Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pelicans ix

Small Business Saturday was a wonderful success for Needle Nicely.  In addition to lots of fibers, I sold another rug.  Hooray!  On my way to work, I stopped by the Vero Beach Book Center to help another small business.  I understand the President of the US also took his family to a local DC bookstore. Great minds think alike and all that!

I didn't quite get finished with the bodies of the pelicans.  I'm stitching all of the bodies using the Byzantine #2 variation from Stitches to Go.
This is the last day of Nablopomo 2013.  I'm relieved.  It has been tough trying to think of  things to talk about that I think "the world" would be interested in.  Now I'm back to my usual schedule of blogging on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.  Thanks for reading and please check back with me then.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ho, ho, ho pillow finished

This week I received the Ho, ho, ho pillow by Associated Talents back from the finisher.  I love the trim I sent, though I'm sure it was a pain for the finisher to hand-stitch it to the edge of the pillow.  I'm not as happy with the color match of the greens in the fabric I sent for backing.  Sometimes you just don't get it quite right!  

Here you can see the trim.  It"s really wiry and shiny. 

Just a reminder that tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.  Needle Nicely is having a one-day 20% off all in-stock fiber sale. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sleepy time

The Point of It All has a series of animal faces which can either be made into pillows or pajama bags.  I think the pajama bag idea is nifty and different as a present for children or grandchildren.  The 10mesh  canvas also means the project won't take a lifetime to complete like an 18mesh Christmas stocking.

I'm using a double strand of silk 'n ivory.  I could also have used  Trio, but I only stock a few colors.
The background is being stitched in the nobuko stitch.  The eyes are done in basketweave and continental.  I had originally selected fancy fur for the background but soon realized that the pattern stitch wasn't showing through all the fuzz. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Have a seat...

Yesterday the UPS driver brought 4 huge boxes and 1 medium-sized box.  One of the huge and the smaller box contained pillows from the finisher--hooray!  Christmas pillows and pillows for gifts. 

The other 3 huge boxes contained three rocking chairs from Sudberry House.  This is the walnut finished one.  I also have one painted white and one with no finish.  It's getting harder to find children's chairs, so I was delighted to have these be available. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The blocking board

Most finishers automatically block canvases before they begin the finishing process.  If the canvas isn't straight, the finished product will not be attractive.  The belt finisher Needle Nicely uses does not block the belt canvases. so I block them before shipping.  When we moved into this location, I had a handyman put pine boards on the outside of the bathroom door so I could do the blocking there.  I explained what I wanted the boards for, but he didn't understand and had to have picked the board with the most knots available.  Do you know how hard it is to put pushpins through a knot?  My arthritic fingers don't enjoy the process.
Here I'm blocking a canvas to be lined and attached as a pocket to one of the Dash & Albert tote bags.  I have a small steamer I use for the blocking process.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

A little tact helps when visiting out-of-town shops

Last month  I had two couples come into the shop.  They were from out-of-town.  One of the women was a needlepointer.  The others were just accompanying her.  They were from Phoenix.  Bit of background:  The LA Dodgers who had done spring training in Vero Beach from 1948 through 2008 are now spring training in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix.  Vero Beach has survived three hurricanes in the last 10 years and we have also survived the departure of the Dodgers.  But I don't want the husband of a potential customer to remind me of our pain and their gain.  For over 15 minutes--it seemed interminable.  I'm not a tactful person at the best of times and it was all I could do to maintain the Southern mantle of pleasantness when I really wanted to rip his heart out. I'm a business owner in a tourist area.  We get all kinds. But I'd rather they didn't rub salt in my retail wounds.  And all this while his wife wanted me to find an inexpensive "beach" canvas.

Note of interest:  Despite its name, Vero Beach isn't a "beach" community.  Customers don't shop in bathing suits covered by "cover-ups".  The condominiums and houses here aren't decorated in beachy decor. We're not Key West or the Bahamas.  We have second homes, not beach houses.

