Sunday, February 11, 2018



Author Kathy Ceceri

Kathy Ceceri is a writer and STEAM artist who loves to share hands-on learning activities for kids and adults. In addition to her books, she was a founding editor of the GeekMom blog and top writer at's GeekDad blog, and contributed over a dozen projects to the bestselling Geek Dad series of books. Formerly the Homeschooling Expert for, Kathy is the proud mom of a computer game programmer and a filmmaker. Find out more at her website


June:  Welcome to 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic', Kathy. Please tell us a little about your background, education, and published books. 

Kathy:  Thank you, June, for inviting me! My latest book is Fabric and Fiber Inventions: Sew, Knit, Print, and Electrify Your Own Designs to Wear, Use, and Play With. I've now written more than a dozen books of hands-on learning projects aimed at middle grade readers and up, including parents and educators. All are very accessible to beginners, because I understand what it's like when you go into a new topic knowing nothing. Although my current focus is on crafts with a technical bent, my background is as a journalist and teaching artist. I have a degree in English Literature and I've also studied art and illustration.

That said, I grew up reading stories about science and technology for fun. I always felt that science and math could be so much more interesting if they were connected to things we know and care about. It's very satisfying to know that I've been able to do that!

June:  How did your education and/or previous career impact your road to publication? 

Kathy:  The greatest impact of my own public school education was probably in noticing what was missing. I was a kid who was always making things, but in school we spent almost every moment on written work. That just struck me as so boring. When I was a reporter, I got the opportunity to interview education experts who advocated a more well-rounded approach, one that tied art and music and history to science and math.

After my own kids were born, it made sense to put some of those ideas into practice by homeschooling. I always included lots of activities along with the book work. Inspired by some of the excellent classes my kids took with other homeschoolers in our community, I began to take a few of the projects we did and turn them into workshops that I presented at schools and libraries. Those experiences also became fodder for my "Hands On Learning" column in Home Education Magazine. When my kids reached middle and high school age, I created blogs to document our family science labs. That led to my becoming a Core Contributor for's GeekDad blog and one of the founding editors of the GeekMom blog.

After I left Wired I spent two years as the Homeschooling Expert at Then my youngest left home for college, so it made sense to change my focus to writing books full-time.

June:  It's intriguing to learn how your past life experiences, education, job background, and career as a homeschooling mother worked together to become the projects and books you're creating now.
June:  At what age did you begin sewing and knitting? Who taught you these skills? Do you still sew and knit outside of creating projects for your books?

Kathy:  My mom taught me to knit when I was probably around 11. From that time on, I've always loved learning new handicrafts, and I tend to jump from one to the other. I remember learning to do cable knitting, and then going on to crochet afghan squares. Then it was embroidery (I still have a unicorn "tapestry" I embroidered when I was 16), macrame, and patchwork quilts. I learned machine sewing in Home Ec, back when girls were required to learn to cook and sew, and boys had to do shop. I would have loved to have had the chance to learn to work with metal and wood -- to this day I'm hesitant to use power tools. But I can still take a sewing machine apart and put it back together.

After college, I worked as a pattern artist at Vogue/Butterick for a while, and made a lot of my own clothes. When my kids came along I sewed their curtains and pillows and of course, made their Halloween costumes. But I got away from some of that when I moved onto robots and other electronics. I admit one reason I was eager to work on Fabric and Fiber Inventions was because I wanted to revisit some of the techniques I hadn't used in many years, and try some I had somehow missed, like tie dye and silkscreening. And of course, I couldn't resist including a chapter on how to add electronics to your fabric creations!

June:  I'm right there with you on using power tools, Kathy. Our hobbies when we were tweens and teens sound very similar. I kept up with the sewing, quilting, and embroidery; but I never got the hang of crochet and I haven't done macrame in four decades.
June:  What do you hope readers will gain from reading this book? And what advice would you give to parents and grandparents as they seek to encourage their children and grandchildren to be successful STEAM learners?

Kathy:  I always say that the most important skill kids learn from my books and workshops is how to troubleshoot. As the projects you work on become more interesting and more challenging, it helps to keep in mind that something, somewhere, is probably not going to work the first time. When kids start to feel like they failed, remind them that they've already learned what will make the project work, so they just need to apply that knowledge. Encourage them to go over their work systematically, testing every step until they find the problem. That's what helps you power through the frustrating moments to get to the big reward -- a project that's so cool you even impress yourself.

