Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where to start?

This has been a busy, eventful week.  I'll start with the most expensive.  Got a phone call last Friday from my credit card processor.  This is never a good thing.  In the 20-some years we've been taking credit cards electronically, we've had umpteen jillion processors and none of them have wanted to talk with me.  I always call them.  Who they are is not something I concern myself about usually, but Friday I was forced to by a very sensible-sounding female (girl, she was young, I could tell) who told me that my credit card equipment was antiquated and I needed to replace it pdq.  To the tune of $650. which I could spread over several months.  

So, Thursday these beauties entered my life.
I waited until Friday morning to disconnect my old system and install these beauties.  Everything went surprisingly quickly.  Piece of cake!  And then, the day ended and I needed to "close my batch".  No instructions anywhere.  So, I called the Help number only to be told by a recording to not call on the phone line hooked to the machine in case they had to do some programming. Duh!  Hang up, dig out my cell phone, and call again.  The person on the other end of the line can't find me by my customer number (perhaps because it is 20 years old?) and while she is looking, the shop phone rings.  It was a designer returning my call from earlier in the week.  I explained my situation, wrote down her number, hung up and tried to help with my customer number situation.  Thank goodness, "the source of all technical knowledge in the western world" found me in her system and in 30 seconds gave me the magic formula for closing the batch.  Hooray!  FYI I do like the new system, primarily because it prints the customer's name on the receipt.  What a help when the signature is indecipherable.  There are several added steps for security purposes when you're doing mail order and don't have the card to swipe which may be a pain later.  So far no cards have been unreadable, so that will be another new adventure.

And this morning when I went to nearby shops to see if they could use my duplicate paper rolls, I realized that I really have been behind the times.  I guess those rolls will become the new note paper at Needle Nicely.

The last 10 days I've been calling artists to order their new canvases.  Many were at the market and took some deserved time off afterwards, something I try to do when I attend TNNA.  Anyway, it's Murphy's law that I'd be alone in the shop talking on my cell phone when the shop phone rings.  Talk about feeling clumsy with telephone receivers everywhere!  

And now to the stitching--

I'm offering my students their choice from these two canvases for class.  I realized that while it would be fun to select different stitches for the second canvas; it would cause confusion and wasted time in the actual class. So I'm doing the same background stitch (mosaic, which I haven't started on this canvas) and each flamingo is going to be stitched in the same stitches used by one of its predecessors on canvas 1.  Thus far I have done the diagonal mosaic on the yellow flamingo; a Byzantine variation on the purple; encroaching gobelin on the green one and nobuko stitch on the peach one.  And I stitched all those black eyes (smyrna crosses) and beaks (alternating slanted gobelin) today at the shop. 

I'm so excited because next week the majority of my new canvases will start filtering in. I can't wait, partially because I can't remember exactly what I've ordered.  I only remember that I didn't order it, like the totem pole canvas that arrived one year.  Definitely not the Needle Nicely look!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flamingo sandal, week #4

It finally sank into my thick skull that it won't be long before my classes start and perhaps I should have all the stitches selected for the two flamingo sandal canvases.  Duh!  While I was quick-stepping through the blue and orange flamingos, I noticed that the area of background under Pinkie's chin (do flamingos have chins?) was whiter than the rest of the background.  Sure enough, I had 3 white strands mixed with only 1 blue--amazing how obvious that was to the naked eye.  Heaven only knows what happened to the leftover blue strand. 

I decided to stitch the dark area on each head with the same stitch--the kalem.  Pinkie's wing is stitched in the Byzantine #2 (as labeled in Stitches to Go by Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson).   I started filling in the spaces in the criss-cross Hungarian with French Knots in the dark pink. 

The "Blue Boy's" body is stitched in the diagonal mosaic and the wing in the knotted stitch.  The Orange flamingo's body is done in Byzantine #3 and the wing in the Hungarian Ground stitch.  I should have plied up to 6 strands for the upright Hungarian Ground, but forgot until I had stitched most of it.  Some bare spots showed up and I just over-stitched in a few places. I'm only telling you just so you will know that I'm not perfect, in case you were under that misapprehension! 

Next week I'll start on the other panel from the sandal canvases.  I'm already picking out stitches and readying my needles.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New key fob

I managed to finish my canvas for the new key fob.  I'll be sending it to the belt finisher on Monday.  I can't wait--I really want the model tomorrow, not in 4 to 6 weeks.

It was a major sacrifice for me to only put "Mary" instead of Mary Agnes, but that would have made the alphabet too small aesthetically (get that!!) and I kept reminding myself it is only a shop model. 

Just had to show off another new addition to the inventory.  It's a magnet, but not one for attaching to your canvas while you are stitching; but rather to the refrigerator or just to hold a business card.  And it is very appropriate for Florida.

Who couldn't love that darling face? 

And my last photograph is "a blast from the past".  Someone reminded me this morning of my first car which I kept for about 25 years--a 1967 blue Mustang 289.  I bought it and learned to drive from Boone to Linville and Boone to Blowing Rock in North Carolina.  Talk about memories.  I commemorated it with this pillow that I have at home (one of the few) that was a kit from, I think, Studio 2 years ago.

Isn't she lovely?  Someone should do a series of designs of classic car grilles.  I know Joanie Sherman did Christmas ornaments of some classic cars which we stock.  Great idea!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A photographer again!

