Saturday, May 30, 2015

Clara Wells purse revisited, 3

 Slow, but steady is my progress, times two.

And I have posted 20% off these 6 canvases, 5 from Tapestry Tent and 1 from Cooper Oaks.  Just call the shop Tuesday through Friday if you're interested in any of them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

First adventures in needlepoint

I taught myself to needlepoint in the winter of 1974-5 when I was unemployed in Boone, NC.  I had just completed a year teaching library science courses at my alma mater, Appalachian State University. After having spent 3 years as a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Library School, I was summoned to Boone because ASU needed a warm body to teach some basic courses in library science--such as media for children (3 sections) and one section of young adult literature.  I terrified everyone in the College of Education when near the end of the fall quarter I asked the Dean of Education if I could remove everything off of the walls in my classroom (bulletin board, coat racks, chalk board) which no one seemed to be utilizing.  He agreed that ASU workmen would remove the extraneous items.  I simultaneously requested that I then be permitted to have my students paint images on those walls.  Since I wasn't asking for any money, he readily agreed.  During the two weeks prior to the quarter's final exams, I asked my students to submit  possible designs for the classroom walls.  I purchased latex paint in small quantities and in primary colors.  Many people do not realize that at that time students studying to be primary school teachers were required to take an introductory course in art.  There they learned to mix paints and do rudimentary painting.

I had my 3 sections of media for children submit their possible designs and then I had them vote on their favorites. During exam week, I requested that my students come  to paint the images in lieu of a final exam.   The "wild things" from Maurice Sendak's "Where the wild things are" was the first thing on the wall to the left as you entered the classroom.  Their gigantic clawed feet were placed over the light switches.  Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig occupied the first corner of the room.  A student macramed the web and someone made a spider out of black pipe cleaners.  The Cat in the Hat was along the back wall.  Windows were on the next wall. In the front, no one could think of anything to put there so I provided the Aztec eagle (the symbol of the United Farm Workers which no one in Boone, NC, then or perhaps even now had a clue about!).  I wish I could find a photograph of the walls.  I know there was an article in the NC educator magazine, though I never saw it.  I was famous among NC teachers, but never realized it.  And, as they say, fame is fleeting.

What was really heartening was that one afternoon I was teaching a class in that classroom when a 3 year old child came in, holding his bottle in readiness.  He patted the wild things, mumbling things to them, and then headed for the cat in the hat where he patted the wall and talked for several minutes.  My students were dumbstruck.  What a wonderful example of visual stimulation in reality!

After my non-rehiring, I had just read a newspaper article saying that depression was the biggest enemy of job hunters, so I looked for something to take my mind off the situation.  It has constantly amazed me when in 1974-5, and even today in doctor's offices, that I am the only person with my own book or a piece of needlepoint to work on.  And today I have my paperwhite!

A friend loaned me a copy of Jo Bucher's Complete Guide to Creative Needlepoint, some penelope canvas, and some of her leftover tapestry yarns in various shades of green.  I used them to do my first piece of needlepoint: A pillow done in stripes, with each stripe being a different stitch.  The colors blended well, but had no pizzaz.  I knew something was missing.  Trubey of Trubey Designs had opened her shop, Needle Nicely,  in Blowing Rock about a year previous.  I went to Blowing Rock (8 miles away).  When I asked Trubey for a color suggestion, she gave me a yellow/green the color of baby poop.  I looked at it and said, "You may be my friend for life or you will never see me again."  I didn't know then that Trubey had and has the best eye for color of anyone I have ever known.  It was the perfect color.  And even more wonderfully, I got to work side-by-side with her for over 30 years and managed to absorb her color eye.  Thank you, Trubey!!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Clara Wells purse revisited, 2

I'm trying not to be discouraged by the lack of progress on this Clara Wells purse.  I have to remind myself that I am stitching two identical canvases at the same time.  I know myself--I would never finish the second canvas if I didn't stitch them in tandem.  Each person has to make such a decision personally--no one else can tell you what approach you should take.

My enthusiasm for stitching this has returned--I plan to be a couch potato tomorrow while watching a golf tournament.  Hope I manage to make a lot of progress!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Down time in the off-season

I'm sure there are many of you thinking wild thoughts of what is happening in South Florida while you are enjoying the black flies and cooler temperatures of the North.  Trust me, it isn't nude orgies (or at least any I have found).

Since Needle Nicely is such an abruptly seasonal business--even the years of our start in North Carolina--we purchase many fibers on cones or hanks and then skein them on premise.  That way we can do them on site and reduce the cost per skein.  We started doing this in our North Carolina location which was only open from May through October.  Those winter months were deadly--we spent it stitching models for the next summer and skeining fibers.

When we opened the year-round shop in Vero Beach, we still went back to Blowing Rock in the summer season.  But the shop in Vero, by the terms of the lease, had to stay open year-round.  That meant summer months with almost no customers.  So, our employees did stitching for models and fiber twisting.

