Purls of Wisdom

Laura Kelly

Recent Posts

3 Ways to Make Sure Your Children Get the Most Out of Their Summer

Posted by Laura Kelly on Sat, Jan 30, 2016 @ 04:30 PM

Make Summer Count!

Summer is coming! Kids are cheering and parents are cringing. It’s not that you’re not happy and excited that your children are getting a break from the daily grind of the 9-3 school day. You’d take a summer vacation yourself if you could. But, the summer months bring some challenges with finding the best way to spend it. With the average American (children included) currently spending 17 hours a week on the Internet for personal use, it’s clear that, without some direction, your children could very well end up spending their entire summer vacation connected online.


While it may be impossible to find something unique and enriching every single day of summer vacation, taking some time to plan out some fun activities will go long a way! Below are some of our favorite ways to make the most of out your children’s summer vacation:

Send Them On a Real Vacation

If you’re planning a summer vacation out of town with your family - awesome! But, if you’re unable to make that happen this year, consider sending them on a vacation by themselves. Scary, we know, but do they have a favorite aunt who lives in driving distance who can welcome them to come spend some time for a few weeks? Grandparents are almost always willing to make a drive to come see their grandchildren and may even able to plan a special road trip covering some cool landmarks.

Find a Fun Summer Camp

Summer camps of all types and sizes are great places for children to spend their summer vacation. With so many options like day camps, overnight camps, and specialty camps, you’ll be able to find the right camp for your family.

If an overnight camp isn’t right for your family, you can consider unique day camp classes for things like theatre, robotics, STEM, handwork, and arts.

Explore the History of Your Town

The last thing your children wants is to have a “school assignment” over the summer, but get them excited about learning the history of their own town! Start by researching how it was founded, any famous former residents and interesting things that have happened. Help your children find ways to uncover even more information about these events and lead the search all the way back to your house. Who built it? Who has lived in it? End the project with having them make a projection of what they think that town will be like in 20 or 50 years.

This is a great opportunity for trips to the library, the records clerk, historical society, and taking trips to historical landmarks. All great ways to stay out of the house!

Summer is busy, just like every other day of the year, but it’s so important to have a plan to keep your children happy and active during their summer vacation. If a summer day camp sounds like it could be the perfect option for your family, check out the handwork classes that we offer!

Want to be sure you have selected the best summer camp? This free checklist gives you the 10 questions you must ask, plus bonus tips and insights. Download Now.

Tags: Summer Camp, Summer

Sewing Camp: 3 Benefits of Attending a Sewing Camp

Posted by Laura Kelly on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 @ 03:30 PM

As a parent today, you have a plethora of summer camps, classes, and programs to help build an enriching and fulfilling summer for your children. With so many different options to choose from and some that you didn’t even know existed (hello, handwork camp!), it’s important that you have a complete understanding of what the individual camps offer.


Our favorite type of camp is of course handwork! Sewing camp is a unique opportunity for your children to not only learn a historically important life-skill, but also explore areas of their creativity that other outlets can’t offer. Here are three more benefits of choosing a sewing camp for your kids this summer:

A Step Back From Technology

If technology is the way of the future and the future is now, it makes sense that our children are more tech-savvy than could ever hope to be. They’re growing up in a world without VHS, landlines, and phone books. It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.

But, with all types of progress, it’s important that we still hold dear the foundations of our past. Children (and adults) are building beautiful things with the use of computers, but they can also build equally beautiful things with their hands. Sewing camp isn’t about stitching a straight line; it’s teaching children that with planning, dedication, practice, and a little bit of luck that their straight line will become part of something bigger. A dress, doll, hat, scarf, bag. Reminding children that they are powerful is something that sewing camp does oh, so very well.

A Unique Creative Platform

Creativity is unique experience for everyone. No one on earth will experience the thrill of creation the exact same way. Allowing your creative child to explore multiple platforms to express their own creativity gives them the ability to hone in on what they love most about creating and in which way they love to do it.

Sewing camp goes beyond a pattern and fabric, it opens the possibilities of unique expression through giving children the freedom to create their own clothes, accessories, gifts, etc.

A Whole Lot of Fun!

Last, but never least, sewing camp is fun! What’s the point of spending an entire summer in a camp that is boring, unengaging, or worst downright miserable!?! Sewing machines, professional tools, reams and reams of fabric, buttons of every shape and sizes, beads, glitter, ribbon and hours of guided creation - what could be more fun than that?

