Saturday, January 31, 2015

Oh, my stars! 3

When I take an item from a customer for finishing, I get a phone number.  No money changes hands.  My theory is that everybody values their stitching.  In 30-odd years of retail, that has worked out well for me--with one exception.  Five years ago, a regular customer brought a frog in for finishing.  When it came back from the finisher, I tried both telephone numbers I had on file.  Nothing.  And no current address in the telephone book or on google.  She just dropped off the face of the earth.  Everytime a charity came in looking for a donation for their silent auction (we have a lot of that in Vero), I considered adding the frog to my contribution.  But I didn't,  Yesterday my patience was rewarded when Gwen came in. She had totally forgotten about the frog and was amazed and thankful that I still had it.

My home stitching production has slowed because of the season.  I'm so tired when I get home that I don't have the interest to pick up my stitching while I watch a mindless tv program.  It's more restful for my mind just to sit and veg out!  As someone remarked the other day, needlepoint shop owners need to be able to triage projects for their customers and also provide some personal therapy (in addition to the retail therapy we're all eager to provide!).  Sometimes things get a little intense.
Among the new canvases arriving this week were these two designed by Eleanor and distributed by Ruth Schmuff.  She has a refreshing minimalist approach to design.  This egret is just pleasing to my eye--I'd like to put it on the shop wall and just gaze at it.
 And for those dog, and particularly dachshund lovers, is this beauty.
Susan Roberts had many new designs at the Phoenix market.  I just had to have this woodland Santa stocking.

 And who could resist this iceskating Santa ornament?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It's the season! At last!

Everyone at the TNNA show said that needlepoint is back!!  Thank goodness.  In Vero Beach, real estate is selling. Those in the know say that it takes 10 years for an area to come back after a significant hurricane (or any major disaster).  That's how long it has taken Charleston after Hugo and  Miami after Andrew.  Perhaps New Orleans will take a smidge longer since Katrina was so massively devastating.  And I know Vero Beach had 3 hurricanes in a row (Frances and Jeanne in 2004; and Wilma in 2005) and this is the first hint of life's returning to normal.  I had to take a "power nap" last Tuesday night when I got home, Macy and I were so busy.  My home stitching is suffering as a result, but good business is good business and I definitely won't whine about it.

I will whine and then applaud because I finally managed to get blogger to accept two new pages to the right.  I've now broken the vow of silence and am telling people how to contact Needle Nicely.  Duh!  Only took me 4 years to figure that one out.  And I've been trying since the first of January to enter the 2015 finishes.  Success is mine.

New canvases have started appearing.  Some, like this beauty by Canvas Connection, are old friends. My shop model of this triangular Santa has the date of 1982 stitched on one side.
I love looking at this landscape and thinking of stitches for the different areas.  It would be such fun to stitch.  (Maybe part of its attraction is that I grew up on a dairy farm--those black and white [Holstein] cows are gorgeous!)

 This is just such a Florida beach scene, though it could be anywhere on a seashore.  It's a design by Needle Crossings.  Pat's husband was doing the basketweave in their booth at the Phoenix market.  Of course I neglected to take a photograph of him!!  I think I need to write a song or sonnet about missing the photo op.

I neglected to measure this canvas, but think it is about two feet tall, if not taller.  Those patches on the apron speak to me about pattern stitches.  This beauty is a Barbara Russell design.

And I'll end with this wonderful 4-foot-tall canvas from Sophia Designs.  At Needle Nicely we have a tendency to name canvases.  This one is called Sophia in honor of her designer.  Such great areas for pattern stitches.
At this time of year, it's constantly Christmas with wonderful canvases arriving via UPS and the USPS.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Monogram pillows

Wednesday my oldest brother and his wife (Bobby and Connie) came to have lunch with me and my husband, Arthur. They live in Asheville, NC, now; but used to live at The Villages in central Florida.  I could kick myself for not having someone take a picture of us.  It was a bittersweet time since we all acknowledged that at ages ranging from 78 to 72, it was perhaps the last time we would be together. It was so much fun to compare notes about life experiences and catch up on various members of the family and acquaintances.  We had lunch at the Ocean Grill, an iconic Vero Beach oceanside restaurant, and were fortunate to be in the "second turn" so no one cared how long we sat and chatted. As an added bonus, he and his wife brought the finished quilt made from his bicycle event t-shirts that a friend of mine assembled last year.  They wanted me to see the final product (a quilter in Asheville completed the job).  I must say that Peggy and I did a great job of arranging the different colors and logos so the finished product is quite attractive.  In fact, I had to remind myself that it was composed of t-shirt fronts and backs.  But again, the doofus forgot to take a picture.  Sigh.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, but obviously not too many.

