Saturday, September 29, 2012

standing nutcracker, 3

This has been a satisfying week in terms of stitching.  Adele and I completed stitching Christopher's stocking with the black background and also the cuff area of Hadley's stocking.  I mailed them to the finisher this morning.  Hooray!

Now I can devote more time to my nutcracker.  I must think of a name for him.  I've almost completed the braid on his hat in Balger metallic--alternating vatican (102) with one of the newer golds (of course I can't remember the number.) 

Vero Beach is fortunate to have a wonderful independent book store, the Vero Beach Book Center.  It is a family-owned business that has been in Vero for about 35 years (it was here when we arrived in 1981).  It has a children's store, a large second-hand area and of course the separate building devoted to new books.  They are on the circuit of authors so several times a month they have book signing parties.  Another of their features is a rental library where you pay about 6.95 to rent a best seller for a week.  This is a great option when I'm impatient to read some of my favorite authors.  This past week it was Lee Child's Wanted Man, his latest Jack Reacher novel.  When I returned it last Saturday, I remembered to inquire about Kaffe Fassett's Dreaming in Color autobiography.  What a gorgeous example of bookmaking.  I had to treat myself to it.  The paper is weighty (I think clay-based for better reproduction) and the colors are magnificent.  It is just great eye candy.  I'm letting myself savor the story, reading about 15 pages a day so I can really enjoy his designs.  My only carp is and always has been that when he designs needlepoint, he uses too coarse a canvas mesh.  He's such a versatile designer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What a pretty bow! Part II

The lavender square is stitched in the Scotch stitch variation.  The pale green is the Hungarian stitch while the light blue is the chain stitch.  The yellow circle is the satin stitch with a continental stitch center plus as is the large pink circle.  The smaller yellow circle and the dark purple circle are done in the octagonal Rhodes stitch.  The darker pink circle is a ribber spider web stitch.

Both the medium blue oval and the round green are stitched in the chain stitch.  The dark yellow circle, the medium green circle, and the bright blue circle are stitched in the octagonal Rhodes.  The blue rectangle is the Hungarian stitch as is the pink square.  The medium lavender circle is the satin stitch with a continental plus.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Palm frond slides, reshaped II

As several other shops have mentioned on their blogs, this is the final push for getting things to the finishers for Christmas delivery.  Adele and I have been busily stitching on two stockings that Needle Nicely has promised will be done.  I'm a fast stitcher but a large 18mesh canvas can be humbling in terms of stitching speed.  I've also been working on getting the kits assembled for this year's Needle Nicely limited edition.  

 I've started adding the diagonal mosaic to the interior of the green palm fronds as well as continuing the stitching of the sky. 

I also wanted to show you the variations on this design that Trubey created.  This is a finished petite clutch.  First the back view and then the closed front view.

  These are the front and back views of a larger purse canvas with a variation of the same design.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

what a pretty bow!

Over the years Alice Peterson Co. has had several best-selling bow designs.  This is a smaller version that was fun to stitch.

The canvas comes with a stitch guide, but I preferred to select my own fibers and stitches.
First I started with the background in the mosaic stitch using off-white impressions.  By stitching the background before the design, you not only have a place to anchor your colored threads, but also prevent pulling bits of them through when you do the background.  I especially use this technique when I am stitching a saying canvas.

I divided the large yellow circle into fourths, doing a satin stitch.  I also did this in the smaller pink circle, varying it a little by first doing a plus of continental stitch. The darker blue circle is done in the chain stitch using silk'n ivory.  The lighter blue circle is done in the octagonal Rhodes stitch in silk 'n ivory. The green square is done in the Hungarian stitch.  The yellow square to the right below the yellow circle is done in a enlarged version of a Scotch stitch

 You can barely see the medium green circle at the upper right.  It is stitched in the Ridged Spider web.  The pale lavender rectangle on the lower left was done in the Hungarian stitch as is the dark blue rectangle in the upper left-hand corner  The large circle is again stitched in the chain stitch.  The yellow area is an octagonal Rhodes stitch. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Palm frond slides, reshaped

Well, so much for my optimism about showing you my finished spider.  Please understand that usually I send everything to specific finishers, depending on their specialties.  However, I know that the latest issue of Needlepoint Now features Timothy and contains stitch and finishing suggestions.  Now when do you think I'll get my copy?  Vero Beach seems to be at the end of the bulk mailing chain.  Sigh!  So it will just be a little bonus when I can get my head around the easiest way to do the finishing. I have my cording made and my fiber fill on high alert.  It probably would have been smarter to send my pumpkin to a professional.  

So I've bumped up my introduction of another reshaping of an exclusive Trubey design for Needle Nicely.  She did this for several shapes of pocket books and for slide shoes.  

If you look closely, you can detect where the original lines were whited out (with gesso) and the top of the fronds extended up and out.  These will make pillow inserts the same size as the two flamingo pillows I stitched this summer.

