Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My favorite needlepoint designer

With so many talented designers now available, it is difficult to select one as a favorite, but I have one.  I first saw designs by my favorite designer, Terry Enfield, when I visited my sister in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the late 1970s.  I don't remember the name of the shop, but the owner's name was Phoebe.  I can still see her shop in my mind.  I was particularly taken by Terry's designs and asked for her contact information which Phoebe was generous enough to share.  In those days, shop owners and designers were loathe to share their sources and it was the rare person who would be helpful.  When I returned to North Carolina, I contacted Terry.  She sent her photographs (she didn't do "markets"), and Trubey and I made an order.  Over the years Terry has moved from being her own agent and personally painting every canvas to having someone else do the production and shipping.  She is currently represented by The Red Thread Designs. 

I am currently pulling canvases from my inventory to put on sale.  However, Terry's canvases never make it to the sale area.  I love them so much that I'll keep them for myself to look at, even if I don't manage to stitch them.  Here are a selection of  her designs that I have in stock.  Many of her canvases that I am drawn to are larger wall hanging-types. 

This canvas is the exception to that--it is a 5x5 for a pillow insert or box top painted on black canvas.

I'm not really a wildlife lover, but these ducks just speak to me.

I have this canvas pinned to the wall in Needle Nicely's back room.  I plan to stitch it.  I can't justify taking time from revenue-producing stitching just now, but some day soon I'll be working on this beauty.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Culling the herd

As they say, familiarity breeds contempt.  I've had all winter to contemplate my canvas inventory, and it has given me time to realize I need "to cull the herd".  What actually precipitated this action on my part was a telephone request for photographs of 13-mesh 6x6 canvases.  While going through the 5x5, 6x6, and other small canvases, I began to realize that some of them were a tad long in the tooth (as I get older and bite myself on the inside of my cheek more often, I begin to understand the derivation of this saying).  That realization caused me to start examining the remainder of Needle Nicely's inventory.

For the most part our canvases are categorized by subject:  flowers, sports, people and places, field and barnyard animals, frogs.  But then we digress into purpose:  purses, bell pulls, doorstops, Christmas stockings, and the all-important category, belts.  Needle Nicely has over 400 belt canvases--we sell a lot, so we stock a lot. It's inevitable that there will be some dead wood lurking among the jewels. So, I had my minions (doesn't that sound lofty, like I have an empire?), Macy and Marcia, start sorting through the canvases.  It was interesting that no Christmas stockings qualified for "the cut", but then I had put some of them on sale in November.  So on to the sayings.  Whew!  Lots of candidates there.  And on it went, through the categories.  There's quite a pile now and not so surprisingly, there are now empty hangers and space on the canvas racks.  How wonderful!  You can actually slide the hangers along the racks with some viewing space.  It's a wonderful thing, this culling of the herd!  And I'll be doing more of it this coming week.

 And just so you know that I haven't totally reformed, here are some of the new canvases that arrived this week.
This blue & white design if from Designing Dogs.  It has such clear, crisp lines. And this comment refuses,  after multiple attempts to the contrary, to go beside the photograph rather than above it!

 Of course, a shop in Vero Beach has to have some sandpiper canvases.  This one is by Needle Crossings.

 This "beachy" doorstop was also designed by Pat of Needle Crossings.

 This dragonfly was designed by Amanda Lawford to go in one of the lacquered boxes she also sells.  I got the boxes in 5 colors, but Marcia had tucked them into the glass display case away from my camera's eye.

 And another of Amanda's designs for her boxes.  I love how she combines the multiple geometric  patterns.

I'm also partial to asymmetrical designs like this one from Amanda.  It looks pretty in pink, but would be easy to change the color to almost anything.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Star/tree mini-stocking

People often ask where to start a pattern stitch on a canvas.  I'm sure the decision varies from person-to-person, but I always start where I can establish the pattern--that is, do at least 5 or so "repeats".  It's easy then to go back and fill in "the edges" (those odd areas that seem to confuse the issue).  The star on the following mini-stocking is an example of this.

Pippin Studio has some 10mesh mini-stockings that have large blocks of colors and thus lend themselves to pattern stitches.

I have started the nobuko stitch on the star using Balger braid #16.  I wanted to start the row of stitching at the place where the right point of the star joins the top point.  I drew my needle to the right edge of that right point and that's where I started my first row of stitching.  I will go back later, turn the canvas upside down, and do the remaining stitches in the right point and the top point.

Here you can see the completed star.  I have started stitching the green background in the basketweave.  I have also started the red using the diagonal mosaic.

