Saturday, September 20, 2014

Melissa Shirley stable IV

Quite a bit of my free time at Needle Nicely over the last 3 weeks has been devoted to picking out the two-tone background of an 18mesh Christmas stocking.  It was the same dye lot, but areas were stitched at different times over the years and  an ugly, mottled effect was the result.  Now that I've finished that chore and passed the stocking on to a stitcher, I am able to concentrate on the stable for the Melissa Shirley congress cloth creche.
 I've finished the nobuko stitch  for the outside wall.  And then I took 3 shades of DMC embroidery floss to do the long/short split stitch for the plant on the left side of the building.  I stitched this plant after I had stitched the surrounding building.  I used a sharp needle and physically pierced the fibers for the blended effect I wanted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

on the road again....

Having 20 DMC cabinets to sell to Erin of Needlepoint Land occasioned many memories of why Needle Nicely could possess so many empty cabinets.  A bit of history.

Needle Nicely began in Blowing Rock, NC, in the mid-1970s.  It was (and even today in Florida is) a seasonal business, which anyone will tell you is the most difficult type of business to operate successfully.

Trubey opened Needle Nicely in Vero Beach in October, 1981.  I was her store manager in both Vero Beach and Blowing Rock.  She owned the building (the Hayes House) in Blowing Rock, but we rented in Vero Beach in the Village Shops.  There our lease specified that we had to maintain the same hours year-round.  That was a real bummer since in 1981 Vero in the summer was a vast wasteland of empty condominiums.  I understand the rationale--no one wanted to drive to Vero and then discover that half of the shops weren't open. Still, it made for very lonely days in retail businesses.

The beginning of May every year after 1981 I would start packing inventory to take to the Blowing Rock shop which we opened mid-May.   I would load a U-Haul trailer and drive up I-95 North until I reached I-20 in South Carolina, then head west  to Columbia where I would go North on I-26 and then I-77 through Charlotte to I-85 in Gastonia where I would take 321 through Hickory and Lenoir to Blowing Rock.  About a 16-hour day.  Whoopee!
I have to chuckle to myself when I look at this picture.  At 40-something I was so agile and supple--Sigh, those were the days!!!  And after loading that UHaul trailer I still had the energy to climb on top of those boxes and pose.  And then at 6am the next morning I took this photograph before starting on the drive north.

 The back story is that immediately after snapping this photograph, I blinked and my right hard  contact lens popped out and into the parking lot, never to be seen again.  Instead of climbing into the Bronco, I went back inside (before cell phones!!), called Trubey waking her up, and told her I could manage to drive with no problem with only one eye, but she had to meet me in Hickory and drive up "the mountain".  As it turned out, she met me with her son Jack and his friend Bryan.  The two young men drove the UHaul and Bronco up the mountain.  Whew!!  I was delighted to get to my apartment in Blowing Rock and resurrect my spare lens from its storage place under the sink in my bathroom.  My only excuse for not having it with me in Vero Beach was that I had never lost a lens in over 20 years.  And that happened to be the only one I did lose before I stopped wearing them. 

For years, the Hayes House sat there waiting for our return.  Then, there was another upsurge in real estate values.  Trubey and I discussed it.  We had seen this upsurge before and ignored it.  But this time, we realized that a building is only worth as much as someone will pay for it.  You may think it is worth X, but it isn't if no one else thinks so.  So Trubey sold the building at what we think was the top of that real estate market.  Then we looked for a summer location.  We located a small kiosk about half a block from the Hayes House and across the street.  It was 10x10 with no heat or air conditioning.  It was 3 walls with a 4th wall of double doors that opened out.  We put in counters on the two sides with poles underneath to hold canvases.  The end wall had a display case with finished Christmas ornaments.  There were also shelves along the top to display finished pillows.  It was quite cozy.  I had baskets with stitch 'n zips and small canvases that I placed outside sort of as doorstops.

Ironically, I always managed to get the inventory unpacked and displayed, but my suitcases stayed in disarray on the bedroom floor.  That explains why one needlepoint project took me over 8 years to complete--it was always buried under unpacked clothing!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clara Wells, 5

My progress seems sooo slow, but I have to remind myself that I am stitching two identical sides.  I stitch on one side for a few hours and then switch to the other side so I'm at about the same place on both.  I will admit that while I am doing the diagonal mosaic for the black, white and grey areas, I won't recommend that to my customers.  It is more confusing to maintain the pattern than I expected.  It is also more difficult to see the pattern stitch design in the black yarn, so why make life more difficult for little effect.  Basketweave will work just as well and stitch more quickly.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Melissa Shirley stable for small creche III

I've finished the front of the roof (that sounds awkward, but I guess that's what it is) in the Diagonal Triple Parisian using watercolors.  I've done a bit more on the sky area and the shutters. 

