Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pretty posies, the finale

First, I feel that I must respond to Anna's (and others'--had to change that apostrophe or Anna might smite me grammatically) questions about Needle Nicely's decision to close on Saturdays.  I hesitate to use terms like honestly or truthfully because people say that actually means the opposite.  Anyway, the truth of the matter is that I will be 70 in October and I'm tired of working 6 days a week, which I do during "the season" and in the months leading up to it.  Needle Nicely has been in Vero Beach for over 31 years (we opened in October, 1981).  In the ensuing years, Saturday has consistently been the poorest day in revenues.  I have always insisted on being open on Saturday so as to allow access to stitchers who work.  That doesn't seem to be a factor in Vero, I regret to say.  The reality of retail is that sales are better when I am physically in the store.  Tough to believe since I know that my personality is like a fine wine--some people love me and there are those who avoid me.  I must also confess that any of my employees over the years will tell you that I manage to dodge quite a few people who I don't seem to synch with.  That's reality and that's life.  We all move on (though some of us continue to hide in the back room!).  But I'm in retail and have signed a lease for another (at this moment) 2 3/4 years.  This weekend is my first 3-day weekend,  I think, since I was a librarian--centuries (almost!) ago.  

And how did I change the font?  I wish I knew because I quite like it. Maybe with 3-day weekends I'll have time to figure it out!!  I did figure one thing out--how to record a message on the shop answering machine.  With manual in hand, it only took my punching the wrong button about a gazillion times before I hit the correct formula. 

The above photograph is the completed blossoms canvas.  I have already worked on it for over an hour, clipping the turkey work and then trying to trim the individual blossoms.  The ribbon floss feels so soft when you run your hand over it.  Nice!  There's a lot more trimming to go, but I'll wait to do that until after the tote is back from the finisher.

And just as a curiosity, I photographed the back of the finished canvas.  It's interesting to see the regularity of the back of the turkey work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leaf medallion class, colorway 2, part 3

NEWS FLASH:  Needle Nicely is now closed on Saturdays, year-round, starting immediately.  Saturday has always been our slowest business day in the Florida shop.  (That was hard to get used to since our North Carolina shop did about 1 1/2 times as much business on Saturday as any other day of the week.)  And it is an early birthday present to myself--working 6 days a week in the wintertime has become a chore.  

And now to the stitching.  I had to make an executive decision about the position of colors in this colorway of the Leaf medallion class.  The yellow splendor just disappears when used for the mosaic stitches as shown here.
So I substituted the green splendor.  I'll just need to make a note in the chart to warn stitchers of the change.  I like the stitch definition presented by the color switch.  And again I should mention that the green in the watercolors is more limey than shows in this photograph.

My mind is racing forward to my next home project that I should start in about 2 weeks.  My next post will show the finish of my blossoms, my current shop project.  Such stitching excitement!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saint Helen, we miss you

Yesterday I was forcibly reminded that life goes on.  Things change.  Helen, who started working for Needle Nicely in 1989 (I think--she says hesitantly), decided to retire as of June 1, 2012.  What?  I knew Helen before I met my husband Arthur.  In fact she was working the day I left to meet him for a first date lunch that lasted 3 hours and I don't remember how many glasses of wine.  I think she knew before I did that he was finally the one!  But Helen is now 80 years old and she started having a terrible back ache the evening and night after she had worked.  

Many people might remark--so what?  Helen was a part-timer.  Over the years it varied from 2 to 5 days per week.  But Helen was a versatile employee.  She could do everything.  She is wonderful with color.  One time someone came in on one of Helen's days off and she wanted to match a color of DMC perle cotton without a label.  Whoever was working couldn't find a match.  Two days later, the customer came in when Helen was working and she immediately found a match.  The customer was ecstatic.  We in the shop just named her Saint Helen because she could change the perle colors to suit the circumstance!
Helen always blocked the belts before we sent them to any of the 3 finishers we ordinarily use.  They say they block, but trust me, they don't to our standards.  I've had to block belts twice since Helen retired.  My arthritic fingers are not thrilled with the whole process, but I think I have managed a credible job.  FYI our blocking board is 3 pieces of pine board attached to the back of our "powder room" door.  There are nasty knots in the boards which do not assist in the blocking process (thank you Paul, the handyman who didn't listen when I told him what I wanted on the door--I think of you, and curse you, often).  

Helen's the one we used to have embroider the faces on canvases where the mesh is too gross to allow for nice facial features.  She does the hair more beautifully than it is painted.  Now I guess I have to do both of these things.  Sigh!  I can do it, but it was so much easier to have Helen do it.  She seemed to do it so effortlessly and so well.
Three years ago when I came back from 3 weeks in Paris and London, and my Liz Claiborne lawn dress had developed a hole under my right arm--it was saved by Helen.  She sewed a patch from the hem so perfectly that no one can tell it is there.  And the dress may live on for another 20 years (that perhaps is too optimistic). Of course, I used to tease Helen that the nuns taught her how to stitch so beautifully.  She quickly denied that!

