Meet the Masters

[My Superstars!]

I like learning about people's passions! So, I decided to interview renowned quilters, pattern designers, fabric designers, local and national quilt store owners, and textile artists in general, who constantly inspire me. As the interviews become available, I will post them on this page. Let me know what you think, or if you know of anyone I could feature here.




Teri and Mark, her husband.
Teri Christopherson
Black Mountain Quilts 
Quilt and Pattern Designer
Author of 24 books


Denise: When and how did you start making quilts?

Teri: I learned to sew when I was about 5 years old. I have five sisters, and we all love to sew. By high school, I was sewing my own clothes, including jeans and tailored jackets. I even won the home economics award at my high school! While in college, I came across a quilting show on TV and decided to give it a try . . . and was immediately hooked! I made a dozen quilted pillows, then my first quilt. 
 
D: When did you decide to start your successful business? What did it entail?
T: I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I hated the super tight budget, so I knew I wanted a home business. At first, I sewed quilts and sold them in country tourist shops, but it was very labor intensive. Then I met a couple of people who published their own quilt patterns, and I knew that was the way to go. I loved designing new things, not following existing patterns. I convinced my husband to invest about $1,200 to publish my first 4 patterns -- which was a small fortune for us. I rented a booth at the wholesale trade show to sell them. Fortunately, the patterns sold well and my business grew.

D: Where does inspiration for your patterns come from?
T: I keep a folder of good ideas, but honestly, I rarely look in it. An idea usually just pops into my head, and I start drafting and sewing. I tend to have months of intense creativity, where I can't sew fast enough, and months where nothing seems to turn out right.
 
D: What is (are) the best thing (s) about your decision to start your business?
T: Without question, the best thing is the ability to earn money at home while raising four children. My oldest child was born severely handicapped, so it's been nice to have that flexibility. The other thing I love is the creative outlet. It's great to have a productive use for all those wacky ideas! I'm a rather high energy person and love keeping busy.

D: What are the drawbacks, if any?
T: The drawback of having a home business is that the work is always there, just a few steps away, so it's hard to get away from it all, especially when things are busy. I've worked some crazy long hours over the years -- meeting print deadlines, preparing for trade shows, etc. It's also hard when I have a great design in my head, but it just doesn't turn out -- when I rework a quilt a dozen times and it's still ugly. Those are the days when it isn't so much fun!

D: Please introduce us to your family.
T: My greatest blessing is a happy marriage. My husband, Mark, is a very practical engineer and doesn't really get the whole cutting-up-fabric-just-to-sew-it-all-back-together-again thing, but he's wonderfully supportive of my business. And loves the income! I have four children -- Kelsi, 22, Connor, 18, Maia, 15, and Max, 12. Kelsi was born severely mentally handicapped, so she's actually still my sweet baby, requiring a lot of care.

D: How do you juggle your family commitments and your business?
 

T: It was harder when my children were young -- lots of sewing at 2 o'clock in the morning and dragging toddlers through the fabric store and post office. Looking back, it was pretty crazy, but I tend to thrive on a little chaos. Now, I work while they're in school and focus on them when they're home. Much easier!
 
D: What do you do for relaxation?
T: I go running almost every day -- at an embarrassingly slow pace, but I still love it. I also love to read and belong to a book club. I love baking cookies. And I love to shop for just about anything -- shoes, clothes, dish scrubber, computer -- I don't care, I get into it!

D: Do you have any advice for someone contemplating starting their own quilt-related, or craft, business?
T: Having a creative home business has obviously been a great blessing in my life, so I highly recommend it. But it isn't the sort of thing that just happens on its own. It takes a lot of focused attention, great ideas, hard work, and probably some financial risk. It can even be technical at times, when you have to learn new computer programs, how to run a website, etc. But if someone has the creative drive and energy to keep at it, ask a lot of questions, and ignore some rejection, it is well worth it!

Thank you, Teri!

 ***********


Mary Rich Goodwin
Rich Designs One Piece Knitting
Knitter and pattern designer

Let me introduce you to Mary Rich Goodwin of Rich Designs One Piece Knitting. I met her at Heindselman's Yarn, Needlework, and Gifts, a fabulous store with every type of yarn you can imagine, plus embroidery supplies, gifts, etc. With the help of the store owner, I picked up the yarn I wanted, then Mary told me which needle to get (a circular one), and proceeded to teach me. I stayed at the store from 10 am till 4 pm!!! I had so much fun with Mary... she is the perfect teacher: patient, funny, encouraging, extremely knowledgeable... and she wrote many knitting books with patterns for knitting sweaters and other garments all in one piece (of course I bought them!).

Denise: When and how did you start knitting?
Mary:  My oldest sister Kathy taught me how to knit when I was eight years old. I was raised in a neighborhood of all boys. So I talked them all into learning how to knit with the little wood spool and four nails poking out the top. They all knit long knitted I cards with that little knitting tool which they thought was pretty cool.