The husband of one of our employees (Bob, husband of Gladys) made us two pieces of wood with nails placed exactly 1 yard apart.  One was lost when the roof went off in 2005, but I still use the other to skein gold dust, kit kin (whisper),  and candlelight.
 This is the remaining "stick" for skeining.
 A close-up of one end's nail
A cone of kit kin (whisper) which I purchase from Rainbow Gallery.
 Another view of the cone of Kit Kin.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

TS pieced bear

Today was the annual Needle Nicely luncheon.    Macy left last month for the summer and dog agility and field trial events, but she left a picture of herself on a piece of yardstick so she could be at the luncheon in spirit.  During lunch, we placed her in the candle holder in the center of the table. The summer is definitely here.  Marcia leaves for the Northern summer on Wednesday, and Lynn leaves on Wednesday for her regular May week apiece in London and Paris.  Helen and I will hold down the fort in Vero.  There's just one more Monday to be open and then the summer schedule of Tuesday through Friday begins for Needle Nicely.
I'm still experiencing my stitching slump, so my blog entry today is about a shop model we have had for years.  It's Kalvin the running bear from TS Designs.  There are two large canvas pieces that contain the pieces that form the bear.  We used various stitches and fibers in the stitching.
The toughest part was that no finishing instructions come with the canvases, so the finisher has a tough job.  This is one of the two pieces for the bear.
 Here is Kalvin in all his glory.  He really is delightful to hold, just like a regular teddy bear, but with details of stitches and patterns to admire.
 A rear view.
 This is Kalvin's best "side" for photographing!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Clara Wells purse revisited, 1

I realized as I was stitching on the two pieces of the Clara Wells purse that the canvas was rippling on the frame.  This is a reminder to me (and you) that when you haven't worked on something in a while, the first thing you should do is restretch the canvas.  Loose canvases on frames produce wonky stitches that can't be straightened.  Sometimes humidity causes this or traveling.  So check the tautness of your canvas on a regular basis.  I don't know if you can see the ripple in this photograph, but believe me it was there to the right of the handle opening.
While it may seem that I haven't made much progress, you must remember that I am stitching two sides simultaneously.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Another star for the star garland, finished

I finished the blue star for the star garland.  The overall effect is quite attractive even though the Balger #16 seemed a little skimpy while I was stitching.
 The most pressing shop stitching involves three mini-stockings for a customer.  I want to finish these in May, because June is usually when grandmothers feel the pressure and bring in Christmas stockings for us to finish stitching.  These are 1/2 of Kathy Schenkel's first Christmas mini-stockings.  The Needle Nicely customer opted for only one stocking for each, rather than the pair Kathy designed.
And just in case you are wondering what might be causing your allergy symptoms, these palm tassels should be a clue.  To prolong the agony, they develop at different times--notice the palm in the middle doesn't have any yet.  Some people cut them off immediately--I leave them until the hulls turn brown because the birds feed on them.  At least that's what someone told me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My stitching plans for the summer

I have lots of WIP (works in progress) that I am determined to finish this summer.  So my plan is to alternate stitching on these projects.  To keep my interest up, I'm allowed to add new projects, but only one at a time and it must be completed before another is added.

These are the projects I will be focusing on:

1.  Two-sided Clara Wells purse (2 pieces)
 As I stitch, I am trying to keep progress on both pieces about equal so that I can finish simultaneously and not have all of one side yet to stitch when the first is finished.

2.  Silent night
This is a perfect example of my old belief about myself--I will not finish the background if I do all the design first.  I don't know why I kept stitching on that border--I guess the  devil made me do it.  No matter, it definitely killed my interest in stitching the white interior.  Never fear, I plan to soldier on and stitch it this summer

3.  Christmas tree on red (2 pieces) by Susan Roberts
I stopped stitching on this piece of the Susan Roberts tree because I had run out of the neon rays.
I think this was collateral damage since I know I have always had the fiber for the circles.  Any excuse to start a new canvas, I suppose.

4.  MRC monogram with hound's tooth background by Associated Talents
This is a recent start that I started and that Macy then stitched on before she went North for the summer.  The magnet is a frog "Big Buddy" because Macy thinks the hound's tooth pattern looks like a frog.  And you'll notice that I had to "Lilly" up the colors!

5.  JP "brick" bag
This is my basted canvas.  I really had just started stitching this when something else caught my eye.

6.  The Studio purse, oldest WIP
I got busy today and didn't unearth this project for its photo opportunity.  I'll do that tomorrow and add it here.
This is a tri-fold purse; the "wings" on the left are the gusset.  Obviously I have a fixation on black and gold or silver for evening purses.

I've already started stitching again on the Clara Wells purse.  I just love the durability of wool.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Another star for the star garland II

 I finished the splendor rows of the Hungarian ground stitch.  Now the mindless process of filling in the holes with Balger #16.  I was a little surprised at how sparse the coverage was, but being the determined person that I am, I will finish stitching this this weekend (or else!).