Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Back in the day

Monday I had a visit from Anne Jones from The Black Sheep near Orlando.  She bought the shop from Caro about 10 years ago.  She drove over to pick up the canvas taping machine that Needle Nicely has owned since about 1986 or so.  It has been tucked into one of our many cabinets for lo these many years.  Marcia and I discovered it several weeks ago while looking for something else.

It was nice to spend some time chatting with Anne.  And a nice sidebar is she discovered the empty DMC cabinets.  It was love at first sight and the last 8 boxes disappeared quickly into her car.  I'm doubly glad they are gone--firstly because Anne was so pleased; and secondly because my customers were noticing them after my recent sale.  They were more and more convinced that I am closing.  Not in this lifetime.  Just look at all the inventory!  What was so perfect about Anne's buying the cabinets is that she drove over. The shipping on the boxes is almost as much as I was selling them for ($37.50).

Anne and I spent some time talking about the industry.  I mentioned how 40 years (or more) ago Trubey discovered that other designers were less than helpful about sharing tips about production, paints, sources for supplies.  Barbara Eyre was a notable exception.  Pru di Vincenzo, the original owner of Tapestry Tent, told Trubey and I she wouldn't walk the show floor because people were so quick to make accusations of copying of designs.  Anne told me that Caro had warned her that many shop owners were determinedly not helpful.  I'm proud to say that Needle Nicely has offered advice to 3 shops--Holly from Absolutely Needlepoint in Coconut Grove, Miami; Kathy from Needlepoint Alley in North Palm Beach, and Erin from Needlepoint Land in Stuart.  My feeling is some business decisions can be costly mistakes.  If I can help others avoid them, all the better for the success of their business.  Brick and Mortar Needlework stores now have a private facebook group where we can ask for dyelots of fibers or what company sells something, or just share thoughts, so the ice has thawed.

Anne brought a Christmas present for me, which I thought was so thoughtful.
It looks especially lovely when the lights are shining.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Moment of truth

I was scrolling through my past posts and came across the entry for my decision to upgrade my ticket to Dallas Love Field using Delta frequent flyer points.  It cost me 30,000 points each way.  Frankly, it was a bust.  I thought I would be able to access the First class lounge, but I was quickly told by the baggage checker that that wasn't going to happen.  The only differences from cabin to first class was that I got to board after the babies.  Then I was offered a free alcoholic beverage (at 6 am?) and on the return it was after 9am.  I could keep drinking until the plane landed, but then I would truly need the wheelchair that I had requested for my transit through the airports.  So I won't waste those miles again.

Another downer was I found that our new hotel didn't have a free shuttle service to Love Field.  There goes another $38.40 (including tip which the driver didn't seem to realize that I had paid in advance).

I do think Delta ignored the fact that my suitcase may have weighed more than 50 pounds.  And they marked it as Priority, so it was one of the first 20 suitcases off the airplane.

All things considered, I think the next time I will save my 60,000 miles (30,000 each way) and go somewhere else or donate them to charity.

EDIT:  I mentioned my disappointment in a questionnaire Delta sent me about my entire trip experience.  As a result, they gave me 7500 miles and hinted that perhaps the next trip I could arrange to use the 1st class lounge.  I prefer not to pay real money (like $50), but wouldn't mind it as a perk.  I'll have to think about whether I will spend 60,00 nules for a repeat trip without access to the 1st class lounge.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The ins and outs of blogging

Someone asked me yesterday how long a blog entry took me.  I think he meant the actual time writing and posting.  That takes from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the subject.  But it doesn't begin to take into account the prep time.  Have I made any progress stitching on my latest projects?  If I am taking photographs; I have to take, download, and then edit them.  And,if the topic isn't stitching, what can it be?  Should it be a discussion of a finer point of needlepoint (like determining quantities of fibers); or merely showing photographs of new inventory.

