Country Threads Barn Part 2

1995 was a huge year for the barn and I might not get any further in the story tonight than one year.

The inside of the haymow was cleaned out – years and years of loose hay and straw along with pigeon manure down the middle was a huge job to move.

But these are the kids who moved it!

And then the outside platform was added.

Here’s Loren Kalkwarf, his daughter Charlotte and her son doing the carpenter work.

This is one of the very first pictures taken inside.

Our first visiting group of quilters came from Carrollton, TX, and the Old Craft Store and guess who headed up the bus? Lissa Alexander, now from Moda. She’s the blonde on the lower right side of the picture. Hope you’re seeing this, Lissa!

I’m not at all sure if these two pictures are her group or someone else’s but you get the idea.

And next came painting the barn! Don Pedersen, a teacher from Garner, did the honors.

Before I forget, a new tin roof was put on the year before.

And then came the big haymow door and I must admit ignorance. I should have taken the time to educate myself as to the direction of the hanging flag. I found out so quickly after it was painted – shouldn’t Don have known?

The barn has since been covered with steel siding and the flag has been corrected – for many years now but I hate thinking back on our terrible mistake.

We had many events in the next few years.

One of the biggest events was the Brannock Patek Workshop with Jan and Linda.

A few years later we asked to display all the Primitive Primer quilts designed by Jan and Linda and made by our customers – it was a hit at Open House!

I know this is hard to see – it’s two photos taped together – an awesome display!

And that brings me up to another big event – our wedding on June 14, 1997 and our reception held in the barn. That’s tomorrow’s segment of the story.

Hope I haven’t lost any of you to boredom!!!

80 thoughts on “Country Threads Barn Part 2

  1. Jane Plourde

    This is all so interesting. I wish I had gotten to taken a class in the barn. I loved visiting the shop with the goats cats and dogs. So unique and fun.

  2. Charlotte Barnard

    Mary, this is such a joy and a privilege to see all these pictures and share in the remarkable history of the barn and Country Threads. Thank you!!!!!

  3. Lynn from Iowa

    Love the pictures and the story. Such a labor of love for a building that is so much a part of Country Threads. I remember seeing the barn at my first visit. It was awesome. Glad to know some of the history.

  4. Joan S

    Love the pictures and hearing your story. I remember how much I wanted to visit your shop and it finally happened in 1995 when I was on my way to visit my dad at the Mayo Clinic. I remember the fabric selection was overwhelming and I remember finding cats in unexpected places! I’m so glad I got the chance to visit your shop.

  5. Kathy in western NY

    Nope no boredom from me reading this interesting piece!!! Amazing all through the years the connections with people you have made.

  6. Judy

    What a great time of looking back for you! And we enjoy that you are sharing with us.

  7. Rita in Iowa

    Mary thanks for sharing your story. Living on the farm and in Iowa has fond memories for me. We had dairy and stock cows, pigs, sheep and sometimes chickens. Then there was always cats and dogs.
    Hard work but never worried about were our food was coming from.
    As we were a large family 13 we became good at cooking large amounts of food that was grown in our gardens.
    Have a great tomorrow.

  8. MaryLou

    This is such. A wonderful story of life – so enjoying it. Love the country & that barn too.
    Looking forward to the next chapter.

  9. Sharon Geiger

    Bored??? How can we be bored? This is just awesome!!! Love the pictures and your commentary.

  10. Jan from SW Iowa

    I love all the quilt displays, but I also love those beautiful wooden trusses. Just think how those builders must have labored to get them built!!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jan from SW Iowa – the haymow ceiling is something to behold! Yes, thank what a huge job it was to build this barn!

  11. Tonya

    I love hearing the story of the barn. The Primitive Primer picture reminds me that mine is still unfinished, but I rediscovered it last week when reorganizing my sewing room. I want to finish it this summer.

  12. Nikki M in Tx

    Love hearing the story of the barn…. like the saying “ if these walls could talk, the stories they could tell”, well you are telling some of the stories. Thank you for sharing.
    Don’t know if this old brain forgot, but did you say what year the barn was originally built?
    Was cleaning out closet upstairs & came across some old photo albums and boxes of photos…that was the end of cleaning.. sat in floor & went thru photos…oh the memories they brought back.

  13. Carmen

    I sooo regret I was never able to visit your store. The store and barn look like they were so much fun!

  14. Lauren

    I find these posts absolutely wonderful. It is so nice to hear all about the beginning of country threads. My only regret is I never made it there to visit.