Trubey and I were season ticket holders for y-e-a-r-s to Dodger spring training games.  Our seats were on the first base line just by home plate--not protected by the screen.  Perfect seats for working on our tans and watching the planes take off and land at the local airport.  Needle Nicely advertised in the program (we had local bartenders doing needlepoint in the stands).  We ate Dodger dogs and ice cream sandwiches and even cotton candy (during love bug season--a really risky enterprise!).  Trubey's son even asked if we did anything but eat at the games--like watch them!  And, yes, we joined our friends every year at a local bar at 4:45pm on the day the Dodger plane left Vero after spring training.  It's a small enough town and the jet was large enough that we could hear when it took off.  We all did a shooter--"Glad you're gone, see you next year! I love you honey, but the season's over!!"  Vero was lucky, because the Dodgers were a class act.  And the locals respected that.  Very few of them interrupted the players at dinner or in their "down" time.  It was and is a nice community. 

But don't come visit and gloat because you are now the recipients of their reflected glory.  Trust me, if they get a better offer, Glendale, AZ,  will be left in the dust just as Vero Beach was.  Without a thought or remorse.  I like to think Vero saw the glory days of the Dodgers. And it was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

pelicans, viii

Well, they now all have their heads on with eyes looking at everything.  I'm still trying to decide what stitch/es I will use for the wings. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oriole ministocking

This is a printed (Giclee?) canvas from In Good Company.  Because it isn't hand-painted,  the cost is significantly lower--like 50%.   I picked this up for a quick stitch reward for myself after I finally finished the belt canvas I was stitching for a customer.  It's off to the finisher and I've moved on.  I'm originally from Maryland where the oriole is the state bird. 

Actually, this is the canvas I am stitching for a shop model.  I selected it because it was a "misprint".  Each canvas comes with an American flag printed on its right-hand corner.  This one came with a bonus flag printed in the center of the design.   Rather than throw it away, I'm stitching it.  I did the cuff in the mosaic stitch using white splendor.  I did the lettering in #8 Balger metallic doubled because I had an opened spool. 

I drew the curlicue in with a blue wonder marker (you can faintly see some blue that is unstitched).  Then I started stitching the background in the diagonal mosaic.  If you look closely, you can spy where I made a counting error.  I decided it wasn't glaring and am just going to leave it since it was confined inside the curlicue.  The leaves are done in the basketweave.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Saving one's bacon, stitching-wise

Necessity is the mother of invention, the old saying goes.  And that's what produced this cuff on a needlepoint stocking that Needle Nicely is stitching for a customer.  She had started it years ago and all the fibers were pulled, but not quite enough of everything.  The cuff was to have been a continuation of the background green (666) Paternayan yarn, but we suspected there wasn't enough green so we started stitching the stocking just below the cuff.  Sure enough, we didn't have enough to do the cuff in basketweave 666.  So Allison, the stitcher, came up with this creative "save the day" idea.
She alternated a single row of continental done in 666 yarn with a slanted gobelin over 2 in white DMC perle 5.  It produces a wonderful effect.  Then, to cover the black line drawn to indicate the cuff, she stitched a row of continental using Balger gold metallic.  This treatment would look good as a background for a stocking.  I'll have to remember it for future use.  (And thank you, Allison for the great save.)  This stocking won't be assembled by Christmas, but it will be stitched and the grandmother can hang it  pinned to fabric in the shape of a stocking. 

On another note, I have to refer everyone to a blog entry I read today (sorry, I still can't do links) for  (I don't know why that isn't blue...I'll check)  Her entry for 11/22/13 is a video of a singing turkey that everyone needs to bookmark.  I've already listened to it 3 times and my husband wonders what I'm doing!  (You can also google it at It's turkey day, live it up, but I wanted to give Suzanne credit for finding it--it's wonderful!).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A blogging challenge

Last April, Anna of
announced a stitching challenge featuring a free design from plum street samplers (

I stitched the chart on pink congress cloth using 1 strand of DMC embroidery floss.  I really enjoyed it.  I had heard so much about congress cloth that I thought it would be really challenging.  I think part of my ease with the project could be attributed to the wonderful foot-candles Needle Nicely has in the shop which is where I stitched this.  

Here I have mounted the canvas in a box available from Amanda Lawford.  I think the finished product is gorgeous (not being biased, of course).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mustang needlepoint pillow

I didn't get my driver's license until I was 25 years old.  I took driver's ed in high school but because my oldest brother had totaled the family car when he was in high school (the insurance company refused to pay--and that's another story), my father refused to let any more of his children (he had a total of 9) get a driver's license.  Thanks, Daddy.

