Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saint Charles TNNA market II

In looking for a small project to stitch on the airplane to and from the market, I espied this canvas from Associated Talents that I bought last year at Baltimore's market. 
 I started the background with 3 rows of basketweave alternating with the slanted gobelin over 2 threads using silk 'n ivory.  The H's are done in the diagonal mosaic (except for the crossbars which are slanted gobelin--I couldn't deal with figuring out where the short stitch went).
 I got quite a bit accomplished on the trip home.  I had a 3-hour layover in Atlanta that was joined by a 3-hour wait on the plane while they repaired a hydraulic problem.  I'm a white-knuckle flier at best--don't they know stuff like that creeps me out?

This  orchid cattleya by Melissa Shirley is another of the canvases I brought home, along with its companion below.

And I always have to take the opportunity to bring home several Strictly Christmas stockings.

This fun canvas from The Collection just had to come to the Needle Nicely party!

This is a vintage dragon by Dede.  It has such possibilities for pattern stitches.

I bought this by Sandra Gilmore, thinking it was a manatee.  While taking this photograph I realized that it was a sea lion, which makes me wonder about how close the relationship is between manatees (seacows) and sea lions.  Need to do some research on that.

And here are my trusty Vera Bradley bags, all washed and ready to be tucked away until the next market.  The tote is perfect for carrying rolled up canvases and pricelists, as well as that bottle of water so necessary for life today.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saint Charles TNNA market

I hadn't seen anything in the class offerings that tempted me, so I arranged my arrival in Saint Charles for late Friday afternoon.  Just time enough to check in, try to pick up my market registration (the TNNA desk shut down at 5:15 so no go), get my things unpacked and organize my thoughts in preparation for the market's opening from 7to 9 pm. 

I have to laugh at myself  for assembling the camera, extra memory card and extra batteries in preparation for a great photographic weekend.  I didn't take a single photograph.  Everything looked the same as at any other hotel room show.  I'm not a natural photographer.  I keep looking for the "photographic moment" and it never seems to arrive.  Added to that personal drawback, even with extra spotlights, the "living room" area of each suite was very dark.  Those without the added lighting were downright spooky.  Not exactly ideal photography settings. (The hotel was Embassy Suites, so each "room" was a living room with separate bedroom.  Most designers spread their canvases through both rooms and on the bed/s.)

I always pack a broken down cardboard box and roll of package tape in my suitcase for mailing or shipping my purchases.  This year I managed to fit all my purchases and pricelists into my suitcase along with my clothes.  I was pleasantly surprised at this.  Of course, I was especially glad that I packed the canvases in separate plastic bags when I went to get my bag off the baggage carousel and saw about a 9-inch corner of my bathrobe hanging out, waving at everyone.  Thank you TSA! 

I love going to market.  I've been involved in the needlepoint industry for over 35 years so going to market is a little like going to a family reunion.  Some designers you can't wait to see; others, you try to avoid like the plague.  Sadly there is little interaction among shopowners.  We're usually like ships that pass in the night. I don't think it's a competitive feeling, but more not having much opportunity to converse.  I tend to socialize with designers because they are who we're (the shopowners) talking to during the day. 

To provide some strategy information.  Many designers don't think to include pricelists when shipping orders.  Therefore, my first purpose at any market is to go through the market completely, picking up pricelists from designers I patronize.  I don't take paper from people whose designs don't interest me or my clientele.  While in the room (or at the booth at a larger market), I look at the walls and make mental notes of things I want to order.  I try to cover the entire show "pricelist-wise" the first day.  A hotel room show is easy to shop because you can take things to your room periodically so you're not carrying lots of paper or canvases.  TNNA also provides a package check that allows a shop to drop off things.  I have a Vera Bradley tote and matching pocketbook that I keep just for market.  They are a perky yellow floral and are easy for me to spot after I have put them down in a room (though I usually transfer my wallet and credit cards to the tote and leave my. purse in my room). After I have my pricelists, I'm allowed to start buying or ordering.  At this show I placed orders with designers who don't have sales representatives in Florida.  The orders were post-dated for either October (the Florida mini-season) or the end of January (the beginning of "the season"). 

Here are a selection of the canvases I brought home.  I'll show more on Saturday.  As my husband says, I had a very good time.  Many of these canvases were close-outs.
 This sophisticated belt design is from Julia's Needleworks

Vero Beach is located in Indian River County which is a major producer of "Indian River Fruit".  Locals are always on the lookout for citrus-related designs.  This is by Alice Peterson.
This belt canvas was designed by Rebecca Wood.

This bright, patriotic canvas is from Alice Peterson.

These wonderful flamingos are from Kathy Schenkel Designs.  Doorstops are always necessary with Vero's ocean breezes.

This geisha with an outlined kimono design is by Beverly
Churchfield and comes with a stitch guide.

This is one of a pair of Geisha canvases from Melissa Shirley Designs.

