Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The ins and outs of blogging

Someone asked me yesterday how long a blog entry took me.  I think he meant the actual time writing and posting.  That takes from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the subject.  But it doesn't begin to take into account the prep time.  Have I made any progress stitching on my latest projects?  If I am taking photographs; I have to take, download, and then edit them.  And,if the topic isn't stitching, what can it be?  Should it be a discussion of a finer point of needlepoint (like determining quantities of fibers); or merely showing photographs of new inventory.

And a good ratio of topics is a consideration.  I try to make at least 50% of my entries about my stitching projects.  Perhaps 20 or 25% personal opinions and/or rants; and the other 25% or 30% new items. I try to never photograph the finished projects of customers, because many of them are presents, and who am I to spoil the surprise?  Most of the canvases Needle Nicely stitches for customers never see
the light of day on blog.  There again, no reason to announce to the world that the mother/grandmother/whoever didn't do the stitching herself.  She had the idea for a gift and shouldn't be publicly punished for not being able to finish stitching it.  This past winter I stitched a Christmas stocking for a customer.  No one cared who stitched it, they just wanted a beautiful product.  I spent a lot of time coming up with stitches and then stitching that stocking.  I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  I also think the photos I took of different areas will help others come up with ways to use the stitches I used.

Incidentally, it was only this afternoon that I realized that of the 10 or 15 blogs I try to follow, all are by women.  I know there are male stitchers (I have about 6 among my customer base), but none of them seem to want to share their ideas and feelings about stitching.  Another factor in who writes blogs--I think the marathon November (NaBloPoMo) every day blogging (some do this in March instead) was to encourage people to get into the habit of writing a day and eventually either compiling their entries into a book or letting bloggers realize that they could write a book, if only if they got into the habit of writing daily.  However, I just want you to visualize me, sitting at my computer every Wednesday and Saturday evening, with a vodka and water by my side, trying to communicate to you what I think is so wonderful about this pastime (and industry).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Some new items

In the midst of a very successful Small Business Saturday, Fedex appeared with a shipment from a needlework supply house.  I was thrilled by the box's contents because one was the Wonder Marker, blue disappearing marker.  I had been searching unsuccessfully for over 2 years since Chernin went out of business.  Ah, bliss!
The box also contained some unusual bell pull hardware.  We  have little demand for this today, but do try to provide a selection.

These are for needlepoint 5 1/4-5 1/2".  The silver one is chrome.  I'm not sure the gold one is brass or just plated.

This chrome triangle measures 10".

I also purchased something to experiment with--a pill remover to see if it will help remove the pilling on some stitching.  I thought it was worth a try!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lap Stands for Needlepoint Frames

In the past few years, more of my customers are doing pattern stitches (versus continental or basketweave in hand), so they are using frames to hold the needlepoint. I prefer stretcher bars since they keep my stitching tighter, though I do have roller frames made years ago by our friendly carpenter in Blowing Rock.  I have sold Two System 4 Traveling Stands in the past four months.  In fact, I just sold that second one this week, and I wish I had taken a photo.  Its beauty its total collapsibility--a real positive with my customers who travel so often to other homes.

I personally am an advocate of the K's Creations Lap Frames, though I am not fond of their clumsy Universal Clamp.  Fortunately, I had a friend's husband make about a dozen sets of the original metal clamp years ago after K's discontinued them.  Fortunately, those metal clamps surfaced last winter when Macy did her clean sweep inside some Needle Nicely cabinets.

This is the LaPetite stand for very small projects such as ornaments and 5x5 canvases.  The stand will tell you if you're trying to attach too large a frame, because it will tip over.  Notice that Universal
There are three additional sizes of the K's Creations lap stands.  I am awaiting deliver on the Small
(it seems to be the most popular).  The other two sizes shown are the Medium and the Large.  Notice the smaller metal clamps.  The one on top is the newer version.  It has knobs to tighten or loosen when adjusting the length of the stand.  Much better than the former version that had tiny wooden flaps to try and control movement.

Today I received from the finisher my Pippin Hearts. inserted into a pillow.  I'm showing it here and will then be entering it on the list of 2016 finishes to the right of blogger.

On another, perhaps more manic note--I lost my camera last and this morning.  I tore the shop apart after having searched at home in the most likely spots.  Nada.  When I came home this afternoon, I did some excavating around my computer.  Thank goodness it was lurking in the weeds.  It did cause me to resurrect the other camera I received when my original went on the blink years ago.  Now I need to find it a memory card and batteries, so it can leap into action.  Someone mentioned that my i-phone also had a camera.  It will be centuries before I tackle how to transfer those photos to my computer.  Taking the pictures is only the easy part.  I'm not looking forward to a life of constantly searching for my glasses, my camera, my i-phone...and I suppose the list will go on and on.  Sigh!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sickness--something I don 't do well. Also, Small Business Saturday

Two weeks ago at the shop (Tuesday and Wednesday) I had some episodes of chills and fever in the afternoon.  Neither Dotty or Macy or I had a second's thought--I  just put on a sweater.  HOWEVER,
Friday night I started having really intense chills.  I spent Saturday and Sunday in bed, sleeping sporadically.  I'd sleep for an hour and a half or two, wake to go to the bathroom; out into the living room for an hour,  back to bed--repeat as  required to get through the day and night.

