I’ve begun to realize that many of you have just come to know me through this blog and don’t understand my relationship with Connie. Connie and I are not related – by blood, anyway – but we have been business partners in Country Threads since 1983. Country Threads started out as a small quilt pattern company that grew over the years into a large quilt pattern company that sold both wholesale and retail, a large retail shop on my small farm which included a machine quilting service, a retreat center in the haymow of my barn and at one time a gift shop. In October of 2014 we closed up everything and retired but I kept this blog going. We have had lots of magazine and media coverage over the years because of the way we started which was at the kitchen table and the business expanded from there.
So maybe Connie and I are truly related. We are as close or closer than many sisters and our partnership has never faltered and when we are asked about how that is possible Connie always say it’s because she always lets me have my way! And if you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land I’d like to sell you…….ha!
Drinking champagne on the afternoon we closed the shop after 33 years in business
The following June 2015 we had a huge sale and sold all the quilts and equipment from the past 33 years which sealed our retirement.
I hope this answers some of your questions.
It was a WONDERFUL Shop and you and Connie ALWAYS made us feel welcome and part of the community. I came twice when the fireworks convention was in Mason City and once when we were only a hundred or so miles from the place and just dropped by. Hubby enjoyed being outside and I was surprised when a cat or two didn’t find their way into our rv before we left. Everyone deserves to retire after putting many years into a business BUT we didn’t want it to be you and Connie BUT coming by the shop and not seeing you and or Connie wouldn’t be the same. Enjoy retirement, you both have earned it.
All this time I thought you really were sisters. Ha!
I enjoy your blog and love your patterns. Your shop was on my bucket list to visit after I retired. I did not make it to your shop but the blog is filling my bucket list. Enjoy your retirement.
Love the pictures!
The BEST quilt shop I’ve found so far! I loved seeing the animals come running to greet us, the cats hiding in the fabric begging to be petted, the wonderful selection of fabric and patterns. During one visit, I saw the tortilla strips quilt hanging on the wall and fell in love. I asked if there was a kit for it as I’m not good at combining fabric. Nope, but she’d put one together for me. I went on to MN and stopped back the next day and low and behold my kit was ready for pick up!! Love Country Threads then and now!
I enjoyed reading this post! … and LOVE the pictures! Having only spoken with either of you on the phone, it was nice to put a face with the names!
It really was a wonderful shop. My mother was from Story City and I still have family there. Although I haven’t met them, I know there are a lot of Engstlers in the Garner area. I’d still like to meet some. I saw an ad for your shop in one of the Country magazines a few years ago and had to visit on one of my trips to Iowa. I got hooked on the punchneedle and stocked up on some the year before you closed. If I’d known you were closing I’d have bought more. I’ll miss visiting you this year when we get to Iowa. Special friends like Connie are rare and a real treasure. You are both very fortunate. The Midwest has a special breed of people I think.
And you are still missed. The Rosemont IL show is coming up and it is still hard to face the fact you will not be there. However, retirement is a good thing. Enjoy.
You were and still are, 2 neat people!!!
Mary, Hope I am speaking for quilters who never got to Garner to the shop, but who bought your wonderful patterns, books, fabric and so enjoyed receiving the Chicken Scratch Gazette with the touch of farm life you warmed our hearts with and continue to do so with your delightful blog and pictures. Enjoy your critters and being actively retired. When is the next book coming to shops?
The wonderful fabric designs, patterns and quilts you created together at Country Threads demonstrated the great business partnership you and Connie had when your shop was open. So nice to know that the friendship continues. I feel like I know you both through your Goat Gazette and, I’m glad you have continued to keep in touch with your “fans” through the blog.
Great pictures of you two!! And, I can tell you all are happy quilters. I have gotten over your closing and am now ok with it! Your blog helps. Thanks and keep writing about you both.
They say that married couples start to look alike after they’re married for so long. Maybe the same thing happens with business partners, lol.
A visit to your shop was on my bucket list, too, but I didn’t make it after I retired.:(
I loved the Goat Gazette and was so happy when I found out about the blog. Thanks for keeping all of us connected:)
I still miss your shop.A trip to Iowa always meant a trip to your shop.
When I saw the 2nd picture, I thought you were going to say, “It’s because of the alcohol!” You are both very lucky to have each other!
It could be! Ha!
Hi Mary, Will you please send me you email address. I had written to you this morning but the letter popped back. I love reading about your life and would like to write a bit more to you.
Hi, jane- here is my email address—- firstname.lastname@example.org
A great story. Put it in a book!!! Of course with all the pics we enjoy every day.
My Mom & I vacationed in Iowa and your store was one of our stops. It was such a friendly inspiring place. Thanks for keeping the blog and sharing with us.
And still the patterns are being used. I read and use your Country Threads book for pleasure and for ideas recently. Must make that Santa!
You are so wonderful Mary. I am thankful I was able to visit the shop before you closed. Not many people can claim to have such a wonderful relationship with a partner in business, especially for so man y years. You must both be great people.
I really enjoy the blog, it is the only one I have ever read. I love the quilt info and the animal stories. I too am an animal person but just have one dog! You provide such wonderful care to the animals who live with you or visit you.
Keep up the great blog, I hope to start and finish my first rug soon, maybe this summer when we camp!
Thanks for the background story. I happened on to your blog a while ago and was “hooked” with the animals, farm, Iowa and quilting, a few of my favorite things! I look forward to your postings.
Just love reading your blog and keeping up with your busy life!! Thanks for sharing so much with us. I had never made it to your quilt shop either, but loved all your updates and and all that from when the shop was so busy. Am glad you are continuing to share with us. You are pretty special.
Thank you both- Mary and Connie- for all you have given us ! I am so happy I had a chance to spend time with you , the shop, the patterns, and the animals, and feel lucky when I realize how many people didn’t have that opportunity
I was lucky to take a class from the both of you when you came out to the Buggy Barn! It was such a treat! I enjoy reading your blog and watching what you have been up to. Thanks for all that you have done for all of us!!
Sounds like a great friendship! They are few and far between to the level you two shared!
Thank you for answering my question, and going beyond with the great explanation and pictures, about you and Connie being relatives.
Carol Wilson from Michigan
A good partnership is like a good marriage. Congratulations to you both, I worked at Great Ameican Quilt Factory in Denver for 30 years and helped grow the business and also close the business. Have loved your books and am currently making a quilt from one of them. Will send a picture when it is done, love the blog–the animals are so much fun and your green thumb is amazing. Never got to your shop and do regret that. I met you both several times at quilt market. Take care and enjoy retirement.
Sisters at heart!!!
And in those 33 years of your business….do you think I could get “my guy” to turn off the “main drag through Iowa” to visit?
It warms my heart that you followed your dream, created a life based around quilting, can happily put your business side to bed and still have many wonderful adventures ahead of you!!