 This monogram canvas by Associated Talents is my new shop stitching project.  They have a series of these monogram canvases with different background patterns and accompanying fonts for the lettering. I am changing the colors, primarily to demonstrate to my customers that it can be done, within reason.
 I am employing a "soft" fiber--in this case, silk 'n ivory.  Soft fibers do a better job of covering the painting when you are changing colors than do "hard" fibers.  I think of perle cotton as being a hard fiber.  Hard fibers tend to have a shadow when you are changing colors.  I started stitching with a lime green to cover the pink and a dark pink to cover the navy.  They just didn't look good.  The green was wimpy against the white and the pink was just too dark.
 After some ripping, I arrived at this selection of colors.  These Lily Pulitzer colors are just so hot today.
A note about my stitching:  I'm doing this on a frame, even though I intend to stitch in basketweave as much as possible.  I have discovered that stitching "in hand" produces torque on my arthritic pointer finger.  Stitching on a frame doesn't produce the same stress.  Some days after stitching "in hand",  my fingers throb with pain.  That doesn't happen stitching on a frame.  I think that means my days of stitching "in hand" are gone forever.  A frame slows things down, but painfree is a good thing!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oh, my stars! 2

For some reason, this year re-entry into the real world has been taking longer than usual after my market visit.  Actually this market was atypical since I didn't have access to daily newspapers (the gift shop was never open--how is that an income producer?), though I also didn't really have time to read them.  At night, I couldn't figure out the local tv schedule, so no wheel of fortune or jeopardy, though lots of professional and college football.  I totally forgot about Major Crimes and Downton Abbey get the picture.  And, of course, I didn't bring my computer, so no email or Double-down casino.  I really was in a surreal world!!

I was shocked to discover that my carry-on size TravelPro suitcase was disintegrating in front of my eyes.  I had my first inkling of this meltdown when I went away for a weekend in November. There was about a 2 inch black worm on the bedroom floor.  I tossed it without figuring out its origin, but wondering.  This time I was forcibly reminded when an entire strip of decorative trim was floating in the breeze.  So, last Monday after my return,  I walked it to the curb.  Sad to say, I can't remember how old the suitcase is (12 years, 20 years?), but Sayonara. Last year I had donated the larger size of TravelPro because it was really too large.  Gave it to a resale shop here in Vero and I wonder if it is holding up. Elastic and plastic products don't fare well in Florida's ocean breezes.  Just put on a 3-year-old pair of panty-hose and you'll realize the elastic is gone.  Ain't happening! Ah, well.   I do have a loden green Briggs & Riley that has a lifetime guarantee.  Don't know why I didn't use it for this trip, but since it's now the only suitcase I possess, I'll be using it for future trips.  (Note to self: check it out sometime soon!).  NOTE:  Someone in the neighborhood obviously wasn't distressed by the lack of "trim"--the suitcase was gone before the garbage truck arrived.

I realized Saturday night that I hadn't stitched anything since my return.  Hmmm.  Sunday I leapt into action and finished the Splendor Scotch stitches.  Now I just have to fill in the blanks with metallic.

Here are Macy and a customer "getting down" to select some Splendor from the rack.  Neither of them required assistance in getting up--if it had been me, a derrick would have been required or so many convulsions of my body that I'd be exhausted by the time I was upright again!
MAJOR EDIT;  In the star photograph, I have stitched the Byzantine stitch, NOT the Scotch stitch.  (Sigh)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January 2015 market experiences, part II

I wised up on Sunday morning and requested a wake-up call.  Of course, I woke up ten minutes ahead of time and after I had waited for it, decided to go ahead and have my bath.  Naturally the phone rang then.  Ah, well.  (Come to find out, this hotel didn't have it automated, since the young man at the front desk informed me that he had called and I hadn't answered later that morning when I requested the shuttle to the market).  I'm a hot tea drinker so when I leave home, I give up the hope of an enjoyable cup of tea.  Usually hotels get the water hot enough, but then the wait staff fills the cup with water and brings it to the table and offers a selection of tea bags.  By then the water has cooled.  And heaven help you if the selection of teabags doesn't contain what you want (like Lipton or Earl Grey or English breakfast), because that means the water will get even cooler while the waitress goes to locate one of those teabags.  Just smile and say thank you.