This is the shop model pillow back from the finisher.  Miraculously the fabric exactly matches the silk 'n ivory I used for the background.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fiber coverage and mathematics in needlepoint

Of course, there is mathematics in the retail business of selling needlepoint.  After all, someone has to total the receipt.  But many people don't realize that the determination of how much fiber to purchase is calculated with mathematical formulas.  I have stitched inch squares of different fibers to see just how far one yard (or strand) of a fiber will go when stitching on 13-mesh or 18-mesh, etc.  It's nice to have a visual reminder as well as then having translated this into a mathematical formula.  I have also drawn rectangles showing 13.5 square inches (area covered by one skein of DMC perle 5) and 7.5 square inches (area covered by one skein of DMC perle 3).  Seeing the area definitely helps with the calculation of background fiber amounts.  People groan when I mention pi r squared, but that is the formula to determine the area of a circle. 

In kitting (that is, pulling the fibers) a canvas, the first order of business is to calculate the overall dimensions and square inches.  So it is 12x12 for a total of 144 square inches.  The background is how many inches?  I mentally let the design "fall" so that I can compute how much of the area is background.  Try it--the first time or two, it is confusing and difficult, but you soon become accustomed to visualizing how much space the design takes when it is compressed along the bottom of the canvas.

Rules of thumb for fiber coverage in basketweave:
          Perle 5 covers 13.5 square inches
          Perle 3 covers 7.5 square inches
          1 strand of Paternayan persian covers 1.15 square inches of 13 mesh; 1.25 of 12 mesh and 1.40 of
          1 skein of silk 'n ivory covers more than 22 square inches
          1 skein of impressions, 1 ply, covers 18 square inches; 2 ply, 9 square inches
           a 10-meter spool of Kreinik covers almost 6 square inches  (I'm sure the 8 covers more than the
                      16 but not enough to really matter)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Florida "Season"

"The Season" in Florida varies by which part of Florida you're in.  I can only speak for the Treasure Coast,  which is sort of the lower middle of the state on the Atlantic seaboard.  Vero Beach is at what they term "the top of the tropics".  That refers to what will grow here and our weather.  In case you wondered, what can grow here is a jungle if you don't keep cutting it back!

People who come South for the winter are politely called "snow birds" (we won't go into what they are so impolitely called in some places!!!).  Their stay varies by whether they own a home or are just renting.  Most rentals are at least one month long, and many places require a 3-month lease.  Vero Beach has few motels since the hurricanes of 2004 and 5, though there are several under construction.  The community always fights any proposed motels on the barrier island ("the beach"). 

Home owners typically come down in October to reopen their homes and schedule any necessary maintenance.  Then they return North for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Their arrival back in Florida can vary from December 26 through mid-January.

Three-month renters arrive as soon after January 1 as they can manage.  Depending on where they have rented, they have golf, tennis and dining privileges until March 31.

A word to the wise:  The absolute worst place to be in the world is I-95 (which runs the length of Florida on the Atlantic seaboard) the last few days of March and the first few days of April.  If you ever rent in Florida, do yourself a favor and check into a motel until about April 4th before starting that long drive home.  You'll thank me.  I-95 becomes a parking lot during this time frame.  Not a pretty sight.  I'm sure the same is true of the Florida turnpike up the center of the state.  Nuff said.

Other than March 31st, there are other trigger points for departure.  Some people still return North to file their taxes.  Others want to spend Easter up North.  Others have discovered that the most delightful months in Florida are May and October.  And if you check the temperatures in July and August, Vero Beach is often cooler than Washington, DC, or Richmond or New York City.  Those ocean breezes really make a difference. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Some more angel and purse canvases

I've been having trouble with my computer's internet connection this weekend.  Why do problems always wait until Friday night?  I managed to finally connect with this blog, but haven't been able to read most other blogs that I try to follow.  Really infuriating and since I spent 45 minutes speaking to India--was it last Friday or the Friday before?  Events blur during "the season"--I don't want to have a repeat conversation.  

We finished last stitching of two Christmas stockings for a customer and I mailed them to the finisher this morning.  Speaking of the mail, the Whimsy and Grace trunk show that I mailed back two weeks ago went to Anchorage, Alaska, instead of back home to Oregon.  And they're still looking for it.  That's the scariest thing about trunk shows.  I always insure things I mail, in this case for $500 as suggested by Toni.  I assume that is to cover her business insurance deductible.  But money can't replace the 3 purse models that were also in the box. 

Canvases are still trickling into Needle Nicely.  We received a few more of the Painted Pony angels I ordered in San Diego in January.

JP Needlepoint.  The finished purse is about the size of a brick.  Wish I'd thought of that idea!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two Stitching Finishes

Whew!  Finally I have finished the stitching on the scallop shell canvas by Trish.  I like the look of the finished product and can't wait to see it in pillow form.  Patience, patience.
Another stitching finish was a combined effort between the Needle Nicely studio, Macy and myself.  The studio designed this for a customer, then Macy and I joined forces to complete the stitching.  This is to be a graduation present so tomorrow it will be rushed to the pillow finisher.  Nothing like a close deadline to get the old juices flowing!!