Choosing through the many options of camp classes and schedules might seem overwhelming, but having the understanding of what each type offers is the first step. Interested in finding a sewing camp near you? The Handwork Studio offers Summer Camp in 10 states plus Winter Break, Spring Break, classes, parties, Girl Scout visits and Workshops in Narberth, PA! To find a camp near you that offers one of our classesvisit our Locations page!

Find a Camp Location

Tags: Sewing, camp, Fashion & Machine Sewing

Teaching Kids To Sew: Why It's Important and How To Do It

Posted by Laura Kelly on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 @ 05:30 PM

When you think of the life skills that you want your children to have before they leave your home, you might have a list that looks something like this: balance a checkbook, understand proper budgeting, be able to cook a decent (and hopefully healthy) meal, change a tire on the side of the road, and with any luck, prepare their own taxes. One thing that’s not common to see is handworking skills.


Generations ago, it was not only common but required that children learned the art of sewing and knitting. Clothes were made from hand; hats and mittens were crafted in living rooms not factories. While your child will rarely need to create his or her own wardrobe from a bolt of fabric and a spool of thread, there are real benefits to investing the time and resources to teaching your child the trick of the handwork art.

Besides the obvious benefit of being able to sew on a wayward button, hem a new pair of pants, or even craft a new baby gift, handwork provides your children with a creative way to:

  • develop and mature their finger dexterity and fine motor skills
  • find and build their self-confidence
  • learn copious amounts of patience (Have you ever tried to trace a pattern!?!?)
  • have a social creative outlet for meeting and gathering with friends

You’re on board: your child should learn how to sew. But, how? Do they even offer sewing classes for kids? Of course! And you have a few viable options when it comes to expanding your child’s knowledge of sewing (one of which is very close to home!).

A Local Craft Store

Your local craft store is a one-stop-shop for all things crafts, including sewing. It’s a great place to first introduce your children to the nearly limitless projects they’ll be able to create when they’ve begun to sew. Many stores offer sewing classes for kids, in addition to other crafting classes such as cake decorating, hodgepodge, embroidery, and machine sewing.

These classes are usually an hour or so long and provide enough direction for your children to find interest in the subject.

At Home

Did you learn to sew in Home Ec. class or under the watchful eye of your grandmother? If you, yourself, have a skill and interest (or past interest) in handwork, use that to help foster the same passion for your children!

Choosing to impart your own handwork skill onto your children will take a lot of patience, time and resources (think sewing machine, fabric, pins, scissors, patterns, chalk, etc.), but if you already have the tools, pull them out and get started! Together, select a small project to complete and work through each step, discussing why it’s done in that order and why it’s important to do each process carefully.

With the Experts

You’ve done it, you’ve sparked a passion for handwork in your child. You see their eyes light up at the thought of making something magical out of bits of fabric and beads. They’re ready for more than a local class or sewing along side you - now it’s time for you to consider registering them for a handwork class designed just for them!

Handwork Studios, like ours, are devoted to capturing the importance of handwork and sharing it with the next generation. We offer fun, creative, and unique classes, workshops, and even summer day camps for children 5 through 15! Each student of The Handwork Studio owns their own creative direction, and we provide the professional tools and instruction for them to explore their own limits and abilities. Unlike classes in your local craft store that offer an hour or two of instruction to create a project, The Handwork Studio creates a curriculum that grows with your child building on skills over time.

Interested in learning more about The Handwork Studio’s classes and camps? Search for a location near you!

Find a Camp Location

Tags: Classes

Overnight vs. Day Camp: Which Is Best For Your Family?

Posted by Laura Kelly on Mon, Jan 18, 2016 @ 05:30 PM

Choosing the Right Camp For Your Family


The summer may be your child’s favorite time of year, but it could easily turn into a logistical nightmare for you. Many parents have found that summer camps are a great option for providing an enriching, challenging, and purposeful summer break. Whether you’re a veteran or a first-time camp parent, it’s always an exciting and nerve-wracking time. Choosing the right camp can be the difference between a flawless summer and the longest twelve weeks of your life. 

With many different types of camps to choose from, we’re going to help you narrow down the biggest deciding factor. Camps generally fall into two distinct types: day camps and overnight camps. The difference between them may be obvious, but the nature and benefits of each may not be.

Day Camps

As their names suggest, day camps are camps that are operated for a set amount of daily hours. Campers are either transported by bus or dropped off by their parents each morning and picked up at the close of camp. The ages of campers average between 3 and 15.

Day camps provide all the expected activities of a ‘traditional’ overnight camp, but allow parents daily interaction with their children. These types of camps are perfect for younger and first-time campers, who may not be ready to leave the comfort of their parents for an extended amount of time.