I taught cataloging in summer school the summer of 1967 and lived in the summer school faculty dorm.  Upstairs were housed six physical education teachers/coaches working on their master's degrees.  One of the guys, an assistant principal in Wilmington, also moon-lighted as a car salesman.  When he learned I didn't have a car, he proposed to sell me one.  But first I must get my learner's permit.  So, the summer of 1967, after my car arrived, I learned how to drive a car, going from Boone to Linville every afternoon about 4 pm.  The windows were wind-up and as we left Boone,  the windows were open.  As we approached Linville, the sun had dropped behind the mountains.  I had to force myself to take a hand off the wheel to roll up the window.  I also smoked in those days, but it took me forever to be able to smoke and drive.  I still marvel at that.

My new car was a 1967 v-8 289 Ford Mustang, lamentably with no air conditioning, but that wasn't a problem for me since I always lived in the mountains when I drove it.  After Needle Nicely moved to Florida for the winter, I left the mustang in NC because of the salt air.  I owned it for over 25 years and it was a beauty, though the floor board was rather suspect from winter salt when I finally sold it!
EDIT:  After all, it had been owned by a old maid librarian!

I did this pillow from a kit from Studio Two before I sold my car.  It gives you the idea that this is possible with any model car as a commemorative pillow.  Why not?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Small business Saturday by American Express

Last year as the reward for achieving the age of 70, I gave myself the most wonderful birthday present.  Needle Nicely would no longer be open on Saturdays.  After a year, the overall response is positive..  Most of my customers haven't noticed.  And I'm definitely enjoying having Saturdays off. 

However, I'm a strong believer in supporting small, local businesses whenever possible.  I patronize the local book store in Vero Beach rather than the chain one, I use a mom-and-pop frame shop, I prefer restaurants that have only one location--you get the idea.  That's why I decided to open this year on November 30, small business Saturday promoted by American Express.  I have registered Needle Nicely on the Amex website.  Their program is modified this year, but if you register your credit card with them and then spend at least $10 with a small business, you will receive a $10 credit on your Amex statement.  You must register after November 24th and I understand it's only good for one $10 credit.  Still, ten bucks is ten bucks. 

To encourage people to come by and use their Amex cards, I'll be having 20% off all in-stock fibers (and an additional 10% off sale fibers) ONLY on November 30.  The sale will also be good that day for call-in orders but Amex doesn't permit off-site orders to qualify for the $10.  You can also order ahead, but I will only fill the order and charge it to you on the 30th.  And of course you can use mastercard, visa and Discover as well as Amex, but they won't match  the $10 purchase! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

New brooms--and all that comes with them

The best thing that can happen to a needlepoint shop like Needle Nicely is that we can have a "new hire" who is energetic and likes to organize things.  Macy is my new broom, though she is in her second incarnation at Needle Nicely.  She worked for Trubey and me 24 years ago when Needle Nicely was in its second location in Vero Beach.  That was the one that was architecturally splendiferous--it had a vaulted ceiling painted teal and every two years we had electricians come in to change all the fluorescent bulbs because it was cheaper to do it that way.  We had a house painter come in to hang some of our rug canvases on the vertical wall.  And we had a devil of a time getting the canvas down when someone wanted to buy it.  Not to mention the blank space that stared at us until we had the painter come back for another hanging.  We did have an extension ladder, but trust me, with my fear of heights there was no way I was going up there!  And Trubey had always "left the building--perhaps with Elvis!"

Of course, there are always two sides to every story.  If you ask Macy, she'll tell you (and I agree) that I am a kinder, gentler Mary Agnes.  I can now attribute it to the ageing process.  A customer 20 years ago told me I was mellowing because I had met "that man".  I hated to disillusion her by mentioning that I had started taking hormones!  "He" just happened to be a by-product of that event!!

