The CARON Collection is pleased to feature one of the outstanding shops who so ably provide stitchers with not only supplies but guidance, technical expertise, and inspiration. We hope you'll support your local shops and browse through our extensive SHOP LISTINGS to find a shop near you.
Old Town Needlework & Framing
in Scottsdale, AZ
Personal landmarks in Gail Savage's life have occurred most often during summers. She was born in Oak Park, IL in the summer. At 6 months, her family moved to Racine, WI and Gail spent half her childhood there and the other half in Arizona, which has been home ever since. Gail's innate affinity for sales became evident as a "brownie," peddling Girl Scout cookies, "I found my destined vocation - I was going to be a Girl Scout Cookie Dealer when I grew up. But alas, the season was just too short, and the competition was too great. Then greeting cards took over, then this, then that, then Tupperware, then an opportunity to open my own shop in November of 1977."
Gail has always considered her grandmother to be the world's best embroiderer and retains vivid memories to prove it, "She could whip out a tea towel or a pillowcase in no time. And the magic she could do with a tablecloth and matching napkins brought tears to your eyes. The variety of color of floss that kept coming out of her candy tin amazed me. I never had crayons that color but here they were in embroidery floss crying out to be stitched!" When Grandma Branch finally agreed to teach Gail at age nine, several conditions were imposed, "I promised to eat all my peas (ugh)...to keep the back of my stitching as neat as the front...and to wash my hands, with soap, before I stitched." That settled, Gail proceeded to stitch tea towels out of flour sacks and matching pillowcases during another fateful summer. The following year, autograph books were the craze and all the girls were madly rushing around filling them with names. Gail, ever the non-conformist, started her own fad, "I wore one of my mother's old white blouses to school and had everyone sign their name...Then I embroidered each name in a different color. When I finished...and wore it to school, it was the hit of the year!" Gail's mother thought she should try needlepoint and one day came home arms laden with pre-worked stool covers, purses, pillow tops, cigarette cases and you name it, all to be stitched with a black background, by Christmas. Gail reminisces, "Well - my tension did get to be pretty perfect, but I sure got tired of black backgrounds!"
When her family relocated to the desert, Gail remembers, "Our car had "440" air conditioning...all 4 windows rolled down at 40 mph!...This was...summer, again!" Upon arriving there, she found that the seasons were somewhat reversed. One spent summers indoors, away from the blazing sun and more time outside winters when temperatures were milder. During her first summer there Gail learned how to knit, "The dolls got their own blankets. My brothers got blankets. Even the cat got her own blanket! Then winter came and I forgot about stitching for many years." But as Gail later discovered, "All those stitching skills are like riding a bicycle. You never really forget...When I was pregnant with my son I stitched, knit and crocheted up a storm." When her son Joe started school, Gail felt left out of the loop, so she decided to open a store devoted to her other favorite hobby - cooking. She signed a lease but someone else just beat her to it, opening a similar shop nearby. Gail determined to go with her first hobby - needlework. Her shop, Crewel World, near Flagstaff, AZ, became known far and wide. She reminisces, "Soon I had ladies making their husbands detour their vacation to southern California by 200 miles just to stop by the shop!" Her shop was the first in Arizona to carry counted cross stitch supplies and be on the cutting edge of a fantastic cross stitch revival. Gail literally gave away more than 2,000 free kits to teach people how to cross stitch. And did it work! Men, women and children were hooked and wanting more. The shop flourished and Gail presided over her own stitching heaven there for 11 wonder filled years.
When personal reasons necessitated a move, Gail sold the business. She opened another, Old Town Needlework & Framing, in Scottsdale, now in its second location. It is situated within striking distance of the Grand Canyon and Sedona, both favorite tourist meccas. There are hundreds of golf courses and Spring Training Camps for several baseball teams in the vicinity. Her emporium sits smack in the www.scottsdaledowntown.com part of town, a popular destination for tour buses to disgorge masses of visitors to shop the myriad of unique stores and boutiques which line the streets, along with numerous restaurants and galleries.