Things to Consider

  • Day camps require more time investments from parents than overnight camps. Be sure that you’re prepared for the daily pick-up/drop-off that comes with day camps, and packing lunch. Relatives, car-pooling, and any offered bus transportation are all ways to ensure that your children are able to get to camp each day.
  • If you’re considering sending your children to an overnight camp in the next few years, enroll them into a day camp to help them get used to the idea of camp life. They may not stay around the clock, but it would be much less intimidating to go leave for overnight camp if they have a foundation of what to expect.

Overnight Camps

Overnight camps are typically what come to mind when discussing summer camp. From popular culture to your own firsthand knowledge, summer camp has established itself as a memorable experience, and many parents want to provide such an experience to their children. Overnight camps generally see campers between the ages of 6 and 17. They can range from just a few weeks to up to the entire summer (8 weeks).

Campers who are ready for overnight camp have proven to mom and dad that they are mature enough to spend a night or two away from their parents without too many tears. Homesickness is always expected and comforted, but overnight camps may be too much distance for too long for some children.

Things to Consider

  • With little transportation needed during the camp session, you’ll be able to consider camp locations that exceed the distance you would if you were looking at day camps.
  • Overnight camps provide an excellent environment for children to identify, explore, build their independence. As children become teenagers, many parents have found comfort in preparing their soon-to-be graduates for college life (a.k.a. daily life without mom and/or dad).

So, Which is Best?

Choosing the right type of camp for your family doesn’t have a cut and dry answer. Take some time to review how much time you’re able to invest in the transportation of your children to and from camp and how ready your children are to spend a considerable amount of time away from you. With those two questions answered, you should have a clear next step!

The Handwork Studio is a kids' needle arts, machine sewing and fashion camp. Our purpose is to pass down the tradition of teaching practical arts such as knitting, weaving, hand and machine sewing, embroidery, quilting, fashion and crafts in a fun and relaxed environment. We’re an alternative arts camp for girls and boys.

We are proud to offer our classes in over 40+ locations and 10 States. Interested in finding a location that offers our classes? Visit our locations page to search for a camp near you!

Find a Camp Location

Tags: Summer Camp

3 Unexpected Things Your Child Can Learn At Camp!

Posted by Laura Kelly on Fri, Jan 15, 2016 @ 01:30 PM



Summer camp. If your mind is filled with visions of campfires, spooky stories, and rope climbing, you’re missing out on half the fun of today’s camps! Though the staples of friendships, building independence, and the promise of adventure are still the core of the summer camp, parents today now have the ability to find niché camp offerings that not only provide the traditional camp experience, but also unique classes and programs. Here are three of our favorite classes found at summer camps:

1. Robotics, Engineering, and Technology Courses

With today’s technology-driven world and increasing focus on STEM curricula, it’s no surprise that many of our children will find their passion in robotics, engineering, or technology. Summer camps are offering their campers the ability to dive feet first into the word of robotics and the logic and systems that the engineers of tomorrow are using to build our future.

These courses are perfect for children who are exploring how technology shapes our world and what a career in science, technology, engineering, and math would look like for them.

2. Theatre Performance Classes

Beyond school plays and the local performance theater, your thespian should be enrolling in a summer camp that offers theatre-focused classes. For a budding actress or actor, having the opportunity to refine his or her craft with a group of like-minded friends is invaluable. These summer camp classes provide support, insight, and direction for a camper who seeks to turn creative expression into a career. Or for the campers who simply have a flair for dramatic arts, it’s a positive outlet to channel that creativity.

3. Fashion Art & Handwork Classes

You had to expect that one of our favorite class offerings would be handwork! Yes, handwork. Much like the concept of summer camps, if you’re envisioning a row of silent children knitting scarfs then you’re missing out! Our classes offer campers an insight into the creative and ever-evolving world of fashion art and needle arts. Our fashion camp, for instance, is a favorite of the young fashion designer who dreams of designing and creating their own clothing line. We offer the creative camper a new medium to express themselves. Whether it’s quilting, weaving, hand or machine sewing, or knitting, we’re passionate about bringing a beautiful art form to our campers.

Searching for that perfect summer camp for your children and interested in finding a camp that offers our unique handworking classes? Visit our locations page and search for a camp near you!

Find a Camp Location

Tags: Summer Camp

Marvelous Machine Sewing First | Learn How to Machine Sew

Posted by Laura Kelly on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 07:39 AM

Handwork Memories Are Heartfelt

As a child, I'm sure I made a lot of things in school; drawings, paper mache, models. However, the one thing I truly remember is my A-line skirt.