Well, finally!  After multiple phone calls, I am once again the proud possessor of a working Canon digital camera.  Hooray!  And it works beautifully.  And my first photograph is to show you the finished pillow model of the Flamingos that I worked on this fall.

Another photograph is this one of a canvas I'm going to basketweave and send to a belt finisher who I just heard makes key fobs.  This will eventually be a shop model.

Of course, you understand I need to stitch this in my sleep.  We've been busy at the shop this week and my stitching time there has dwindled.  That's definitely a good thing. 

Another good thing--I remembered reading Kathy Rees' blog ( where she designs charted needlepoint utilizing watercolors.  I took a chance and called her.  She sent me two skeins of Fir and while not the same dyelot they were very close.  Now I can finish my Fern medallion.  Life is looking good!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flamingo sandal, week #3

My home stitching time has been curtailed this week as I checked out the websites of designers who don't have sales reps.  I need to be placing orders to fill in gaps in my inventory.  As they say, "time's awastin'"--season will be here before I know it.  It shocks me to realize how long it takes to websurf.

I had a really positive experience concerning the internet this weekend.  A woman in Hawaii emailed me concerning a company I have listed among designers on the Needle Nicely website.  As far as I know they are out of business, which is what I told her.  However, as a last stab I entered a query on Facebook and Shazam!  Maggie from Maggie & Co commented that Needlepoint Inc still owned Wee Needle and she had told Diane about my query.  So a stitcher in Hawaii who I have never met will be able to replace a canvas that she left on an airplane just because of the internet (and because I am brilliant--well, that may be stretching it!) 

My lavendar flamingo is stitched in the encroaching gobelin with the patio cashmere for his/her wing. 

Pinkie's body is done in the criss-cross Hungarian.  I will fill in the open space with a French knot in the darker pink that I will use for her wing. 

And though it is scarcely noticeable, I have added to the background.  As Anne Stradal says, this week I must get out my turbo needles and finish this because I have a companion piece to start.  Too many canvases, so little stitching time!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mish-mash mind

Mish-mash mind is just how I feel.  I can't stitch much further on my "Leaf medallion" class piece because someone (ME) picked a watercolors that I only had 2 skeins of--and of course I need at least 1 more skein, 2 would be better.  I've tried calling shops I know and Lois at the Caron Collection to no avail.  Barry at Town-Ho in Brewster, MA, even sent me 2 skeins, each a different dye lot to see if one would work.  Sigh.
I started with Fir #112, dye lot 311.  Tomorrow I'm going to make my first posting at the Needlepoint group on Facebook to see if someone there can help. 

And then the never-ending saga of the digital camera.  Canon keeps saying they are going to replace it.  However, because of the holidays they are out of stock.  They have said this repeatedly, with no expected delivery date.  Hmmm.  Finally yesterday the young lady mentioned perhaps she should check with a supervisor.  Sounds promising, doesn't it?  Doesn't work that way.  He merely exclaimed over the length of time I've been waiting and promised to expedite matters.  I almost laughed out loud, but instead thanked him before hanging up and then laughing.  And then an email appears from Canon.  Could I please answer a questionnaire concerning my 1/6/12 experience with their customer service?  I think I'll pass on that until I have a camera in my hot little hands. 

And then there was the little old man who wandered in this afternoon, looking for iron-on patches.  When I suggested K-Mart (across the parking lot), he looked around and said "Well, what do you do in here if you don't have iron-on patches?"  I should have told him I sell tropical fish, but I just smiled and said "Needlepoint".  He was shaking his head in puzzlement as he left. 

However, it's Saturday night and I have tomorrow's New York Times to look forward to.  Yum!  Hope your weekend is equally pleasant.

Not wanting to appear whiny, I must mention that I sent my camera in mid-November and paid for its repair 11/22/11.  I was told the next week that it was repaired and in transit to me.  Imagine my surprise when I didn't receive it and then called Canon to be told they were ordering more parts.  Not nice.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Flamingo sandal week #2

I have to chuckle when I look at this week's progress on my flamingo canvas.  The black is a particular source of amusement.  I am known for my good vision (well, that term may be inaccurate, perhaps sharp-sightedness would be closer).  I have had cataract surgery in both eyes and wear bifocals, even though my vision uncorrected is now 20-20. I like my bifocals for finding missed stitches for customers and a myriad of life's necessities.  However, last week when I was stitching one evening at home on the flamingo canvas, I realized I was having difficulty seeing the black.  I decided that I would do all the eyes and beaks on Sunday afternoon when it was bright and sunny.  Fast forward to Sunday afternoon.  A football game is on the television and the sky is grey and wintery.  I still can't see the black.  So I pull out one of the "box" flash lights we use when the lights go out during hurricanes and hold it against my canvas with my left hand, stitching with my right hand.  Bless K's Creations lap frame stand!  Even more amazing was that my husband offered to hold the flash light for me--that must not have been that good a football game!!

I drew in the outlines of the flamingo bodies 1/2" below the painted area so I could extend the stitching without additional painting (though the new canvases will have that area painted in).  I did the left hand green flamingo's wing in the Byzantine Scotch stitch and started the periwinkle flamingo's wing, using the patio cashmere stitch.  I completed all the eyes and beaks.  I have also worked on the background, but my progress has been slow.  I plan to teach this as a class next month, so must get speedier in my stitching.