Saturday, September 27, 2014

Melissa Shirley stable V

Both Ed, my UPS driver, and Lisa, my mail carrier, seemed to take great delight this week in reminding me that this next Monday is my last Monday of the summer and so I'll be back to my 5-day week in October.  I keep trying to remind them that I worked almost 50 years of Mondays and I think it's time to take some of them off!!

This has been a week of receiving finishing from various finishers and sending the finished items to the owners.  I also sent more items to the finishers for Christmas.

The Vero Beach Post Office closed its 6th Avenue branch and moved it into the Post Office Annex here in KMart Plaza.  The Annex is where the carriers are based--there are at least 50 mail trucks parked there at 5 pm.  The Annex is also where snow birds come to pick up forwarded and held mail.  Until this recent branch opening, you couldn't buy stamps or mail anything at the Annex.  The word on the street is that the main post office that I have gone to on 13th Avenue (a 1-block long street that until last week was one way) in downtown Vero will move to this same location in about 1 1/2 years.

Friday afternoon I co-opted a shopping cart loose in the parking lot (thank you, Goodwill) to convey my 6 boxes to be mailed.  Most of my boxes are manageable, but Friday one box was a 4x6 ft rug being sent to be blocked.  Heavy. When I got to the Post Office and the clerk and I went through the dance of no liquids, hazardous materials, etc.; and it was time to pay--I swiped my credit card and nothing happened.  Their server was down.  They had to suspend my transaction while I walked back to the shop for a check.  There were several people in line behind me, but all left when told they could only pay with cash or a check.  That's an interesting commentary on our society that so few of us carry cash.  By the way, I returned the shopping cart to the Goodwill storefront on my way back to Needle Nicely.

But you might be asking, so what stitching did you accomplish?  I still haven't decided what stitches to use on the right-hand "wall" or the timbers of the stable.  I plan to finish the grey and dark brown edges in basketweave, but the timbers have stymied me.  Any suggestions?
I did finish all of the patches of straw using DMC perle 5 in the woven stitch (or t-stitch, whichever name you prefer).  The rest of the windows I stitched in basketweave using DMC perle 5.  There's still a little stitching on the doorway.   I also finished the grey corner of the stable front in nobuko and did another strand or two of the night sky.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Clara Wells purse, 6

My progress is continuing at a snail's pace, but remember there are two sides that are about equal in progress.  This weekend I'll have hours of golf to watch during the Ryder Cup.  I'm torn about which side to root for since I like so many of the individual European players as well as some of the American players.  I guess I'll wish for some great golf to enjoy no matter who wins.

Needle Nicely doesn't usually get new canvases at this time of year if I haven't gone to the fall cash-and-carry (which was in Dallas and I didn't attend).  However, these are some late arrivals from spring orders.  I love flamingos on anything, but especially on this "Lilly" dress from Barbara Bengsten Designs.  It comes on both 13mesh and 18mesh.

What a wonderful "beachy" belt from Associated
And a salute to my Giants fan husband, Arthur.  The Giants managed against the odds to win last Sunday
which kept the noise level in my house to a bearable level.  This design is from Keep Your Pants On Designs.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Melissa Shirley stable IV

Quite a bit of my free time at Needle Nicely over the last 3 weeks has been devoted to picking out the two-tone background of an 18mesh Christmas stocking.  It was the same dye lot, but areas were stitched at different times over the years and  an ugly, mottled effect was the result.  Now that I've finished that chore and passed the stocking on to a stitcher, I am able to concentrate on the stable for the Melissa Shirley congress cloth creche.
 I've finished the nobuko stitch  for the outside wall.  And then I took 3 shades of DMC embroidery floss to do the long/short split stitch for the plant on the left side of the building.  I stitched this plant after I had stitched the surrounding building.  I used a sharp needle and physically pierced the fibers for the blended effect I wanted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

on the road again....

Having 20 DMC cabinets to sell to Erin of Needlepoint Land occasioned many memories of why Needle Nicely could possess so many empty cabinets.  A bit of history.

Needle Nicely began in Blowing Rock, NC, in the mid-1970s.  It was (and even today in Florida is) a seasonal business, which anyone will tell you is the most difficult type of business to operate successfully.

Trubey opened Needle Nicely in Vero Beach in October, 1981.  I was her store manager in both Vero Beach and Blowing Rock.  She owned the building (the Hayes House) in Blowing Rock, but we rented in Vero Beach in the Village Shops.  There our lease specified that we had to maintain the same hours year-round.  That was a real bummer since in 1981 Vero in the summer was a vast wasteland of empty condominiums.  I understand the rationale--no one wanted to drive to Vero and then discover that half of the shops weren't open. Still, it made for very lonely days in retail businesses.

The beginning of May every year after 1981 I would start packing inventory to take to the Blowing Rock shop which we opened mid-May.   I would load a U-Haul trailer and drive up I-95 North until I reached I-20 in South Carolina, then head west  to Columbia where I would go North on I-26 and then I-77 through Charlotte to I-85 in Gastonia where I would take 321 through Hickory and Lenoir to Blowing Rock.  About a 16-hour day.  Whoopee!
I have to chuckle to myself when I look at this picture.  At 40-something I was so agile and supple--Sigh, those were the days!!!  And after loading that UHaul trailer I still had the energy to climb on top of those boxes and pose.  And then at 6am the next morning I took this photograph before starting on the drive north.