But back to Macy--it's always nice to hear another perspective on how things look or are run. Sometimes establishments (not just retail shops) get stuck in ruts and do things because that's how they've always done it.  And I'm grateful that Macy feels comfortable enough to offer suggestions.  It can only make Needle Nicely a better place. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monogram pillow

 This canvas was designed by Patti Mann Designs.  It was stitched on 18mesh using medici yarn for the background and DMC perle cotton for the monogram. 
For the customized cording, we took strands of the perle cotton in the colors used in the stitching.  Then we finished the pillow with a shirred box in off-white moire. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pelicans, vii

Well, these puppies (excuse me, pelicans) are taking forever!  Of course, part of the reason for the slowness is Nablopomo 2013 and my wanting to blog every evening.  Not to mention the mental exercise of actually coming up with topics worthy of blogging about.  It's a tough job, but I'm determined to do it.

We can thank the US curling elimination rounds for the 2013 Olympics for my progress on the pelicans today.  I sat watching (and stitching) the US men battle each other for 3 1/2 hours this afternoon.  And I get to do the same this evening when the women are in curling combat.  Oh, delight.  My husband who is quite fair-minded, is lukewarm in his enthusiasm for curling.  So he can watch football next weekend, she says. 

If you look closely, you can see that all of the top knots and bills are completed.  I have also stitched the heads of the two pelicans on the right in basketweave, including their eyes.  The rest of the heads are my goal for the week.  Then we can talk stitches for the bodies. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Seashell pincushion

There's a company providing a selection of beautiful sea shells paired with a tiny needlepoint canvas.  It's Annie Lee Designs.  There are a limited number of designs, partially due to the small area of needlepoint that will fill the holes in the various shells. 

 This is a sample canvas complete with 2 straight pins with shell tops.  The design area varies with the shell accompanying the canvas.

 This is my finished shop model.  It took me about two hours to stitch and another hour or two to assemble.  You can use either cotton balls or fiber fill to fill the hole in the shell.  Then use Elmer's glue (or something similar) around the edges of the opening and hold the canvas in place with a rubber band until it dries.  Then, voila!  a finished hostess gift or a nice pin cushion to put in your powder room.  I removed the straight pin before my photography, but have to mention that someone stole one of the pins with the shell glued to it.  Excuuuse me!

And, what a treat--this afternoon NBC started televising the elimination rounds for the 2014 US Olympic Curling team.  It was still on when I arrived home after 5pm so I had to delay blogging until I had watched its conclusion.  More tomorrow and Sunday, oh delight, delight!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The mystery machine

After Stuart Stitchery closed about 4 years ago,  Jackie, its owner, brought this interesting-looking machine into Needle Nicely.  She had had it tucked away for years, and said it was a skein twister.  However, it no longer had an instruction book.  Adele and I looked at it from all angles and tried to figure it out.  We finally concluded that it must have something to do with knitting skeins, so we stuck it on a shelf in the back room with the intention of taking it to the knitting shop that had just opened in town.

Fast forward to last week when Macy, the cleaning/organizing whiz back for the winter, wondered what it was and had other uses for its shelf space.  After I explained its history, she volunteered to drop it at the knitting shop.  But first, she examined it in detail, pushing all the buttons, knobs, whatever.  And lo and behold, she figured out how to twist Paternayan skeins.  This should save some wear and tear on our individual wrists.

The metallic button you can see on the top is the "on" switch.

This is the arm on which you hook the yarn for twisting.

 This is the beginning of the twisting process.

And an almost twisted skein.

This is an uncut quarter pound hank of Paternayan persian.

These are the individual skeins bundled together by number and dye lot.  A different dye lot forms another bundle. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Murphy's law will bite you!!

This past week I finally prevailed on my husband to call a plumber about "the problem" with the toilet in our master bathroom.  He is deaf in one ear and, I suspect, can't hear out of the other.  So I'm the one who heard the periodic geyser.  It was particularly frightening when one was actually using the toilet--that geyser behind you definitely got my blood flowing.  I had visions of the whole thing exploding and flooding that part of the house.  Oy, vey!  But, remember, we are a democracy and so we each have a vote about everything, including hysterical feelings that the house will flood.  I finally managed to prevail.  Sigh.

