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

Tools of the Trade ­ Anne Powell Ltd.

Anne Powell began her professional life as a primary school teacher in rural NC; her first students were children of tenant farmers and a typical day's routine might include cooking lunches, giving hair cuts and whatever else needed doing. She later taught in an affluent suburb of Baltimore, recalling, "It was quite a culture shock. Since teachers were scarce after WWII, classrooms were very large - never less than 40 children... maximum was 52!"

As most women of her generation, once Anne had children, she was a "stay at home" mom. She found it very satisfying and the rewards, many. When she could find time, she would indulge in her numerous hobbies: reading, gardening, cooking and antiques. Anne engaged in stitching but states, "I don't call needlework a hobby as it has always been part of my life. Inspired & encouraged by my talented mother, I learned early in life to sew, knit & embroider. Needlework is productive, soothing...While you are stitching, you can...hold a conversation, dream, think, plan, listen to music or watch TV. Doing two (or more) things at one time is bliss!"

In 1975, Anne purchased a Danish kit. She remarks, "Since no one informed me that 'linen is HARD to work on' I completed the sampler in no time." It was the year before the Bicentennial and Anne decided to design a sampler to commemorate the occasion. Receiving compliments and offers to buy her design, a business was born! At the time Anne had NO experience in business or merchandising, but she did place an ad for her design kit in House Beautiful. She received inquiries from several shops and one informed her of trade shows where she could exhibit. Obviously one design was not enough, so she got to work! Anne had always been fascinated by Victorian perforated paper samplers, "I love the traditional mottoes and was sad to see how many of them were in poor condition, with paper shredded & colors faded. This inspired me to adapt this art to cross stitch on linen, knowing that the finished samplers would last a lifetime & beyond. My first one, HOME SWEET HOME, was designed in 1976, and is still popular as ever!"

While traveling, Anne discovered the fascinating world of antique needlework tools. When she showed her "finds"to other stitchers, the lament she heard time and again was, "Why don't they make beautiful things like they used to!" Anne saw potential in copying some of them. She elaborates, "Our first reproduction was a sterling silver 'pinsafe,' which could be worn on a chain or suspended from a chatelaine. We have expanded to many other sewing tools, including thimbles, thimble holders, needlecases, tape measures and even complete chatelaines. All are made of genuine sterling silver and some are even produced in 14K gold." Asked about the process involved in having reproductions made, Anne jests, "Having our beautiful silver and gold reproductions made was easy! Only 'blood, sweat & tears' and lots of perspiration instead of inspiration!" Anne is definitely no stranger to inspiration, "I do see things every day that give me ideas and then I try to pursue them." She seeks out skilled artisans and confers with them about what she wants made.


Anne's first full time employee, Rosemarie Ferry, somehow just, "walked into her life" and stayed with her for 14 years. Having never stitched before, by the time Rosemarie retired, she was an expert and passionate cross stitcher. Amazingly, Anne operates her business out of an office, still assisted by only one full time employee of eight years, Rosemarie Moschetti. There's no question that Anne inspires loyalty in her staff. She accomplishes so much because she is a self-admitted "workaholic" and we already know her MO of doing two or more things at once. She increases productivity by working with the best outside "support" teams she can find and then staying with them (graphics firm, computer support, webmaster, etc.). She also has willing volunteers in her "equally busy and wonderful" family - her husband (retired) and four grown children, with families and careers of their own. They form a vital back-up team when Anne requires advice or help and provide her with plenty of moral support. Anne is the R & D Dept., guided by her own intuition and aesthetic, "I only make things that I like, that are classic, and that people will want to use & keep forever! My customers seem to agree." When considering a new product, price is not the primary factor; it is quality and value that Anne insists upon. Apropos to this, she learned this lesson early in life, "I was taught by my wonderful mother that it is better to own one outstanding item which you can keep forever, rather than 100 inferior things which lose luster as soon as you get them home."


With the world shrinking by computers, fax machines and e mail, it has become possible for Anne to comb the world for other wonderful needlework related tools & gifts. She imports only the best of what she uncovers: Solingen scissors from Germany; Limoges thimbles, needle and scissors cases from France, sterling silver items from England and now directly from Russia, beautiful "folk art" and high quality lacquer items. These include thimbles, thimble holders and traditional boxes featuring needlework scenes and motifs, many with mother-of-pearl inlay. All are absolutely stunning and Anne can, with complete confidence, assure, "They can no longer say, "why don't they make beautiful things like they used to!'" Anne recently added yet another imaginative "tool," called "Scissor Dolls," which are available in many different styles and colors. Made up of a pair of Russian dolls, they were intended as Christmas ornaments. Anne envisioned them differently, a good example of what one of her "brainstorms" can lead to! Currently, she is in the process of having "papier mache" buttons designed which feature various scenes, animals and fairy tales. And besides all this, Anne also sells rare and authentic antique sewing tools, many of which are truly "one-of-a-kind" pieces. She elaborates, "Our collectors tell us that they love getting one of our lists [of antique tools]...they get a cup of tea or a glass of wine, sit down in an armchair and start dreaming. And then our phone starts ringing!"


Anne is always on the look-out for items to offer which are produced in the Good Ole U.S.A. She carries Simmons Bros. sterling silver & gold thimbles and recently added a beautiful southwestern design scissors sheath inlaid with lapis, turquoise or amethyst, together with a companion handmade matching thimble. Soon to be debuted is a new "Millennium Thimble." Anne enthuses, "Nothing is too good for our customers...This new century promises to be even more exciting!"

Anne ruefully admits, "I don't have too much time for stitching, but intend to do more of that in the future. I do my own designing, and again I like the classic look and insist on the best quality linen and floss. As Robert Louis Stevenson said in one his poems, and which I stitched on a baby sampler when my 1st grandchild was born "Life is so full of a number of things, I am sure we should all be as happy as Kings!'" Anne completely concurs and would add just two more words to that quote, "or Queens."

For more information contact:
Anne Powell Ltd.
P.O.Box 3060
Stuart, FL 34995-3060
phone: (561) 287- 3007 or for orders only (800) 622-2646
fax: (561) 287- 3007
e mail: info@annepowellltd.com
website: http://www.annepowellltd.com
hours: 9 am to 4 pm Mon. to Fri. At all other times, you can leave a message or send a fax.

Anne Powell Ltd. sells to both the wholesale and retail markets, through their catalog and on their website. There is a $5.00 charge for the catalog, but it comes free when placing an order. You can subscribe to a listing, accompanied by color photographs, of their current stock of one-of-a-kind antique needlework tools for $10.00. (It is mailed out four or five times a year.) Collectors may also find their selection of books on antique tools of interest. Another of Anne's sampler mottoes reads, "Knowledge is Power."

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of this feature story nor the included designs can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of the CARON Collection Ltd. or the featured designers or contributors.

© 1999 The Caron Collection /Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com