And the second of the pair of Geisha canvases from  Melissa Shirley Designs

I purchased this Christmas pillow from Strictly Christmas to be a future blog stitching project.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Instant gratification....

I saw a blog last month that was waxing poetic about how wonderful it was that needlepoint shops had just been at the TNNA market (in Columbus in June, 2013) and how wonderful it was that the shops were already receiving the canvases they had ordered, one week later.  Excuuuuse me!  In a perfect world, perhaps.  But in the recent economy, the majority of needlepoint designers do not have the inventory to ship immediately after a show has ended.  The soonest a shop can expect shipment of show orders is 4 to 6 weeks, if they are lucky.  That is with the exception of a very few designers who always maintain inventory (and shopowners soon figure out who these designers are).

The only time shops have "instant" inventory is when they attend the cash and carry shows.  This year there was the Dallas show in April (next year it will be in September) and the August show in St. Charles, MO (I am attending).  At these shows, shops are permitted to bring canvases and other items home with them--of course, after first paying for them.  A few designers offer 30-day invoicing, but most is cash upon receipt. The only merchandise shops can bring home from the "big" shows in January and June are items offered at Sample It!, a new program offered the evening before the show begins.  For years we were told that selling on the floor of a show wasn't professional.  Hiss.  I heard the same foolishness about professionalism years ago when I was a librarian.  You are what you are what you are.

I'm curious about the this year's summer TNNA show in St Charles.  Traditionally the last cash-and-carry show of the year provides an opportunity for designers to "dump" the inventory that they thought would sell, but didn't.  I'm not sure how much preordering of designs by the designers happens in today's economy.  On the other side of the transaction, this show provides shops with opportunities to purchase canvases put on sale by designers who want to reduce their inventory before paying year-end taxes.  Most of these canvases are in pristine condition.  Needle Nicely has a large inventory (my husband thinks too large!), so when I go to a cash-and-carry show I order regular priced canvases for later delivery, but only buy for taking home the items on sale.  If I see something I want to stitch for a shop model, I'll buy it so I can stitch it while my enthusiasm is hot.  We all know there are only so many hours in a stitching day--I have many canvases that in the "light of day" didn't make the stitching cut.

I'm not taking my laptop to St Charles, but I am taking my camera with lots of batteries and memory cards.  I'll tell you all about it next week when I return home.   And we won't talk about my withdrawal from daily bouts of Freecell!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Christmas stocking times 3

Last December,  a grandmother came into Needle Nicely with 2 stocking canvases that she had purchased and had kitted ten years ago.  Could I have names painted on them and have them stitched and assembled by this Christmas?  And could I purchase a third stocking as a companion to the first two, with matching fibers?  No problemo.

I have edited out the names on the stockings.  The stockings were stitched primarily in wool.  White DMC perle cotton was used for the snow and for the moon and stars.  All mustaches were stitched in French knots, as were the eyebrows.  The beards were long/short split stitch.  The pompoms were done in turkey work and will be trimmed and shaped after the stockings are assembled.  Most of the toys were stitched in DMC perle cotton.  Santa's buckles and the trim on his sleigh was Balger gold metallic.

They'll be lined in white moire and backed in red velveteen.  Then I'll send them to an excited grandmother.  It has been quite a satisfying adventure watching these develop.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Merrrrrry Christmas, 10mesh finished--and blog commenting

 And, voila, it is finished and ready to be shipped to the pillow maker.  I had forgotten just how satisfying it is to stitch 10mesh projects.  I guess that's why rugs are so popular since so many of them are painted on 10mesh. 

Tonight while reading  comments on one of my latest blog entries, I realized what a personal connection it is.  I was smiling,  remembering the person who had made the comment.  And I hope the commenter also felt closer to me because of wanting to make a comment.

So many people are intimidated by the process of commenting on blogs.  Don't be.  The most important thing to remember is that you must be a member of Google to comment on Blogger.  Easy-peasy, as they say.  Then, you must prove that you aren't a robot or machine or spammer or whatever.  Don't be discouraged.  All of us have trouble deciphering those italic letters going higgledy-piggledy.  So what if the first time doesn't work.  The world isn't watching.  No one knows how many times you had to guess at those stupid letters before you got it right.  Just remember, you will feel better for having made your comment and I can promise that the blogger will definitely feel better for having read it.  It's tough writing in a vacuum, with no feedback.  Yes, I know you think that merely coming back is feedback, but trust me, our egos need more reassurance that we're not just wasting time sitting at a computer writing poofs. And we really do want to hear your opinions and reactions.  And perhaps you can even suggest topics we can blog about or items we can blog-stitch.  Think about it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Merrrrrry Christmas, 13mesh

This year I was looking at some of Needle Nicely's "old" designs and thinking about how they  could be modernized.  The first one to come to mind was this design that Trubey did years and years ago on 10mesh canvas and for cross stitch fabric.  I envisioned it as a larger pillow-sized canvas on 13 mesh.
I started stitching it with green Balger metallic for the outer border in slanted gobelin.  I usually don't do the entire border, but this time I realized I had only one spool of the fiber and worried that I had no more of the same dye lot at the shop so I stitched the entire outer border.  I thought that dye lot wasn't so important for the letters of merry christmas. (Dye lot isn't obvious from one letter to the other.)

