Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Standing Nutcracker, 2

Well, I hope the National Hurricane Center removes Isaac from the list of future storm names.  While Florida was fortunate enough to dodge the full force of Isaac, a "rogue band" broke free after Isaac left Cuba and headed up the East Coast of Florida.  It dumped masses of water as it stalled overhead.  Vero's previous one-day rainfall record was broken Monday thanks to the torrential downpour.  I don't know what the 3-day total was.  A lot.  Of course, I was running my Monday errands.  As I was pumping gas, I saw lightning and heard the thunder and had the fleeting thought that perhaps I shouldn't be doing this under a metal awning at this moment.  Of course I had committed the cardinal sin of not having a full tank of gas when a tropical storm/hurricane was approaching.  Once I saw that Isaac was going up the Gulf of Mexico I relaxed my usual attentiveness to storm preparation.  My bad.  And as I was out driving around through buckets of water, there was a tornado warning.  And ten minutes after I pulled into my garage a tornado hit 3 trailer parks just west of where I had been pumping gas.  Why is it always trailer parks?  Life is not fair.  Fortunately no one was killed.  And I can barely bring myself to watch New Orleans.  I think it is worse to watch a hurricane hit someone else than it is to endure it yourself.  My prayers go out to all in Isaac's path.

Tuesday I was surprised when I got to the shop to discover that there was water on the floor of the back room.  Fortunately nothing was damaged.   And again, a wake-up call.  Knowing how much rain we were having, it hadn't occurred to me while doing errands Monday to swing by and check on the shop. "It's only rain."   Foolish me.  It could have been so much worse. 

My weekly progress doesn't seem like much on this gi-normous project. 

I wanted to complete the interlocking gobelin around the "feather" in the nutcracker's hat so I could start the long/short split stitch with its edges overhanging the background stitching.  I just barely made it! 
I tried to darken things so you could see the definition of my first row of stitches.  I'll have more on this in 2 weeks.  Next weekend (9/7-9/10) I'll be in Baltimore for a TNNA cash-and-carry market.  This is definitely too big for travel.  My mind is racing trying to select a small traveling project.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

5 lighthouses, week 3

I did the circles on the lime lighthouse in continental stitch.  The red and white lighthouse is stitched in the alternating slanted gobelin. 

I managed to finish the rocks on which the lighthouses are standing and worked some more on the waves. 

When I went to complete the row of border under the lettering, I ran into a problem.  Somehow I had miscounted the very top row of border.  With today's rainy and/or overcast skies, it was difficult to find where I had gone wrong.  It was above the inner t.  I had to move to a chair right beside a window before I could locate the culprit.  And then to rip and restitch.  Here's a close-up of the restitched border.
I lightened it so you could see the continental stitches around the letters.  In person, the border is so dark it is hard to pick out the stitch pattern. 

And thank goodness, Isaac decided to visit the Gulf of Mexico.  Although the storm is so large that we have been told to expect tropical storm winds and rain.  The worst part of that is the possibility of tornadoes which are so unpredictable.  Here's hoping the mountains of Cuba continue to break up his structure. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Standing Nutcracker

It was love at first sight when I spied this canvas on Susan Roberts' website.  It is a 30-inch-tall Nutcracker that I'm going to stitch and then have made into a standing stuff.  What a marvelous thing to have standing by the Christmas tree or in the foyer to welcome guests.  
Susan has 2 different 30" tall nutcrackers; she also has six 18" tall nutcrackers.  And she has a tree skirt that has 8 panels with a 2 nutcrackers per panel for a total of 16.  And I'm sure any of those could be painted individually.  (Easy for me to say since I can't paint).

Since I plan on turning this into a standing stuff, I first drew an outline around the canvas.  Actually I did it quite poorly since I later decided that I need to have at least 10 stitches of background around the figure.  This will change when I get to his legs because he will need "a good foundation" and so the bottom border will be much wider.  I couldn't face doing all of that background in basketweave, so I selected the Jacquard stitch.
As you may have figured out by now, I like to have the background done before starting other stitches that edge up to it.  Thus, I usually stitch several threads of background and then do a strand or two of design.  In the above photograph, you can see the start of the Jacquard and then the interlocking gobelin I selected for the reds in his hat.  I lightened the photograph so you could see the gobelin while still seeing the details of the Jacquard. 