Machine Sewing Projects Kids Learning How to Sew

Learning How-to Machine Sew

Everyone remembers the first time they do something significant. A meaningful accomplishment is always a source of pride. When creating something from scratch or with your hands, this further magnifies the sense of accomplishment. This is even more true during adolescence which naturally magnifies, well, everything.

Not only do I remember the A-line skirt that brought me so much pride, it was so important, the moment warranted a picture of me wearing it. Yes, that's right, the picture above is me wearing my beloved skirt.

Powerful Experiences

It's not so ironic that 40 years later, I'm running a business that cherishes the notion that Handwork = Love.  Where what you make represents something more than just a craft but something that is meant to be kept, cherished and even captured in picture. I was so proud of this skirt. I loved that skirt. It made me feel so competent that I just wanted to show it to everyone.

The Heart of What We Do

At The Handwork Studio, young girls and boys gain exposure to a teacher and skills that unlock curiosity and allow exploration of new skills. Who knows what pride and confidence is waiting for your child. That's the heart behind why The Handwork Studio is where kids learn by doing.

Share Your Story

I would love to hear how you or your child have had similar experiences from something that you've made. Complete this form to tell us about a moment, item, teacher or project that is a significant element of your story.
Warm regards,
Ms. Laura

Tags: Miss Laura, #TBT, Summer Camp, Sewing, Fashion Design, Learn How to Sew

What does it matter?

Posted by Laura Kelly on Mon, Apr 01, 2013 @ 11:50 AM


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(Devon, my daughter, and I in the early years!)

Why should we teach kids knitting or machine sewing or embroidery?  It's not because it will get them into a better college, or bring them untold wealth.  It's probably not because you thought "Boy I really wish my kids could crochet!".  


So what is it that brings thousands of kids to us every year?  I'm sure it represents something different for each of you.    For me, it has always represented LOVE.  When I see small kids embroidering a furry creature, I conjure up warm fuzzy thoughts...a fire, a mother crafting with her kids, small hands, big creativity. However for you, it could represent what you'd like to do for yourself if you had time.  Or maybe it reminds you of your own childhood making an A-line skirt in home ec.  Maybe your mother is knitter and you are looking for a way for your daughter to connect with your mother in a way that would make your mom proud.  Whatever the reason, there is probably no arguing that your reason comes from someplace in your heart.

As you may know by now, our beloved Miss Eva has recently left us full time  to pursue a career in public health.  As I say, no one ever really leaves The Handwork Studio-so we refuse to say goodbye (luckily she remains as our part-time bookkeeper).  However I thought this would be a good opportunity to ask Eva what needle arts means to her.  She came to us as a child at 15 and she leaves us as an accomplished woman.  I was curious how handwork played a role in her life.  Please read our interview below and comment on what handwork means to you.  Please feel free to drop her an email at Eva@thehandworkstudio.com.  She'll appreciate what it represents!

(Miss Eva with Miss Julia & Miss Alisha at the Dickins Festival December 2012)

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What does needle arts represent to you? Needle arts represents something familiar and cozy to me. I grew up, both in my home and around the Handwork Studio ladies, with fibers and textiles all around me. Especially in the context of the studio, it represents warmth, friendship, and so many laughs - and this is something I get to experience every day, both with my colleagues as well as with your children.


What have you learned about the importance of teaching kids needle arts?
Being with the studio for so long, watching kids grow and mature, I have recognized the confidence needle arts gives to children. Finishing their first row of knitting by themselves, or finally whip-stitching their stuffed animal closed that it has taken the entire session to sew - it's like finally understanding that tough math forumla in school - and feeling utterly elated when you finally get it. It's an amazing process to be a part of and has always made me feel so happy that I am able to contribute to that process.


What surprised you most about working with kids?
Working with kids has reminded me how completely capable and incredibly creative they can be. Parents often ask us, will my five-year-old really learn how to knit? Will they really be working with sharp needles and scissors? It still amazes me how kids, especially young ones, come to an understanding of how to properly work with these very grown up tools we use. They understand that this is real deal, and they seem to take on a new sense of responsibility when they realize we are trusting them with these tools.


What will you miss the most?
I will miss the people, hands down. Every individual I work with here is so special to me and I consider each one such a wonderful friend, and while I know this won't be the end of my friendships, I will miss seeing them and laughing with them every day (and believe me, we laugh every day). I will miss being able to craft with your children, sharing in their delight when they create something that is their own, and I will miss watching them grow. Being part of The Handwork Studio family has truly been a pleasure and I know I will never find a place as special as this, but I am confident it will always be a place that I can call home.

