The world, your life, the Internet, and your mind (just to name a few) are constantly expanding. This is a good thing. Earth spins forward and we breathe, experience, grow, move, open, see. But is your stitching world expanding too, or are you stuck in a rut? Maybe you should consider a needlework class. It will expand your stitching world in infinite ways.\r\nIf the thought of going back to school\u2014with a teacher, homework, feeling like there's so much you don't know, in a class with strangers\u2014stresses you, I hope that is about to change. Look at the San Francisco School Of Needlework And Design (SFSNAD) for instance. Their teachers are creative, enthusiastic, and share your passion for stitching. The homework involves playing with threads. The minute you pick up a needle in class, you realize your knowledge is strong enough to build upon. And the other people in class share your same heart and mind. That kind of school sounds fun.\r\n\r\n\r\nStitcher Anne Katrosh created this wonderful piece for the latest San Francisco School of Needlework And Design challenge ("Jewels of the Sea"). Love that she used an antique sardine can as the base for her sea-themed embroidery.\r\nI learned about the non-profit SFSND when they opened last year, but learned how awesome they are when I met the founders, staff and some teachers this past weekend. They are the kind of friendly, warm people (needle workers, all ages) who make you feel like you've been friends for years. They are simply "I love needlework too! Let's learn more about it!" kind of people.\r\n\r\n\r\nTwo of the many wonderful people at the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design: Instructor Annalee Levin on the left, and founder\/instructor Lucy Barter on the right.\r\nFounders Lucy Barter and Ellice Sperber are Royal School of Needlework graduates, so they have amazing knowledge and strong skills.They started SFSND to share their passion for embroidery and fill a gap in American needlework schooling. Classes cover all skill levels, all ages, all mediums, from historical techniques to modern applications. Annalee Levin, for instance, teaches a class on embroidery on found objects (think: tennis rackets and other\u00a0non-traditional items). You can also learn fashion embellishment, how to do padding and couching stitches, how to embroider a flower, how to stitch with real metals, and more.\r\n\r\n\r\nLearning how to stitch this butterfly may induce metal mania (a love of using metal or metallic threads). It is from\u00a0the San Francisco School of Needlework And Design. Real metals have been used throughout history, so this would be a great class to learn from the past and apply to future projects.\r\nTheir mission is one we can all get behind: "To promote and share the knowledge and history of hand embroidery and needlework to ensure its future as a valued art form." Even the Elizabethans were experimenting in their time, Lucy explains. Introducing techniques and exploring new ones is what we all need to be doing to expand our needlework creativity. "We really do like to think outside the box," she adds. That sounds pretty awesome and fun to me, how about you?\r\n\r\n\r\nThis beautiful piece by Jessica Fanego is from the San Francisco School of Needlework & Design's latest "Stitch At Home" Challenge. The challenge was to create a piece based on "Jewels of the Sea" Jessica aptly named her creation "Neptune's Gift."\r\nThe more you know, the more you grow, and the more fun you can have in this wonderful hobby. So for those stitchers living in, near, driving by, or planning a trip to San Francisco, go to their space at 360 Post Street. It's located in Union Square, the fashionable part of San Francisco and near hotels, transportation, and restaurants. In addition to one-, two-, and three-day classes plus second-Saturday drop-in workshops, they also host retreats. Can you imagine the fun time you'd have on a needlework vacation?\r\n\r\n\r\nClasses at the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design include historical techniques, stumpwork, padding and couching, plus more modern applications (like stitching on found objects). There's something for everyone on the class agenda.\r\nMost of us, however, don't get to downtown San Francisco very often. There's still a way for us to get involved with this warm, exciting, forward-thinking school: Stitch At Home Challenges. Now before you say "That sounds stressful," go to their website and read all about them. You aren't judged, no one critiques you, you are accepted, embraced, and celebrated just for participating. It really sounds fun, and people all over the world participate. Their last challenged had 144 entries; I am including photos of a few\u00a0entries here. Lucy explains it this way: "We are bringing in different cultures, different skill levels, different ages, and just getting people stitching, getting creative. You don't have to be a great technician, just have fun with it." I hope to work with them on a Kreinik thread challenge in the future.\r\n\r\n\r\nOne of the most popular themes in needlework today is recreating bugs in stitches and threads. Look at the fabulous wings on this dragonfly! Project from the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design.\r\nI wish we all had a SFSND in our town. Just imagine how the needle arts would grow, and how much our own stitching worlds would expand. I encourage you to visit the school if in town or make something for their "stitch at home" challenges. Or, find a local needlework store that has classes. You won't regret it. Make it your goal this year to break out of a stitching rut.\r\nFor more information visit http:\/\/www.sfneedleworkanddesign.org\r\n\r\n\r\nThis is Lucy Barter's doodle cloth she worked on during the recent TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) trade show in San Jose California. Can you spot the Kreinik metallic thread?