And while the plumber is here, can he please take care of the water filter attached (or not) to the faucet on the kitchen sink?  As it turned out, what we (my husband and I) thought was the real problem cost us $15. to fix-- a warped "clapper" in the toilet.  We won't think about how much water usage it cost us.  And we won't prorate the share of the plumber's visit.  The real prize was fixing the water filter--it resulted in a new faucet and the final price of the entire visit was $275.  We're not unhappy and don't feel ripped off.  But that also explains why we are not going to call a plumber for a while, when yesterday morning (2 days after "the visit"), one of the stoppers in our dual sinks in the "master suite" refused to come up and we had to fish it out.of the sink opening so it would drain.  Trust me, we aren't calling a plumber until something else goes wrong--and bite your tongue, please don't let that happen for at least 6 months or longer.  We can deal with the lack of that sink stopper--I am now using that sink and my husband has moved to the right.  I don't shave in a sink and don't need a stopper! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Donation to the 2013 Festival of Trees

Every November the Children's Theatre (part of the live performance Riverside Theater) sponsors a fundraiser "Festival of Trees"  where local businesses decorate Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths which are displayed and then sold in silent auctions.  The past several years Needle Nicely has donated needlepoint pillows.  This year our contribution is a pillow that doesn't have a Christmas theme, but is nevertheless a topic dear to the hearts of many Vero Beachers--
The Dodgers left Vero in 2008 to do their spring training in Glendale, AZ, so this pillow is no longer a truthful representation of Vero Beach.  There are many people who will want to possess this pillow because of the happy memories it calls up.  This summer I stitched a replacement pillow. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fish wreath

Among the needlepoint designs offered by The Studio are two series of canvases painted on 18mesh canvas  and kitted with persian yarn.  They are individual birds or fish and when finished are ornament size.

 Our fish are stitched in a combination of mosaic stitch, basketweave, and continental.  Notice the separate fin that is stitched, backed, and then attached to the body of the fish in the appropriate location for a fin.

 I apologize for the blurriness of this image.  It's a clown fish--I'll try to get a better photo.

This provides a nice conversation piece without a lot of stitching. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More ornament canvases

Kathy Schenkle has several ornaments on 13mesh canvas.  This heart snowman is one, as is the heart Santa just below.

Vero Beach has loads of golfers, so this is the perfect choice.  

There's a lot of interest in turtles in this area.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Needle case for an executive!

Taking needle cases to another level is this one in pink (it also comes in black).  It looks just like a miniature briefcase with the same type of closure.

Here you can see an inside view with needles on the magnetized lining.  The other side has a "folder" where you can tuck things.  It's large enough to hold a small pair of embroidery scissors.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Needlepoint finishing, step-by-step

Most needlepoint shops have a group of finishers to whom they send items for finishing.  Needle Nicely has approximately 20, though I haven't systematically counted them.  Let's do it now.  I have 5 belt finishers, though the fifth one is suspect since the last belt I sent to them took so long they didn't invoice me for the finishing (say no more).  I have 1 pillow finisher.  I have 1 rug finisher; ditto for bell pull finisher. (We are now up to 8).  Door knob hangers--I have 2, but I have been told that one is quitting in January.  I have 1 Christmas ornament finisher.  I have 1 finisher for needlepoint cuffs.  I have 1 shoe finisher, though I have the information for another I haven't tried yet, but who everyone recommends.  Most shoe finishing is no longer possible, sigh!  I have a flip-flop finisher.  For purse finishing, I have 6 finishers, depending on whether there is leather or shirred fabric, etc., etc. (20 is now our total amount of finishers).   I have lost 1 frame finisher, but still have one I like (another I don't like).  I have a local upholsterer and a local framer I like to recommend.  I, of course--or maybe not so automatically--do blocking and hand sewing.  For instance, I block the flaps for Sophia's purses and then hemstitch the lining down.  I also block, back and then attach the canvases for Pischke's Pockets.  And I block all belts before sending them to whatever finisher the desired style dictates.  I also do the finishing for Voila's key fobs and Creative Needle's jewelry cases. But I try to encourage my customers to do this for themselves.   So our total is now 24.

Things I don't have finishers for:  Trubey has designs for children's wing back chairs.  It has been years since I had a finisher I could rely on/trust to do what I felt was a good job on upholstering these.  Director's chairs, whether adult or for children.  I have the frames, but not a finisher whose work I find acceptable.  