And a good ratio of topics is a consideration.  I try to make at least 50% of my entries about my stitching projects.  Perhaps 20 or 25% personal opinions and/or rants; and the other 25% or 30% new items. I try to never photograph the finished projects of customers, because many of them are presents, and who am I to spoil the surprise?  Most of the canvases Needle Nicely stitches for customers never see
the light of day on blog.  There again, no reason to announce to the world that the mother/grandmother/whoever didn't do the stitching herself.  She had the idea for a gift and shouldn't be publicly punished for not being able to finish stitching it.  This past winter I stitched a Christmas stocking for a customer.  No one cared who stitched it, they just wanted a beautiful product.  I spent a lot of time coming up with stitches and then stitching that stocking.  I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  I also think the photos I took of different areas will help others come up with ways to use the stitches I used.

Incidentally, it was only this afternoon that I realized that of the 10 or 15 blogs I try to follow, all are by women.  I know there are male stitchers (I have about 6 among my customer base), but none of them seem to want to share their ideas and feelings about stitching.  Another factor in who writes blogs--I think the marathon November (NaBloPoMo) every day blogging (some do this in March instead) was to encourage people to get into the habit of writing a day and eventually either compiling their entries into a book or letting bloggers realize that they could write a book, if only if they got into the habit of writing daily.  However, I just want you to visualize me, sitting at my computer every Wednesday and Saturday evening, with a vodka and water by my side, trying to communicate to you what I think is so wonderful about this pastime (and industry).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Some new items

In the midst of a very successful Small Business Saturday, Fedex appeared with a shipment from a needlework supply house.  I was thrilled by the box's contents because one was the Wonder Marker, blue disappearing marker.  I had been searching unsuccessfully for over 2 years since Chernin went out of business.  Ah, bliss!
The box also contained some unusual bell pull hardware.  We  have little demand for this today, but do try to provide a selection.

These are for needlepoint 5 1/4-5 1/2".  The silver one is chrome.  I'm not sure the gold one is brass or just plated.

This chrome triangle measures 10".

I also purchased something to experiment with--a pill remover to see if it will help remove the pilling on some stitching.  I thought it was worth a try!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lap Stands for Needlepoint Frames

In the past few years, more of my customers are doing pattern stitches (versus continental or basketweave in hand), so they are using frames to hold the needlepoint. I prefer stretcher bars since they keep my stitching tighter, though I do have roller frames made years ago by our friendly carpenter in Blowing Rock.  I have sold Two System 4 Traveling Stands in the past four months.  In fact, I just sold that second one this week, and I wish I had taken a photo.  Its beauty its total collapsibility--a real positive with my customers who travel so often to other homes.

I personally am an advocate of the K's Creations Lap Frames, though I am not fond of their clumsy Universal Clamp.  Fortunately, I had a friend's husband make about a dozen sets of the original metal clamp years ago after K's discontinued them.  Fortunately, those metal clamps surfaced last winter when Macy did her clean sweep inside some Needle Nicely cabinets.

This is the LaPetite stand for very small projects such as ornaments and 5x5 canvases.  The stand will tell you if you're trying to attach too large a frame, because it will tip over.  Notice that Universal
There are three additional sizes of the K's Creations lap stands.  I am awaiting deliver on the Small
(it seems to be the most popular).  The other two sizes shown are the Medium and the Large.  Notice the smaller metal clamps.  The one on top is the newer version.  It has knobs to tighten or loosen when adjusting the length of the stand.  Much better than the former version that had tiny wooden flaps to try and control movement.

Today I received from the finisher my Pippin Hearts. inserted into a pillow.  I'm showing it here and will then be entering it on the list of 2016 finishes to the right of blogger.