  15. Judi L.

    I can’t wait to read the rest of the story. What wonderful memories. I love the photo of the Carrollton, TX group. I wish I could make it bigger. If I didn’t know better, I would say the lady standing next to Lissa in the pink/coral pants is Anita Murphy. She was a much sought after teacher and lecturer for quilt guilds. She did a lot of wearables, mostly vests.

      1. Judi L.

        Thanks, Mary. Actually, when I went to my desktop I was able to enlarge some and I must admit I’m on the fence about the ID. No matter, it’s still a great memory.

  16. Susan K in Texas

    I love the stories of the barn! And The Old Craft Store in Carrollton Texas is 15 minutes from me! Thanks for sharing the story of the barn. I can’t wait for the next installment.

  17. Teresa from Port Coquitlam

    Your story is far from boring. Thank you for sharing it with us. I never had a chance to visit, I live on the west coast of British Columbia.

  18. Karen N.

    Not bored at all. Loving the story and the pictures! Looking forward to the wedding tomorrow!! Remember when you wrote about it in the Goat Gazette and the quilt of the two of you!! =:)

  19. Carolyn Boutilier

    Mary, I appreciate your stories of the barn, pets and life. Keep them coming.
    I have more hollyhocks blooming today. We had a hot humid day with a thunder storm earlier this evening. Looking forward to the next chapter of your life and Country Threads.
    Carolyn b Shenandoah Valley Va

  20. Carol

    I joined your blog just about three years ago when Ric was having foot surgery. I knew none of the cast of characters at Country Threads. Now things are beginning to make sense to me. I love old barns. My parents had a beauty that I was in recently. Aa trip to Wisconsin netted me many photographs of barn that I wrote about in my vacation journal. I’m looking forward to the wedding!

  21. Debbie Miller

    I compared the two pictures of the “finished” red barn and saw what you were talking about the flag painting. I looked it up. I did not know either that the blue always had to go to the left.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Debbie Miller – I’m glad I’m not the only one that didn’t know!

  22. Diane Bauer

    I love seeing the photos of the transformation of the barn and the history behind all of it!! I well remember stopping with Justin and Jenica on our way from Colorado to Minnesota. I wish I would have been able to attend one of the events at Country Threads, but I was blessed to be able to shop there multiple times over the years. I also remember finding cats in all sorts of great places as I went through the shop. The kiddos LOVED the escape from the car and the opportunity to roam around the grounds. I have always loved the flag on the barn and never, ever noticed it was hanging “wrong”–I think you’re OK there!!

  23. Rhoda Ebersole

    So interesting and so fun being up in that barn for quilt sales . I never tired or reading about it Znd seeing it in pictures again. Your wedding seems like it was just a few years ago.
    Thank you
    Rhoda from Las Vegas And Wisconsin

  24. Jo in Wyoming

    How old is this barn? It’s grand. We all love seeing it reborn. It’s big, grand and proud.

  25. Deb Harrison

    Loving my memories popping up after seeing the pictures! It is a wonderful life you and Connie created from your own homes to your partnership and your many gegions of fans and lifelong customers and friends.

  26. Diane in WI

    Thanks, Mary for doing this. I ,too, never was able to come to Country Threads. Receiving the Goat Gazette in the mail always made me feel like I was visiting. My husband is a farmer, and I’m going to tell him to look at all the pictures of the barn. I know he will enjoy seeing them. I wish our barn looked so good. It is slowly falling down. Hopefully we’ll be able to put up something thing in its place. The farm is where the heart is. Thanks.

  27. Nancy K Walker

    This is total entertainment! Bored? No way!! Love your story and waiting for the next installment!

  28. Carol in Memphis

    Love looking at these old photos and remembering the times I got to visit. So many great memories!

  29. Cinders

    I loved reading the history of how you came to your acreage! You had many tasks to get to where you are today! You had and still have determination and the ability to get things done, and to get help too! I wished I could have gotten to Country Threads too, always too busy raising my kids and all the work on the farm we never had time to get away. To enlarge the photo you can tap on the photo then put two fingers on the photo and separate your two fingers just like one would do to enlarge a map. Live reading your blog!

  30. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Hi Mary,
    I am so enjoying these posts about the story of Country Threads and the barn and shop! Please keep going! What a trip down memory lane!

  31. Sandy

    Hi Mary, I have enjoyed reading some of your old postings when you were shutting down the shop also.thanks for so many enjoyable reads best wishes, sandy

  32. Linda

    Thank you so much for doing this! I love watching the transformation and history.