Into the shuttle again and off to the convention center.  This time it's for a class with Laura Taylor of Aristeiea.  It's a Needledeeva Thanksgiving canvas.  Big Boondoggle!  I got there early enough to have an end seat, but again, the lighting is bright enough to not need any further illumination. However, other problems  happened.  Somehow, the canvases are in the convention center, but not at the class.  Also, there were not enough fiber kits or stitch guides.  (The stitch guides were emailed later and missing fibers will be snail mailed).  A miscommunication on a  massive scale occurred.  I did learn how to do a rose using silk ribbon, which was one of the reasons I had signed up for the class (the other was to meet Laura Taylor, who is one of the up-and-coming national needlepoint teachers).   The canvases did eventually appear.  Laura seems quite experienced and personable, but I was disappointed because this isn't the experience you expect at a class offered to professionals.  I don't know why I was disappointed, though, since I never stitch in classes.  I try a technique (like the silk roses), but I just can't get comfortably into my stitching position in class.  I'm the one watching like a hawk, though.  And I like the exposure to new fibers.

My ribbon roses:
Ain't they gorgeous???  (And amazingly those three were my first 3 attempts.  I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back!)  I keep reminding myself of the steps involved in producing them.

On to the show floor where I'm determined to start ordering.  First I go to the booths where I have special orders to make, just to ensure I don't somehow forget them.  I also used this as an opportunity to stop by designers where I have questions about previous orders.  Then I stopped by the company that does the copy-painting for Needle Nicely's designs.  When I purchased Needle Nicely from Trubey Walker of Trubey Designs, part of the deal I purchased were the designs that I had helped Trubey develop for sale at Needle Nicely.  These vary from sayings to some whimsical animals to shell and tassel designs.  They also include exclusive designs that Trubey has done since my purchase of Needle Nicely.  There are over 300 designs that can only be purchased from Needle Nicely.  I have a resident artist, but it isn't cost effective to have her reproduce previous designs.  She is busy doing custom designs or new designs for Needle Nicely. I needed to confer with the copy-painting company about their progress in (or lack of) production.  Then on to a logical approach to the exhibitors.

For those who think the idea of a needlepoint market is an exciting happening:  Picture a football field (inside, of course) with booths set up in aisles.  Put it on concrete but disguise it with carpeting with no pad.  That's a wholesale market.  Punishing on the feet and legs.  The decision-making is punishing on the brain.  Continue through this sensory bombardment for 2 and 1/2 days.  That spells utter exhaustion.  And you're spending money that can make or break your business's bottom line.  Have a good time!!!

And another evening of solitude, but this time watching the Broncos go down to infamous defeat.  I totally forgot about Downton Abbey.  I hope I manage to catch up somehow this next week.

Monday morning things happen later, so it's a piece of cake to arrive at the market for the 9am opening. Now for the big reveal which should be no great surprise:  Many shopowners will come early for a market so they can take classes, but rarely will they stay for the last day (Monday).  That's when they travel home (or on the Sunday night red-eye).  So people like me who like to schmooze with my friends the first two days of market can get serious on the last day, Monday.  It is a shortened day, but with almost no other buyers in your way it is possible to swoop through the market and accomplish miracles in ordering.  So much so that I finished, including my farewell hugs, at about 12:45 (the market closed at 2pm).  Then I went downstairs to the food court for my farewell slice of pizza.  While dining, I encountered a friend from North Carolina days.  While we were chatting (and before she managed to order lunch), we heard this low-key announcement: "There has been a reported emergency.  Please evacuate the area."  This was a really quiet announcement.   No sirens, no oooogahs, oooogahs.  Peg and I looked at each other and upon hearing the announcement again, allowed as how we would exit to our right.  Good that it wasn't really drastic since we left before everyone else.  I, of course, took my slice of pizza with me.

Here is my poor shot of the fire engines who soon arrived.

We were on "the back" of the convention center--the majority of the attendees were evacuated on the other side of the building.  Here is a security officer coming back up from contacting the firemen before their entry into the building.
These are the 6 firemen who went into the building to locate the fire.  About 8 minutes later, two of them returned, soaked.  They let us know that they had found the fire.  Word on the street is that someone threw a cigarette butt, obviously not out, into a men's restroom trash receptacle.  Naturally the convention center is a non-smoking zone in these times (unlike 20 years ago, when there were ashtrays on each booth's tables!!),

At that point, I had finished my pizza and, unlike everyone else, I didn't have to wait to re-enter the building. But I was on the back of the convention center and had to walk a city block to the right and then another city block around before I arrived at the light rail platform.  I apologize for not photographing the hordes of needleworkers who were assembled across the street from the convention center while they waited to re-enter the building (the authorities hadn't removed us from the back of the center--lucky us!!).

