Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Various methods of belt finishing

So you want to stitch a needlepoint belt.  How do you want it to look?  We have a multitude of styles for finishing belts.

1)  Standard belt finishing for wearing with slacks or jeans.  Needle Nicely's finisher requires 6" less of needlepoint than the actual belt size.  We always get a removeable buckle so it can be replaced if the brass buckle deteriorates.  You can also buy decorative silver or gold-plated buckles from some men's stores.

2)  All needlepoint belt with grommets through the needlepoint.   This style works with dresses or over blouses for women.  This requires 5" more than the belt size.  We always get a removeable buckle so it can be replaced if the brass buckle deteriorates.  I recommend going to a discount store like TJMaxx, look at the extra-large sale belts for buckles that you like.  Cut off the belt, throw it away, and use the buckle.  Our model has a buckle that is not removeable.  If you look closer, you will see that it looks awful because of Florida's salt air.

3)  Belt with calf leather on both ends with finishing that accommodates "clickers"--brass motifs that click together to form a central closure.  Usually the needlepoint is 3" smaller than the belt size.  Notice that I fastened our belt together with a paperclip.  The shop was busy and I didn't have time to retrieve the buckles.

4)  Belt with military-style buckle--the problem with this style is that many needlepoint belts are too thick for the mechanism that secures the buckle so the belt slides and often loosens.  You must add 5" to the belt size so there is a tongue.

5)  Belt with slide buckle--another all-needlepoint belt that also has a problem.  On many people, who adjust it to fit their waist, it has a tendency to loosen with deep breaths.  It works best when people wear it loosely around the waist or hips.  Again, you must add 5" for a tongue.

The finishing prices range from $95 to $195.  Prices, of course, vary from different finishers and different shops.  And other shops may have even more styles of finishing available.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Why Vero Beach?

Needle Nicely was started in the northwestern mountains of North Carolina by Trubey Walker and Peggy Rente in approximately 1971.  Peggy soon returned to Miami to start the Naughty Needle.
I met Trubey in about 1975 when I learned to needlepoint.  Eventually I became the manager of Needle Nicely. In 1981 business was so good that people with business knowledge advised Trubey that it was time to either go big or go home.  That encouraged Trubey to investigate business opportunities in other locations.  Since she was originally from Miami and her parents still lived there, but were aging and wanted to leave Miami; a location in mid- to northern Florida would be an ideal location.  Voila!  Vero Beach.

The decision was made over the 4th of July, 1981, to look for a location in Vero Beach with expectations to open one year in the future.  That next week I talked with our framer (Royal Palm Frame Shop), who had moved from Boone, NC, back to Vero Beach; and mentioned that we were going to start looking in Vero.  The next week she called me with the information that a shop was closing in the Village Shops and perhaps we could rent that, but it was available at once.  Trubey and her father flew to Vero immediately, saw the location and rented it on the spot.  That meant that we would open in October, 1981--not 1982 as we had originally intended.

In 1981 there were very few metallics available.  Trubey discovered a company in New York that produced metallics in different thicknesses and sold them by the gross yards (144 yds) on spools.  We had a local carpenter make a rack with spindles that held 2 double-sides of metallics and swiveled.  When we decided to open a Florida location, we needed a new rack.  Our carpenter misjudged his finish date (don't they all?), and our new rack was ready after Trubey had departed for Vero.  I was staying in Blowing Rock to keep the shop open for the "leaf" season.  I had just completed stitching an orchid bench which Hunt Galleries (regrettably now out of business) in Hickory, NC, manufactured for us. It was too large to be shipped via UPS in those days (today, no problem). That was also a tad tardy, so I drove a Scout to Vero with the bench and my belongings in the rear compartment and the metallic rack for metallics wrapped in cardboard and plastic on the roof of the Scout.  I drove behind Trubey's mother and father to Charleston for the first night and then, the next day, on to Vero Beach.  This was before the days of cell phones, and at a light on the mainland of Vero, Bill Walker drove through a yellow light that changed before I could get through it.  I could see Zoe convincing him he had to pull over, because I had never been to Vero and had no clue about which way to go.  Thank goodness, he pulled over.  We then proceeded to the barrier island to what was then the Howard Johnson hotel on the beach.

This is a picture of the orchid bench which I stitched during 1981 and drove to Vero Beach.  I don't have a photograph of the metallic rack--the one from Blowing Rock we sold to a friend of us who had a shop in Miami Shores (Peggy at Naughty Needle) after we moved to Vero permanently,  and the other stayed behind at the shop location on Royal Palm when we moved so quickly after Hurricane Wilma.  Since we no long sell metallic by the yard, it was redundant; though I still have the leftover spools of metallic.  Someday I'll think of a way to package them for sale.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New canvases are still trickling in

Today was a hodge-podge of activities with Macy blocking belts; and gluing the canvas on a votive candle for a customer.  I was trying to figure out how to assemble a traveling NeedleworkSystem4 stand with frame clamp.  Since I had only seen a picture of the stand; and since the instructions were minimal, it took me a while.  Macy finally stepped in to strong-arm one section apart.  I think I was being timid, not wanting to mess it up.  The moment brought back memories of 30 years ago when it took both Trubey and me to put the top together with the bottom stand of a Dazor lamp.  It's at times like this that I repeat to myself:  "I want to work in a needlepoint shop, where I can sit and stitch all day."