Within the store, the walls are a feast for the eyes, covered with every kind of thread imaginable. Needlepoint racks boast a very eclectic selection of canvases; cross stitch books number in the thousands. A huge bookcase holds linens and aida fabric and cabinet drawers open to reveal treasure after treasure. Models ring the walls, many in southwest style, featuring unique and intricate framing jobs. This is one of the shop's specialties with loyal customers sending their needleart from all over for Gail's special touch. Musing over her career, Gail comments, "It is not really like working...I get to visit with friends every day and play with beautifully colored threads. I help people start new projects and see the finished ones come in for finishing so the circle has been completed." Gail is the ultimate people person and is endlessly patient, insisting "There is no such thing as a 'dumb question.'...I love to show old and young, women and men, how rewarding stitching can be." She exudes the same intensity of enthusiasm first elicited by Grandma's tin of colored threads when she was just a child.
Gail's sense of fun was the driving force behind a much anticipated bi-annual event. She elucidates, "Choosing colors of threads and the fact that I always wanted to be a cruise director on a luxury liner, made us start Camp Wannastitch. Twice a year, spring and fall, we transport...women of all ages... to a camp for 3 days of nonstop stitching and eating. We work on projects... and the rest of the time is made up of eating, stitching and uncontrollable laughter. Even when we retire to our cabins, too tired to take even one more stitch, the women turn into 10 year olds on a sleepover!" For one session, Linda Ebright, designer of the adorable Lizzie*Kate designs, was a featured guest. Gail adds, "She designed a sampler using a variety of threads, with a cabin, pine cones and even our crossed marshmallow roasting sticks! After all what is a camp without s'mores?" This rustic retreat is sheltered within 150 acres of dense piney woods in northern Arizona. At just $175.00, it can't be beat! This year's spring camp is scheduled for April 14 to 16, with special workshops in Bargello and Sweatshirt Embellishment. The Fall 2000 camp will feature Catherine Coleman, noted teacher and designer from Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Gail is a long time fan of the Caron Collection. She emphatically states, "Lois is one of the most dependable people in the needlework industry. The quality of her products is matched only by their popular demand. We have sold thousands...of skeins of Watercolours using their Byzantine Ornament pattern." Gail also offers a selection of ornaments which are fast to stitch using Watercolours on gold perforated paper. She says, "What a treat for busy moms who do not have lots of stitching time to be able to use the overdyed threads...and have a completed project in a little over an hour!"
Now for one of Gail's favorite anecdotes, "I was in the shop...The front door opened and I peeked out to say 'Hello.' Two elderly ladies came in and one said, 'My friend here does not stitch but I do all of this, so I am going to show her around.' She proceeded telling her non-stitching friend that all of the books were for needlepoint and so were the models on one wall. They were really cross stitch books and models. Then she proceeded to tell the non-stitcher that the hand painted canvases on another wall were 'stamped' cross stitch. They made it back to the front where we had a big brandy snifter full of stitched bargello balls. The non-stitcher exclaimed how beautiful they were. Upon which the 'stitcher' grabbed one saying, 'I do this all the time!' She turned to me and said, 'Miss, Miss, isn't this that bordello?' Well, I could not contain myself any longer...I said, 'Madam, bordello is a whorehouse. That is bargello!' The non-stitcher said, 'Edith, watch your mouth!'" Gail stifles her laughter long enough to add, "We cannot look at the bargello balls without thinking of dear old Edith and hope she is stitching away somewhere on her 'stamped' cross stitch canvas!"
For anyone looking for a socially acceptable opportunity to regress and at the same time, stitch to your heart's content, contact Gail for details on getting away to Camp Wannastitch!
Mon. - Fri. 10.00am - 5:30 pm
Saturdays 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sundays (from approximately Oct. to Apr.) 12 noon - 4:00 pm
© 1999 The Caron Collection / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003
CARON email: firstname.lastname@example.org