Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

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.

Mrs. Stitches in Mendham, NJ

Becoming acquainted with Mrs. Stitches means meeting PEABODY, the cute little duck that appears on the shop website, business stationary, store sign etc. Anne A Marek, the shop's owner, explains how he came to be her mascot, "He was purchased from the gift shop in the Peabody Hotel during an ANG seminar. The hotel is famous for its mallards, which enjoy a grand life swimming in a lovely turn-of-the-century marble fountain in the lobby. Each evening the Duckmeister escorts them to their penthouse apartment in the Hotel where they dine on cracked corn until morning when, promptly at 11:00 am they are again escorted down the elevator to their fountain 'pond.' It's a great life for a duck at The Peabody Hotel! This cute little fella now resides at 6 Hilltop Road. He's here and for sale as a three pound frame weight, or unweighted as an adorable stuffed critter."

Anne's journey into the needlearts began in 1989 when she decided to change hobbies. Horseback riding had been her favorite pastime and in looking for something to replace the hours she spent riding, she decided to try stitching. After completing two needlepoint kits she says, "I loved it. I couldn't get enough of needlepoint." So began a pastime that was destined to become Anne's passion and ultimately, her profession. At the time, a shop called Mendham Stitchery was located right in her neighborhood. Anne recalls, "I couldn't believe there were such beautiful hand painted canvases available. Through that shop, I stitched my six dining room chair seats plus numerous Christmas pillows." Anne began taking beginner and then intermediate level classes at the store, then taught by Mrs. Gaby Wicklow.

Mendham Stitchery was owned by 3 women; the shop carried materials for needlepoint and knitting. The extent of fibers they carried was Paternayan and Medici wool and DMC floss. Most of their business catered to knitters, "but," says Anne, "at the time, that was enough." In 1992, one of the partners decided to sell her shares. Anne had for the past 17 years been the Executive Director of the Morris County Medical Society and was herself looking for a change. She opted to buy into the business. Upon joining the ANG, she diligently began attending classes and seminars, striving to learn all she could.
Over time, Anne completed courses in Florentine embroidery, painted canvas embellishment, counted thread techniques, cut and pulled work, silk and metal thread embroidery, blackwork, Ruskin lace, canvas appliqué, painted canvas embellishment, Danish whitework, beading and cross stitch sampler techniques. In 1996 she was chosen by the ANG to design a Christmas stocking for the White House Tree and the following year, the National Needlework Association picked her to design an Ornament for the 1997 White House Tree. This circular ornament featured Peabody, the shop's mascot, making his White House debut!


White House Ornament 1996   White House Ornament 1997 

From 1995-1997 Anne was Program Chairperson for the ANG, NJ Needle Artists Chapter and since1998 she has served as its President. She is also a member of the EGA, the Friends of Counted Embroidery, the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) and has completed the Master Craftsman Program in Canvas Embroiders of the EGA, Level 1. Additionally Anne has participated in many needlework exhibits and has served as a judge of needlepoint, embroidery, needlework and counted thread techniques for the NJ State Federation of Woman's Clubs.

In 1996, when Anne's two remaining partners retired, she was ready to buy them out and take the reins on her own. She changed the name of the shop to Mrs. Stitches, but that was only the first of the significant changes to come. An entirely revitalized business was about to be born along with the new moniker. When queried about how the business has changed since she took over, Anne does not hesitate, "Product has multiplied a thousand-fold!"

Anne started by renovating the space. She removed knitting suppliese ntirely and began adding instead all the new specialty threads she could find: new flosses, braids, rayons, wools, silks, cottons and fiber blends made their appearance. Counted cross-stitch was brought in at the earliest opportunity. Mrs. Stitches became and remains a full service needlework shop specializing in hand-painted needlepoint canvases and unique cross stitch fabrics and charts. Special in house services include blocking for canvases and custom finishing for pillows, rugs, wall hangings, bell pulls, frames, belts and handbags, as well as for all kinds of Christmas ornaments and stockings.

