Saturday, April 28, 2012

If the shoe fits...session 4

I've been steadily working on the background.  I did stitch the right-hand stocking, in the process straightening the stripes.  I decided that life was too short to worry with compensating on each stripe.  I used the t-stitch (or woven) using Balger holographic orange metallic and black fyrewerks.
And I wanted to show the back of the canvas so you could see how I handle jumping from one spot to another on a canvas.  Having the background stitched first makes this process much simpler.
I try to eliminate as much "hair" from the back of my canvas as I can,  Primarily because if it exists, I manage to pull it through to the front with my stitching.  And that's not a pretty sight! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Swimming with the fishes...part V

What a wonderful feeling it is to have stitched all of the fish (they just lack eyes--hmmm).  Now to concentrate on the seaweed and water.  I think that will take another two weeks.  Fear not, I have another project already on stretcher bars. 

Here's my progress thus far:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

You've stitched it, now what?

So, you've ruined the family budget by buying a needlepoint canvas that speaks to you.  Compounded the problem by purchasing fibers that are just too, too.  You've completed the stitching and now it's time to decide how your jewel should be finished.  Framed, pillowed--??  

The reality is that needlepoint shop owners are aging.  Even worse, needlepoint finishers are even older.  In these tough economic times, I have many customers who are stitching projects and tucking the finished item into dresser drawers or closet shelves.  Finishers are getting older and retiring.  Their prices are increasing.  Just because you tuck projects away doesn't mean that one day it will be cheaper to finish them or that the finisher will be as competent as those we have today.  I get lots of phone calls asking about finishing prices.  Please be aware that price does not reflect quality of finishing.  You must see samples to make an educated decision.

Needlepoint shops must be careful about who they select to do your finishing.  You, as a customer, must also decide who will do your finishing.    Needle Nicely has over 20 finishers for various items.  We have 5 finishers for belts, depending on what style of finishing is required.  We have 2 finishers who do door-knob finishing,  one soft and one hard. Customers don't realize that there are so many choices.  Needle Nicely has one rug finisher and one frame finisher.  We also have two Christmas ornament finishers.  Purses are sent to 5 finishers, depending on the style of finishing.  Some of these finishers do multiple items, some only do one item.  Needle Nicely has one framer who is local and who we highly recommend.  We also have one upholsterer we use locally.  However, there are some upholstery jobs we prefer to refer to other finishers because we have discovered no local finishers who satisfy our standards.  Too often upholsterers treat needlepoint like fabric.  Not a good idea for a successful finish!

 When I tell you I don't finish an item, don't insist.  That means I don't have a finisher who consistently does a job I like.  Take my word for it.  I don't like to sell items that I don't have a finisher for.  I will tell you that when you purchase the item.  That gives you a head's up that it may be difficult to finish in an acceptable manner.  However, we're in a small rural area and I realize that people in large, urban centers have artisans that we don't have.

About 10 years ago, I sent a special style of purse to a handbag finisher that had always done wonderful work.  The model came back with defects and I returned it to the finisher.  When it looked no better the second time I received it, I sent it back to the finisher for their use or disposal, even though I had purchased the canvas and stitched it for a shop model.   I decided not to sell that style of purse since I had no finisher for it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swimming with the fishes...part IV

Well, to catch everyone up on the rack and its problems:  Monday I talked with John at Rainbow Gallery about the problem.  I had looked at the base Saturday and again Monday morning and couldn't see any damage.  I was all ready to start putting it back together, but decided to wait until I could pick John's brain.  Since I'm in Florida and he's in California, I had to wait until 12:30 to make the call.  Thank goodness I did.  John walked me through the rack's possible problem areas.  I had the rack base in my lap and was rubbing it (my employees tell me that I rub lots of things.  Guess I'm in the right business since I obviously like texture.).  All of a sudden, I realized that I could feel the long crack in the black plastic, but I couldn't see it.  After I tilted the base here and there, the crack showed up.  John wasn't surprised at my discovery and is sending a replacement base.  In the same box will be a small fiber order I placed--free shipping and a free base!  What a deal.  Of course, next week I'll have to reload the fibers on the rack.  That will definitely cut into my shop stitching time.  I should have asked John to come visit and help!

Speaking of visitors, I had the manager and her husband today from Rittenhouse Needleworks in Philadelphia.  It's always nice to meet people from other shops.  Often at wholesale markets we are all too focused on what we're seeing and how much we're spending to spend much time chatting with each other.  I like to visit shops when I travel.  The region of the country and the personality of the show owner govern the inventory.  Often I see items I had overlooked at market.  For instance, Needle Nicely has an unusually large inventory of belt canvases.  That's partly because golfers will wear needlepoint belts; tennis players are less apt to.  We also have a studio where we design custom belts for customers.   