A Mother's Pride - a Valentine's Story from the Heart

Posted by Laura Kelly on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 @ 10:47 PM

Those of you that know me, know I'm not much of a crafter (irony of that we'll save for a future blog).  However what I do love are kids, and this business was built around the idea of loving, nurturing and teaching kids from the perspective of a mom.

And so this past week, my dear friend, mentor and supporter Marjie sent me the sweetest email.  She knew that this email would mean a lot to me as a business woman, but probably even more as a mom.

Marjie had a Valentine's Day lunch with her long time friend Judie. This is a picture of Judie at lunch.  

Judie Koss

You may notice Judie's beautiful scarf.  It is hard to tell from the picture but her scarf is made up of red hearts, brown hearts and even cow hide like fabric hearts.  Judie's daughter made that scarf for her in our camp and Judie wore it on Valentine's Day.  As a mom, there is great joy in receiving a gift that your child made for you.  It is always perfect,  you love it just as it is and in Judie's case, you wear it proudly. 

Though Marjie knew Judie for 20 years she didn't know Judie's daughter went to our camp, but she recognized our work immediately. Marjie knew that I'd be so honored that Judie loved and wore the scarf, not only because it was made at The Handwork Studio but because it meant so much to Judie.  Now, my kids are 19 and 17 so I don't get the handmade gifts anymore, like the finger knitted bracelets that I wore for months until they fell off my body.  I wore those bracelets until they were felted and frayed and utterly gross because they kept a part of my kids close to me at all times.  So Marjie knew that sending me that picture would make my day and bring a tear to my eye. Seeing the photo made me grateful for the work we do and showed me that maybe we do touch others along the way.  Thank you Marjie and Judie, you look beautiful.

Crafting a Heartfelt Valentine's Day

Posted by Laura Kelly on Mon, Feb 04, 2013 @ 10:56 AM


Valentine Heart Pillow


So Valentine's Day for this mom is filled with conflict.  One of the things I remember most growing up was the HUGE box of Russell Stover candy that my parents gave me every year.  I loved that heart shaped box. I looked forward to that heart shaped box, no I longed for it.  Today however we know better.  Is a pound of chocolate really the best way to express your love to your kids?


Now, don't get me wrong, my kids (are they still kids when they are 18 and 19?) will get a heart, maybe just not the largest one.  Instead I'll try to express my love with something handmade.  Now you might think that is obvious coming from The Handwork Studio lady, but truth be told......I'm not the craftiest.  My work is my craft.  But the longer I work with kids the more I see the power of a handmade gift.  


In our classes, we often see kids work for weeks on a project, pouring their heart and soul into their creations. Then after much hard work, they proudly proclaim how they are going to give it to a parent, a grandparent or a friend.  Sometimes we are even lucky to watch it happen when mom walks into to the studio and is given the gift.  Such pure, honest, beautiful love.  


So this year, if you don't already, let me encourage you to make something for or with your kids.  If you are looking for some ideas, here is an oldie but goodie from an article we did last year with MetroKids, or the craft Martha Stewart did on the Today Show this morning.  You can even check out our Facebook Page and see the great, simple heart pillows our kids made yesterday in a workshop.  Send us your pictures or comment on what you'll be doing for your kids this year.  I'd love to hear about it.  


Happy Valentine's Day from all your friends at The Handwork Studio.  

How Do You Teach Knitting & Machine Sewing to Kids?

Posted by Laura Kelly on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 @ 11:38 AM

Teaching Kids to KnitHow do you teach your child to knitt?  To machine sew?  To embroider?  It is really very simple and what we do everyday in classes, camps and workshops.  Hint: It isn't about crafting at all.  


  1. With patience - Try a new craft and you will remember how frightening it is, how much you don't want to make a mistake, how silly you feel when you don't get it right.  Kids feel all that too.  Make sure you let them know it is ok to make mistakes.  Everyone does.
  2. With love - Remember it is about passing something down, not about teaching perfection.  They will ALWAYS remember you were the one that taught them.
  3. With fun - Our philosophy is that if we make our classes fun, kids will keep coming back.  If kids keep coming back they will eventually learn with time, with age and with motor skills.  The goal is to keep them coming back!
We hope you will find time to craft with your kids.  You'll get more out of it then they will:)

Tags: kids knitting, education, Kids' craft class