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.

The Canvasback In Northfield, IL

In 1974, Sally H. Volkert and her sister-in-law, Mary Gee Volkert, bought an existing needlework store that had been in business just a few years. They immediately set to work changing the format, adding their own touches and realizing their concept of what a needlepoint shop should be. Thus began "The Adventure of The Canvasback."

Sally was born and raised in Westport, CT, until the age of fifteen. Her father was then transferred with NBC to Illinois and the family moved to Winnetka. Sally attended New Trier High School, then Skidmore University, and after that, she transferred to Miami of Ohio University. Sally adds, "My major was art and my plan was to go into graphic art designing since my interests have always been in the art field. In school I was always active in sports, leadership and, of course, academics. Whatever the activity, I always ended up creating the art work for any given group!"

Sally Volkert

After attending college Sally worked as an Interior Decorator with a firm in Chicago. She married and raised three sons, who are all now married with children of their own. Sally calls them "My abundant blessings!"

When Sally's sons were still quite young, she became passionately interested in needlepoint and began designing needlepoint for her friends. She elaborates, "In 1974, I asked my sister-in-law, Mary Gee, if she would join me in creating a needlepoint shop. We ended up buying an existing shop that had only been in business a few years. We changed the format, adding many more services, classes, handpainted needlepoint, yarn, etc., and began the journey of The Canvasback."

Within just a year they moved and greatly expanded the store to accommodate their growing business. The original shop had been quartered in a very tiny room in a gift store, just around the corner from its present location. It has been thriving ever since, doubling in size and becoming an institution to stitchers from Chicago, its suburbs and across the nation. Sally ruefully admits, "We again need to expand but are having trouble finding the space!"

In 1993, Sally's sister-in-law, Mary Gee, had to leave the business due to illness. Sally was left to run the shop on her own. She reminisces, "Mary Gee is missed by everyone and is specially remembered with a memorial garden in front of the shop, which blossoms with beautiful flowers and color, as does the shop."

Mary Gee Volkert's Memorial Garden
and Commemorative Plaque

The Canvasback has grown each and every year under Sally's superior stewardship. The focus has remained the same throughout, always reflecting Sally's and Mary Gee's original goals -- quality needlepoint and all that goes with it. Sally adds, "The explosion in the art work of hand-painted designs and in the variety of new fibers introduced has created a glorious combination for the creative stitchers that visit The Canvasback."

The Canvasback is a total needlepoint shop. "I have not brought in knitting or any other stitchery," explains Sally. "The focus and products have remained the same, with tremendous growth, throughout the 28 years. We offer an extensive inventory (one of the largest in the country) of hand painted canvases, just about all the fibers available, all the accessories and furniture that go with needlepoint, an extensive schedule of classes, our own custom designer, (I had to give up that part as the shop grew), our own creative finisher (who has been with the shop since the beginning) and exceptional service."

The shop holds monthly trunk shows and attracts teachers from around the country to supplement Sally's staff of creative and talented instructors. She enthuses, "I am fortunate to have a very talented and dedicated staff, who help me run a very busy shop. I could not manage without them." Needlepoint workshops and classes cover every level of experience from total neophytes to expert advanced stitchers. The shop even arranges workshops for children. The classes run year-round on a quarterly schedule.

Sally's creative and well-informed staff is made up of stitchers who each have the same passion towards needlepoint that Sally herself possesses. They instill their limitless curiosity and enthusiasm into each and every customer. Sally adds, "This tends to make us a family that works well together, as well as having a lot of fun. My best employees have been past customers and today, all ten who make up the staff are previous clients. How lucky I am! I have four people on the floor each day, each one has specific responsibilities and they all continue to amaze me with their dedication. When I let them know I am on overload everyone pitches in and does a little more!! They keep me well directed and I am thankful for all of them!"

Sally has inventoried the Caron Collection products since they first became available many, many years ago, from canvases to fibers. She informs, "Impressions is one of our biggest sellers, followed closely by Watercolours, Wildflowers and Waterlillies.

Located in the small town of Northfield, only about 20 miles north of Chicago, The Canvasback is close to the major highway that runs from Chicago to Wisconsin. It is a convenient and easily accessible location for customers coming from all directions, particularly for stitchers heading into town from the northern, southern, and western suburbs.

Sally and Mary Gee's original goal when establishing the Canvasback was to bring their customers the very finest in needlepoint design along with the most attentive and responsive customer service. If anything, that philosophy holds as true today as it did 28 years ago. Sally states, "My passion has never ceased for the love of needlepoint; my staff has the same passion and we love sharing it with others! The Canvasback is a needlepointer's paradise, which is how many of our customers have referred to it."

Sally H. Volkert
The Canvasback Ltd
1747 Orchard Lane
Northfield, IL 60093
Phone: (847) 446- 4244
Fax: (847) 446- 1247
E mail: Canbk4@aol.com
Website: http://www.canvasback-needlepoint.com
Shop Hours: Monday ­ Friday 10 am to 5 pm
Saturday 10 am to 4 pm

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

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com