My stitching at the shop has been curtailed because I'm still ripping the two-tone background on a Christmas stocking we are stitching for a customer.  And people are starting to trickle back into town.

I received the following 2 mini-stockings back from the finisher yesterday.  Both are by Pippin Studio.

They looked good after I finished stitching them, but they really look spiffy now!!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Maggie Lane coin canvas

When I started doing needlepoint, I was an unemployed librarian/college professor.  My first canvases were all counted on penelope canvas.  Penelope because that was the canvas my best friend possessed and gave to me.  It wasn't until I started working for Needle Nicely that I stitched on Zweigart mono or a painted canvas.

This piece, stitched from a chart in McCalls Magazine, was done on penelope canvas using Paternayan yarn.  It was about the 6th canvas I needlepointed.  My first was a stitch sampler, done in stripes, and then I did some different bargello patterns.
 I originally had this made into a floor pillow since the finished size was 21 1/2 by 23.  After about ten years I had it made into a stool that I had a piece of glass cut for so I can use it as an end table.  It is 18 inches tall.  It was made by Hunt Galleries in Hickory, NC.  I understand they are no longer in business which is a shame since they did gorgeous finishing of needlepoint in addition to making upholstered furniture.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What's in a name? Mary Agnes

My name is Mary Agnes---not Mary Alice, not Mary Ann, not Murray Angus....  I was named for my two grandmothers--and believe me I got the better part of both of their names (Yvonne Emmeline--excuuuuse me!).

It's amazing how many people don't hear the second part of my name.  Yes, they are usually Northerners who aren't accustomed to double names.  How can anyone think that when I say Mary Agnes, I mean Mary????  It really isn't the same.

Now I must also tell you that I will answer to anything.  For years (when I was a skinny Minnie), I answered to Trubey (who is also still a skinny Minnie) while at wholesale markets or in Needle Nicely.  I didn't want to embarrass people by correcting them.  I knew who I was.  Trubey wasn't there, but everyone thought of Trubey when they thought of Needle Nicely.  Definitely not a problem. 

And when customers come in and greet me or call on the phone, I don't correct them when they call me Mary Alice or whatever--thank you for coming in or calling me.  I'm grateful for your business under whatever name.

BUT, when I call you to place an order and tell you "I am Mary Agnes from Needle Nicely in Vero Beach",  I expect you to say "hello, Mary Agnes ".  I definitely  don't expect you to say, "Hi, Mary...what can I do for you". 

I grew up in Maryland and went South to North Carolina to college. I thought I was Southern because my parents were from Virginia.  It wasn't for years that I realized that while I was Southern in upbringing and slow speech, I wasn't really Southern.  I couldn't imagine being married to someone who called me Murray.  I look around when someone says that, looking for who they are talking to since it can't be me.  That explains why it took me years to meet someone to marry--he's from New York City.  Obviously, I should have headed North to college instead of South!!!  Though my mother believed the reason I stayed single so long was because I trained as a librarian.  It's hard to fight against stereotypes!!

The final irony is that while I have a wonderful memory for names, I seem to have a mental block against all Mary variations.  I can remember Dominique or Valvoline (a private joke about the Bahamas I'll explain some day); I have difficulty remembering customers with names like Mary Kay or Mary Sue.  Don't ask me why.

And this causes me to remember a wonderful, outspoken customer from our early years in Vero Beach.  She reminded me so much of a North Carolina customer that I always erroneously referred to her by the incorrect name.  When I rhetorically asked why I always did this, she responded quickly--"because you're stupid."  She had me!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Heart ministocking

This is the third canvas in the series of silk-screened designs done by Pippin Studio.  I've put it on stretcher bars and pulled the metallics so it is ready for me to take with me on my next round of "doctoring" appointments.  The off-season is the time to schedule things like dermatologist visits and eye exams. 

I've been making slow progress on the  Clara Wells purse, mainly because I've been paying very close attention to the tennis at the US Open.  A golf match you can sort of listen and look up once in a while; tennis you have to watch the ball!!