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.

Fireside Stitchery
Frazer, PA

by Rita Vainius

"In 1993 my mother and I started our needlepoint business, Fireside Stitchery," states Maria A. DeSimone. So begins the saga of a shop that has become a true family enterprise. Maria studied Electrical Engineering and Philosophy in college and then went on to receive a Law Degree from Villanova University, PA, thus ultimately following in her father, Tony Bartolini's footsteps. Tony practiced law for over 40 years and was the managing partner of a large Philadelphia law firm. Maria's law specialty was Intellectual Property (patents, trademarks and copyrights) and she practiced for about seven years. When Tony retired, the prior family trend was reversed, and Tony followed in his daughter's footsteps by coming to work at Fireside Stitchery. He now serves in the capacity of Chief Financial Officer, but that does not absolve him from doing a little of everything. It didn't take Tony long to learn the finer points of stitching. In fact, he has already stitched two models for the shop and is stitching more. Even Todd, Maria's husband, is vital to the business as their computer expert and web developer.

Christmas Mitten by Renaissance Designs

Maria grew up in a home where handwork was treasured and nurtured. Each family member pursues some form of creative expression. Maria's sister, Rachel, makes lovely jewelry; brother, David, owns an antique shop and works with the intricate mechanisms of clocks and watches; father, Tony, is an expert woodworker and mother, Judy, is a very talented stitcher. Tony applies his carpentry talents to making beautiful hand turned wood laying tools, needlecases, and hand turned cases to hold the Best Laying Tool. He also creates one-of-a-kind pieces to display needlework, such as footstools, fire screens, needle boxes, scissor cases and many other beautiful items. Maria's own interests include needlework of all kinds, music, writing and beading. She adds, "Although needlepoint is my specialty, I enjoy all the needlearts. I also love to do off-loom bead weaving. I am currently experimenting with spinning my own threads and learning how to weave in the Navajo style. I also enjoy designing, teaching and lecturing in many areas of needleart."

Tony's Hand Turned Best Laying Tool Cases

Judy was an obstetrics nurse and worked until she and Tony started a family. She then traded in her nursing whites to become a full time stay-at-home mom. She was the one who introduced Maria to needle and thread. Judy is an expert stitcher, adept in many techniques - heirloom hand sewing, cutwork, pulled thread, lacework, Japanese embroidery, needlepoint and others. Maria proudly reports, "Her most recently completed pieces were two exquisite christening gowns and matching bonnets for her first grandchildren (my sister's twins)."

 Vera Bradley Teddy Bear  Alice in Wonderland Chair with Hand Painted Canvas Cushion

Fireside Stitchery was begun as a mail order business working out of a small rented office on the top floor of an old home. The company has grown quickly and today, in addition to their thriving mail order venture, has a retail business ensconced in a beautiful full service store in Frazer, PA, about 35 miles west of Philadelphia. The mail order catalog is unusually comprehensive spanning about 100 pages. The newest edition of the catalog is due out late this year. Maria and her husband Todd, along with Marti Davis and Jennifer Taylor of Needleartworks.com, are working on expanding the business further into the Internet arena with an exciting on-line store for the benefit of those stitchers who do not have a local needlework store.

More of Tony's Best Laying Tool Cases

The shop is in its third home. The initial move was made when Fireside Stitchery expanded into retail and then quickly outgrew the space. Maria enthuses, "Our present store is a joy. I would like to say that it is big enough, but I do not think we could ever have a shop that is 'big enough.' There is always one more thread family to try to hang on the wall, or a few more canvases and shop models to display." Fibers in families grace the pristine white walls of the shop, creating a wonderful splash of color wherever one glances. Included is the Caron Family of threads. Maria resumes, "It is a real feast for the eyes to see all the Watercolors, Wildflowers, Waterlilies, Impressions and Soie Crystal hanging side-by-side. We make it our business to know all about the threads we carry so that we can recommend just the right threads for our customers' projects. We are always on the lookout for new and interesting threads, and we keep our stock up to date with all the new colors."


