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.

Needle Nook of La Jolla
La Jolla, CA
by Rita Vainius

Bernice Abernathy, owner of the Needle Nook of La Jolla, CA, was born an only child and east-coaster in Reading, PA. Her mother was exceptionally adept at tatting, crocheting, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, needlepoint and sewing. She taught Bernice to embroider at age 5. Bernice kept and treasures her tiny first thimble and the embroidery hoop she used as a child. She was taught all the other various needlearts her mother excelled in, as well. Eventually Bernice became the confirmed needlepointer in the family and Mom became the official knitter. They made a pact that Bernice would decorate the house with her needlepoint projects, while her mother would keep the family in sweaters! Both remained true to their promises!



When Bernice was 15 the family moved south to Florida. Bernice's father was a baker who had always wanted to own his own bakery. The Cake Box in St. Petersburg became the family business. "I guess owning my own business is partly in my blood," Bernice admits and continues, "Plus I combined my hobby with my degree in business."

After high school Bernice attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and earned her degree in Business Administration. She bought her first needlepoint canvas in 1965 and stitched a pillow for her son who was 2 years old at the time. He loved the pillow so much that he took it to bed with him every night! This heartfelt appreciation encouraged Bernice to make another pillow for him the following year. When presented with it, he ran to his bed, put the new pillow on top, placed the first pillow under the bed and declared, "This one looks so much better than the other one, mommy!" Bernice knew then it was high time she took some classes and has been taking them ever since!

Aside from her son, Bernice also has a daughter When they were young she taught both how to needlepoint as a creative and amusing activity and also as a way to improve their manual dexterity. Bernice says, "My daughter still stitches - mainly for my customers and also makes a lot of my models for the shop." Sounds like Bernice made some kind of pact with her daughter just like she did with her own mother once upon a time! And in the case of her son, it seems that the exercise in manual dexterity did pay off as his hobby is collecting and repairing antique watches! Bernice's husband lends a hand at the store also. He is a retired school principal and jazz pianist. Bernice keeps him busy twisting yarn and maintaining the display of canvases on the walls.

The staff at Needle Nook is comprised of 7 industrious, enthusiastic and talented women. Teamwork comes naturally to all of them and busy as the store may get, business runs as smoothly as clockwork. In addition to manager, Pat Wagner, the staff includes Virginia O'Brien, Patty Glynn, Alison Carr and Carol Courington and teachers, Pat Fifield-Saenz, Sara Galligan and Brenda Hart and webmistress Lorraine Kirker.

The Needle Nook is blessed with an excellent location in a lovely community along the ocean in San Diego. La Jolla attracts a lively tourist trade, which impacts tremendously on business at certain times of the year. Hence, the Needle Nook has always profited from a large mail order clientele. About four and a half years ago, the shop established a presence on the Web and this was another great boom for their mail order volume. Bernice says of meeting some of her Internet customers in person, "I remember my thrill the first time several Internet customers, from the East Coast, came into the shop and exclaimed, 'It really is a shop!...We look at your website everyday and we planned our vacation to come see your shop.' I was so touched, I almost cried." Bernice is truly a people-person and she feels blessed to have met so many wonderful people who share her passion for needlework.

Needle Nook has always prided itself on being a teaching shop with a strong focus on education. They offer classes from the most basic to the very advanced. One of the staff instructors, Sara Gilligan, who is a former elementary school teacher, takes beginners through the basics one-on-one. This approach seems eminently successful as a large proportion of these novices become regular customers. Guest teachers are the norm, not the exception. In the past these have included dede Ogden, Amy Bunger, Joan Thomasson, Deborah Wilson, Tish Holland, Cassie Prescott, Sharon Garmize, Helen Crawford, Barbara Elmore, Terry Enfield, Erica Wilson, Peter Ashe and many more. Bernice adds, "It has been very exciting to see the different teachers over the years - they are all so talented. And I have watched our loyal customers who have supported the classes over 20 years, develop into excellent and exquisite stitchers." Needle Nook also holds open stitching sessions every Monday and Thursday. Customers can bring class projects to work on at their leisure. Bernice always has 2 staff teachers scheduled at these times to help with a stitch, consult on color or thread changes, etc. Some of the stitchers have been coming to these sessions almost from the store's inception. Of course there's always new blood being added as well and the needleworkers that partake of these sessions form a very close support group. Bernice elaborates, "On these days the shop rings with laughter, many voices talking - often loud and noisy - and I love it! I am extremely proud of our stitching support group."

A year ago David McCaskill moved to San Diego and now teaches at the Needle Nook about 4 times a month. He has also introduced a new design series featuring Santa and his bag of toys. A wonderful Santa tassel encircles a velvet bag of needlepoint toys. Beginning with Santa, every two months a toy is introduced to add to the collection and to the velvet bag. The toys include Hobby Horse, Doll in a Box, Baseball and Bat, Airplane, and Teddy Bear.



To celebrate the millennium, following Needle Nook's previous highly successful ornament of the month program, the shop has introduced 2 exclusive monthly ornament series. Each month they present a new and, exclusive to Needle Nook, hand painted needlepoint ornament from Shelley Tribbey and dede Ogden. Each ornament canvas design is completely kitted with canvas, needle, thread, stitch guide and photo of the completed project. The Shelley Tribbey Calendar Angel series consists of 12 new angels of the month designed by Shelley just for Needle Nook. In addition, David McCaskill has prepared a stitch guide for each angel design. The combinations of Shelley's exquisite angels and David's creative application of stitches, techniques and threads make this series a very appealing offering. Likewise dede Ogden has designed an exclusive ornament series - the Teardrop Snowpeople, a new one appearing each month through 2000. In addition, dede has personally prepared a stitch guide for each design. dede's vast experience in needlepoint and teaching makes Bernice very proud to be able to offer these to her customers.

Needle Nook is a one-stop full service needlework shop. They stock hand painted needlepoint canvases galore and over 100 different thread lines, including Caron Impressions, Snow, Watercolours, Wildflowers and Waterlilies. Stitch guides are available for many of the designs stocked and if not, the staff is happy to recommend decorative stitches to enhance the canvas as well as providing assistance in selecting just the right threads. Needle Nook eagerly welcomes custom work and offers finishing and framing services as well. Their semi-annual sale begins June 1st and Dec.1st each year and during the months of Feb and July there is a 20% discount on all finishing. Trunk shows featuring different designers are held each month. They provide the opportunity for customers to view a greater selection of a particular designer's work than that which is ordinarily available in the shop. A 15% discount is offered on purchases or orders from the featured design line during show dates and for a full month after the show closes. Many take advantage of these trunk shows to stock up on the latest canvases from their favorite designers. In addition to stocking the highest quality hand painted canvas designs available, the Needle Nook of La Jolla makes available to our customers the most skilled and innovative needlepoint finishers working today. There are numerous creative ways you may commission them to have your cherished stitched piece of needlepoint finished. They are always eager to assist in selecting just the finishing style that will show your lovingly stitched needlepoint to its best advantage.

Bernice states that she never wanted to be "just a retailer." Her fondest wish was to create a place where all could come to learn and advance their knowledge and skill in the needlearts. Her goal has always been to create an atmosphere of comfort, support and camaraderie. All concur that she has accomplished this goal quite admirably!

Needle Nook of La Jolla
7719 Fay Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

phone: (858) 459- 1711 and (800) 685- 1711
fax: (858) 459- 9536
e-mail: ndlpoint@needlenook.com
website: http://www.needlenook.com
store hours: Monday - Friday - 9:30 am to 5 pm
Saturdays - 9:30 am to 4:30 pm



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

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com