School can take a heavy toll on both teachers and students, especially during this time, so having a hobby can help cope with stress. Kristie Yamamoto, a math teacher at Kaiser, has an interesting hobby: sewing. Yamamoto isn’t staying idle in her free time—she’s being productive by sewing cloth face masks.
This means of recreation runs in the family, as both her mother and grandmother are skilled in stitchery. In fact, Yamamoto’s mother was the one who started sewing masks. In the summer, when COVID was still a small threat, she thought it would be a good idea to prepare. This was very insightful, as face masks soon came into high demand. Yamamoto, inspired to join in, saw it as a “good way to make use of extra fabric,” she said, and as “something fun to do in my free time.”
Seaming and stitching are nothing new for Yamamoto, as she has experience sewing for the school before. When she was the coach of the girls’ tennis teams, she stitched all their uniforms herself, from the design to the final product. That experience was handy for her latest project.
At first, making masks was a personal activity, but Yamamoto decided to make more than she needed. She would then give the extra masks to Kaiser students and faculty on campus. Yamamoto generously distributed them for free, and even started taking requests. As demand increased, she continued to produce, leaving the extras on a desk in the library. Many staff members and friends still ask for sewn products, and Yamamoto is “happy to fulfill those requests,” she said. She works on weekdays after school and weekends, producing as many as seven masks in an hour. The time varies depending on the style of mask and the fabric used. Some special requests (such as custom-fitted masks) can take up to a half an hour each!
Yamamoto enjoys making masks and giving them to others. “It’s good because a lot of people need masks nowadays, especially teachers because it gets hot. It’s nice to always have extra on hand,” she said. Since May, Yamamoto has made over 700 masks, and she will continue to do so “until we do not need them anymore,” she said. Finding such a gratifying hobby is rare, but Yamamoto is in such a position: where she can help others and enjoy herself while doing so.