Then I stitched some boullion knots for the hair on a mermaid for a customer.  I tried to show her how to do them herself a month or so ago, but she decided she'd rather pay me to do them.  Each day this week I've been trying to do at least 1/2 hour of boullions.  (It's the mermaid I stitched that is #10 in the 2014 listing to the right on this blog.)

I also spent some time with Anita, a customer from Melbourne, who is doing pattern stitches on a bird bellpull by JP.  Her sisters bought the canvas, the fibers, and a stitch guide for Anita; and I am helping her figure out the stitches or substitute others that she likes better.  Sometimes stitch guides get too frustrating.

Some new canvases have arrived.  Some are ones I added to special orders for customers to defray shipping costs; others are usual shop inventory.  These stockings from Rebecca Wood are ones I selected for the shop to have in stock.  They are both on 18mesh.

When I was taking the pictures this afternoon, I was trying to decide what the item was to the left bottom of the window.  I thought it was a weird radiator.  Tonight when I was cropping the pictures, I realized it was a sled.  Duh!

The remaining canvases are ornaments.  The first is a reindeer golfer by Rebecca Wood.

The others are part of a series about the beach by Kirk and Bradley.  Florida has an annual lobster season where people dive for the Florida lobsters.

 Sebastian, about 15 miles North of Vero, has some of the best surfing on the East Coast of the US.
 And, of course, I must always buy any flamingo ornaments I see.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Noel, VI

As you can see, the two sides of the interior background did match up perfectly.  Hooray!  I still have the fear that the outside stitching won't line up below the red ribbon, but that's a worry for another day.

I've been extra careful in stitching the Noel in Kreinik metallic.  Usually, I stitch the background first.  However, I decided it would be too confusing to try to fit the woven stitch around nonexistent red stitches.  I was especially careful to not jump across any open spaces, but rather confined my threads on the back to the stitched lettering.

I stitched the right-hand pink ornament in what I call the Byzantine mosaic stitch in Kreinik metallic.  The shine on the ornament is a faint pale pink, rather than white.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Streaky perle cotton stitches

Many stitchers do not realize that perle cotton is a solid-core thread that is white and is then dyed.  When the needle is allowed to move along the fiber, some of the dye is rubbed off.  This produces streaking, especially noticeable in darker colors.  You can see streaks throughout the background of this finished pillow.
At Needle Nicely (and I am sure other people have also), we have discovered a way to control this streaking.  When threading a needle with perle, you then pierce the end of the strand of perle and pull it toward the needle to form a knot around the eye of the needle.  This confines the needle, restricting its abrasion of the fiber.  The "loop" may come loose during the course of stitching, in which case you can make another one or just try to maintain the needle at the location near the end of the strand.

Here are a series of photographs showing the steps:
                                                       a loop is formed
                                         the loop tightened around the eye of the needle

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Noel, V

I'm trying to accelerate my stitching rate on this.  My progress recently has been impaired by a repeat sinus infection, but now I'm fighting fit and determined to stitch quickly.  In case you fear for my health, everyone is Vero is hacking and coughing because the oak trees are pollinating and the palm tassels are started to blossom.  Many surfaces are coated with yellow pollen.  It's an allergist's dream!

I robbed the Needle Nicely leftover fiber cabinet (items from years of shop models) for the metallics I am using in stitching this.  I got caught when I thought I had enough red metallic on one spool to finish that small red and gold ornament peeking out to the right of the large gold ornament.  Wrong!  I needed about 8 more stitches to complete it--and of course, my other red metallic was a totally different dye lot.  I really hate picking out and metallic is one of the fibers that is the least fun to take out.  I couldn't think of a stitch to fit on that red ornament so I did basketweave.  Next to it, I stitched the green tree ornament.  The white is basketweave, the center of the trees is continental with an alternating slanted gobelin for the sides of the tree.  The red stitches are slanted gobelin over 2 with a continental stitch in the middle.

I'm getting close to the moment of truth about whether the two sides of the woven stitch will match up.  The tension mounts!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Owning a shop, II

In a comment on my blog entry of  2/13/16, Norma Jean felt that I was too negative and that I didn't enjoy owning my shop.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am a people person, so I enjoy meeting people and learning their story.  I've been doing this since the late 70s and before that I was a librarian.  There are great similarities between the two occupations.  In both of them, you are trying to help people.