Yesterday a customer brought in a rug for finishing.  Hooray!  This is the summer, it's deathly quiet, and I'm thrilled to have something to send to the finisher.  EXCEPT, Helen always made the yarn cording that we send to the rug finisher when we send a rug for finishing.  I do that because I like my color sense of what color looks best on the edge of the rug rather than that of someone else whose color sense is suspect.  And now I get to do the cording.  Whoopee!  Later--well, I did it and if I must say it looks pretty good.  Of course, it took me about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  The majority of that time was spent maneuvering the twist to make it consistent the entire length of the cording (for a 3'x4' rug). 

She didn't get a gold watch or a pension, but she does have my heartfelt appreciation for what she has contributed to Needle Nicely over the past 23 (or 24?) years.  And may she have many years of retirement ahead of her.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

reality vs retail

When you're a retailer, reality rears its head and smacks you in the jaw (is that a mixed metaphor or something?).  Anyway, let's be realistic that in a perfect world you can open a shop and stock it with various goodies that just fill your heart with warm yummies.  NOT.  Down the street there is a Michael's that sells DMC  floss for .35 a skein and Ott lights for $40 after their discount.  I do stock DMC and sell it for the recommended retail because I can use it as a convenience for kitting needlepoint canvases. I  no longer stock Ott lights.  On both of these I can't compete on price, but at least on DMC cost-conscious people are only buying a skein or two for convenience so it doesn't bother them that I am selling at recommended retail.
But the Ott light price difference is real money and makes it worthwhile to drive 20 blocks to save $40.  So I don't bother to stock it.  I don't want to look at that lamp for a year waiting for it to sell.  I'd rather be a good guy and send people to Michael's (always suggesting that they wait for the 40% off coupon in the Sunday paper--I'm nice, but I'm also a bargain-hunter at heart). But it always surprises me that some people resent that I don't stock the lamp.  Even after I've told them how much cheaper it is at Michael's.  Duh!  Just hand me the extra $40 and I'll go buy it for you and deliver it to your door.  Vero is a small town.  I can do that.   But I don't want to stock it.  No way.

The other day a long-time customer called and asked, and I quote, "I saw somewhere that you're open on Sundays?"  I responded quickly, "in your dreams".  I shouldn't apologize, but I do.  My Sundays are spent in several ways:  1. reading the Sunday NY Times 2. doing bank deposits and sales records 3.laundry if I absolutely have to 4.watching golf and especially Boo Weekley who finally managed a top-10 finish this week (3/11)/or tennis, rooting for Rafa against my husband and Roger and 5.taking an afternoon nap.  I come from a long line of nappers and it's one of my favorite pastimes.  Notice that house cleaning didn't even make the list.  Thank goodness my husband, who is retired, likes to clean.  Bless him!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Leaf medallion class, colorway 2, part 2

I've made good progress on stitching this.  It helps to not be making stitch decisions "on the fly", so to speak.  In person the watercolors looks much more limey than in this photograph.  I'm pleased with how the colors are melding together.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pretty posies, continued

What a bonehead move I just made.  I went to download my photographs, but I was listening to something on television at the same time.  So instead of clicking on the little box for downloading photographs, I hit the bright orange publish button.  One of my brothers will be more than happy to testify that that empty post contains the sum total of my intelligence.  Let me try again.

Now that I am over my misgivings about how the posies will look, I'm making progress on stitching these blossoms.  I do have to take time out to stitch things for customers.  Tomorrow I must start putting together a key fob for one of my customers. 

Monday I took this picture through the screen of our back porch.  It's a blue heron on the hunt for dinner.  That "waterfront" is the retention pond for our development.  Florida has such a high water table that you need places for the water from the downpours to gather, rather than in your house.  The pond also provides water for our lawn sprinklers. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Leaf medallion class, another colorway

I originally designed and stitched the leaf medallion in December, 2011, in preparation for my winter 2012 classes.  It elicited little notice from my prospective students and I've been wondering if my color selection were the culprit.  This is the original color combination:

Since it's summer, I felt the need for some refreshing citrus.  Yellow is the dominant color in the watercolors I selected.  I had a little trouble picking some of the other colors that were used in the watercolors.  

My pale green sparkle rays was too minty:

I just had to rip it out.  Then my splendor for the eyelet and Scotch stitches took over the world and had to be picked out.  Of course, I didn't make that decision until I had almost finished them.
I like what I now have:
Now I'm looking forward to stitching on this tomorrow while I watch Federer and Murray at Wimbledon.  That is. if I don't get involved totally in the tennis action.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

2012 limited edition ornament, finished

Wow!  I feel like I just whizzed through this.  Tomorrow I'll send it (along with some customers' ornaments) to the finisher.  And, of course, I'm already anxious to see the finished ornament with its tassel.  Today while I watched tennis from Wimbledon I started my next project--and picked out.  More on that next week.

Hope your Fourth was what you wanted it to be.  Restful, like mine, or hectic or family-filled.

EDIT:  I just realized I didn't mention that now that I have finished stitching this model I have the fiber count so I can start assembling the kits for this ornament.  The painter is painting the canvases and I have ordered the metallic.