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.

Willy's Needleworks
Orange, CA

Peggy Doyle, owner of Willy's, was born in Port Angeles, Washington but grew up in Ohio, Massachusetts and Michigan. She is the oldest in a family of seven children. Art has always been and remains her first love. She holds a degree in Home Economics Education with Majors in Art, English and Science. After completing her education, Peggy taught school for 2 years in Wisconsin and Michigan. She met her husband Jim Doyle, who is from Minnesota, through mutual friends and married him in 1961. They moved to California in 1962 because Jim worked in the mining industry, which was even then on its last legs. Jim is now retired.


After moving to California, Peggy worked for a large florist in Anaheim for 17 years. She was working the convention center for the florist and the facility was just getting bigger all the time. Peggy also had the responsibility for keeping another client, the Disneyland Hotel, happy. She states, "What had been a fun job became a nightmare. I had to escape."

Peggy had been considering buying a needlework shop for some time. She explains, "I wanted to have a needlepoint store because it was something I really liked to do and far easier than a florist shop. There everything is perishable and the hours are bone crushers. A good florist is open 7 days, and major holidays are 20- hour days. No thank you. A needlepoint shop is refined, colorful, clean and creative. Willy passed away in June of 1979. I had just finished the national computer show where I spent one full week in the Anaheim Convention Center selling and decorating booths with plants and flowers, making pickup sheets for everything and then picking up all the plants and billing everyone. I could barely move! Never again! So I checked out several needlepoint shops, but I kept going back to Willy's. I bought it on a handshake from the widow. I was so happy. It was a lot of work of course as there had been a major sale in the store in June. Thus on the first of August the store was mine and had very little inventory in it. Everybody who worked for Willy (one per day) helped me. I did classes morning, noon and nighttime too, and it was fun."


Peggy showing off Christmas stockings just back from the finishers

Willy's also had the advantage of being located near her home. It was a bright and airy store and even had a lovely a garden in back. Although three other shops happened to also be for sale at the same time and were all larger, Peggy classifies them as "just shops." She clarifies "Willy's had a personality. It was warm and cozy with a garden in the back. The other stores were just 4 walls. They could have been anything. They were cold looking and dark." Peggy also liked the specific location of Willy's, which was situated in a relatively small center. She adds, "This was just right for me. Since I am starting my 24th year here, I guess it was the right decision." P.S. The other 3 shops no longer exist."

As a child, Peggy and her siblings were all brought up to be independent and creative. Receiving good education was also highly valued. All seven children hold college degrees, but also express themselves through one or more artistic mediums. Peggy elaborates, "Both my parents graduated from the University of Washington. Mom was a graduate of home economics and taught school until I was born. I learned to sew when I was 10 years old and made all my own clothes until I bought Willy's. Mom sewed and knitted, but I taught her to do needlepoint. I also taught 2 of my sisters to needlepoint. My father was a Mill Manager for the Mead Corporation for 35 years. As children, my brother and I got to fly in Mr. Mead's plane. When he would visit our house, he always wanted to see all the children lined up in a row to meet him."

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Peggy has loved needlepoint since she took it up, starting with Jean McIntosh silk gauze kits when in high school. She was enticed to try it out by the pictures printed in the catalog. She still did knitting for many years until her hands became too sore. To this day, her first love continues to be working charts in needlepoint. Before she purchased the shop, she designed many original needlework pieces for her own pleasure. She remarks, "But a store takes a lot of time so I haven't been able to do much original work."

After Peggy first purchased the store, classes were held 3 times a day, 4 days a week, which expanded into advanced work for some. Then, along came cross-stitch and "bit us in the nose, but we survived." Now, Willy's carries equal inventory of cross-stitch and needlepoint, along with the most beautiful fibers in the world. Peggy explains, "The overdyed silks and cottons are so much fun to be really creative with: to use as is, to blend with another fiber, to add glitter, to use super thin or flat. No two pieces ever have to look the same again. I love colors and love to play with all the fibers today." Willy's stocks Watercolours, Waterlilies, Impressions, Wildflowers, Snow and some Soie Cristale. Peggy first learned of Caron from Elaine Warner when she was a rep and started with only the Watercolours threads. "Boy have we all grown from those days," she states.

A much more recent connection with the Caron threads involves this month's featured designer, Giulia Manfredini, for this is the shop where Giulia first discovered the Caron threads. Giulia recalls, "I went to her shop on 1998 to find something new and I discovered Caron threads. She is such a nice person and she was always so nice with Sofia who at that time was only five years old. I started a "family tradition" with Peggy, which I still keep. When I went to USA I always paid a visit to her and took a little present from Italy. This was because I really loved this nice lady. She is also a wonderful stitcher and she gave me many useful hints. Her shop is a nice small shop full of canvases, fabrics, books and threads and with a TV, videos and music and my daughter can always see a nice movie while I sit with Peggy and I have wonderful time with her. She always gives me pieces of linens and small little treasures like old books of needlework since she knows I will find the best use for them or cherish the old books in my house and I love her because she is my friend and supporter."

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Peggy did another wonderful thing in 1999 for Giulia on her second visit to her shop. Giulia mentioned that she loved Shepherd's Bush designs was always looking for their books. Peggy went to the back of the shop and came back with some old books, which had belonged to a previous client who had passed away. They were full of Tina and Teri's old projects when they first started to design. Giulia was overjoyed and insisted on paying for them but Peggy insisted on giving them to her as a gift, staying simply, " I have found the right person for them and my old friend would approve my decision." With tears in her eyes, Giulia told Peggy she would treasure those books forever. Giulia refers to this as the "karmic reaction" of being good. She explains, "She was nice to me, with no hidden agenda, when I was totally unknown in the needlework field, and now, after many years, she gets her unexpected reward." [By Giulia's being able to include a story about Peggy's shop along with her Designer Spotlight on the Caron Website.]

After Peggy's mother moved to California to a retirement home, she needed a lot of Peggy's TLC and Peggy did not have the time to devote to the classes. After her mother passed away, Peggy was exhausted. Now, her own husband is ill, but Peggy still manages to keep her "love" (the shop) going 6 days a week. Though she no longer holds formal classes as such, she always helps customers on an intimate one-on-one basis, as they need it. She does this as a special courtesy for her clients, which they greatly appreciate.

Lois (in Blue Top) has helped Peggy every Tuesday for at least the past 20 years

Peggy closes with, "My shop ticks because I love it. I love my customers and what I can suggest to them and help them with to have a nice completed project." Peggy mostly runs the store single-handedly, with part time help, one day a week, from Lois, a wonderful lady whom she inherited from Willy. Oh, and by the way, the other 3 shops that were also for sale when Peggy was looking around for a shop to purchase before deciding on Willy's. Well none of the three exist any longer. But after 24 years, both Willy's and Peggy are still going strong. You draw your own conclusions!

Willy's Needleworks
386 S. Tustin Avenue
Orange, CA 92866
phone: (714) 997-8823

Special Thanks to Donna Peterson. Donna has been invaluable in getting this story together by using her computer skills and Internet access. She expedited matters by transcribing Peggy's notes into e-mail and took digital photos of the shop to make this Shop Focus On Willy's Needleworks possible. For Donna, it was simply a matter of returning a favor. She says, "Peggy taught me how to needlepoint over 17 years ago, and I've been one of her 'Thursday Night Regulars' ever since."


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