, but didn't get serious about it until I found myself in graduate school at University of Iowa, with a lot of free time and a long-distance boyfriend, Seth. He was attending UW-Madison. I got the grand idea to knit him a scarf and, many youtube tutorials later, the scarf was done, and I had fallen in love with knitting. Oh, and with Seth, too :)

Seth and I got married a few years later and I moved to Madison, WI where I became a frequent visitor at several local yarn stores. I was working as a music therapist in hospice, a job that was important work but emotionally draining. My knitting was a refuge from the difficult realities of hospice work. Seth graduated from UW that spring, and we made the first of what would be SEVERAL moves in our early marriage. Homes, careers, and life circumstances all changed, but my love for fiber arts did not.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I transitioned to teaching English Literature. I also had 2 kiddos, twenty months apart. My youngest was 3.5 weeks old when I started my first year of teaching, in August of 2020. Navigating online and in-person education as a first-year teacher (with a newborn and a toddler under two) was one of the most challenging times of my life. I leaned on many people who got me through that time, and knitting, spinning, and ordering yarn online from amazing hand dyers also brought me tons of joy that made it easier on the hard days. Being able to look forward to opening a package of incredible yarn when I got home from a stressful teaching day was awesome. The connections between story and color in hand-dyed yarn became a new passion for me, and I took my first dyeing class in winter of 2021.

As we all know, in the aftermath of the pandemic our world changed in unpredictable and sometimes frightening ways. Inequality, racism, and violence that had been festering under the surface were exposed in our country. Education is in crisis. After teaching in a conservative Catholic school for 3 years, I found myself stressed and, at times disturbed. Ask me to tell you about being accused of indoctrinating kids with CRT...fun times...

It was not uncommon for me to go home from school feeling helpless, missing my kids, and more exhausted than I had ever been. Teachers who are still teaching- I love and respect you for continuing the good fight.

Here's the thing- I've worked in two careers doing meaningful work that helped a lot of people. And I feel good about that; I really do. But, I've decided it is time to help myself. I'm choosing joy for me and my family. I want my daughters to grow up with a mom who is present and well. Taking my work and interests public on the internet feels like a risk, honestly- a bit of an unnatural step for this INFJ book nerd. But, I'm kicking fear out of the driver's seat. Let's do fiber art and talk books. Let's educate ourselves and make beautiful, inclusive spaces where there is room for everyone at the table. Thanks for being along for the journey!

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