Outside the green border, I stitched two rows of slanted gobelin over two threads using silk 'n ivory.  I didn't finish this, since I can work on it while I stitch the interior of the design and I know I have plenty of the fiber in the same dye lot.

I next did the white inner border row in continental stitch using silk 'n ivory.  Then I did the fretwork green border (Balger metallic) in slanted gobelin and continental stitch depending on the design

Now it was time for the white background.  That I decided to do in nobuko stitch in silk 'n ivory.

I'm not doing the snowflakes or lettering until I have completed the background around that area.  You can see where I have stitched the largest snowflake in red Balger metallic #16. 

The 10mesh version is just whizzing along.  This one is taking longer and that background looms large!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lilly starfish shift

Wednesday I wasn't in the mood to do my usual chores around the shop.  I  spied this canvas by Barbara Bergsten that I wanted to stitch one day for a shop model.  A perfect project for someone looking for some escapism!

 I used silk 'n ivory for all but the blue in the starfish--that I used 2-ply impressions for.  This really was a quick stitch.  I did the stripes in slanted gobelin over 3 and the front placket in the Scotch stitch.  And another ornament is already on its way to the finisher. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oops! Starfish garland, really finished

I had customers in the shop last week when I unpacked my finished starfish.  They immediately wanted to take a class on stitching their own.  In the confusion of on the spot fiber pulling, chart writing, and canvas outline drawing,  I hastily slipped the needlepoint starfish on my cording.  It wasn't until about 10pm last night, that I had an "aha" moment where I remembered the real starfish I had purchased to include on the garland.

Today I wrapped fishing line around the starfish  to allow me a holder through which I could slip my cording.
Here is the finished-finished garland in all its glory!  Now to hang it over the doorway out of harm's way.
Now that's a nice looking garland!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Starfish garland, finished

I recently received from my finisher the 4 pattern-stitch starfish that I blog-stitched this summer.  Here they are already strung on my custom twisted cording.  The starfish are finished in a method called "carved" with upholstery gymp on the edges. 

If you look closely at the top left and right "fingers" of this starfish, you can see that I had my finisher attach small loops made from perle cotton in a coordinating color.  These loops allow me to slide the starfish along the custom twisted cording I am using for the garland.
To produce a custom twisted cord like that pictured on the left, you need uncut skeins of the desired colors (or one color).  I used uncut spools of Balger metallic (10 meters or about 10 1/2 yards).  Then I cut the same length strands from the desired colors of perle cotton #3.  To determine how thick the finished cord will be, double the assembled threads and twist them--is that thick enough?  If not, add more strands.  If too thick, take away a strand or two.  You want the cut strands to be 2.5 times the finished length of cording desired.

Knot both ends of the assembled strands.  Tape one end to a surface, like a table or counter.  Then, stand back to the full extension of the strands.  Start twisting and continue twisting until the fibers tighten and seem to want to twist on their own.  Then have someone stand in the middle of the strand and stand back, so you can take your end and walk to the counter and join the ends.  That will join the cording in an equidistant manner.  If the twist is uneven, you can move the twist once you have finished tying the ends together (like you can see I did in the photograph).  Don't worry about the beauty of the knot--you'll deal with that later!

I use this same method to twist cording for finishing needlepoint rugs.  I send the cording (made of Paternayan Persian yarn) with the stitched canvas to the finisher so it can be attached to the rug's edge in the final stage of the finishing process.  Here are photographs showing the chairs I set up outside Needle Nicely that enable me to do the twisting.  I use pencils to fasten each end into the "keyhole" opening of the chairs.
With a cording long enough to go around a 4'x6' rug, you need to twist a while from one end, then move to the other end.  We do this outside because there isn't enough space to stretch the strand out and then double it back on itself inside.  We gather lots of curious onlookers when we do this outside.

This is the finished wool cording sent recently for finishing a rug.  It provides such a perfect finished edging.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Little mermaid, finished

Isn't she lovely? 
Here's a closer look at her beautiful, flowing hair.  It took more thread (2 skeins of mahogany Watercolors from Caron) and time (about 12 hours) to achieve this natural look than I expected.
I'm pleased with the end result.  And especially thrilled that I managed to conquer the bullion stitch after all these years.  Credit goes to the video that Mary Corbet has posted on You-Tube for stitching the bullion knot, as she calls it.  Hers are infinitely smoother in texture than mine, but I think the unevenness of mine makes the hair look more natural. 

And that glistening string of pearls was produced by doing French knots with Kreinik metallic, the new 5760 which is much whiter than the "old" 032.