Some of you might have noticed that I'm a sports fan.  I grew up with 6 brothers and 2 sisters--and guess who controlled the television?  As I grow older and athletes change teams for money with no loyalty, I am less apt to watch professional team sports(with notable exceptions like Peyton Manning and his brother Eli), but I love individual sports like tennis and golf.  This past weekend, Boo Weekley was in the running to win the Heritage Golf tournament in Hilton Head.  But Boo has to get some putting lessons, because his putting cost him over $200,000. if not the tournament.  But I was there with him Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.  At least, by television viewing!  And I got quite a bit of stitching done between watching those "just a moment ago, Boo did..."  Here's my progress:
Not only did I finish the Lilac fish, but I got over half of the fins done on the golden fish.  So I estimate another two weeks of stitching before I start on the next project.  I can't wait!
EDIT:  I forgot to mention, I'm going to be doing a newsletter, perhaps randomly, but if you'd like to receive it, either put your email in the comments or email me at  I'm trying to come up with content that hasn't appeared in my blog.  We'll see if I'm successful.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

An emerging newsletter

Sometime in the immediate future (2 or 3 weeks), Needle Nicely is planning an inaugural Newsletter, that will appear at least quarterly, but perhaps as interest develops it will appear more regularly.  You must understand that the NN crack technology team is studying night and day...and day and bring their readers late, breaking news about the happenings at the brick and mortar Needle Nicely.  I don't know about you, but the anticipation is killing me!! 

If you would be like to be added to this extremely exclusive email list, please send a comment to this blog with your name and email address OR send an email with that information to and I will add you to the super special listing.  I can feel the anticipation mounting!!  You may mention this magnificent offering to your nearest and dearest.  Thanks!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

If the shoe fits...session 3

Well, every so often life provides a little unnecessary excitement.  First thing this morning I was helping a customer look for a specific fiber.  I spun on of Rainbow Gallery's large rack and all of a sudden heard a loud crack and the rack immediately developed a list to the right.  That will definitely get your heart pumping!  And of course my Saturday fiber restocker, Lynn, immediately got on her knees trying to get a good view of the problem area.  That scared me even more, since she was right in the way of the listing rack.  We immediately started finding homes for the fibers, doubling up the fibers on our three other racks.  It took over 2 hours to complete the transfer of fibers. We even enlisted a customer, Marilyn, to help. 

With the rack empty, at 12:35 I walked across the parking lot to watch the HD Metropolitan Opera presentation of La Traviata.  It felt good to sit down!  Before the show started, I realized that I had totally forgotten lunch.  Thank goodness my opera buddy had some oreos for me to munch on.  I've learned that I put too much "butter" on my popcorn to eat on an empty stomach--definitely major indigestion.  It was a great performance with wonderfully lyrical music. 

Back at the shop and time to analyze the rack's problem.  The base is plastic and all I could determine was that the central post had managed to slip in its holder.  And now I believe I could have removed the full panels without emptying them to diagnose the problem, although perhaps the full panels are too heavy and unwieldy for a woman to handle.  I think I'll chat with John at Rainbow Gallery before I put everything back together again.  He may have some suggestions.

Now on to the stitching in my life--I started doing the outer border of If the Shoe Fits... in the alternating Scotch stitch using black fyrewerks and Kreinik holographic orange Balger #16.  It is really glistening and pretty.  And I almost finished the right-hand side of the bottom area of the canvas. 
I'm also stitching on the black background of the Christmas stocking we're stitching in the shop for a customer.  I'm about 45% finished with my part (the black) of that project. 

And tomorrow I'll be stitching on my fish while I watch Boo Weekley golfing at the Harbor Town golf tournament.  He's 4 behind the leader, but maybe he'll have a fantastic day and win! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Swimming with the fishes, part III

The evening newscaster just proclaimed "Today is the beginning of the Romney/Obama political campaign."  And here I thought the talking heads started that 7 months ago!  One of my Canadian customers said Monday that she didn't want to appear rude, but it did seem to be dragging on quite a bit.  All I think about is the money that is being spent on campaign ads that could be spent on feeding the poor or installing new programs in schools.  Of course, if the wife of just one of the candidates had been photographed doing needlepoint, I might be more tolerant!  