I started by outlining the palm fronds on the top right.  I did this the 4 hours I was in the Atlanta airport waiting for my flight home last Monday.  I interspersed people watching with boring stitching.  Since I've been home, I have worked on the Byzantine mosaic for the sky.  I am using splendor for all of the design elements.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Baltimore market, 2012

The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) is a professional organization comprised of members in the needlepoint, knitting and cross-stitch industries, both retail and wholesale.  It sponsors two major shows each year, one in January/February and the other in June.  Years ago both were held in New York City.  As labor costs rose there (and since many of the retailers are women from smaller towns, fear about the city), the industry decided to hold its markets elsewhere in the country.  California was a relatively inexpensive and non-threatening venue for the winter west-coast market.  To accommodate East Coasters, and perhaps because the managing company was in Columbus, a summer market was developed in the mid-west (It used to be in Chicago).  A primarily cross-stitch cash-and-carry market developed in March in Nashville.  Several side cash-and-carry needlepoint markets developed, among them a market in March/April in Dallas; a market in May in  Sturebridge Village, MA; and a market in the Northwest in the spring.  A more universal cash-and-carry market was developed in Phoenix.  The TNNA took this over in approximately 2008.  They moved it to St Charles, MO in 2009 and held it there for another year and then moved it to Linthicum, MD next-door to the BWI airport where it was held for 2011 and 2012 and perhaps 2013, location to be named later. 

Please understand that the two major markets are where new designs are premiered.  They are where the designers aim their primary emphasis.  The other markets are all secondary and the fall cash-and-carry is known as the market where the designers bring their overstocks or mispaintings to sell at reduced prices.  They also have regularly priced merchandise, but the main object is lowering inventory before the end of the tax year since there are no more markets. Quite sensible business practice.   But that is also why there has been relatively little on blogs about canvases at the market. 
As I was exiting the luggage claim area of BWI, I passed this mural (this is only a part of it):
 I'd love to know more about it because it appears to be Oriental in derivation.  I don't know why it's in Baltimore, but it is quite attractive and appealing.
When I go to cash-and-carry markets, I pack in my suitcase a broken-down  cardboard box.  I've been doing this for years before the airlines started charging for checking suitcases.  I usually ship my box of price lists and some canvases home.   I can only imagine what the TSA people think when they see this cardboard box taped (so the flaps don't take up too much space) in my suitcase on the way to a market.  I also pack a roll of package tape.  This time I used the package tape to secure the rolls of larger canvases that I packed in plastic in my suitcase which I checked.  I used the box for price lists and the smaller canvases and other items I had purchased (I'll photograph them next week after they arrive). 

Here are some of the canvases I purchased in Baltimore.  The first few are from Melissa Shirley.


This is a wonderful jar with peach motif on 18 mesh.

This is a conch shell canvas that is larger than usual--approximately 16x16.  It will really make a statement as a large pillow on a couch.  I also purchased a companion shell the same size.

This pillow is an Elizabeth Turner design.  It's a nice blend of floral with contemporary.

Another Elizabeth Turner design is this flip-flop design on 10mesh canvas:

And, finally, a stocking design from Strictly Christmas.

I also picked up some more of Associated Talents' spiders.  I wrapped my night shirt around them so the legs wouldn't get bent and packed them in my suitcase.  The pumpkin face is what I stitched while I watched Serena win the US Open on Sunday  and while I waited at the airport Monday a.m. 
I'll have to show my stitched version on Saturday.  Seems when I was editing my photographs I went brain dead and deleted the photos of the stitched pumpkin.  Duh!  I guess all jack 'o lanterns look alike to me.
I've been studying the AT stitched model to see how to put this together.  I'll try to have mine done for a photograph on Saturday.  Here are the other canvases available.  The skulls seem to add a macabre touch.

Getting back to the market--there were more vendors than at last year's show, but slightly fewer buyers (shops).  However, everyone seemed pleased with their purchases or sales.  No announcement was made about where next year's show would be, but the general feeling was that it would be in the same location. The hotel restaurant did a great job with their crab dishes (crab and macaroni and cheese and a baseball sized crab cake with NO filler).  I had both twice.  My only regret is that I didn't seek out a crab feast where you crack open the crabs--I'm originally from Maryland and that's my favorite way to eat crabs. Yum!  Maybe I'll do that next year.  

Of course, my trip home was an adventure.  The auxiliary power on the plane was on the blink so it wouldn't start the engines.  The plane was too large for the small ("they" said) generators to start the engines, so we had to wait for a larger generator to arrive from United Airlines  before we could take off one hour late.  Delta had re-written my ticket after I booked it whereby I only had 55 minutes in Atlanta.  Silly!  So naturally my plane home had taken off as I was landing.  Philosophically, I went to the gate for the next flight to Melbourne and the kindly man put me in first class.  I later discovered that the flight was full, so I was especially lucky.  I used the 4 hours waiting to start stitching on my next canvas which I'll show you next week.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lighthouses, finished

What is wrong with this picture?