  33. Brenda in SC

    No, no boredom from me. Wish I could have visited when you were still open. Your story is so good and I can hardly wait for each installment.
    Sorry I have been missing in action, Mary. Been sick with a flair up from my sarcoidosis. My sister had her beautiful baby boy. I will send you pictures.

  34. Sandy in Indiana

    What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing & I can’t wait to read more 🙂

    Do you happen to know when the barn was built or any of its original history? You did an amazing job bringing it back to life….Thank you!

    Stay Safe……

  35. Jean

    Oh my gosh Mary. This is so much fun! I lived in Mason city during many of these years and what memories. This is just the BEST!

  36. Nancy TD

    Your story is awesome. The pictures are fun to see. Thanks for sharing this bit of history.
    Working like crazy on the last DD and my machine decided not to sew. Off to the repairman today. It has had a real workout during these stay at home days.
    The day is perfect and I will catch up on weeding after all the rain. Have a great day everyone.

  37. Rachel Crescent, IA

    Love reading your journey story! Unfortunately I visited for my first time just a year or so before you closed. So very happy to know the story of Country Threads, and the photos!!

  38. Joyce Edmeier

    I love seeing these barn transformation photos! I have been traveling to Country Threads for over 30 years from the Twin Cities and have fond memories of my favorite quilt shop. I think I have all your patterns ever sold!

  39. Janice Hebert

    Not bored! What a labor of love. I’ve always wanted a barn and this makes me want one even more, lol. Do you know what year it was built, Mary? And I still don’t understand what is on the first floor!? Are there stalls for animals? Was there not a ladder to get to hayloft inside and that was why you had to use the ladder outside? Which, by the way, is something I couldn’t imagine doing! Can’t wait for next installment! Jan in MA

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Janice Hebert – all the animals live on the first floor in rooms/pens. When I take pictures of the chickens and goats inside, they’re on the first floor. Yes, you can see the steps going downstairs but very hard to squeeze a bale down there. I’m not sure what year it was built – 1920-30 maybe? Rick and I have just been discussing your questions and honestly I do not remember so many details of when I first moved here! I hate that I can’t remember!!

      1. Janice Hebert

        Thanks Mary! I read your blog to my husband and show him your pictures all of the time. We were just looking at these and he was pointing out to me that the huge door on the top level opens from hinges on the bottom! So there must be a winch or some mechanism to lower that door down to get the hay in? That must have been some operation. And I just love the vent on the roof. I’ve never seen such a barn here in New England. Maybe I’ve just not noticed but I’m going to be looking now! Jan in MA

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          Janice Hebert – there was a rope about as thick as my wrist that lowered the door. It’s still hanging up there but the big door was permanently closed when we sided the barn. It’s not clean today up there although the winter tarps are still on the floor to keep the heat on the first floor rather than disappearing upwards. I’d love to sew up there again!

  40. Carol Garner

    Mary, loving this! I always wanted to visit, but it never happened until now. The next best thing to actually being there. Thank you so much for sharing this journey.

  41. Kathy Hanson

    Thank you, so much, for doing this – so interesting to see all the history!!

  42. Frances

    So interesting, and what a labor of love. I wish I could have seen it I person.

  43. y sweet husband sat outside enjoying the farm animals.

    Just love seeing your photos. My husband & I visited your shop in 1996. I remember the big shop cat laying on the cutting table & the sweet lady that waited on me. I bought several kits & books while m

  44. Marilyn Miller

    Boredom? Ohh, my, no! It’s a wonderfully interesting picture/story and we love it! I always made it a point when visiting family in Clear Lake to make it over to your shop/barn. The highlight of the trip from southeast Iowa. Miss seeing all the quilts on the fences. Was lucky enough to now own some t smaller wall quilts Which now decorate my sewing room❤️.

  45. Mrs. Goodneedle

    I remember when all of this happened– for an American girl living overseas at that time, your Goat Gazette was a touchstone to “home” for me in those days. I must admit my ignorance re: flag etiquette too, I never would have guessed that upper LEFT was proper for the “field”, somehow that seems backwards to me, but what do I know? Somewhere I have a picture of your barn that I took when visiting CT in 1999.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mrs. Goodneedle – I remember thinking if the flag was hanging horizontal across the barn and you just tipped it to vertical, the blue field would be in the upper right. I was so wrong and oh, was I chastised!!!!

  46. Deb

    You are a wonderful story teller, Mary. Three friends and I drive down from west central MN many years ago with our matching quilts from one of your patterns. It was a dream day! Thanks for the memories. I think your flag looks correct the way it is. To the left is backwards in my mind. Oh well!

