My aunt Teresa is for me, the definition of elegance and strength. I've looked up to her my whole life & so this artist feature will certainly celebrate her creative story and it will reflect on the importance of the role she plays in my life, too.
(These sweet baby shoes sold recently... but Teresa will happily create another pair
if you happen to have a new baby in your life.)
Teresa (Karlsson) McDonnell is the next youngest sibling to my mom, Rebecca (Karlsson) Rosenkrans and the fourth of five daughters in the Karlsson family (six children in all - I can't forget my Uncle Pete!) When Roseau natives and their family and friends enter the Shoppe and wonder about family history, my mom and Teresa often reference themselves as the "Bethel-Stafford Karlsson girls" which is consistently met with knowing head-nods and familiar associations such as, "Oh... we rode the school bus together" or "we were in the same Sunday school class." The Karlsson sisters are fiercely loyal, hard-working and independent women. I count myself very blessed to be a part of their lineage.
(From left: Aunt Cindy, Aunt Faith, Aunt Teresa, me & my mom, Becky
with Enar Karlsson, their father and my grandfather.
We missed Aunt Julie when the pic was taken.)
Teresa has long been known to family and friends as having an incredible knack for creative expression. Whether it is her personal style, home decor or the items she creates, the artistry in her DNA is evident. I have a few knit pieces from her which includes the most recent gift and probably my favorite... a charming garland of knit Christmas trees to hang across my mantle. I cherish what she creates and love having a few of her items at the Shoppe. I asked my aunt Teresa a series of questions about her creative outlets and her longstanding involvement with the arts community in Northwest Minnesota. Here is what she had to say.
Q: Please share a little bit about your interest in the arts, including your involvement with the arts community.
Because my mother, Frances Karlsson, was frequently working on art projects, either her commercial art work, an art project for the community of Roseau, or helping with 4-H or church art projects, I was always exposed to art. I became involved with the Roseau Area Arts Association (RAAA) as a way to honor mom's commitment to the organization and to help carry forward the work of RAAA. RAAA's current projects include funding scholarships for students entering an arts-related field of higher education, and sponsoring Prairie Fire Children's Theater which involves 70+ elementary and high school students in theater performance in our local community each summer.
(A selection of knit scarves featuring the unique yarn Teresa curates from her travels.)
Q: When did you first become interest in knitting and/or crochet? Are you self-taught or did you take classes or both?
I crocheted when I was growing up because Mom was able to teach me. I didn't start knitting until about 10 years ago. I used tutorials off the internet and how-to books to get started, and then a few friends who were interested in knitting decided to meet occasionally to talk about our projects, share advice, and to drink wine! I now belong to a knitting group that meets weekly, except during the summer months, at the Roseau Library. The group includes all ages, some expert knitters, some beginners, and some who work on other needlework projects. I have also been inspired by attending a few fiber festivals and workshops in Northwest Minnesota when available, to learn more about yarns, patterns, and other fiber crafts.
(The knitting group enjoying creativity and connection.)*
Q: Please share a bit about where you've found your favorite yarns and patterns.
I search for yarn in so many places! When I travel I always try to find a local yarn shop. I am a fan of second-hand and thrift shops and always check out yarns while shopping there. Specialty yarn stores are always fun because they display examples of projects someone has created with the yarns being sold. Those are great sources of inspiration and ideas and get me dreaming of improving my knitting ability. I find patterns through on-line knitting communities, as well as good friends who are willing to share their library of magazines and projects. The local library has a nice selection of knitting and craft books as well.
*The knitting group in Roseau meets from 2:00-4:00 every Thursday behind the fireplace in the library. There is also a knitting group in Warroad that meets the third Sunday of each month at 1:00 PM at the Warroad Care Center.
(I'm not sure how sly my Uncle Joe was when he snapped this picture,
but I appreciate the image for so many reasons.)
Q: Do you have a favorite item to knit and do you have an all-time favorite item you created?
My favorite items to knit are either something for my grandchildren or something I enjoy wearing myself. I love scarves and cowls; the warmth they provide, the accent they provide to outfits. Because I can create scarves and cowls in an almost unlimited number of colors, styles, patterns, with almost any type of yarn, those are some of my favorite items to knit and crochet. There is great satisfaction in creating items for my grandchildren, and other people who are extra special to me, and seeing them wearing a hat or sweater that I made is really satisfying and heart-warming. I recently completed a small lapghan for my grand-daughter, and I love knowing that she will wrap herself in it when she is cold, or when she is snuggling with her mom or dad.
I have more than one favorite piece I've made. One is a sweater made from a kit I bought while traveling in England. I haven't gifted it yet so it is just waiting for the next special baby in my life. Another favorite item is a drop-stitch pattern scarf made from a beautiful yarn. I wear it often!
(An adorable bonnet created with especially soft yarn for a little one.)
Q: Do you have other artistic outlets or items you create? Any future plans for creating?
I enjoy decorating my house and making it an eclectic and welcoming space. I expect I will always redecorate the places I live, even when I'm in the nursing home! I have enjoyed helping out at En Liten Svensk and The Bead Gypsy, because they are full of creativity! When I was working full-time in a demanding job and there were stressful days, I would picture some day working in a lovely little shop in Roseau where I could set my own hours. Who knew that dream would come true!
(Lovely patterns and designs offer a unique touch to any wardrobe.)
Q: Please offer your thoughts about the benefits of a knitting group and of knitting as an art form.
Knitting with friends or as part of a group magnifies the enjoyment. Visiting with other knitters, sharing patterns, getting help (often!), giving feedback, admiring projects others are creating - it is a wonderful social gathering! Knitting is also a great solo activity. Its easily transportable for traveling. I often find my mind wandering while I knit. You can listen to books on tape or watch 'House Hunters' while knitting.
(Our appreciation for Teresa's support and 'artist's eye' can't be overstated!)
My aunt Teresa's interest in decorating with a goal of creating warm and welcoming spaces has been an invaluable asset to the creation of the Shoppe. As we have developed our displays and the overall feel of the space, Teresa has been a trusted consultant and dedicated partner in the process. She is unafraid to get her hands dirty, to climb a tall ladder or give an opinion when needed. She's helped in countless ways, whether it's covering the Shoppe for a few hours or days, unpacking and displaying inventory, painting the bathroom (!) and many, many other tasks... she's always there when we need her. She has been a tireless supporter of our business and is an integral part of it far beyond sharing her hand-knitted wares. I am incredibly grateful for her support and her willingness to be everything a beloved aunt encompasses.
It's been a joy to spend time together and to celebrate our family's shared love and passion for the arts. Thank you, Aunt Teresa for sharing your artist's story and your talents!