Denise: Do any other members of your family like to knit?
Mary: I taught my daughter how to knit when she was a teenager but she wasn't very interested at the time, but now that she's married she has picked it up again.

Denise: When did you start teaching knitting?
Mary: At age eight... I have since taught just about anyone I knew who wanted to learn how to knit throughout the years. I taught my friends when I was young and family members, neighbors, and strangers whom I met randomly while standing in lines and they wanted to learn how to knit. I knit everywhere I go: shopping, sitting at movies, meetings, just about anywhere.

Adult Sweaters-downloadable bookDenise: When you think of a project to make, what do you look for in a pattern?
Mary:  When I think of a new project I generally will look around for colors in nature or just different colors and combinations that I might see randomly somewhere and I carry a little notebook that I draw pictures in and write notes to myself.  I love to walk through the mall and window shop looking at what styles are in and if they are tight, fit loose, whatever the style may be, and then I just make a mental note and kind of keep that in mind when I design another sweater pattern.  I also look at clothing that has been made out of fabric and try to figure out a way that it can be knit and re-created with knitting rather than fabric. 

D: What inspired you to write your pattern books?
Children's Sweaters and Hats-Downloadable BookM: Back in 1998 when the Internet was fairly new and people were just beginning to create webpages, I had an eighth-grade student, a boy, who asked me if I wanted to make a webpage. I told him I wasn't really interested and I didn't know what I would use a webpage for. He said "oh you could put your knitting on it and things like that." I really didn't want to do that so I told him no but maybe another time. He was very persistent and continued to bug me about it until finally one day I said okay. He came in and helped me to set up my very first webpage. I wanted to put something on it that gave the reader something that they could have so I decided to offer a very basic one piece seamless sweater pattern. I hurried and wrote down the pattern and tried to make it as easy to follow as possible. On my website I showed a picture of it and said if they were interested in the pattern to send five dollars to my address. It wasn't very many days until I started to get checks in the mail for my pattern. I hurried to the copy shop and made several copies of my pattern so I could mail them out. After about two weeks I ran out of patterns and decided to make it look a little nicer so I put a cute cover on it and embellished it a little bit more. Again I ran out of patterns and decided to add another pattern to the little booklet and from there it just grew.

Lightweight Seamless Sweaters Book - DownloadableWell I didn't really know what I was going to do with the money I was making from the sale of my patterns but I just saved it. Not long after that my husband and I were at the  temple and the temple Pres. talked to our group. He challenged us to dedicate our time, our talents, our abilities to the Lord, and the building up of the church. So I decided then and there that I would dedicate my knitting money to the Lord. It just so happened that I had my oldest son getting ready to leave for a mission. I set up at a separate bank account and called it my knitting money. I used that money to pay for his mission every month. What was very interesting was that I always had enough money coming in to pay for his mission completely. And a year later my second son went on his mission, so the mission fund doubled - again, more money began to come in and I had enough money to pay for both missions for the next year. The same thing happened when my third son went out on his mission, as my second son was still serving his mission. Our family was very blessed... the fact that all of their missions were paid for with this knitting money. The Lord truly blessed our family in this way. Since then, I have kept that money put aside for missions and for education; it has always been a fairly consistent income for us.

About every year or two I would compile patterns in a book and either publish them myself or have them published by others. That is how I have my knitting books!

Seamlessly Yours Pattern Book
D: I know you teach school, work at a yarn shop, tend grandchildren... What other
interests do you have?
M: I have many interests. I love to draw, and love art. I inherited all my fathers pottery tools, clay and his kiln, so I like to make things out of clay, such as buttons and beads.  I am an avid genealogist and spend the majority of my time doing genealogy. I also serve as a family history service missionary at BYU [Brigham Young University] every Monday for eight hours.  I like to be outdoors working in the yard and just enjoy being in nature.

D: Do you have any advice for someone contemplating learning how to knit?
M: My advice for someone wanting to learn how to knit is to not give up. Once they learn the basic stitch, to try to learn how to do it by feel so they are not dependent on having to look at it all the time. I always encourage them to create their own designs. There is nothing that says you have to follow the pattern exactly unless you want to. Change the color, change the stitch, change the length, make it your own unique sweater.


********

3 comments:

  1. thanks Denise! I loved getting to know Teri a bit better. I have loved her books for quite sometime now and have made several of her quilts and seem to be drawn to her books (which I own quite a few of but with 24 my collection is very incomplete).
    Melanie Hopes

    ReplyDelete
  2. I bought my first Teri Christopherson in 2000 and I love her designs and choice of fabrics. Thanks for sharing this interview. It's lovely to get to know my favorite designer a little better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful interview, loved hearing about Teri and her family and business. I never heard of her before, so now I'll have to check out her books. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete

I am so glad you are taking the time to leave a comment! It is always nice to hear from you!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...