  47. Renee Arnett

    What a great transformation of the barn to a create a wonderful gathering space for quilters! I remember my first visit to Country Threads for quilt camp and getting used to the sounds and smells of sewing in the loft of the barn. As a city girl from Chicago, it was a wonderful experience! I have so many fun and treasured memories of sewing, shopping and making friends at Country Threads over the years!

  48. Sandy D’Angelo

    I am so enjoying this thread. I have made so many of these early quilts. I always wanted to visit you.

  49. Mary Rhodes

    Oh not boring at all! I’m enjoying it alot! You really had your cut out for you! What a beautiful out come! Love seeing the pictures as well. Enjoy the animals as well. Thank you for sharing the pass!

  50. Sue in Marion,

    Love the barn story! I bought your first book before I had the skills to make the patterns! I have most of your books and many patterns. Always wanted to visit. Now I have plenty of time since I retired from teaching…….but I retired not long after you closed, alas. Still love Country Threads patterns.

  51. Theresa

    The back story and history only adds to the pictures you are sharing, making them come to life. Thank you

  52. Sandra Goddard

    This is an amazing story. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.

  53. Betty Klosterman

    Mary, my computer monitor went black on Sunday and I didn’t get a new one til this morning. And it seems like years since I was able to read your blogs. Out here in Western South Dakota most barns are what I’d call sheds. Yours is an IOWA barn!! It is wonderful. Too bad most of them are coming down. My uncle lived on a place south of Clarion that had a barn built by the Amish (I think) and they didn’t use nails — just pegs. It is gone, too. Then there were the oval corn cribs built by the WPA, I think. Did they tear down the one on the south side of Belmond? Gotta plant corn… Of course revisiting Country Threads is wonderful. Luckily I took lots of pictures and have them in small albums to look at. I heard my husband telling another guy “she” always has to stop at this place, but actually it wasn’t such a bad place to wait. Loved the animals, peace and quiet, especially the roosters crowing. That is a very nice sound. We got to stop when we’d come to visit each year and it was always wonderful. I still have some of the Goat Gazettes, too. I gave one of them to a neighbor thinking he’d enjoy looking at the pictures, jokes, etc. Both he and his wife were raving about it and wanted more.
    Oh, last Thursday we got a hail storm with golf ball size hail. Everybody in our block got broken windows except me. My window screens were torn into shreds, but protected the windows. So glad as I hate broken glass. Don’t know what other damage we have.
    Thank you for your time doing the blog. Especially now, it is very important to so many of us. The blog is a window to the world to all of us. It isn’t about the TV news, it is about the people which is good. We quilters are so lucky. We are happy to be inside surrounded by our treasured fabric making beautiful things. So far I’ve made 145 face masks for the hospital, friends and neighbors.
    Take care, everybody. This will pass, someday.

    1. Jan from SW Iowa

      Betty’s comments about various Iowa barns reminded me of the one of my great-grandfather in Derby, Iowa. It was made partly of walnut. Local wood so the price was right! When my Dad heard that subsequent owners burned it, he practically wept.

    2. CountryThreads Post author

      Betty Klosterman – if I didn’t hear from you soon, I was going to be on the hunt for you to see what had happened! Computers are ruling us all but thank God for them – otherwise I’d never talk to anybody! So glad you can tune in again, Betty! I missed you!

  54. Amy M

    Mary I can’t wait to print out the complete barn story and save it with all my Country Thread patterns and books. I love seeing the old pictures!! I feel very fortunate that we got to make an annual trip to the shop and sew in the barn many years. I have so many wonderful memories and stories and I know there are so many quilters that do as well. All your cleaning and hard work not only resulted in a business for you but such memories for us! I remember Connie asked us one time what our favorite quilt shop was because we were discussing many we had been to but the answer was Country Threads! Nothing like it and couldn’t ever be duplicated! P.S. I remember the year the fans were installed in the barn (or was it bigger windows for a better breeze?) and that was exciting 🙂 The barn could be chilly, just right or hot and muggy, you just never knew but that was part of the fun.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Amy M – that was the biggest problem with sewing in the barn – the temperature! Cleaning it every spring finally did me in and even when I hired help, they just didn’t “get it” and didn’t know how to clean it. Great pics coming up tonight to finish out the barn story!

  55. Paula Philpot

    I love seeing these pics. I remember the flag mistake but I didn’t realize they had to be turned a certain way. So glad you are posting these I know your readers will love seeing them. Paula in KY

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