On another, perhaps more manic note--I lost my camera last and this morning.  I tore the shop apart after having searched at home in the most likely spots.  Nada.  When I came home this afternoon, I did some excavating around my computer.  Thank goodness it was lurking in the weeds.  It did cause me to resurrect the other camera I received when my original went on the blink years ago.  Now I need to find it a memory card and batteries, so it can leap into action.  Someone mentioned that my i-phone also had a camera.  It will be centuries before I tackle how to transfer those photos to my computer.  Taking the pictures is only the easy part.  I'm not looking forward to a life of constantly searching for my glasses, my camera, my i-phone...and I suppose the list will go on and on.  Sigh!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sickness--something I don 't do well. Also, Small Business Saturday

Two weeks ago at the shop (Tuesday and Wednesday) I had some episodes of chills and fever in the afternoon.  Neither Dotty or Macy or I had a second's thought--I  just put on a sweater.  HOWEVER,
Friday night I started having really intense chills.  I spent Saturday and Sunday in bed, sleeping sporadically.  I'd sleep for an hour and a half or two, wake to go to the bathroom; out into the living room for an hour,  back to bed--repeat as  required to get through the day and night.

Thank goodness I am a concierge patient with my gp.  I called Monday morning, went in at 11am, received a cortisone shot and a prescription for a zpack.  I also had my sinuses and chest x-rayed.  I tease the x-ray technician that she almost has a complete inventory of my body--and when will she publish the book?  To avoid the gruesome details, something in a bottom lob of a lung and something in my sinuses.  The cortisone shot ensured that I would receive no sleep (until 6am) Tuesday morning.  Got a lot done--talked with Indiiia about for over 1 1/2 hours about why I could suddenly not send emails.  Finally gave up at 4:30.  Woke up to discover that I could no longer receive email, also.  Went to the shop until noon, since Macy had a commitment.  Then home to rest in bed like a latke, no sleeping.  Upon surfacing, called Indiiia again. Discovered the man from the night before had solved his problems by deactivating my email accounts, thus explaining why no activity.  No one admitted that, but I was helped to settle the problem of sending and receiving emails.  HOWEVER, I couldn't send a photograph as an attachment. Big bummer since I often send photos of canvases to inquiring customers.  So, after dinner (soup), I called again and finally managed to have the problem solved.  Approximately 5 hours spent listening to sometimes very English, sometimes very rapid, sometimes very soft, conversation with about 8 different technicians from Earthlink in India.  I could never have been able to do it if I felt 100% or had spent the day at work.  So, thank you cortisone!

The good news is that I am feeling better everyday.

On another topic:  Next Saturday, November 26, 2016, is Small Business Saturday sponsored by Amex.  This is the only Saturday in the year that Needle Nicely is open (10am to 5pm).  I will be offering 20% off no matter how you pay, though if you have registered with Amex, they have a great deal.  This offer is open to in-store, email and phone orders, so you if know something you are dying for, just call me 772-567-6688.  I always make an early stop at our local bookstore, The Vero Book Center, to pick up a few necessities since they open earlier than I do and Vero is small enough, I can make it happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New canvases, hooray! And 700th blog post!

Received several shipments of canvases today.  First, some canvases from Amanda Lawford.  I just love this Bear cabin for painting, stitching, canoeing, biking, etc.  I think it's one of those canvases that children will want to pick out the various details.  Not to mention it will be fun to stitch!
 This is one of Amanda's elegant overall patterns.  Change the background color and we change it's personality entirely.

This is an ornament of a dressed-for-snow little girl by The Artists Collection.
                                   And the accompanying young boy, similarly bundled.
 Vero Beach has a high school girl's lacrosse team that has won many state championships.  Even though  this seems to be a boy, I think it could easily gain a pony tail.
This swan canvas is the 5x5 18-mesh version.  There are two  other versions of this designs--one is 8x8 on 13mesh.  The larger version is approximately 18x18 on 13mesh.  The larger versions also have a 2 or 3 inch border with some delightful designs.

 And swallow-tailed hummingbirds on 13mesh that is 8x8.  It was so sensible of Melissa to introduced these smaller sizes since the larger versions range in size from 18" to 23".  Many people don't want to tackle that large a project.
EDIT:  Anne Stradal mentions in a comment the lack of 18mesh, but I neglected to indicate which ones are.  The first by Amanda is, the 2nd I think so, but will have to check. It is. The 3 ornaments are all 18mesh.  The Melissa canvases come in 18mesh for the 5x5 image and 13 mesh for the 8x8 and the 18x18  or larger versions with a border.