Kicking Off 2018 with a Super Fun Workshop @ Cool Stitches Pop Up Sewing Lounge

Happy New Year Everyone!! I can’t believe it’s New Year’s Eve already. I’m spending the weekend shooting preview videos for my upcoming workshops. I’m so excited to have so many fun things scheduled for 2018 – Starting with Comfy Clothes in a Weekend. Debbi Gray of Cool Stitches and I planned a really fun event. It will be held at the Cool Stitches Pop Up Sewing Lounge at the Fleming Island Ballroom, right next to the Holiday Inn Express on Fleming Island, Florida on February 18-19, 2018. (Yes…I’m going to get to escape the Connecticut Cold!).

We are going to be working with my Easy Fit and Sew Tee Twin Set and Yoga Pants patterns to make your new favorite outfit. I taught the Tee and Yoga Pants Workshop at the National ASG Conference in Orlando this past July. If you missed it, I hope you’ll join us. This workshop is designed for beginners and beyond. If you’ve never worked with knit fabric before, no worries… the first thing we’re going to do is rev up our sewing machines and practice using sample fabrics included in your Workshop Kit.

Participants try on sample knit garments to quickly figure out what size is best. This takes all the guesswork out of the fitting process. We’ll take note of any necessary fit adjustment you need. Then I’ll demonstrate how to adjust the pattern pieces for a perfect fit. Learn how to figure out how much stretch your fabric really has and how it will affect the fit of your garments. After cutting out the pieces it’s time to sew. Discover notions that make finishing your necklines and hems a snap.

Because this workshop is being help at the Holiday Inn Express… where we are also staying, we can Sew After Dinner on Sunday!!! (So exciting!)

For all the juicy details check out the preview video below.


My Mom… and Alice’s Embrace

Hi Everyone, I want to wish you a very happy holiday and New Year. I hope that you get to spend time with your family and friends. As I think about Christmas this year, I’m reminded of all the things that are really important and how blessed I am. My family (parents, brother Scott and sister Joanna) are very close. Last year my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. We talk on the phone most days… if I miss calling a couple days in a row, my Mom addresses me as “her long lost daughter”. I had started to notice subtle changes in our conversations over the past few years. After my Dad took her to the doctor he called to share the news with me. I wasn’t surprised because I felt like there was something wrong… but putting a label on it made it devastating.

The good news is that my parents are amazing, and my Dad has this special way with my Mom. When I call to check on how things are going, my Dad will tell me that they spent the afternoon laughing. Before all of this my Mom was so busy, volunteering at the Senior Center and at church. She loved gardening, cooking and she was a “wanna be” sewer (The evidence for this was in her closet where she lovingly stored her pre-washed fabric stash.) Last year for Christmas my Dad got my Mom these really cool raised garden beds so she could garden without having to kneel down. Now, it’s hard for my Mom to do things with her hands, my Dad stepped up and filled most of these beds with vegetables and flowers.

Dad has made room for my Mom’s every day activities–they have become new adventures for him. For example, Mom decided she wanted to bake some Christmas cookies ahead of our scheduled Baking Day…. Dad sent out a group text to me and my brother and sister asking us to pray for him because “your mother wants to bake”… After she gave a list of instructions she drifted out of the kitchen and went to take a nap. The next text message urgently asked us to pray harder because the recipe said that it would make 3 dozen cookies and they barely got 2. I called to assure them that I almost never get the total number of cookies that the recipe promises.

Meanwhile me and my brother and sister keep in touch with each other and keep each other updated on what’s going on. I’ve made Thursday the day that I go down and spend time with my Mom…while we’re having fun, my Dad gets a moment to himself. Luckily my brother lives in town and can drop in to check up on them. It’s weird how I notice or hear the words “Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s” everywhere now. TV commercials, billboards and on the radio… I’m pretty sure that this is not new, it’s just that I notice it because I’m so sensitive to it now. I’m sharing this with you today because I was looking for a way to support and maybe bring some awareness to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

My sister and I were on the phone the other night and we were texting picture of our knitting projects back and forth. (I love it that we have this in common… We tried to get her into sewing but that didn’t stick.) I’ve been working on hats and she is working with chunky yarn and big needles to make blankets. My sister was so happy that she finished a lap blanket to give to our Mom for Christmas and we were talking about new projects. She told me that she downloaded a pattern for a lap blanket and she was making it to give to an organization that helped people suffering fro Alzheimer’s disease. My ears perked up… I asked her where she found the pattern. She told me it was a non-profit organization called Alice’s Embrace and they are looking for volunteers to knit and crochet the patterns that they have created. I went on their website Alice’s Embrace. and I could see immediately why it spoke to my sister because I felt the tug too.

I perused the pattern selection while Joanna told me the story behind Alice’s Embrace. Diane Lewis started Alice’s Embrace to celebrate her mother, Alice. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in November of 2005. Diane and her two siblings kind of became her mom as the disease progressed. They made sure she was healthy and happy. Making her smile was always a highlight of our visits. The thing that really got me was that Diane described being with her Mom as being in the most comfortable place imaginable… It was HOME. I felt an instant kinship with a woman I have never met. Joanna told me that she was touched by the fact people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are comforted when they intertwined their fingers in the stitches of their blanket. Knitted and crocheted blankets not only provide comfort, but also keeping hands busy.

Joanna had already picked out a pattern to make a lap quilt. She was drawn to it because it’s titled “Faith“.

There were so many pretty designs to choose from, I had a hard time picking out one out. I decided that I’m going to work on “Cross Stitch”. It reminds me of one of my past passions. Before I started J Stern Designs I spent a lot of time working on Lavender and Lace Counted Cross Stitch Patterns. This is the first one I did… Of course I gave it to my Mom. It hangs on the wall in their dining room.

Both Joanna and I are newbie knitters. The cool thing is that there are knitting/crochet patterns for everybody. Plus, they help you pick out your yarn… what’s good and what to stay away from. I’m going to download my “Cross Stitch” pattern and go get my yarn. Our Mom has spent her life doing for others… If she could work the knitting needles, I know she would join us.

Alice’s Embrace is a non-profit organization devoted to providing hand-knit and hand-crocheted prayer shawls and lap blankets to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. We seek volunteers to knit and crochet the patterns that we have created. Through the loving hands of many generous and talented people, this endeavor will help warm, comfort, and soothe these dear folks facing the daily challenges of the disease. Together, we’re making a difference.

If you feel like this is something that speaks to you, please join us. Visit Alice’s Embrace for all the details. You can pick out a pattern to work with and get suggestions for picking out your yarn. They have a list of specific colors that they currently need. I’m going to pick out one of them.


Alice’s Embrace is a non-profit organization devoted to providing hand-knit prayer shawls and lap blankets to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease