Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christmas trees from Associated Talents

This is one of a series of canvases designed by Associated Talents.  It is a natural for pattern stitches.  Of course, I started with the border first since I don't like leaving the background areas until last (booooring).  I used a combination of metallic threads (2 Balger for the white and green and Neon Rays Plus for the red) in basketweave to do the candy cane border.

Then I let myself start the first tree on the left.  Using a green metallic I did the diagonal mosaic between the red dots (done in a red metallic).  Compensating tent stitches were used to complete the tree.  And the star on top was done in long stitches to form the star in gold fyrewerks.  In fact, all of the stars on top of trees were done this way.

The red/gold/white tree was done in basketweave/tent stitch in metallic yarns.  The nobuko stitch could have been a possibility for the white and red areas.

Tree #3 was done in the alternating cashmere with a white tent stitch where painted periodically using solid green and white metallic threads and a multicolored green/white metallic thread. 

The fourth tree is done in various lengths of the slanted gobelin using metallic ribbon floss, sparkle rays, neon rays plus, and a Balger metallic. 

Really fun to stitch and watch the textures develop. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Business design/philosophy II

The second thing I want Needle Nicely to be remembered for is Approachability/Service.  My training was as a librarian.  The first principle of librarianship is that of Service.  Give people what they want. This carries over to retail sales.  People tend to walk out empty-handed when they don't feel welcomed.  I try to acknowledge every person who comes in the shop.  Sometimes people jump like they've been goosed, they are so surprised to be noticed. 

But approachability is a two-way street.  I've been told that when I travel in France, I should say "bon jour" when I enter a shop and "Au revoir"or "merci" when I leave.  Oh, that people would do that here in the states.  There really is a responsibility on the part of the customer.  Accept it or only shop in "big box stores" where customer service is non-existent. 

When someone came into Needle Nicely last week, her first comment on entering the shop was "Quite a come-down from your last place."  This was not exactly charming her way into my affections, especially since we have been at this location 6 years and feel grateful to still be in business after Hurricane Wilma took the roof.  She isn't knocking herself out to keep me in business.   I inquired:  (We've been in 4 locations in Vero in our 30 years.)  "To which are you referring?" (Not my most diplomatic response, but knowing she hasn't been around for 6 years, is she a customer?)  She eventually left empty-handed after more than 30 minutes that included her discussing her purchases at other shops.  She is definitely not a customer of mine and is no one I can count on to keep me in business.  And her name is not in MY memory bank.

I believe in knowing my customers.  I'm lucky, because I have a knack for remembering details.  So, if I have chatted with you previously, I usually remember your name and your project, where you are from,  and perhaps, more personal details about your life.  Sometimes, it isn't good to remember your projects because there are some that never seem to be finished.  Of course, I am haunted by the memory of a Mrs. Gibson who was a Needle Nicely customer in Vero Beach in the '90s.  She looked very much like one of our North Carolina customers and I consistently called her by the wrong name.  One day I asked her (rhetorically) why I always mistook her name.  She (being mid-80s and outspoken) retorted that obviously I was stupid.  I had no response to that!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pischke Pocket Finish/Finish!

When I went to Chatham, MA, on Cape Cod the end of September, one of the items I took with me to stitch was a 10mesh canvas for a Pischke Pocket tote bag.
This shows the unstitched canvas resting on the tote bag.  During my visit, I managed to stitch about two-thirds of the canvas.  I completed the remainder this past week in my spare time (small joke).  And then to follow the instructions for finishing that were included in the kit.  Hmm.  First I locate some lightweight fabric in Needle Nicely's fabric stash (don't ask--I haven't added to it since Hurricane Wilma).  Then I sew the fabric to the front of the needlepoint, leaving an opening for turning the canvas.  I left about 4"--not enough.  Had to pick out another inch or two.  Please don't notice the fold marks.  I forgot to bring the iron.
This shows the front of the canvas after successfully turning it.  Remember that the opening for turning is on the bottom of the finished piece.  It's less obvious that way.  You hand stitch it closed.
Those corners could be a tad sharper, but I decided round was "a good thing".  The finishing instructions call for the blanket stitch as an edging.  I personally don't like the blanket stitch.  I think it looks home-made, which of course it is.  I decided to use the enclosed tapestry wool to make a twisted cord to be the edging of my pocket.  Also included was some overdyed cotton.  I couldn't use it for my cording because it was precut.  Pshaw!

Directions for twisted cording:  measure the dimensions of the canvas (in this case 10x10x10x10).  Multiply by 2.5 (or 3 if you're the nervous type).  That's how long to measure the first strand.  In my case that was 40x2.5= 100".  I had enough yarn in the skein to do 3 strands which when twisted into cording becomes 6 strands.  You tie the 3 strands together, tape one end to a surface and start twisting.  Some people insert a pencil in the end you are twisting.  Twist and twist and twist, even after you think you have done enough.  At this point it helps to have someone help you.  They stand in the middle of your strand and hold it while you double back to the beginning.  If it twists on itself, you are done.  If it doesn't, untangle it and twist some more.  When you have twisted enough, straighten the twist so it looks pretty.  Here's mine:

The next step is to use the perle cotton included in the finishing kit to attach the pocket to the tote bag.  You must double or triple tack the top edges so they will withstand the tough usage that edges get.  Then just attach the pocket to the tote bag, remembering to keep it above the inner leather lining (you can't see it on the outside, but can feel it inside).  I inserted one end of my cording into the right bottom of the pocket, about 2 inches from the right edge, before I started sewing down the pocket.  I wanted to be sure that I had a big enough hole for the cording to fit in and doing it first provided that (it was then easy to insert the other end of the cording when I was finished tacking it down).  Envision this, I have finished tacking down the pocket.  It should feel secure.  Now start slip-stitching the cording in place.  This makes the edge of the pocket look more attractive.  Along the top of the pocket I switched to a colored thread (2-ply DMC floss) to attach the cording across the top of the pocket for a more finished look.  Now down the right side and insert the end into the opening created by the first end and double or triple tack them into place.  I must admit that sometimes I felt like I was wrestling an elephant--the tote bag has some weight to it.

Here's my finished product (a thing of beauty!):

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Business/Design philosophy I

Our 30th anniversary has caused some thinking on my part about the elements of a needlepoint business.  I have been the owner of Needle Nicely for 15 years and was the manager for 20 years before that (the first five exclusively in Blowing Rock, NC, before we opened the 2nd shop in Vero in 1981).

Needlepoint shops all have their areas of expertise, whether it be rugs or Christmas stockings or witty repartee or finishing or whatever.  When I think about what I want Needle Nicely to be remembered for--the first thing I think of is color selection.  Trubey, who started Needle Nicely, is a superb artist and has a fantastic memory for design and a marvelous eye for color.  I am grateful to have been trained by her, though my memory for design is suspect.  Still, today a canvas kitted by Needle Nicely is, I think (not so humbly), to be the best in terms of trueness of color to the original design.

Colors change by whatever colors are adjacent to them.  Sometimes, they're a star; sometimes they're part of the supporting cast; and sometimes they want to grab the spotlight.  Squint your eyes and it's obvious what is what.  Years ago in Blowing Rock, we had a male customer who insisted on having a canvas kitted with a particularly strong shade of yellow.  Trubey refused, offering another, milder shade.  The customer insisted.  Trubey refused again and stated that she would sell him all the colors she had previously selected, but he would leave with no yellow.  The man inquired why and she responded that she did not want him to say that Needle Nicely had given him "that" yellow.  It would have been the only color anyone would have seen when they looked at the finished canvas.  He left with no yellow.

I am a technician, not an artist.  I make color decisions for customers, but not obviously.  When kitting a canvas, I select two or three shades of green or blue or brown.  Then I ask the customer to select which she prefers.  She is the one who lives in her house and knows her living room or den or bedroom--whichever room where this canvas will eventually reside.  She will be the ultimate arbitor, not me.  My job is to assist her, not dictate to her.  And my regular customers know that I will not tell them which I prefer. All will look good, any will be pleasing.  Which one do YOU prefer (not me).  None of the colors I have selected will be "off", but one will be more perfect because the customer prefers it.  Many people never realize how they have been guided in their selection.  They only think that I haven't told them what to pick and berate me for it.  But the finished product will please them.

 And I thank Trubey for educating my color "eye".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

30th anniversary sale

This is my 100th post.  I had already posted when I realized what a momentous occasion.  30 years in Vero and 100 pearls (?) .  Wow!

This next week Needle Nicely will be celebrating its 30th year in business in Vero Beach.  In celebration I've put everything in stock in the store (canvases, fibers, books, accessories) 25% off from October 17th through October 22nd.  That's for walk-ins and mail-order, so if you liked something I have blogged about and would like it, just email me or call ( or 772 567 6688).

And it's a 25% off sale because I am currently paying 6 1/2% for credit cards so technically the sale is 31 1/2% off for credit card sales!!  But that's a rant for another day.

And just for the record, I'm prematurely grey and only 35.  I started needlepointing at a very early age.

In other news, I received the model back from the finisher for the disco/ornament bag (I showed photos of available canvases and the stitched canvas on April 20, 2011).

As you can see, I decided to keep the cording solid red since we also used it for the purse welting.
And this shows how thick the finished product turned out.  Just big enough for a driver's license, a credit card, and perhaps a lipstick! 
And to cover other old news, I received an official letter yesterday from the Florida Department of Revenue concerning my August sales taxes.  They wanted me to know that they had noticed that I hadn't filed them.  Of course, there was no mention that I had paid September a month early.  I'm glad I went through the hassle Wednesday of calling and holding while my September coupon payment was correctly credited to August.  And, yes, I'm holding my breath to see if my  coupon with August crossed out and September written in gets properly credited to my account.  Life in the fast lane can be so exciting!

And to mention yet another bummer--Trubey's distributor confused the dates for her trunk show celebrating 30 years of the business she originally opened.  So, the Trubey trunk show will begin October 20th or thereabouts.  Thank goodness I called Wednesday to check the status.  Duh!  The show was shipped on Thursday.  I assume they sent it by mule train rather than 3-day so I should get it by Thursday. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Florida postcard pillow

I really used to think that I was competent with a quick and accurate mind.  However, last night I had reason to question that belief.  I decided to do the preliminary math for last month's Florida sales tax report, due October 20th.  A full 9 days early, you might notice.  That's when I discovered that last month I had sent in my August report on the September coupon.  Oh, woe is me!!  It took 15 minutes on the telephone this morning to have the "powers that be" change the record to show that the payment was for August.  Why it took so long, I can't say.  However I didn't want to prolong the process by asking for a new form for September.  Crossing out August and writing September should be straightforward enough, I hope??

So I've been thinking about Florida alot today and it reminded me that I haven't shown you the Florida postcard pillow model that Needle Nicely has.  This is one of a series of the 50 states designed by Denise De Rusha Designs.

The canvas was stitched in tent stitch using perle coton 3.  Then we made twisted cording from the same perle to make the tiny inner and larger outer cording for the finished pillow.  Vero doesn't have many fabric and notions options so we often have to make our own cording for the best color match.

Denise has also added countries to her postcard series.  (And yes, I do realize that North Carolina has not managed to become a sovereign nation though some of my North Carolinian friends believe it should.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fab fob by Voila!

One of the projects I took to Chatham to work on last week was an 18mesh canvas designed by Voila! for a key fob.  I stitched it in DMC perle 5 in the basketweave where possible.  Here is the stitched canvas after it has been blocked.  Following the instructions that came with the canvas and hardware, I trimmed the canvas to 1/2" along the length of the design and flush with the stitching on the two ends.

This photograph shows the back of the canvas where I have folded back 2 rows of stitching along with the 1/2" blank canvas border.  I have glued the canvas to the back of the stitching.  Then I placed it between 2 sides of a plastic ziplock bag and put a 1-volume encyclopedia on it so it could dry flat. 

This is the ribbon that has been glued to the back of the needlepoint, covering the folded back edges.  The ribbon protrudes past the ends of the fob--it will be trimmed before the final finishing takes place.

And the finished product that looks great!  And I didn't even get any glue in my hair!  Hooray!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


This is the public library as viewed through the fence enclosing it because of its current renovation.  Actually, you can enter the library on the left-hand side and it is worth the visit.  There is a 1/2 to scale schooner (a really big sailing ship) housed on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the library.  We were told that the library was built around the schooner, which sounds believable after you see it "in situ".  I couldn't get far enough away to take a picture.  As a former librarian, I can say that this is a really neat library.  To emphasize my enthusiasm, I bought a t-shirt with a picture of the library on the front and a statement that I'm a Provincetown Library supporter on the reverse. 

This is another item located in the library.  I think it is actually what used to be a shelf list catalog (a listing in shelf order of all the items in the library) that used to be kept in the cataloging department of the library.  It is a memorial to a former librarian and contains her recipe index cards, all with suitable subject headings.  As a former cataloger, I really like this! 

This is a slightly askew picture of the front of the t-shirt.  This refused to go alongside the picture.  GRRR!

Also worthy of a visit is the Provincetown Town Hall.  It also has been refurbished and is in excellent condition.  What is especially noteworthy is the collection of paintings that hang in the hallways and offices.  They were a gift to the town by a wealthy donor.  If you go there, ask in one of the offices about the paintings.  They have a notebook discussing all of those on display (and "they" will let you walk around with it while you view the paintings). 

This is a sunset photograph of the Stage Harbor
lighthouse.  Isn't that sky just gorgeous!  The Oyster River is in the foreground and Nantucket Sound is behind the lighthouse. 

And another sunset shot, this more western and again showing the Oyster River in the forefront and Nantucket Sound in the background.

I could look at the last two photographs forever.  So beautiful and restful.  And what marvelous momentos of a delightful week of friendship and fellowship.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cape Cod idyll

I had such a wonderful, relaxing week in Chatham, MA, last week.  Friends from Vero who also have a home in Chatham invited me for a week (I also spent a week with them two years ago).  This is their home on the water.  There is a private apartment over the garage.  It has a balcony that overlooks the water.

This is the view I had from my balcony overlooking the Oyster River.  In the distance is Nantucket Sound.  So blissfully quiet and what a wonderful view. 

I took the bus from Logan airport to Barnstable on Saturday afternoon (September 24th).  The foliage on the Cape reminds me of Piedmont North Carolina or Virginia.  Many hardwoods.  I was surprised that the foliage wasn't changing color, but was told that Hurricane Irene's moisture had raised the salinity of the rain and that had killed the leaves.  It's amazing how brown and dead the leaves look.  On the plane to Atlanta, some fellow passengers had been on a cruise into Canada to see the color of the fall leaves--there too they were a dead brown.  Having lived in the mountains of North Carolina for years (and years), I realize that it's an economic blow when there is no leaf color change.  I know from experience in North Carolina that people won't come if the newscasters say there is no color.  Bummer for mom and pop businesses counting on several weekends of good business before winter comes. 

Sunday afternoon my hosts took me for a boat trip in, I think, their Boston Whaler or similar small outboard,  on the Oyster River to see the water view of many of the waterfront homes in Chatham.  I'm such a klutz that I decided to leave the camera on dry land, so no photographs.  But what a wonderful, serene two hours.  I'm sure in July things are much more hectic.

Monday I got sunburned while watching my hosts play tennis at the Chatham Beach Club.  Embarrassing to come from Florida and get sunburned, but it's tough to work on your tan in a needlepoint shop!!  I took some photographs, but the others I took later in the week are so much better, I eliminated these.  You may thank me later!!

On Tuesday I was the luncheon guest of Anne from  who was instrumental in my establishing my blog.  She and Judy Harper were so encouraging.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet Anne face-to-face.  After a delicious lobster roll and lots of conversation, Anne took me to Town-Ho in Brewster so we could chat with Barry.  He had a student there stitching, but allowed us to sit in.  Shop talk is always such fun. Of course, good company always helps.