 The back story is that immediately after snapping this photograph, I blinked and my right hard  contact lens popped out and into the parking lot, never to be seen again.  Instead of climbing into the Bronco, I went back inside (before cell phones!!), called Trubey waking her up, and told her I could manage to drive with no problem with only one eye, but she had to meet me in Hickory and drive up "the mountain".  As it turned out, she met me with her son Jack and his friend Bryan.  The two young men drove the UHaul and Bronco up the mountain.  Whew!!  I was delighted to get to my apartment in Blowing Rock and resurrect my spare lens from its storage place under the sink in my bathroom.  My only excuse for not having it with me in Vero Beach was that I had never lost a lens in over 20 years.  And that happened to be the only one I did lose before I stopped wearing them. 

For years, the Hayes House sat there waiting for our return.  Then, there was another upsurge in real estate values.  Trubey and I discussed it.  We had seen this upsurge before and ignored it.  But this time, we realized that a building is only worth as much as someone will pay for it.  You may think it is worth X, but it isn't if no one else thinks so.  So Trubey sold the building at what we think was the top of that real estate market.  Then we looked for a summer location.  We located a small kiosk about half a block from the Hayes House and across the street.  It was 10x10 with no heat or air conditioning.  It was 3 walls with a 4th wall of double doors that opened out.  We put in counters on the two sides with poles underneath to hold canvases.  The end wall had a display case with finished Christmas ornaments.  There were also shelves along the top to display finished pillows.  It was quite cozy.  I had baskets with stitch 'n zips and small canvases that I placed outside sort of as doorstops.

Ironically, I always managed to get the inventory unpacked and displayed, but my suitcases stayed in disarray on the bedroom floor.  That explains why one needlepoint project took me over 8 years to complete--it was always buried under unpacked clothing!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clara Wells, 5

My progress seems sooo slow, but I have to remind myself that I am stitching two identical sides.  I stitch on one side for a few hours and then switch to the other side so I'm at about the same place on both.  I will admit that while I am doing the diagonal mosaic for the black, white and grey areas, I won't recommend that to my customers.  It is more confusing to maintain the pattern than I expected.  It is also more difficult to see the pattern stitch design in the black yarn, so why make life more difficult for little effect.  Basketweave will work just as well and stitch more quickly.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Melissa Shirley stable for small creche III

I've finished the front of the roof (that sounds awkward, but I guess that's what it is) in the Diagonal Triple Parisian using watercolors.  I've done a bit more on the sky area and the shutters. 

My stitching at the shop has been curtailed because I'm still ripping the two-tone background on a Christmas stocking we are stitching for a customer.  And people are starting to trickle back into town.

I received the following 2 mini-stockings back from the finisher yesterday.  Both are by Pippin Studio.

They looked good after I finished stitching them, but they really look spiffy now!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Maggie Lane coin canvas

When I started doing needlepoint, I was an unemployed librarian/college professor.  My first canvases were all counted on penelope canvas.  Penelope because that was the canvas my best friend possessed and gave to me.  It wasn't until I started working for Needle Nicely that I stitched on Zweigart mono or a painted canvas.

This piece, stitched from a chart in McCalls Magazine, was done on penelope canvas using Paternayan yarn.  It was about the 6th canvas I needlepointed.  My first was a stitch sampler, done in stripes, and then I did some different bargello patterns.
 I originally had this made into a floor pillow since the finished size was 21 1/2 by 23.  After about ten years I had it made into a stool that I had a piece of glass cut for so I can use it as an end table.  It is 18 inches tall.  It was made by Hunt Galleries in Hickory, NC.  I understand they are no longer in business which is a shame since they did gorgeous finishing of needlepoint in addition to making upholstered furniture.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What's in a name? Mary Agnes

My name is Mary Agnes---not Mary Alice, not Mary Ann, not Murray Angus....  I was named for my two grandmothers--and believe me I got the better part of both of their names (Yvonne Emmeline--excuuuuse me!).

It's amazing how many people don't hear the second part of my name.  Yes, they are usually Northerners who aren't accustomed to double names.  How can anyone think that when I say Mary Agnes, I mean Mary????  It really isn't the same.

Now I must also tell you that I will answer to anything.  For years (when I was a skinny Minnie), I answered to Trubey (who is also still a skinny Minnie) while at wholesale markets or in Needle Nicely.  I didn't want to embarrass people by correcting them.  I knew who I was.  Trubey wasn't there, but everyone thought of Trubey when they thought of Needle Nicely.  Definitely not a problem. 

And when customers come in and greet me or call on the phone, I don't correct them when they call me Mary Alice or whatever--thank you for coming in or calling me.  I'm grateful for your business under whatever name.

BUT, when I call you to place an order and tell you "I am Mary Agnes from Needle Nicely in Vero Beach",  I expect you to say "hello, Mary Agnes ".  I definitely  don't expect you to say, "Hi, Mary...what can I do for you". 

I grew up in Maryland and went South to North Carolina to college. I thought I was Southern because my parents were from Virginia.  It wasn't for years that I realized that while I was Southern in upbringing and slow speech, I wasn't really Southern.  I couldn't imagine being married to someone who called me Murray.  I look around when someone says that, looking for who they are talking to since it can't be me.  That explains why it took me years to meet someone to marry--he's from New York City.  Obviously, I should have headed North to college instead of South!!!  Though my mother believed the reason I stayed single so long was because I trained as a librarian.  It's hard to fight against stereotypes!!

The final irony is that while I have a wonderful memory for names, I seem to have a mental block against all Mary variations.  I can remember Dominique or Valvoline (a private joke about the Bahamas I'll explain some day); I have difficulty remembering customers with names like Mary Kay or Mary Sue.  Don't ask me why.

And this causes me to remember a wonderful, outspoken customer from our early years in Vero Beach.  She reminded me so much of a North Carolina customer that I always erroneously referred to her by the incorrect name.  When I rhetorically asked why I always did this, she responded quickly--"because you're stupid."  She had me!!