Valija began her career as a museum assistant, and has worked at Historic Deerfield, Hancock Shaker Village, and Historic Northampton in Massachusetts, caring for historic clothing and textiles among other things.

She has a PhD in art history from Yale University, and has lectured on many art historical subjects, including the history of dress and textiles. Her research has focused on the history of the apron, headdresses in medieval sculpture, the clothing of college students in 1900, and the wardrobe of first lady Grace Coolidge.

Her first children’s book, Granny Magic (Chicken House Books 2019), is about a boy who discovers that his grandmother’s knitting projects all have magic powers.