Anne is proud of her extensive selection of hand painted canvases from all the top name designer: Melissa Shirley, Elizabeth Turner, JHL & Co., Rebecca, Alexa, Amanda Lawford, Susan Treglow, JP, Silver Needle, Susan Roberts, Barbara Eyre, AT, Julie Mar, Napier and many more. Also in stock are a limited number of pre-stitched design canvases for footstools and chair seats. Inventoried as well are Vera Bradley Designs including a full line of handbags, small luggage items suitable for toting stitching projects and other accessories.

Fabric inventory includes Zweigart canvas and fabrics as well as specialty fabrics: Glenshee linen, legacy linen, Belfast and Dublin linen, klostern, Tula, all counts of heatherfield in most of the colors, lugano, and jobelan. For cross-stitch enthusiasts, the shop boasts numerous charts including those by all the foremost designers, as well as small cross-stitch kits. Specialty kits include Elizabeth Bradley and Beth Russell Victorian designs, Bucilla kits for cross-stitch and needlepoint, Mill Hill Cross Stitch and beaded kits, and Susan Clarke Heirloom Beaded Amulet purses. Cross-stitch designs are readily available from The Drawn Thread, Cross Eyed Cricket, Prairie School, Homespun Elegance, Shepherd's Bush, Lizzie Kate, Mirabilia, and Just Nan. Many reproduction samplers are available from R&R Reproductions, Sampler Works, Handwork, and Heart's Content. Among threads in stock are the Caron Collection Impressions line, both solid and overdyed, Snow, Watercolours, Wildflowers and Waterlilies. Anne points out, "Probably my best selling thread is Impressions. Once someone tries it, they really never go back to wool. It is so soft and supple."

Mrs. Stitches offers a unique selection of other needlework products: lovely hand-turned items including laying tools, Tekobari cases, needleholds and thread catchers. Another specialty offering is a stunning selection of antique needlework tools. Anne elaborates, "As a general guide, English needlework tools readily available to collectors fit into three different periods of time - the ivory tools of the Georgian Era, the mother-of-pearl tools that are synonymous with the Victorian Era and the sterling silver tools that are typically Edwardian. Handmade pincushions and needle books give us a glimpse into the lives of eighteenth and nineteenth century ladies."

French & English Victorian Needlework Tools

Enameled and Silver Tools, Shaker Leather and Ribbon Needlework Piece

Antique needlework tools and thimbles shown above include a Victorian iron sewing box, a French mother-of-pearl egg shaped etui, a leather box with enameled silver tools, and a Shaker style ribbon and leather needlework piece

"Peabody's VIP Club" offers Anne's regular customers more "bang for the buck!" It includes a key tag system; when the tag is fully punched, it is redeemable for $20 worth of goods or services. Trunk shows are held periodically and the next one scheduled is a Melissa Shirley Show from September 14 through 29, 2002. A newsletter published twice a year announces upcoming classes and trunk shows. Classes are held for beginning, intermediate and advanced stitchers. Gaby, who taught Anne when she was just a novice, still teaches at the shop and is beloved by all. Lucy, an accomplished needlewoman, avid stitcher and past President of NJ Needle Artists Chapter of the ANG, helps out on Saturdays and fills in when Anne is away.

Anne with Vickie
An 18-month-old German Shepherd.

Vickie, Anne's dog, has been accompanying Anne to the shop since she was 8 weeks old. Anne relates, "All my customers love her. She has completed four levels of dog obedience and graduated from the super advanced class. She also took the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Test and passed with flying colors. She will be entering a therapy dog program this summer."
Mrs. Stitches is located approximately 12 miles west of Morristown off Route 24, in a part of NJ that retains its rural and scenic aspect. "We're in the country," Anne states simply. She adds an enticement, "How about a nice stuffed critter for the making, or choose from a fine selection of antique needlework tools, thimbles, chatelaines and scissors? Pick out a special gift for your special stitcher at Mrs. Stitches."

Anne A. Marek
Mrs. Stitches
6 Hilltop Rd. Mendham, NJ
phone: (973) 543- 2040
fax: (973) 543- 3886
website: http://www.mrsstitches.com
Shop Hours Tues. ­ Fri. Noon ­ 5 pm
Sat 10 am -- 5 pm

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