If you look closely, you'll see that the "windows" of the 4 right-hand lighthouses have the stitches slanting toward the right.  The last lighthouse (the red & white one) has the stitches slanting toward the left.  Oops!
Here is a closer view:

Blogger never ceases to amaze me--that's why that photograph is on the far right.  Trust me, it isn't where I had intended for it to be.

I absolutely despise taking out.  In fact, truth be known, I sometimes over-stitch rather than rip.  However, as I am growing older, I am also becoming more prone to error.  Shhh!  You didn't hear me admit that since I am obviously perfect because I am a needlepoint professional (slight giggle).

The red and white stripes are done in the Byzantine #2.  I saved the white caps until last and stitched them in continental using white Sparkle rays.

 It was pleasant this past weekend, with both a golf tournament and a tennis tournament to choose from to watch while stitching.  And I finished!  Massive drum roll.

NOTE:  This was to have posted Saturday while I was at the Baltimore market.  Don't know why it didn't.  Ah, well!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

customer service, as a customer

I must preface this by saying I wrote this in April.

These past 10 days Calico Corners, an upholstery fabric chain, has been having a sale.  I went last week and spent over $200 on fabric and trims for pillows for customers and also for shop models (and future models).  The day before the sale ended I realized that I was stitching a witch canvas and needed orange fringe or black and orange fringe or black and orange get the picture.  I headed to Calico Corners with samples of the fibers I was using in stitching my witches shoes canvas.  So, imagine my surprise when I walked twice around the fringe and trim area at Calico Corners.  Nada.  Now, I'm a retailer so I recognize that they are having a sale and their sales force is occupied.  The manager is working on yesterday's sales figures at the central sales area--remember, I have superior hearing and I have heard her talking with someone else about how the sale is doing.  I approach her, tentatively.  She's busy, but I am a customer (which I remind myself--I've looked on my own and haven't found what I'm looking for).   I ask if it's possible to order fringe colors that they don't have.  She asks, what do you want that we don't have?  I say, I'm looking for halloween colors in fringe or bobbles.  Her response is "Try Jo-ann's".  Jo-ann's is reopening this next week in Vero.  And I quote:  We specialize in home decorating fabrics.  They do holiday items.  I didn't identify myself (several of her employees recognize me).  I merely replied, yes, I was looking for trim for needlepoint pillows.  Believe me, I'll find an opportunity to mention this encounter in the future.

EDIT:  I went to Jo-ann's today (4/18) and found 2 yards of feather fringe for the halloween pillow.  Its cost was 24.99 a yard.  I did use a coupon because Jo-ann's just opened this week, but I don't think $50. for trim on a pillow is something to sniff at!

Comment 9/5/2012:  I'm so pleased with the pillow that arrived today from the finisher.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  I called my finisher to rave and she mentioned that the woman who had attached the feather boa to the knife-edge mumbled a lot to herself.  But it turned out wonderfully.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lighthouses, week 4

I've brightened the blue used for the 4th lighthouse and in the multi-colored border.  The stitch is the interlocking gobelin (the same one I'm using for the nutcracker's hat). I like the added pop it lends to the design.

The border is progressing slowly.  It is difficult to stitch a pattern in a dark thread and doubly difficult when the fiber matches the background that has been painted.  Today was a beautiful, sunny day; so after I ran several errands, I settled in to watch the US Open tennis (go Roger!) and some FedEx cup golf (go Rory!) and stitch.  What a great way to spend an afternoon. 

Yesterday in the shop I gained a greater appreciation for the jobs finishers seem to do so effortlessly.  Several weeks ago a customer brought in a beanbag frog that had sprung a leak.  It would be too costly an operation to send it to my beanbag finisher (between shipping both ways and their labor fee), so I decided to tackle it myself.  What a surprise to discover that it really was filled with beans!  We use poly-pellets because of the humidity in Florida that causes beans to sprout and gain many buggy friends.  So first I had to make a trek to locate the poly-pellets (Joann's--Michael's has discontinued them).  Then to make a funnel to pour the pellets through, while at the same time with my 3rd hand holding the frog so the pellets would spread through the body.  And then to balance everything while hand stitching the opening closed. 

My next finishing chore was to make a tassel for a Christmas stocking.  It had to match the tassel we had put on a stocking last year.  I had to have the customer bring in the original stocking so I could measure its length and width so the match would be acceptable.   After a consultation with Helen (my retired tassel maker), I accomplished the task.  Now to send it to the finisher with enough perle cotton for her to make a matching twisted cord.  The finished stocking will be a work of beauty.