My mind is blanking on me--was it Wednesday or Thursday that my hostess and I went to Provincetown?  No matter.  It was a marvelous, meandering trip whereby we stopped at a wonderful French bakery where we had a mid-morning snack (I had a sinful cream puff with I know-not how many calories, but it was delectable).  I"m sorry that I don't know where it is other than on the right on the way down Cape on the way to Provincetown.  I do know they had Boulangerie in the name.  Marvelously tasty.  I regret to say that I scoffed up the cream puff before I thought about photographing it.  I've got to work on my photography instincts.  Years of shaky hands are working against my 3rd career as a world-class photographer.

We proceeded toward Provincetown, always heading to the ocean-side along the Cape Cod National Seashore.  How wonderfully gorgeous.  We saw the Nauset Lighthouse and a Life-saving Station and the Marconi location.  Here are some of the photographs I took.
Life-saving station

Nauset Lighthouse

The migrating birds don't show up in this photograph.  It was wonderful to watch them and listen to the commentary on my cellphone (modern technology really adds to being a tourist!!).

This photograph and the next really demonstrates the effects of erosion.  Those fences (which I think of as "snow fences") are to prevent tourists from walking too close to the edge and causing even more erosion.

I'll show a few more photographs along with my impressions of Provincetown in my next blog entry.  Hope you are enjoying these beautiful views just as I did when I was photographing them.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggedy jog!

Can there be no more wonderful feeling than that of coming home after a journey?  No matter how delightful a trip has been, there's no place like home.  It was especially true this time.  My return home had a slight hiccup that occurred leaving Boston.  The plane was in full take-off mode when---it stopped.  Did they realize I was a white-knuckler?  No matter, we spent over 3 1/2 hours analyzing the problem with our "flap", replacing a part, and taking off again.  There has been legislation governing the amount of time passengers can spend in the airplane on the tarmac.  We were offered the chance to "deplane", with the strong message that that would delay our eventual departure.  Only a few people got off, with plans to try some other route. Most of us were hoping that the delay would be short and we would manage to make our connections in Atlanta.   The crew kept mentioning time on the ground.  So politically correct.  All I cared about was whether it would take off intact and land in a similar condition.  And would it get me home.  Obviously, not as scheduled (Saturday, October 1). 

As an "older" woman traveling alone, I was understandably concerned about where my airline of choice, Delta, would decide to put me up in Atlanta.  What struck me was the realization that 10:30 at night is comfortable when I know I have selected my destination, but not when "big brother" is in control.  And my unease wasn't soothed by the long wait for the motel shuttle with a group of strangers.  As it turned out, the Quality Inn Convention Center where Delta sent me was a comfortable, clean motel.  I slept like a log.

The next morning I took the shuttle back to the airport in time to use my breakfast chit at Pascal's, an Atlanta institution.  I love having lunch or dinner there, but had to settle for scrambled eggs with a wonderful biscuit. Yum!  Then through security and on to my gate.  Another hiccup--the "Plane Train" wasn't working.  I've tried to find out on the internet exactly how far it is from the terminal to various concourses with no success.  Take my word for it--it's a long way.  I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort of my shoes that I had mainly selected for their ease in putting on and off for the security checkpoint (no more Nikes!).   And some of the people movers weren't moving.  Joy.  I did spot an emergency resuscitation unit about halfway between Concourses B and C.  And finally, I reached Concourse D.  Deep breath.  And an uneventful flight to Melbourne, FL, where I had left my car.  Oh, that gorgeous Florida sunshine while I drove South on US1 along the river to Vero Beach.  My blase New Yorker husband barely looked up from the newspaper when I walked in.  Ho hum, she's back!

In my next post I'll tell you all about my wonderful, relaxing week on the Cape.  With some spectacular (she says modestly) photographs!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More vacation stitching

Another item I selected to take with me on my vacation on Cape Cod is a Fab Fob by Voila!  I've been carrying it to doctor's appointments and other such exciting moments in my life for the past several months and making negligible progress.  "Season" is approaching and I feel the pressure of finishing the fob for a shop model. 

The kit comes with the canvas and the hardware for finishing.  We'll see how much I can accomplish in 7 days.  I'm a fast stitcher, but I think my 2 selections will be a challenge (I am also taking 5 paperbacks and one hardback book to read--hmmm).