June:  This sounds like useful advice for anyone who works with young people.

June:  What is your favorite project from 'Fabric and Fiber Inventions' ?  Why is it your favorite?

Kathy:  It's hard to choose, there were so many cool projects that I got to try! My first impulse is to say the light-up felt keychain bob, which has a cat-shaped battery holder and a conductive metal bead tail that lights up individual LEDs along the edge as it swings. I was also impressed with the faux sun printing that made beautifully colored patterns with a variety of soft and sharp focus using ordinary acrylic paints. I was even able to make photo prints with a DIY negative. It's a project you could easily do with young kids, since it's very quick and you don't need any special supplies.

But I'd have to say my absolute favorite is a simple crochet project contributed by my friend Rebecca Angel Maxell -- adorable roll-up scarf sculptures! They're similar to amigurumi, but practical. The design I featured is a mug of hot chocolate, complete with a swirl of whipped cream in the center. When you unroll it and drape it around your neck, the whipped cream end of the scarf slips neatly through the mug handle at the other end to hold it in place. And as with all the projects in the book, you learn about how it was originally engineered and why it works, so you can come up with your own versions. My ultimate hope is that this book encourages every reader to think of themselves as an inventor, no matter what medium you use!

June:  Thank you for taking the time to visit with us, Kathy. I'm inspired to read more of your books.
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Create your own fabric inventions as you learn to make wearables, playthings, and decorative items using textile arts--both old and new! Easy projects using will get you started knitting, adding color to your wardrobe with silkscreen and tie dye, and transforming old clothing into useful items. You'll also learn to make soft circuits and sensors that make your inventions light up. With Fabric and Fiber Inventions, you can turn everyday materials into unique designs everybody will love!

This book is available on

The publisher of this book, Maker Media, Inc., is sponsoring a giveaway for US residents only for one print copy of 'MAKE: Fabric and Fiber Inventions' by Kathy Ceceri. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below for a chance to win.

There are many ways to enter. Just log in to the Rafflecopter form below and take a few moments to sign up! Come back each day to earn 5 extra entries. It's free to enter. The only thing I request is that you be eighteen years of age or older to enter and that you have a United States mailing address (post office boxes are accepted). I will contact the winners a few days after the contest closes. {Note:  You will need to respond to my message within 72 hours, or I will move to the next person on the list.} Thank you for your interest and participation. Good luck!

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-- Thursday, February 15th:  Book spotlight and publisher's giveaway {one US print copy} for a multicultural picture book entitled, 'Ruby's Chinese New Year'. Join me to learn more about this beautiful book.

-- Friday, February 16th:  Author Interview and book spotlight about Author SM Ford and her  inspirational romantic suspense release, 'Alone'.  Stop by to read about Sue's journey as an author and to learn about her book.

-- Wednesday, February 21st:  A book spotlight and excerpt from Author Tammy James Hesler's inspirational romance release, 'Mountains of Love:  A Novella for the Heart'.  Stop by to read about Tammy's inspiring life story and to learn about her novella.

--  Friday, February 23rd:  Author interview, book spotlight, and giveaway with debut Cedar Fort author Shawn Pollock. One lucky US reader will win a hardcover copy of Shawn's debut World War II historical novel, 'The Road to Freedom'.

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  1. Bravo for hands-on learning and this title is sure to please many. I wouldn't mind trying out a few projects myself. Thanks for the post and the giveaway.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Greg. There are several projects I plan to try from this great book! Best, June

  2. Nice selection. I am sure this will appeal to a lot of kids who like to create and to experiment. We need more of that today--and less electronic play.

    1. Thanks for sharing your comments with us. I can't wait to try the 'Capillary Action Sun Prints' and 'Coil Basket' projects myself. Sincerely, June

  3. Perfect for crafty teen girls. I would have liked this book as a teen. I was always creating thing. Lovely interview.

    1. Thanks for your kind words about the author interview, Patricia. Kathy was a fun person to correspond with while I was preparing the post, and her writing tone is just as warm and welcoming. Best, June