My intention is to have this stitched and finished by Christmas, although no one but me seems to believe I can do that.  It is true that I have several canvases to partially finish for customers--like the finished frog that sprang (?) a leak only to reveal it was filled with pinto beans.  That is definitely a no-no in Florida where bugs quickly befriend old beans.  Had to locate some poly-pellets at the local Joann Store.  And Isaac seems to be racing toward Florida.  My weekend plans definitely haven't included battening down the hatches in preparation for a hurricane.  Think positive thoughts--the best option might be going north in the Atlantic.  The only problem with hurricanes is that they eventually make landfall somewhere--and you hate to wish such bad luck on anyone.   Another installment on this impeding story will come:  Saturday!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

5 lighthouses, again

Isn't it lovely?  It's always wonderful when a box of finishing arrives.  Stitchers don't realize the transformation that can occur by selecting the right color backing for a pillow or trim for an ornament.  When I receive a new shop model from the finisher, I always place it where I can look at it often during the day. 

I've been diligent at the shop stitching on a Christmas stocking for a customer so my new project is slightly delayed in developing.  I'll unveil it Wednesday, I promise.

This week my home stitching has been done on the 5 lighthouses canvas I started last week.  All of the stitching is in silk 'n ivory.

The outer striped border is being stitched in the slanted gobelin, with the direction of the slant changing about the middle of each side.  The blocks of color aren't equal, so the middle will be the end of a color, rather than changing in the middle of a block although that could also be an option, depending on how rigid your personal outlook is.  As I've grown older I've become more forgiving about such decisions--whatever floats your boat!  

I decided to do the top roof of all the lighthouses in the mosaic stitch.  The inner space is done in whatever slanted stitch fits.  The first lighthouse has a cashmere stitch, the 2nd  Scotch stitches, and the 3rd mosaic stitches.  The orange lighthouse is done in slanted gobelin.  

Lighthouse #2 is done in the jacquard stitch.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this was to figure out the compensation. 

And I've decided to stitch the border in the Diagonal Triple Parisian as I mentioned last week.  However, I have decided to stitch the lettering areas in the tent stitch, perhaps doing the DTP between words.  To make the process easier, I am stitching the background row under the lettering so that I have a reference point.  Usually I just stitch consecutive rows of a border.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

bonus day off

On Monday, my 3rd day off in a row, I didn't leave the house.  I spent most of the day doing "housework" for Needle Nicely's website and blog.  I have been ignoring the website since I started writing the blog and I decided that I needed to update the finished projects shown on the website.  Step one in that process is to go through all my blog entries and make notes about finished models so that I can come back later and write them up using the style on the website.

While I was in the mood to go through the blogs, I decided to make a record of all of the photographed items I have used in the blog.  I hope that record will keep me from repeating myself, though one never knows (especially as I grow older).  And I hoped it gave me ideas of things I could photograph, but that hasn't happened.  Maybe my subconscious is working on it (one can always hope!).

Then I recorded all the photographs of items I hadn't used in the blog.  That information will provide me with fodder for a blog entry those days where I haven't managed to stitch much or am brain-dead about ideas.  

On another housekeeping front, I called our local Habitat for Humanity home store to ascertain whether they accept video recordings (not DVDs).  They do, so Saturday I plan to drop off all our old movies.  Many of them I haven't seen (one year I picked up lots thinking I'd have them to watch when I retired--which is beginning to look very distant) but our video recorder died and life is definitely too short to think about finding a substitute.  My husband, who is a minimalist and  believes all flat surfaces should be empty, will be so thrilled to see that cabinet emptied. Thank goodness we met later in life--in our twenties I'm sure we would have fought to the death over our differences.  Today we celebrated our 21st anniversary at lunch.  Of course, today wasn't our anniversary.  Neither of us can remember the exact date without checking because in the early years I was always in Blowing Rock, NC, keeping Needle Nicely open there.  We always celebrated when I returned to Vero.  It is the thought that counts!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

5 lighthouses, all in a row

It has been a busy time at the shop this week--I sold a Susan Roberts Santa tree skirt and spent part of 2 days kitting it.  Actually, it took one morning just to hem the 8 pieces and that felt like I were wrestling a whale, it was so unwieldy. 
I also received some canvases from a new designer, one of which I'm now going to blog-stitch.  This is the 5 lighthouses by Pippin.  
I swear I used to be an organized person; after all I was a library cataloger, the most rigid of the rigid.  You couldn't prove it by my behavior as I approach my dotage.  I started the navy border at the shop one day and then packed everything up to take home for stitching this weekend (yeah, Saturday off!).  This morning I reached for the fiber bag--and you got it, no navy silk 'n ivory.  I wanted to stitch it in the daylight while watching golf, but it isn't in the bag. Mumble, mumble.  To Plan B.
I started stitching the background in Nobuko stitch, but taking a page out of Anne Stradal's stitch book, my version is slanting the other way.  I wanted a contrast to the right-handed slant of the Diagonal Triple Parisian that I had started in the border.  We'll see if it works when I manage to get some more of the border done.

