How do I do this?

I’ve had four different nudges to get back into teaching over the past two weeks. Three are for shows/organizations I’ve worked with before, and one is from a friend who knows my work. I responded to the three with my usual “I’m working on it, will send info soon” response as I dodged the professional responsibility to be punctual, thoughtful, and organized.

It’s the last one that got to me. My friend Judy mentioned I might get in touch with SFSNAD and see if they’d have me. She teaches there and has heard students express interest in sashiko and boro classes, which are kind of my thing. I did a talk there many years ago, but was not invited to teach at the time, probably because I was a bit of a prima donna about it. If that’s the case, I would totally understand. If it’s simply because I didn’t give them an actual lesson plan, yeah, I own up to that, too.


Because it was Judy asking, I actually took a moment to think about what’s stopped me from teaching. And it hit me.

The last class I taught, an online class for Stitches at Home, was the day before my son died. He helped me set up the camera and microphone while I prepared for the second day of a two-day class session. It was a Sunday afternoon and he was busy with other things, work meetings on his own computer and calls with friends for plans they were making for other projects. He was doing things, the way 20-somethings do. I was slowing him down, but he had promised to help and he followed through. We got the camera to work the way it was supposed to, I started the class on time, and got through the day just fine.

The next day he was gone.

There’s a clip at the start of the class recording where he’s helping me in my studio. Nothing interesting, just the two of us tweaking the camera gear and making it work. A few days after he passed I asked the Stitches staff if they still had it, and they sent it to me.

So. It’s been six months since he left us. I’m not ready to start teaching just yet, but I can write lesson plans for later.

I don’t want to feel stuck doing the same classes I’ve done since 2009, which usually involve a pattern-focused project to make a nice sashiko thing and the popular and more free-form boro class. I’ll keep doing the boro class, it’s adaptive and calming, which is good for ADHD minds like mine. I’m not so sure about what else to offer, though. I don’t enjoy teaching short classes because I don’t feel I can convey any of the actual cultural relevance of sashiko. It’s just a “do it like this” class, which is all style and no substance. Sashiko has depth. It deserves plenty of time.

I want to teach something special. And I don’t know what that is yet, but I have a feeling it’s out there.

In the meantime, here’s my kid.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Claudia Moore says:

    Hello, I am on your mailing list because I am an embroiderer and a friend many years ago said I should follow your threads.I have done that and always find your musings interesting. Thank you for sharing that video of your son…I don’t really know you or what happened to your son but when I read your email describing how one day he was there and the next he was gone my heart broke for you. I can’t imagine a pain worse than losing a child and I often wonder to myself as I age…what if I lose one of my kids before I die. It’s my worst daymare. I also don’t understand exactly what your son did (I think it’s a type of gaming commentary) but it was startlingly obvious that he was very much admired and an inspiration to many. How proud of him you must be. I wish for you in the coming days, months and years peace of heart, mind and soul.

    Sincerely, Claudia Moore

    On Sun, Apr 10, 2022 at 8:20 PM A love for both the common fiber and the extraordinary texti


    A beautiful and quite talented young man Carol. Such charisma and I never even had the pleasure to meet him. You did good mom. Really let him fly. He will always be with you…always…just not in the usual way. My heart is with you. He found his passion and his craft as will you. Sandy

    Sent From Sandy Musashi’s iPhone 4


  3. Jan Ellis says:

    Dear Kimono Momo: I have been following your blog for several years and I love your work.

    Today I just wanted to extend my compassion to you for the loss of your son. What a tragic loss you have suffered.

    From your comments on starting to teach again, it looks like you are re-surfacing, and that is so good to hear.

    I continue to wish you well.

    Hugs, Jan Ellis Currently living in Tel Aviv for the next 18 months, but Oakland/Alameda/SF is my home base.


  4. Julie Davies says:

    I have followed your blog for quite a while now and I simply wanted to send my condolences to you for the loss of your son. My heart goes out to you. May you find strength and peace remembering him always.

  5. Sending love and light from another creative who has lost her precious son. I feel and share your grief. You get to take all the time you need.

  6. Minette Marcelli says:

    Thank you Carol for reaching out to your followers to let us know how you are doing. I know you are still grieving and trying to determine your next steps without your beloved Michael. Continuing to send you positive thoughts and hugs. 💜

  7. Diane Parkman says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I was a student in the Stitches Class you mention. It was a very informative class and I remember that your son was helping you with the technology. I’m glad you were able to save the recording.

    I wish you strength, grace and eventually healing and peace as you progress on your grief journey .

  8. ruminski says:

    I am so sorry. My heart breaks for you. What an awesome human being he was.

    On Sun, Apr 10, 2022, 8:20 PM A love for both the common fiber and the extraordinary texti

  9. Leah says:

    I , too, am so sorry for your loss. The loss of a child is, and can be unbearable. Take your time to heal and remember Michael always

    1. Sheree Alexander says:

      It was through your YouTube videos I learned the basics of Sashiko and Boro stitching style and your online store offered the supplies. This changed my entire focus in working with textiles and I would call it a practice more than art. It has enriched my life. Thank you. When you are ready I know your creative mind will open new doors to learning for all of us.
      And thank you for sharing amidst your grief journey….he had a wonderful way and he looks so much like you!

  10. Judymayhak says:

    Carol, my heart is breaking after reading your post about your son. I loved the picture of him, he looked so much like you.

    I was thinking about you a couple of weeks ago. One of the pencils I bought from you is not working I was going to contact you, but figured out another way to mark. I do believe so often people are put into my thoughts and prayers because God wants me to reach out to them. I didn’t do it, but I want you to know I am praying for you.

    Life is short: enjoy every minute



  11. Hi Carol,
    I have been thinking about you since I read your last post. My sincere condolences for your loss — Michael was a lovely young man. Thank you for sharing a little of his life with us.

    I can’t imagine moving forward after such a loss, but when you are ready, I have a suggestion for a more meaningful, substantive sashiko class:
    I am taking a 12-week Ultimate Hanafukin class taught by an instructor in Kyoto.
    Each week she does a live session (recorded so we can watch later) with a new pattern, a new technique, and we build on what we have learned. There are a lot of students from all over the world!

    Maybe something more in-depth, over an extended period, with a consistent community of stitchers, would feel more authentic and rewarding for you now? Just an idea.


  12. michael says:

    will you tell us of what he wore; his clothing and attire?

    1. Michael says:

      and yes, my name really is michael.

      1. Hi Michael, sorry for the long delay. It’s a good idea. I’ll work on it.

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