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Right at home at the stichin' post

Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
By Megan Doyle, Daily News staff writer

Anna Black is known as “the girl who sews things,” though her technical title is sewing coordinator.

“The girl who sew things” is much more explanatory. That’s what she does.

Her favorite things to sew at the Stitchin’ Post at MaryJanesFarm are topsy-turvy dolls, a single doll that can be flipped or spun to become Little Red Riding Hood, the grandmother and the wolf.

Black, 22, started working at MaryJanesFarm about two years ago as a food packager.

“But we could see that she had other talents,” said MaryJane Butters, owner of the farm, located about eight miles outside of Moscow.

Black recalled being asked by Butters if she knew how to sew. Thinking back to junior high school, she remembers sewing her first piece of clothing. She needed a skirt to wear for a band concert but couldn’t find one in the stores.

“I’m so tall all the dresses were too short,” she said.

She bought the fabric, a pattern, and dusted off a family sewing machine. It was perfect, she said. Having sewn a few other dresses, she didn’t have as much knowledge as she thought the farm needed.

Butters took a risk with her, Black said.

“I don’t know anyone else that would have done that,” she said.

As the sewing coordinator at the farm, Black is in charge of ordering supplies and sewing aprons, pillows, dolls, and several other items sold by the farm.

"I had no idea what I was doing when I started here," Black said. If Butters asked her to learn something, Black did so gladly, picking up books in the farm library. "I learn really well like that," she said.

"This is just a really comfortable place to learn and grow and try new things," she added.

No one was disappointed with her effort or her inventive ideas, Butters said.

"She has this real great farm girl, can-do attitude that we need here," Butters said.

Black has never taken a sewing class. She's still surprised she's been able to make money sewing and designing.

"I never thought I could make a career out of anything creative or artistic," Black said. "It's really exciting to get paid to be creative."

She's designed a bubble purse and puts together apron sewing kits, picking out matching fabrics and thread. She also has learned to crochet and knit. Writing instructions for sewing, knitting and crocheting projects also has been added to her list of duties.

"You can do it too, it doesn't take some fancy-schmancy college degree," Black said to other women who aspire to make a career out of something creative or artistic.

The instructions Black has written will be a part of a supplement to Butters' book, "MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook: For the Farmgirl in All of Us." The supplements, based on chapters from the original book, are expected to published in the near future.

Prior to her full-time position at the farm, Black studied veterinary medicine and sociology at Washington State University, but Butters gave her the opportunity to do what she wanted to do, she said.

Black's aspirations have grown since she began working at the farm. She'd like to begin school at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York within the next two years. She likes sewing and designing but also has a secondary interest in modeling - all of which are careers that will likely grow outside of the Palouse, she said.

"New York is coming to us here, why go to New York?" Butters questioned Black.

Though sad to see her go, Butters recognizes that Black's experience at the farm has been a great resumé on which she can build.

"I think there's a bright future for her and I'm glad to have provided her with a starting place," Butters said.

Megan Doyle can be reachedat (208) 882-5561, ext. 237, or by e-mail at