The first stop on the light-rail after the convention center was Encanto where the Heard Museum is.  Trubey and I had been there years ago when we did cash-and-carry markets on Camelback.  The American Indian exhibits are so compelling.  And the gift shop is a silver jewelry-lovers dream.  I have several pieces that I have purchased here.  Sadly, this time I was looking for Artie Yellowhorse pieces and they had none in their inventory.  (My husband was delighted!!)

Back to the light rail and to my hotel where I organized my price lists, class fibers, stretcher bars, and personal belongings so that I could easily pack everything.  My wake-up call was 4:30 am.
Sadly, hotels protect themselves and recommend 2 hours before a flight.  I left the hotel at about 5:05 am and went through the TSA line as a pre-approval (who knew?), so I got to sit in the gate area for my flight for an hour and 45 minutes.  Ah, well.  It's only sleep!  After a 3 hour wait in Atlanta, I arrived in Melbourne, FL at 5:15.  Then 50 minutes later I was home in Vero Beach.  It's always nice to travel and even better to return home!!

Now to wait for my purchases to arrive.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 2015 market experiences

What a bummer!  I woke up at 3:45 am Friday so that I could bathe and catch my ride at 4:30 to the Melbourne airport in time for my 6:20 am flight.  EXCEPT we sat and waited in the gate and then on the plane because the oxygen bottle in the cockpit was depleted.  The technicians worked on it, but the ultimate solution was that a team had brought a bottle from Orlando and installed it.  The suspicious part of my nature says that they knew it would be a 2-hour delay, but they cozied us along in 15-minute increments.  That's when I was grateful that I had an unusually long layover in Atlanta so I didn't have a problem with my connection to Phoenix.  My flight onward was uneventful.

After checking into my hotel room, I unpacked my belongings and then headed to the convention center.   Phoenix has a light rail system which happened to run next to my hotel.  To encourage guests to utilize the light rail, the hotel provided 2 free daily passes.  As a life-long small town resident with no public transit systems experience (except for the bus system in Madison, WI), I am always curious about trying them.  I arrived in the area of the convention center.  There were these massive, block-long edifices with negligible signage.  Duh!  How can I tell if you are the North building if you don't have a sign on this side of the building?  And where is the entrance to your building?  Even after 3 days, I still had trouble finding where the entrance was.  Think about it--it's easy when there are hordes going in, but if no one is in sight, now we have a problem.  I eventually located the entrance, went inside, and of course the show registration was on the 3rd floor.  But people were already lining up for entrance into Sample It! (where some vendors sell pre-packaged items, like a dozen magnets or 3 canvases) which was on the first floor.

On the 3rd floor, I picked up my preregistration packet and name tag.  Upon consideration, I decided that Needle Nicely didn't need anything so instantly that I should sit in line for another 45 minutes and then endure the hordes in Sample It!  I don't like crowds or rude people (and last year's experience was still a painful memory) so I decided I would take the light rail back to my hotel where I could study the show book in the quiet of my room.  And I did.  I ordered a Caesar salad from room service which I enjoyed in quiet solitude.

I overslept the next morning, but moved quickly so I managed a bit of breakfast before joining some other shopowners on the hotel shuttle.  (You understand that classes Saturday and Sunday mornings were at 7:45-9:45).  Made the convention center in plenty of time to locate my classroom ahead of the crowd.  I wanted to sit on an end so I could access the plugs in case the lighting was bad.  I did get an end near a wall plug, but the lights were quite bright and my lamp wasn't necessary.  The class was a Susan Roberts design and was taught by Sandra Arthur.

I had signed up for the class because it promised instructions on felting on needlepoint canvas. Also, I had heard that Sandra Arthur was a personable teacher.  And she is. As it turned out, Susan and her friend (and mine) Nancy Jefferson were the class "angels", who assist the teacher by checking off names, collecting money, class registration cards, etc., etc.  I took the opportunity before class started to present Susan with my gift tote bag with her needlepoint logo.  She was pleasantly surprised by the gift.

Sandra wisely started out the class by demonstrating how to needle felt the hind leg of the reindeer.  I had tried it on my own and feel more confident to do it better after her instructions.  Those needles are brutal!!

On to the opening of the market.  TNNA always has an opening ceremony and I managed a rather weak photograph of the Native Americans performing the opening blessing.

I apologize for the poor photograph so you can't see the Indian maiden doing hand movements to the blessing.  She's on the left in the white suede.

I've been in the needlepoint industry for almost 40 years, so when I come to market I encounter many friends.  I try to control myself.  I'm allowed to chat, but the first day I must cover the entire market and pick up current price lists.  My ordering will come the next two days or,  since I have the price lists, I can even order from home.   Thank goodness TNNA provides a "package drop" so you can leave items throughout the day for pick-up at the end of the day.  It was especially helpful this first day since all those pricelists are heavy.

