In being a Minnesota native, Jaclyn Nigon was looking for a hobby to keep herself occupied during the cold evenings of winter. When she discovered embroidery journals, she immediately knew what her next hobby would be! Now, she’s embroidered icons to represent different State Parks in Minnesota, her family business, and activities with her daughters and husband.
When Jaclyn reached out, I was over the moon! She has such small intricate icons on her embroidery journal and I was desperate to learn more about what they represent. I believe you’ll end up feeling the same as you read through her interview.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello! My name is Jaclyn. I am a mom to three girls married to my husband Wes, and work as a school nurse. My family lives on 10 wooded acres in Minnesota. We raise chickens, make maple syrup, and harvest honey from our bees. We love being outdoors and going on camping trips. We have a goal to take our girls to all of the Minnesota state parks before they are grown. We’ve visited 68 parks and only have 7 left!
How did you first learn about embroidery journaling?
My favorite hobby is crafting! I scrapbook and sew, make wooden signs and homemade cards, just to name a few of my favorite. I often have a new project started on my craft table as I try to learn a new technique. My love for learning new things led me to finding the embroidery journal. Living in Minnesota, I decided I needed to find a good hobby for long winter evenings when it’s too dark and cold to do much outside by 4:00. I’ve always loved creating things and thought embroidery would be fun! I started researching the best way to go about this and found “The Stir Crazy Crafter” on Instagram. One look at the cute embroidery journals and I was hooked! This project has been a great way to learn embroidery, and it’s fun to watch my skills improve month by month. I love the creativity needed to create the icon for each day. That alone has stretched me and helped my creative skills grow.
What have you learned from starting an embroidery journal?
The thing I didn’t expect with this project is how it causes me to stop and reflect about each day. And, it serves as a way to look back and see all of the little joys that happened this year. Little moments that felt big enough to document, but just as easily could have been forgotten. A special movie night with the girls, snowshoeing in our woods, an at home date night with the hubby that consisted of cribbage and a cocktail, and an afternoon spent reading in the hammock in perfect weather. The big and little moments that make life, they are all there! I like looking back and remembering, and so does my family. It would be hard to pick a favorite icon, each one is all wrapped up in memories!
What has been your most memorable event represented on your embroidery journal this year?
My family took a once in a lifetime trip to Alaska this year. That event was probably my favorite to plan out for the journal. I picked an icon for each day, like camping in the mountains, spending 10 days in an RV, a boat tour, seeing our first moose, the girls playing in the ocean, just to name a few. Once I got them all stitched, I connected them with a dashed line to tie them all together. This was an amazing trip, and it’s all there, recorded on my journal in little stitches.
Do you ever repeat icons?
I know some journalers prefer to find a new icon everyday and not use the same one twice. I thought about this and realized that I find some peace and comfort in the routineness of life. So, there are often duplicate icons of events that mean a lot to me and happen frequently, like the little group of fish I stitch each time our church small group meets. I also love to read, so I stitch a book at the end of each month with the number of books finished stitched on the cover. Family time is important to me, so on days nothing “noteworthy” happened, I incorporate hearts or symbols that represent family to note a day with family as time well spent.
What tips do you have for someone wanting to start an embroidery journal?
I would absolutely recommend this project to anyone with a love for creating art with simply a needle and thread, those with expert embroidery skills and those just starting out. My tip for getting started is to not overthink it and just jump right in. The beauty of embroidery, especially this project with no set pattern, is that there is no right and no wrong. It is your creativity and your interpretation of life that will come out on the fabric with the icons and colors you choose. You can learn new stitches, stretch your imagination and creativity, and reflect on the beauty of your life in just a few minutes of your day. And, at the end of the year, you will have an amazing record of your unique life! Because it is hard to keep track of the meaning of all 365 little icons, I also have a cute little notebook that I draw the icon for each day, along with a brief description. That way, when I look back, I can always remember what things meant.
What supplies do you use for your embroidery journal?
I also recommend getting some supplies that you love to make craft time even more fun. I love my little gold scissors shaped like a bird because they just make me happy every time I use them. I also am super happy with the embroidery kit bag I bought off of Amazon. It fits everything from my hoop to the box that holds my floss and tools, making it easy to take my project anywhere and keep it clean and safe. It even came with me on a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters!
What do you plan on doing with your embroidery journal once you finish it?
I can’t wait to hang my journal on the spot saved on my crafting area wall. This project has been so fun and meaningful, you can bet I will start a new one for 2024. I already have a spot picked out to hang that one too!
Where can we find you online?
If you’re interested in being interviewed for my A Stitch A Day series, my slots are currently filled. You can sign up for my newsletter to be notified when I am looking for more artists to speak about their Embroidery Journals and similar projects. If you are interested in creating your own embroidery journal, I have a variety of digital and kit resources available in my Etsy shop.