As evidence that the season is speeding past, Needle Nicely had its yearly employees luncheon at the Ocean Grill again today.  Poor Adele, who lives an hour South, got lost on her way from the shop and got to tour the greater suburban Vero Beach area.  As I was walking into the restaurant, I thought about pictures.  Then my cellphone rang and I had to try to lead Adele back in the right direction.  Our waitress was not amused!  We all had a wonderfully chatty time, though, and the food was delicious.

I managed quite a bit of stitching this week because of the Masters'.  I was so interested in Bubba's shots and performance that I could hardly take a stitch. 
I almost finished "greenie" during all that golf viewing.  I'm still looking at the seaweed.  I think I have the stitch I'll use, but I'm putting it off until after I finish the fish.  I rarely do the continental stitch and I've been surprised at how slowly it stitches on the fins. 
I guesstimate that I'm about 50% done.  I'm impatient to finish because I have already selected my next 3 projects! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Go Milton, Fl, golfers

Sunday was a really marvelous Easter  I don't want to offend anyone, but my husband (a former alter boy) and myself spent the afternoon glued to the television watching the Masters'.  Bubba was my first choice and Rory was my 2nd.  I've been trying to remember how many years ago I found out about Boo, Bubba, and Heath.  They are 3 golfers from Milton, Fl, in the back of beyond in the Panhandle of Florida.  Boo was my favorite and he won several tournaments and was on the Ryder Cup several years ago.  Heath won one of the Fed Ex cup end of the year tournaments and did quite well 2 years ago.  And now Bubba has won the Masters'.  What are the statistical odds that 3 young men on a high school golf team in the back of beyond
 would eventually make the PGA tour and also win tournaments? 

The really wonderful thing was I had 3 people come in yesterday to talk with me about my favorite golfer, Bubba, and how wonderful it was that he had won the Masters'.  They thought I was a little weird, a needlepoint shop owner raving about 3 young golfers, but they thought I was brilliant yesterday after Bubba won a major.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

If the shoe fits...session 2

Well, I learned something this week.  The new L metallics from Kreinik are called Holographic.  And they do have that iridescence that goes with holograms, so the name seems apt.  I'm sure Kreinik will be thrilled I approve of their product name.

I didn't accomplish much shop stitching this week, primarily because many people came in for last minute help before heading North.  I marked missed stitches for a Christmas stocking and canvas for a Pischke Pocket.  Missed stitches produce a mixed reaction--gratitude that I'm taking the time to do it, but irritation that I find so many.  It is a pain to go back and fill in an odd stitch here and an odd stitch there.  Then I twisted the yarn cording that I'll use next week when I make the pocket and attach it to the Pischke tote.  Someone ought to do a survey on how many needlepointers don't like to sew to finish their projects.  In my experience, it's quite a large number.  

I'm making myself stitch the background before I do the confetti on this canvas.  That way I don't have to be careful about ending the thread for each piece, but can run from piece to piece of the same color, just catching the back of my work so the loose threads don't pucker or get in my way.  I have the metallic threads in use run to the border on the right so they're out of the way, on the front of the canvas (on the back, they act like children who get into trouble when you can't keep your eye on them!).  The stitches I'm using for the confetti are Smyrna crosses and  modified raised Maltese Crosses. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Swimming with the fishes, Part II

I'm trying to think what went on this week that caused me to get so little stitching accomplished on this project.  Although I try to remind myself that "pinkie" fish is larger than the first fish I stitched.  Size does matter when it comes to amount of stitching time needed.  Part of it was spending more time surfing blogs for reports on the Dallas needlework market that was this past weekend.  I'm always surprised at how much time has passed while I click and read and browse websites. 

And to keep you up-dated on the trials and tribulations of small business ownership.  I bought Needle Nicely from Trubey 14 years ago in 1998.  I didn't buy her corporation but set up my own.  That is back information.  The first week of March my local bank was taken over by  PNC bank, making them the 3rd bank I have dealt with as the owner of "dba" Needle Nicely.  I had to tell my credit card processor my new bank account number so things would be recorded correctly.  They were doing daily deposits of credit card transactions in my bank account--but had the wrong corporation on their processing account.  In the past month I have filled out three different sets of "official" papers, talked to 4 unhelpful and 2 helpful people at Firstdata, and had a gentleman call and come by for an "inspection", primarily to take photographs of Needle Nicely's physical plant to verify that it is indeed a brick-and-mortar business.  These are the same people who, at the flick of a button, can ascertain exactly how much money Needle Nicely has handled in credit card transactions for every day of the past 14 years.  And no, they haven't asked me to fill out a questionnaire concerning my opinion of the transition.  I'm grateful that the problem has been resolved and I can now, once again, accept debit as well as credit cards.  But they have me forever (or until they are bought out), because I'm not going to willingly endure that process with another company!