I'm sorry, Phoenix, but the lunch vendors on the show floor offer terrible selections.  Somehow I remembered the food court on the first floor.  So down I went and found a great pizza and pasta place where I had a slice every day thereafter.  But, I'm a coca-cola fan and the entire convention center has only Pepsi.  Sigh.  Water will do, barely. While there, I caught halftime of the Green Bay/Dallas game and Green Bay was really behind.

After a long day walking on carpeted concrete, I took the light rail back to my hotel where I conned a young man at the front desk to let me into the gift shop (which never was open while I was in residence).  I could see bottles of coca-cola on the back wall.  I bought 2.  Then I went to my room where I watched some NFL football and had another room-service dinner. I heard to my surprise that Green Bay had come back to win the earlier game. Thank goodness for being in Phoenix, I actually managed to see the end of the game before I fell asleep.

To be continued----

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Susan Roberts' 30th anniversary

Susan Roberts (of, surprise, surprise, Susan Roberts Needlepoint Designs) is celebrating her 30th anniversary as a member of TNNA.  She started exhibiting at the New York January market in 1985.  I first met her and bought from her at the Charlotte market that was held that fall (I think October).  Susan is known in the needlepoint industry for many attributes, among them clean, crisp designs; and reliable design inventory--often, she ships the same day of an order. I wanted to do something to commemorate such a milestone.  So I had the resident Needle Nicely artist paint a replication of Susan's logo for me to stitch and attach to a Dash and Albert tote bag.  Here's the stitched canvas.  I stitched the background in the nobuko stitch using silk 'n ivory.  The lettering and paint brush are stitched in basketweave using silk lame braid.
After finishing the stitching, I attached it to a Dash and Albert tote bag.  I made a twisted cord from DMC perle coton 3 and hand-stitched it to the edge on the needlepoint.  Here's the finished product.
As I write this Wednesday night, my plans are to present this to Susan immediately upon the opening of the TNNA market Saturday morning.  I have preset this blog entry to post Saturday night.  When you read this I'll be enjoying another winter needlepoint market, catching up on new designs and old friends.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Oh, my stars!

In coming up with designs, one thing often leads to another.  Such as the starfish garland that I stitched two years ago (finished product is here 8/8/13).  All of a sudden last week, I thought that a star garland in Christmas colors done in the same pattern-stitches would be fun to do.  So I have started stitching and my stars are what I will be taking stitch this weekend to and fro and in Phoenix.  But I also thought that Hearts would be great for Valentine's Day; Pumpkin shapes for Halloween...and my mind just swirls trying to come up with what shape would work for what holiday.

 Here's the basic shape.  I'm working it on stretcher bars using Splendor and Silk lame braid.
Here is the beginning of the Byzantine Scotch stitch.  I didn't fill in the metallic yet because it makes it easier for you to see the pattern.  Then it is a snap to go back and fill the Scotch stitches in.

One of my ongoing classes this winter season will be on Friday mornings when I will be teaching people to do either a star or a starfish, depending on what interests them.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Take that stitching blahs--a finish!

I'm enamored with my finished monogram ornament--only in part because it is finished.  The colors I selected are so edgy and today, I just love them.
Even better, someone was in the shop yesterday who mentioned that the ornament had given her the idea to not put a name on the top of a Christmas stocking, but rather to do a hanging tag with the individual's name.  Of course, I applauded her brilliance.

I've talked before about how expensive going to the wholesale markets can be.  There is one in Phoenix this coming weekend.  Being a world-class coupon clipper (though not so much now as I grow older--my needs are definitely smaller), I am staying in a Hilton hotel for four nights, 2 of which I am paying for with Hilton Honor points.  The people at Hilton Honors are so helpful and my paid-for nights are the cheapest of the four nights.  My plane ticket is free thanks to Capitol One. Thus my only expenses are my food, transportation to and from the airports in Phoenix and in Florida, in addition to those 2 nights.  That's the expenses for a shop owning buyer. Still not cheap. The expenses for exhibitors are the same with the added cost of their booths and the freight to and from the venue.  And perhaps the expenses of anyone they may bring along to assist with manning the booth.

Because of these expenses some artists are foregoing attending the markets.  I received my first shipment of canvases from Amanda Lawford who has decided that she and her son Derek will not be attending Phoenix.  The following  canvases are a selection of designs from The Needlepoint Broad.  I'm not sure if Amanda purchased the designs or is just distributing the line.  No matter, they are gorgeous and I hope  the list of states and teams with designs is added to in the not-too-distant future.

 Do you get a clue that I'm originally from Maryland?  She also has several neat crab designs.