FEATURED DESIGNER -
Q. When did you begin designing your own patterns and how did that turn into a business?
A. I began designing in 1984. At that time I traveled often with my job so I stitched on airplanes and in my hotel room at night. Each summer I attended the cross stitch show at Rockhome Gardens in Illinois. The summer of 1985 I displayed one of my patterns in the show.
Shasta Parker from Just Cross Stitch Magazine saw my work and asked if she could publish the pattern in Just Cross Stitch Magazine. Of course I said “YES.” Once my oldest son Henry was born in 1993 I began considering how I could make a career of designing needlework. I sent samples of my designs to Norden Crafts and they agreed to distribute my patterns. I love drawing and stitching – combining the two is a dream career for me!
Q. Where do you see your company in 5 years?
A. I am working towards increasing the number of patterns that I publish each month. In the next few years I see myself collaborating with other designers and manufacturers. Currently we supply some of our cross stitch shops with needlepoint canvases so I would like to grow that part of my business immediately. By 2017 my goal is for my design studio to provide products for cross stitch, needlepoint and quilting.
Q. What would you like to say to your fans reading this?
A. Thank you so much to the stitchers and shop owners who buy our patterns. It really makes my day when I get an e mail from a needleworker with suggestions for new patterns. I also LOVE IT when we receive pictures of finished projects. I get lots of e mail pictures which I print out and put on the bulletin board in our work room. To the shop owners ”THANKS” for all your support. I feel so proud when I walk into a needlework shop and see one of my patterns or canvases displayed as a shop model.
Q. Do you or are you willing to travel for stitching events?
A. : I enjoy traveling and meeting new people. Mu oldest son just graduated from high school two weeks ago so I feel as if the timing is right for me to begin traveling and teaching. I love working
with people and taught real estate classes in the past so teaching needlework seems like a natural step for me to follow.
Q. Do you feel your style has changed over time, and if so how do you feel about your older designs?
A. I have experimented with a variety of styles in my design work which has allowed me to figure out my best style. I do enjoy designing patterns which include unique buttons or embellishments which stitchers haven’t seen before. Some of my older designs are so bad it is embarrassing to look at them now so I have hidden them away at the back of my office closet. There are two shelves right beside my drawing table which I use to display framed models. I still like seeing some of my “Oldies but Goodies.”
On a Personal Note -
Q. Besides stitching and designing what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?
A. I live in Houston Texas so I find myself spending free time outside year round. I have become accustomed to the extreme summer heat (today’s temp was 96 degrees). Walking, biking and swimming are my favorites. I also read a lot. My husband, Andy, bought me an i phone for my birthday so I now download e books and listen to stories while I stitch.
Photography is also something I am involved in.
Q. What is your favorite holiday and why?
A. Halloween is definitely my favorite. I like it best of all the holidays because of the colors – orange, black, yellow, purple. Another great thing about Halloween is candy pumpkins. I could eat an entire bag! Dressing up is fun and I like seeing all the kids trick-or-treating in their costumes. I think some of my best designs have Halloween themes. I look forward to Halloween because I know Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.
Q. Do you have any pets?
A. Our family does not have any traditional pets, however we have a large yard with lots of trees so we have raccoons, possum and squirrels. There is also a family of armadillos - mother with four babies – which live underneath our garden shed.
Q. Would you like share a little about your family?
A. My immediate family consists of my husband and two sons. My husband, Andy, is British and grew up in London. He has a great sense of humor and is a lot of fun to be around. My two sons are 18 and 14 years old. Both boys are well over six feet tall and play football and lacrosse. My oldest son Henry will attend Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia in the fall and was recruited to play lacrosse. My younger son Oliver is athletic and artistic – it should be interesting to see what path he follows. The entire family enjoys music, traveling, and sports.
Q. What inspires you and why?
FEATURED SHOP -
Handcrafts Online –
Q. How long have you been a stitcher and how did you first learn about stitching?
A. I began stitching 30 years ago in high school. My best friend was getting married and I wanted to give her something special as a wedding gift. I couldn't afford very much for this gift especially after paying for my bride'smaid dress and accessories. I was pretty good at sewing but wanted something really special, one day I stumbled upon the cross stitch aisle at a local craft store where a wedding sampler caught my eye. It became my favorite hobby during the first few stitches!
I became a model stitcher for a local shop and then for several designers. I did finishing for other stitchers for a while. It just seemed natural to go on to promote my favorite hobby by creating a place stitchers, who didn't have a local shop, could find the things they needed.
Q. How long have you been in business?
A. I had to double check this in my records, 7 years, wow!
Q. How important is social media in the cross-stitch industry and how do you make use of it for your company?
A. Because Handcrafts Online is a webshop social media is vital! I think most stitchers find my webshop through my blog http://marykathryn.wordpress.com/ but Handcrafts Online is on facebook and I use twitter as well. All of these are a great way to let stitchers know about new things on the way and special events as well as share my own enthusiasm for cross stitch. I think all these things help to make shopping at an online shop personal and friendly. Social media helps my webshop keep in touch with customers all over the world and creates a sense of community even though we may live thousands of miles apart.
Online stitching groups are another way to keep in touch with stitchers and meet stitching freinds. There are really lovely stitchers all over the world and it is wonderful to connect with others who share a favorite designer or project.
Q. What would you say to a young person in order to get them to try stitching for fun?
A. That cross stitch is a great portable, social pastime. Young people are so busy, I think this would be a great pursuit to help them unwind and put their thoughts in order. I'd suggest starting a stitching group at the local coffee shop, much more fun than sitting around with friends who are all checking their phones!
Q. Who are some of your personal favorite designers?
A. I have several. Little House Needlworks and Priarie Schooler have been long time favorites. The Prairie Schooler annual Santa card was frist published the year I got married. I've always wanted to do that series as an anniversary project. I love the sweet charm of Little House Needleworks, the designs are exactly what I want to see in my home and they stitch up so fast, I always have fun with those. I'm a serious Jane Austen fan so I also stitch designs by The Sampler Girl quite often. I frequently stitch things that can be sewn into a pillow with pretty fabric as you may have noticed if you visit my blog.
A. I've been learning to knit, I love to sew and when I have time I read. I almost always listen to audio books when my hands are too busy to hold a book. I also enjoy cooking, photography, and long drives in the mountains.
Q. What are your three favorite books?
A. I have so many favorite books it's too hard to narrow it to three. My favorite Jane Austen is Persuasion, I love Agatha Christie but I can't decide if Miss Marple or Poirot is my favorite detective. I'm aslo a big fan of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and loved the Harry Potter books. As a homeshooler and history student I really enjoy history text books and biographies, my kids think I'm wierd. I like math too!
Q. What’s your favorite holiday and why?
A. Christmas! I love the coziness, the celebration, the lights, the music, the expectation. Christmas is an important part of our family's faith and tradition. I love everything about Christmas except shopping! Of course I love Christmas stitching but never seem to get started soon enough.
Q. Would you share a little about your family?
A. Jerry and I were married in 1984. I met Jerry when I was 14 but we didn't date until I was out of high school but he told me right up front that he wanted to get married and I agreed. We did date for 2 years before the wedding.
We have 4 children a girl and 3 boys. Our daughter came along about 13 months after our wedding, our plan was to wait 5 years to start a family...oh well. Our youngest is 9, that was a big surprise too. I wouldn't change a thing. It is interesting having children who are 17 years apart in age. I've been a homeshooler since 1992. This fall I will have only one student at home.
Mary Kathryn Peter
Next week we will be featuring The Sweetheart Tree,
& House of Stitches - La Porte, IN