Lori Schmidt has been making quilts for nearly 30 years. Her new home-based business, The Pine Needle, has given her a chance to turn her hobby into a career.
The property where her quilting studio is located was originally part of her late husband’s family’s farm. She and her husband took early retirement five years ago and moved up to their land in the town of Pine River. Her quilting studio was soon finished, but a year later her husband passed away.
“I had to find myself again,” Lori said.
Instead of moving back to the Milwaukee area, Lori opted to stay in Merrill and pursue her business.
“I didn’t know many people in Merrill,” she said, “but it’s been a really good path. I restarted my business and networked with other quilters in the area.”
In the last two and a half years, Lori has gotten serious about quilting.
At The Pine Needle, Lori finishes quilts for all types of quilters. She also sells quilting supplies and sewing notions.
Lori hasn’t found her location on a dead-end road a dozen miles from the nearest city to be an obstacle.
“I advertise myself as being centrally located between Merrill, Antigo, Wausau and Tomahawk,” she said. “I told myself people will come, you have to have faith, and they did.”
Lori uses a computerized long-arm machine to make and finish quilts. The machine’s movements can be programmed by the computer or worked manually to do free motion quilting.
Lori’s new business is keeping her very busy these days.
“I am awed at how good it is growing,” she said. “This is a dream, but personally fulfilling to me too.”
Quilting remains a popular hobby, second only to gardening.
Lori is involved with a Tuesday night quilting group that meets at Merrill High School. She finished nine quilts that group made to donate to the new HAVEN shelter in Merrill. She has also done quilts for the Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo and Relay for Life.
Lori, who herself started quilting after taking a class with her mother, also offers small group and private quilting lessons.
The Pine Needle is located at N582 Poplar Rd., off Hwy. 64 east of Merrill. The business can be reached at 715-536-6808 or email email@example.com.