The reality is that finishers are aging out. And because most finishing is done by hand, it is getting more and more expensive.  I just shake my head when customers tell me they are tucking their finished products away to be finished later.  Why?  Finishing is certainly not going to get any cheaper.  And, more importantly, will there be a competent finisher for that item when they do decide to get it finished.  I seriously doubt it. So, go through those items and have finished those you really like.  Give the other stitched canvases to a charity and say a fond farewell.  Get them out of your life.  If they aren't worth the cost of finishing today coupled with your sentimental attachment, they will never be worth the cost of finishing. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Beautiful pillow finishing

Among the items I received from my pillow finisher today were these two shop models. 

This has a double ruffle with just a hint of the back red ruffle winking outside the plaid taffeta ruffle.  I especially like the cording on the insider of the ruffles beside the needlepoint.

I wish that I could say that I found the fabric and then matched the background silk 'n ivory to it, but that isn't so.  I just blithely picked the background color and then stumbled across the fabric.  Better lucky than smart, I always say!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some new ornament canvases

I needed to order several canvases from Shelly Tribbey for a customer, so I added some canvases for the shop inventory to spread the shipping cost over more canvases.  Postage or shipping costs have become quite a factor when ordering canvases.  I've started specifying that orders not be split-shipped because of the increased cost in shipping.  It used to be that when designers split-shipped, they absorbed the cost of the 2nd shipment's shipping.  Only a few designers do that today. 

This shirt comes with a hanger and is to be made like a real shirt.

This dress reminiscent of Provence also comes with a hanger.  What a great souvenir of France.

Shelly has 3 tree ornaments in this series that are red and white.
Such great possibilities for pattern stitches.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The financial reality of market going

Most needlepoint shops are really small businesses.  By that I mean, REALLY small businesses.  If you pay attention to these things, most studies consider something under 10 million dollars in revenue to be a small business.  EXCUSE ME--we're talking needlepoint shops.  So, we're really small potatoes. Understand that since our industry is small potatoes  we can't dictate which convention centers we want or which hotels we want, because let's face it, we're an industry primarily of women who aren't big drinkers (at least in public) or big spenders on food, so who in the travel/housing industry really wants us as customers?

A case in point--at the recent cash-and-carry at St Charles, the hotel ran out of romaine lettuce on Saturday evening.  They ran out of the Boston bibb as well at Sunday lunch.  Things were becoming desperate on the salad menu by Sunday night.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you have a hotel full of women (rather than men, duh!), you are going to sell more salads than usual.  No one in the kitchen figured that out.  I'm not upset about it because as a result, I received my Sunday night room service dinner free because they didn't have most of the ingredients.  It was still tasty and made tastier by the cost.  But how stupid from a marketing point of view.

I loved the St Charles show, primarily because I have been a Hilton Honors member for what seems like centuries.  I had enough points to pay for 2 of my nights in the hotel and the reservation clerk was nice enough to make the night I paid for the cheapest of the 3 of the market.  Then, courtesy of Capital One points, I paid for my plane ticket.  So my actual cost was one night in a hotel, meals for 3 days, transport to and from the hotel, and shuttles to and from the airport to my home.  Just a little less than $500 and that's being a skinflint on a budget. But to pay that $500 I have to sell at least $1500 worth of merchandise--$500 to pay for the market expenses, $500 to pay for the merchandise sold and $500 to pay toward replacement merchandise.

That August market was a cash-and-carry which TNNA has said they are going to discontinue in 2015.  The major markets are usually twice a year (January and June) in major convention centers.  That will also change in 2015 when TNNA plans to add a cash-and-carry element to the convention center shows.  Interesting. Can't wait to see how that shakes out.

I've been looking at going to the January San Diego show.  I love San Diego.  There are so many great restaurants on 5th avenue.  There are at least five used book stores about 20 blocks from the convention center where I always have a wonderful time (as a former librarian, I love bookstores).  Not to mention the zoo and the museums in Balboa Park.  Also, the people at the convention center are really good at dealing with convention-goers (they make restaurant reservations, they give directions to wherever, they are there when you need them).  BUT, the hotels are a minimum of $190. a night (no points!), the plane ticket will still be free thanks to Capital One, and I have to pay for my meals.  The market is 3 days plus at least 1 day for classes if you take one, so you fly in one day, 3 days for market and fly out the 5th day (or take the red-eye and arrive home really wasted) for a total of at least 4 or more nights for a cost of $760 plus food plus cabs to and from hotel and restaurants plus shuttle to and from home.  So we're talking at least $1400.

