Member Spotlight - Annie Kordesh
Annie was born and raised in Berwyn, Illinois. In a family of four girls and three boys, she was the middle child. Annie and her siblings attended Catholic schools and kept her parents busy, especially her mother who not only raised the growing family and tended the house, but also found time to be involved with Girl Scouts. Annie herself remained in scouting through her high school years and remembers coming out to St. Charles to attend a summer camp that was located off of Crane Road! Annie’s aunt was also involved with the family and was an accomplished seamstress who made many of the girl’s clothes. Each garment was so well made that it passed down to the next girl in line after the previous wearer outgrew the item.
Annie also has fond memories of watching her father create caricatures and sketches on the back of envelopes and scrap paper. He was a photo retoucher for RR Donnelly, a Chicago area publishing company. He showed Annie photos that he worked on for Sears and Wards catalogs. She was amazed at his artistic talents when coloring with her and what he could do with a set of 64 crayolas!
Annie met her husband Ken at Northern Illinois University in the Electrical Engineering Department where he worked and where she was employed as a secretary. She was taking a break off from school, but eventually returned to NIU where she began working on her Bachelors degree in Textiles and Apparel Design. The degree required students to complete an internship, and Annie saw an article in the Chicago Tribune about a place called the Fine Line Creative Arts Center. There were not many places to do an internship in the late 80’s and early ‘90’s, and she was intrigued by what she read about Fine Line. She applied for the internship and was accepted. She worked under Denise and learned how to wind warps and help in the shop (which was a smaller set up at that time compared to the current shop configuration). The internship provided a good training experience for working in an arts center and studio environment.
After she finished her degree in 1995, Annie continued to come to the Fine Line as a volunteer. She would bring her young son Richard with her where he liked to sit on Denise’s lap during the lunch breaks. Annie was officially hired as the part-time shop manager/registrar in 2007 after Denise passed away, and she has remained in that position to this day.
When asked what her favorite art form is, Annie responds enthusiastically “KNITTING!” She first learned to knit when she took a Fiber Arts class in high school. She says there is not a day that goes by that she is not knitting something and it is her true passion. She does also enjoy hand stitching and working with Sashiko (running stiches) on fabric. And at one time, she even dreamed of raising a flock of sheep – so wool in all forms has always been integral to her life and art.
One of the favorite classes Annie took at Fine Line was the “Mix Match Sock Class”. This was a very popular class offered in the 90’s – so much so that students “took over” almost every available space in the barn as they knitted their socks.
In addition to mastering many knitting projects and patterns, Annie also loves to travel and often combines her love of wool and knitting with places where she can enjoy and learn more about these passions. She has been to Estonia and Latvia, and she recently traveled with a group of women to the Faroe Islands, located between Scotland and Iceland. Annie’s family is also a very important part of her life. After her husband died, her son Richard and daughter Beatrice became even closer to Annie, and she enjoys their company everyday. Richard works for 3M and Beatrice just graduated with a degree in Anthropology and History.
So what is involved with being the Registrar and Shop Manager at Fine Line? Annie oversees class registrations to make sure the classes run, instructors are apprised of arrangements and class enrollments are accurate. She also orders supplies for many of the classes. As Shop Manager, she trains and supervises the Fine Line “Shop Girls”. There are four “regular” girls and several part-time girls who fill in when needed. The Shop Girls need to be able to answer the phone, make transactions and process gift cards, refunds, record purchases and handle class registrations (in person and over the phone), and answer visitors’ questions. Just learning the system for each task is a lot to handle, and the changes in technology from when Annie first started at Fine Line have provided many challenges. But even with the challenges, especially during Covid, Annie says she loves her job and being part of the Fine Line community!