I decided that while the openings in the top structures of the lighthouses should be the background (i.e., sky), I can make the stitches more appropriate to the shape of the structures.  Therefore, I did an enlarged Cashmere stitch in the top of the first lighthouse.   The triangle-shaped top of the structure I stitched in the Mosaic stitch.  At first I tried Satin stitch, but the silk 'n ivory didn't blend smoothly enough to be pleasing. 

The rocks on which the lighthouses are reposing I am doing (she says optimistically) in the Woven stitch. 
The waves are happening in a Diagonal mosaic.

I also brought home a Christmas stocking that a customer brought in for us to paint a name on and then stitch the top.  It has been shoved aside since Adele has been out sick (and as I mentioned before, Helen retired).
So that will be my Sunday afternoon stitching.  It's 18 mesh, so I think it will take me several Sundays.  But I still have time, thank goodness.

And a shout-out to Sharon in Lake Mary who reads my blog and came in this week to see what Needle Nicely and Vero Beach were all about.  Thanks, Sharon, and I hope to see you often.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

technology wins--again

Yesterday I went to my HP flatbed scanner/printer/fax to scan some reports from my credit card processor so I could email them to a company that TNNA has contracted with to give needlework shops better prices for accepting credit/debit cards.  Except--when I hit the start scan button on my printer, etc., etc., a message came up that said that "this device is not connected to your computer and cannot perform this function."  My scream was probably heard 30 miles away.  Said machine just downloaded photographs from my digital camera, so I know it is connected.  I turned it off, I turned my computer off, I turned them both back on.  Nothing.  So I started searching on "my computer" and other parts of my computer programming to see if I could locate the scanner function.  I finally discovered it at HP Solution Center.  It let me do the scans and even email them.  But the unmentionable piece of equipment still denies that it has any relationship with my computer, even while it is scanning away.  I don't have the energy to try to trouble-shoot the problem since I accomplished my purpose.  I'll be like Scarlett O'Hara and worry about that tomorrow.

I'm glad I persisted with the scanner because today I got a phone call about the rates I'm currently paying my credit card processor.  The recipient of my scans was horrified at how much I'm paying and is expediting an alternative plan.  All with the same company I have been using.  Hmmm.  In this business climate any money you can save on overhead is "a good thing". 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Leaf medallion class, colorway 2, almost done

When I think about this past week, I think "exciting".  What?  In the summertime in Vero Beach?  Well, I got shipments from 2 finishers and that is always pleasant and exciting, not to mention good for the bottom line.  Here are the two shop ornament models that were in the shipment from my ornament finisher.  First is the ornament done from the Rainbow Gallery free chart designed by Ruth Schmuff.  I don't know if you can see in my photograph, but my finisher put gold lame fabric behind the exposed canvas for a shimmer of gold.  It looks enticing in person.
I found the tassel at Jo-Ann's when I went searching for 50 tassels for this year's limited edition ornament.

And here is the finished model for this year's limited edition ornament designed for me by Trubey.
I should finish the last of the basketweave on the yellow version of my leaf medallion class piece tomorrow morning while I'm watching Roger Federer play Andy Murray at the Olympics.  I remembered to bring my next project home so I have it on hand in case I have time tomorrow or Monday to start stitching on it.  These three-day weekends require some preplanning I am discovering.
I'm really pleased with the look of this citrusy version of my leaf medallion class design.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Disaster preparation from the frontline

Jane of Chilly Hollow has often asked me to talk about what I do to prepare for an approaching hurricane.  I really don't like to think too much about that, but reluctantly I will give the following suggestions.

Some things you do weeks in advance, just general preparation.  Other things you do when the threat is imminent.  

Unlike other natural disasters (like derechos), you have time to prepare.  

General preparation falls into three categories.  Are you leaving the area totally, are you moving to a shelter or are you staying in your home. 
    If you are evacuating, there are steps you must go through.  You must close your home (condominium/house) with hurricane shutters or plywood on the windows. Forget taping windows.  It just means they break in large pieces and removing sunbaked tape is a real pain.   You must also put all lawn furniture and other loose items inside your home.  Be sure to have all prescriptions with you.  Also, have your car full of gas and have at least 400 to 1000 dollars with you because the electricity goes off and you cannot pump gas or get money from ATMs.  If you have a gas barbecue, put it in your garage. You can't leave it outside because it could become a projectile. Leave early enough that you aren't caught in miles and miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic.  And if you're in Vero Beach, don't go to Orlando (in 2004, 4 hurricanes went over Orlando, two  from each coast and two that had gone over Vero).  Try to leave early enough that you can get to Jacksonville or Atlanta or Charlotte.  Have your important papers with you, like your insurance papers, checkbook and anything else you might need if your house is totally gone (remember Hurricane Andrew where the only thing for blocks was the concrete slab on which houses had been built.  No street signs, no nothing.)  Plan for the worst and pray for the best.

