Reducing stress, creating heirlooms
Needlepointed Christmas stockings are one of the biggest sellers at The Canvasback. | By Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
1747 Orchard Lane, Northfield
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:11AM
NORTHFIELD — In today’s world of computers, iPads, and other gadgets, why is needlepoint, a craft that goes back to ancient Egypt, still so popular?
Sally Volkert-Bissell, owner of The Canvasback, will tell you it’s because needlepoint is cheaper than a therapist.
“It’s relaxing, it’s useful and it meets the creative sense of people who want to create something,” said Volkert-Bissell, whose Northfield needlepoint shop has been in business for 39 years, “It’s time consuming, but you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time. You feel productive and at ease.”
Volkert-Bissell said she saw a big increase in business after Sept. 11 because people turned to needlepoint as a way to calm themselves down on planes.
The Canvasback is a full-service needlepoint shop that sells canvases from more than 200 different designers, as well as more than 100 different kinds of fibers used in weaving onto the canvas. Projects include wall hangings, belts, pillows, shoes, purses, rugs, chairs, picture frames, and perhaps the most popular items, Christmas ornaments and stockings.
Carolyn Kropp, of Chicago, has been a customer for years who began doing needlepoint years ago when her niece asked her for a new Christmas stocking.
“She told me about a pretty stocking she had seen at her friend’s house, and so I made her a needlepoint stocking for the next Christmas,” said Kropp, “That’s how it started. I ended up making Christmas stockings for my entire family.”
“Needlepoint is an addiction,” said Volkert-Bissell, who was an art major in college and who has been doing needlepoint most of her life. “If you start it and you love it, you are never without it.”
Jane Lipton has worked at The Canvasback for 10 years, not only helping customers, but teaching beginning needlepoint classes to adults and children. She said kids can start needlepoint as young as 8 years old.
“People love needlepoint right away,” she said, “Most of the items needlepointed are done for someone else, so you’re creating handmade heirlooms and beautiful crafts that will always be appreciated.”
A beginning needlepoint class is two and a half hours, and costs $50, which includes all the materials needed to make a small needlepoint wall hanging. Lipton said after one class, most people have the basics to be able to needlepoint themselves, but if they want to learn more advanced techniques, they can continue taking classes.
Needlepoint projects take anywhere from two weeks to a year. Once the needlepoint on a project is completed, the item must then be sent to a vendor for finishing, which takes six to eight additional weeks.
The price range of a needlepoint project is $15 to $1,000, depending on the size and what the item is.
“For all the work and for how expensive it is,” said Kropp, “I make sure people really want what I’m making them.”
“Needlepointers are also collectors,” said Volkert-Bissell, “They fall in love with so many beautiful canvases, and they buy them with the intention of needlepointing them, but there are so many that they can’t possibly complete all of them.”