That means I have to sell at least $4200 worth of merchandise to pay for my market.  That's $1400 for the canvases, $1400 for the market stay and $1400 for new merchandise.  Now let me think about whether I need to go to that market when I could check on lots of things on line.  Yes, I like to do a meet and greet and catch up on the latest with everyone--but can Needle Nicely afford it?  Hmmm.  Tune in to find out what I decide.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Laughs provided by Rondo

Nothing helps the time pass while you looking at photographs of needlepoint designs than to have someone provide a running, amusing commentary on life.  That's what Rondo, one of the needlepoint reps for the Southeastern US, does when he comes to visit every year about this time.  The conversation ranges from how mutual acquaintances are doing, what cruises Rondo and his wife have taken, why the plumber was at my house today, and so on.  Sometimes we reminisce over happenings from the past years (we've known each other since 1982). 

It's always interesting to see what the needlepoint artists have designed in the last year.  First I look at their newest designs.  Then I go through the stacks of photographs of their prior designs.  Sometimes it's nice to be reminded of a perennial favorite canvas and sometimes an old canvas seems to be just the right thing for a certain customer.  There are some designs that you wonder why anyone would want them; just as there are many designs that you order again and again. 

Ron also keeps me abreast of the latest developments in the world of technology.  He was the first person I knew who bought a hybrid car--I had to take a ride to see how wonderful it was.  He was the first person I knew who owned a GPS for his car.  Again, I had to go for a ride so he could take a wrong turn and I could hear the device recalculating our path.  And then he got an i-phone.  Of course, he also got the app that shows beer pouring into a glass.  He has so much infectious enthusiasm for his gadgets that it makes the day spent ordering canvases go faster and more pleasantly.  And in the process I seem to really enjoy spending so much money! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

stitching ennui--it happens to the best of us

Several weekends ago I found myself in front of the television with my stitching at hand--and I picked it up, looked at it, and put it down again.  Ho, hum.  I was really regretful, thinking of several small projects that I had left at the shop.  They seemed much more attractive than what I had at hand.  Perhaps distance does make the heart fonder.

I tried to find other chores to occupy me without beating myself up.  Boredom with a project does happen.  I have learned (though obviously I forgot it last month) to have several alternative projects handy to work on.
Most stitchers have a variety of projects tucked away, just waiting to be stitched.  When you encounter mental resistance to stitching your current project, don't just sit there like a latke--pick something else from your stash that appeals to you at this moment.

I try to tell customers to have at least two projects  going at the same time.  Those who don't know me think this is just a sales ploy.  It isn't.  You have a back-up when you become tired of your main project.  It isn't judgmental, but practical.  Move on if it doesn't appeal to you tonight.  It isn't a divorce.  The world isn't watching.  Just drop the old, boring, and move on to the one that appeals to you.  You will come back eventually, but not today.   Maybe tomorrow.  Quien sabe? 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Alphabets, alphabets

I'm sure I have mentioned over the past few years that Needle Nicely has a design studio.  It was started when Trubey owned  Needle Nicely and I have been fortunate to be able to continue it with both Trubey and another very talented graphic artist, Helen.  Many of the designs that I blog stitch are products of the NN design studio.  The designs are exclusive to Needle Nicely, such as the pelicans that I am currently, slowly, stitching.

One of Helen's strengths is her calligraphy.  With her assistance I have a set of possible alphabets for customers to use to select what lettering they want for the names on Christmas stockings or the style for monograms.  She has done one set for me on 13 mesh and one set on 18 mesh.  Having these really eases the communication about any lettering questions. 

 Here are the finished ministockings that I stitched last month for a customer.  This is a Kathy Schenkel design (they are usually in a set with the other stocking saying "First Christmas").

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pelicans everywhere, vi

I'm using the diagonal mosaic for the bills and top knots.  If you click on the photograph, you can see that I have started doing the chain stitch for detail on both the bills and the top knots.  The heads are being stitched in basketweave. 

Today is the beginning of the November Nablopomo 2013.  I did daily blog entries in November 2012, but for some reason this year the task seems more daunting.  Time will tell if my creative juices can keep flowing for 30 days!