 Chateau in the Woods by Thespia Designs

Fireside Stitchery stocks an extensive and diverse collection of hand painted canvases from painted canvas artists all over the country. They work with talented local artists to come up with that perfect personalized one-of-a-kind design. Marina Ketterman, who also works part time in the shop, and Sarah Kirkpatrick of Thespia Designs are their custom painters.


An entire section of the store is devoted to needlework books of all types. Maria firmly believes, "One can never have enough books." They also carry the beautiful Vera Bradley quilted bags (perfect for toting all sorts of needlework projects), all the latest needlework accessories, tools and "must have" stitching gadgets, plus great lights, magnifiers, and floor stands. Fireside Stitchery's favorite and best selling floor stand is the Lowery Workstand.

Floral Pillow by Marina Ketterman

In their latest location, the shop boasts a separate room for classes. Workshops and classes accommodate all levels of stitchers and run year-round. In addition to local teachers, guest teachers from all over the country make frequent appearances. Maria adds, "Often you will find one-on-one impromptu classes taking place with a beginning stitcher or with a stitcher needing a refresher on some new stitch. We also offer classes for children ­ they are so much fun to teach, and they love to use the sparkly threads like the Caron Collection Snow and Antica. It is a real treat to see needlework through their eyes." A favorite class that Maria teaches to kids incorporates the McKnight Habitat series of designs. The kids learn to stitch while learning about characteristics of the different animals at the same time!

Hope by Marianne Frost

Owners Maria and Judy boast, "Our Fireside Stitchery staff is the best. Joan, Marianne, Mariana, Janet, Evi, Diane and Donna are a very talented group who eagerly share their love of stitching with our customers. Two members of our staff, Marianne Frost and Donna Taylor, are designers and teachers who each have their own line of published needlework charted designs."

Un Ballo in Maschero by Donna Taylor

Many Trunk shows are held throughout the year, providing a wonderful opportunity to become familiar with all the pieces from a particular designer. A complete range of finishing services is available at Fireside Stitchery. Their creative staff stands at the ready to add that special touch to any customer's needlework project. They will eagerly pull threads and make stitch suggestions for any canvases purchased. They even pull threads for mail order clients who send in canvases for suggestions and also send canvases off to mail order customers on approval. That kind of dedicated and extensive customer service is indeed not easy to come by.


 Hybiscus by Marina Ketterman, Stitch Guide by Marianne Frost

In January of 2000, Fireside Stitchery debuted an Ornament of the Month program and it has been a smash success. They will be expanding to offer three more new programs beginning in January of 2001: Splendor Silk Collector's Club, Thread of the Month Club and Canvas of the Month Club. An informative newsletter is published 3 times per year. Anyone interested in receiving it can call and put their name on their mailing list and become a valued member of the extended Fireside Stitchery family.

 Limited Edition Super Chicken and Frosty by dede  3-D Humpty Dumpty by Tapestry Tent

Fireside Stitchery
490 Lancaster Avenue
Frazer, PA 19355
Phone: (610) 889-9835 or (800) 531- 2607
Fax: (610) 889-3013 (FAX)
E-Mail: ria@firesidestitchery.com
Website: www.firesidestitchery.com

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday ­ 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Wednesday ­ 10:00AM to 7:00PM
Saturday ­ 10:00AM to 3:00PM

Maria has yet other needleart related vocations. From 1995 to 1998 she was a feature editor, designer and writer for Needlepointer's, the magazine of the American Needlepoint Guild. These talents have most recently been used to launch another venture. She is a founder along with two partners, Joyce Lukomski and Sarah Bennett, in a new commercial needleart magazine called needlepoint now. Maria serves as the Assistant Editor for the bi-monthly publication. For more information on this magazine and for a free design, Pieces of Eight, courtesy of needlepoint now, see this month's Magazine Freebie!

© 1999 The Caron Collection / Rev.9-30-00 / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

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