Jamie Branker, Handwork and Art Teacher
Cal State University Northridge, BS Social Work
How did you get involved with handwork?
"I always liked working with my hands and did quite a bit of sewing and macrame as a child and young adult; but I had never learned to knit, much to the dismay of my mother and grandmother. When my 3rd daughter was in the first grade, I applied as a parent volunteer to help with the knitting class. Our gracious handwork teacher, Elizabeth Seward, didn't bat an eye when I revealed to her at the last minute that I had no experience whatsoever! At that first class, I simply sat with a small group of children where we all practiced rolling a ball of yarn. I loved it! Little did I know that day was my first step on a long journey which would culminate in my being one of the handwork teachers at Highland Hall. As a handwork volunteer, I practiced and worked with Elizabeth for several years in all of the lower school classes. When it came time for Elizabeth to move on to other adventures, Mona Lewis and I took over; that was about 14 years ago."
Tell us about your Workshops & Classes For Parents
"I had always wanted to offer the same classes that we have with the children, to our parents. We all know that we wish we had gone to school at Highland Hall and I believe that handwork is a fundamental component of that desire. Two years ago, when my teaching schedule opened up, I finally had the time to offer some parent classes and we have been going strong ever since!
"Just like with our children, no experience is necessary. We start with learning how to knit and follow with the various handwork projects that the children do throughout their lower school years: knitting and purling, crochet, embroidery and cross stitch, ribbing and cabling, designing and sewing stuffed animals, hand sewing pillow covers, machine sewing pajama pants and even a weekend workshop in bookbinding.
"My workshops are small, cozy and very fulfilling. Parents are able to connect with others and strong friendships are forged. They often feel as if they are reclaiming a long forgotten part of themselves, as if they are knitting themselves together.
"We hope you can join us! For schedule information, please feel free to contact me:"