    Moving to a shelter--you must still make your home hurricane-ready.  See instructions for evacuating.  You must bring with you to the shelter your medicines and bedding.  They provide a physical cot and some food, but everything else is up to you.  You only go to a shelter as a last resort. And often, you must  check if you can bring any pets.  Usually only a last resort if you live in a trailer or are physically impaired.  It isn't a lot of fun to try to sleep in a gymnasium with gobs of strangers.

     Staying at home--I have always stayed in my home because of Needle Nicely.  If you evacuate, there is often a time-lapse before you can come home--usually they won't let you 'in' until the power is back on.   I need to be here to check immediately (a relative term--immediately after the authorities say you can check on your property.  Which may be several days after the end of the hurricane).  I have learned to always have a supply of various types of batteries.  I also have lantern-types of flashlights (better than regular flashlights because they give light over a larger area).  And I have candles.  I also have an extra propane tank for my grill (this is for my husband and myself--if I had a larger family I would have 4 or more extra tanks).  I have a radio with batteries so I can listen to reports while the power is out.  I also have a landline telephone that plugs in (not a a cordless) that will work when the power is off.  Often, after a hurricane the authorities commandeer cell phone towers for emergency use and cell phones don't work.  Buy ice.  Have a cooler.  Don't open your refrigerator or freezer unless absolutely necessary.  The food will last for at least 3 or 4 or more days in your freezer.  Cook some food ahead that tastes good cold--I always barbecue chicken wings and thighs  Also, buy things that can be eaten without cooking.  It's amazing how long it takes water to boil on a gas grill.  Things like canned meats such as sardines  or tuna fish and pop-tarts are good (although I personally have never tasted a pop-tart, supposedly it was a top-selling item in the 2005 and 2004 hurricanes in Florida).  I just realized that hard-boiled eggs would be a good idea (you can eat them as-is or make egg salad or any number of things). 

    Since our 2004-5 spate of hurricanes, Florida has mandated that many businesses have generators (like grocery chains and gas stations).  If you get out early in the morning, you can buy ice if you know where to go.  Sometimes the authorities announce it.  I prefer to buy my own early in the morning (like at 7am) before lines form. It's amazing that people aren't working, but very few can get out early to obtain supplies.   Certainly ice, water, and some food can be free from certain agencies if you stand in line for them.   I leave the free ice or the "meals ready to eat" for the people who cannot pay for them.

So many traffic lights were blown away in our 2004-5 hurricanes, now when one is coming, the authorities take them down at least a day in advance.  I don't remember how much the traffic lights and stop sign replacements cost, but it took several months to obtain supplies to replace all of them.  There is a curfew in place when the electricity is out.  That includes no sales of alcoholic beverages. Bummer.

In the shop, as I've mentioned, I already have packed the rug canvases into 6 large plastic bins (I usually sell a lot of rugs).  I have other plastic bins for the Christmas stockings and Christmas ornaments, but I don't pack them away until a storm is imminent.  I put all of the pillow models in large black trash bags, the tops tied shut.  I tape trash bags to the canvas racks so they hang down over the edges of the canvas hangers.  That way if there is a leak, the water will run down the trash bags without hitting the canvases.  I also do a last-minute look at the hanging canvases to be sure none are touching the floor or that no canvas threads are close to the floor (to prevent wicking).  I write up all of customers' finishing and get it shipped to finishers, trying to get it safe before the storm.  I also call finishers to warn them not to ship to me.  It amazes me that people in California or New York are often unaware that a hurricane is poised to hit Florida, so I've learned to make the phone calls.  When Katrina was imminent I sent belts to my belt finisher, not realizing that UPS would route them through New Orleans.  They sat in a warehouse for over 3 weeks before UPS managed to send them on to the finisher.  But at least the warehouse wasn't damaged.

There was a program on television the other night talking up hurricane preparedness.  One statistic that will stay with me for a long time is that only 25% of the businesses that are damaged in hurricanes ever reopen.  That is horrifying to a small business owner.

So keep your fingers crossed for all of us.  May we all dodge the weather bullet this year and for years to come.