I am also good at recognizing faces  and voices so if you have called the shop several times, usually I will recognize your voice.  I am really good at remembering names, which has been helpful over the years in tourist areas, because Needle Nicely in both Blowing Rock, NC, and now in Vero Beach, FL, has many repeat customers.  Nothing makes a person feel more welcome and comfortable than to have the shop clerk (or owner)  call them by name when they walk in.  Think about it.  I also remember projects that customers have purchased.  Sometimes, that can prove awkward in cases where it has been years since the initial purchase.  I also shock people when I recognize that they resemble their mothers who were customers in long past years.   Some men have  been amazed by this..  Two years ago, I was shocked to learn that there are people who have no facial recognition.  They don't recognize themselves in a mirror or their children when they approach them.  How awful!

Two weeks ago someone came in who had been a customer in our shop in the Village Shops over 21 years ago.  She's from New York and mentioned the name of the friend who had brought her to Needle Nicely.  I have such a visual picture of Molly with her curly, deep auburn hair.  Great memories!

Just last week, a long-time customer of Needle Nicely who had permanently retired to North Carolina over five years ago, suddenly appeared in the shop.  I really couldn't  believe my eyes.  I hugged her and then helped her select a project.  When it came time to record where to mail it, her eyes twinkled as she said her name (which I certainly didn't need, since I have known her for years), and said "at our age, dear, we need to be reminded!"  Not in your case, dear lady!

To end on a more serious note, people ask me why so many needlepoint shops appear to be closing.  There are several reasons:  the average age of shopowners (over 65, though there are rare ones who are younger); and the cost of the inventory (most people are shocked to hear how much all those canvases and fibers really cost).  I would love to sell Needle Nicely and am even willing to remain as a consultant working several days a week.  I spent almost 40 years accumulating this knowledge about the needlepoint industry, and really don't mind sharing it.  As an added plus, Vero Beach is a wonderful small town, particularly in the summertime!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Silent night redo,4

Note:  This is a rogue entry.  Somehow it got buried in some draft blog entries.  However, I just noticed that it had 1 comment and 60 views.  I don't know how on earth that happened!

I'm determined to finish some WIP that have been lurking around the shop and house.  I was shocked
just now to see that I started stitching this canvas in January, 2014.  Wow!  I really buried it deep, not just physically, but also mentally!

I mentioned in my original blog entry that the inner border was mispainted--the Kreinik Balger 16 I am using for the saw-tooth border seems to be covering well, and the silk 'n ivory for the background should disguise the miscount when finished.  Of course, I pulled the fibers a year ago and just realized that I need another skein of background.  Fortunately, I discovered this before I had started stitching the interior.  I took the two skeins back and traded for three of another dyelot.  Being frugal, I did stitch the areas of the design surrounded by silver where the dyelot change won't be noticeable.

 You can see here the areas I stitched with the "old" dyelot.  Now to work on the new dyelot!
Of course, I just realized that I stitched those areas in basketweave.  I will be using nobuko for the background.  When the pillow is finished, I doubt anyone will notice my basketweaved areas.
Fast forward to January, 2016.  I have given this canvas to Macy for her shop stitching.  She is having a wonderful time with stitching the nobuko background.

Canvases are still arriving from the January market.  I usually request that designers not ship me canvases after April 1, since Needle Nicely's season starts declining the end of March and comes to a screeching halt the end of April.  Sad since May (and October) is such a beautiful month--people seldom stick around to enjoy it.  But I definitely don't want to have extra inventory to look at all summer when I'm the only person to admire it.

These are some of Kathy Schenkel's mini-stockings with inserts.

This was an eventful week for visitors to Needle Nicely.  Wednesday afternoon  we had Karen, who was in the area for business.  She had heard about us in 2001.  She called and had Trubey paint a rug for her.  It was ready for shipment when 9/11 happened.  Karen had worked in the twin towers and that infamous morning got on the wrong train so she arrived at work after the planes had hit.  Such a bittersweet moment to finally meet her.

The five Louisiana sisters were here yesterday.  They started coming to Needle Nicely over 20 years ago when they accompanied their mama to visit their sister in Melbourne (just north of Vero).  It is always enjoyable to see those beautiful big eyes in all their glory!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spool ornaments

Little shoppe canvas company has come out with a series of canvases that come with a wooden spool and a needlepoint canvas that when put together produce a Christmas ornament.  I selected the angel
for my shop stitching in between waiting on customers and general shop activities (like ordering fibers or entering new canvases in the computer).

This is the picture that accompanies the canvas and spool.

Here's the canvas for the angel head and wings.
I started stitching from the right-hand side of the angel head piece, using silk lame braid.  I did slanted gobelin over two threads, the purple is continental, the white is slanted gobelin  and the larger blue areas are a row of slanted gobelin, 2 rows of basketweave, and then another row of slanted gobelin.  Just keep repeating.