Thank goodness I am a concierge patient with my gp.  I called Monday morning, went in at 11am, received a cortisone shot and a prescription for a zpack.  I also had my sinuses and chest x-rayed.  I tease the x-ray technician that she almost has a complete inventory of my body--and when will she publish the book?  To avoid the gruesome details, something in a bottom lob of a lung and something in my sinuses.  The cortisone shot ensured that I would receive no sleep (until 6am) Tuesday morning.  Got a lot done--talked with Indiiia about for over 1 1/2 hours about why I could suddenly not send emails.  Finally gave up at 4:30.  Woke up to discover that I could no longer receive email, also.  Went to the shop until noon, since Macy had a commitment.  Then home to rest in bed like a latke, no sleeping.  Upon surfacing, called Indiiia again. Discovered the man from the night before had solved his problems by deactivating my email accounts, thus explaining why no activity.  No one admitted that, but I was helped to settle the problem of sending and receiving emails.  HOWEVER, I couldn't send a photograph as an attachment. Big bummer since I often send photos of canvases to inquiring customers.  So, after dinner (soup), I called again and finally managed to have the problem solved.  Approximately 5 hours spent listening to sometimes very English, sometimes very rapid, sometimes very soft, conversation with about 8 different technicians from Earthlink in India.  I could never have been able to do it if I felt 100% or had spent the day at work.  So, thank you cortisone!

The good news is that I am feeling better everyday.

On another topic:  Next Saturday, November 26, 2016, is Small Business Saturday sponsored by Amex.  This is the only Saturday in the year that Needle Nicely is open (10am to 5pm).  I will be offering 20% off no matter how you pay, though if you have registered with Amex, they have a great deal.  This offer is open to in-store, email and phone orders, so you if know something you are dying for, just call me 772-567-6688.  I always make an early stop at our local bookstore, The Vero Book Center, to pick up a few necessities since they open earlier than I do and Vero is small enough, I can make it happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New canvases, hooray! And 700th blog post!

Received several shipments of canvases today.  First, some canvases from Amanda Lawford.  I just love this Bear cabin for painting, stitching, canoeing, biking, etc.  I think it's one of those canvases that children will want to pick out the various details.  Not to mention it will be fun to stitch!
 This is one of Amanda's elegant overall patterns.  Change the background color and we change it's personality entirely.

This is an ornament of a dressed-for-snow little girl by The Artists Collection.
                                   And the accompanying young boy, similarly bundled.
 Vero Beach has a high school girl's lacrosse team that has won many state championships.  Even though  this seems to be a boy, I think it could easily gain a pony tail.
This swan canvas is the 5x5 18-mesh version.  There are two  other versions of this designs--one is 8x8 on 13mesh.  The larger version is approximately 18x18 on 13mesh.  The larger versions also have a 2 or 3 inch border with some delightful designs.

 And swallow-tailed hummingbirds on 13mesh that is 8x8.  It was so sensible of Melissa to introduced these smaller sizes since the larger versions range in size from 18" to 23".  Many people don't want to tackle that large a project.
EDIT:  Anne Stradal mentions in a comment the lack of 18mesh, but I neglected to indicate which ones are.  The first by Amanda is, the 2nd I think so, but will have to check. It is. The 3 ornaments are all 18mesh.  The Melissa canvases come in 18mesh for the 5x5 image and 13 mesh for the 8x8 and the 18x18  or larger versions with a border.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The lull after the storm--literally!

We hsd several weeks (I checked, October 7) after Hurricane Matthew to organize the shop again  before the 35th anniversary sale Oct 31-Nov 4.  We had time to get the pillows back up on the shelf around the ceiling of the shop, and a few canvases were placed on the walls.  Then I put some retired shop models near the front door, hoping they would attract attention (not so much, we have only sold 3).

The sale was successful, though I was disappointed that no one from south of Vero drove up to take advantage of it.  I thought posting  it on Facebook, on my blog and in my sale newsletter would be sufficient to spread the word.  It has gotten so the cost of newspaper advertising has become prohibitive so I didn't do any of that.

Remnants of the sale remain--all canvases marked "sale" are 50% off the sale price.  Also, all "vintage" books in the bookcase are 50% off.  This does not apply to the newer stitch books NOT on the bookcase.  Over the years, when I have traveled, I have frequented bookstores that specialize in "old" books.  Therefore, I have a great selection of out-of-print needlepoint books dealing with various aspects of the art from finishing to bargello to alphabets to oriental to....the list goes on and on.  Give me a call if you are interested in a specific title (772-567-6688).  I have lots of Maggie Lane, an abundance of Pageant of Pattern, Elsa Williams' bargello, etc., etc.

As I have mentioned before, very little stitching has been occurring.  I did manage a few more stripes on Be Merry and a few more strands of the background.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ah, aren't cell phones marvelous! NOT!

First, a confession.  Last Monday, at the end of the day, I couldn't locate my i-phone.  I wanted to take it home to charge it.  Now, you must understand that I have my cell phone for several reasons:  to call "my driver" when I return from a needlepoint market so he can pick me up outside baggage claim; to call my husband when I leave the HD opera broadcasts so he can pick me up; and to call Needle Nicely when I am at wholesale needlepoint markets.  I have no apps, I have about 15 contacts (including our favorite pizza place to order ahead for pick-up).  I regrettably never activated the app:  locate my cell phone.  I guess I'll be adding that one soon.  I also never activated messages, because I never give the number out.  It is a convenience for me, not a method of communication.  So however you got my cellphone number, never leave a message on it.  That far I ain't going.

Anyway, last Monday I couldn't find my cellphone at the shop, so I assumed I had left it at home (though I had a visual memory of putting it into my purse Monday morning).  It wasn't at home.  Hmmm.   So, Tuesday I called the number at home; and then when I got to the shop, I called it.  I knew it was fully charged.  It didn't ring in either location.

Tuesday afternoon, I called Verizon and suspended my service.  Then it occurred to me  to check and see if it had been used.  Of course, Verizon wouldn't let me lot into my suspended account.  Duh!

Originally, I had thought I would go to Verizon on Saturday and get a new i-phone.  I wasn't too concerned, since my missing phone was a 4-S (I lost confidence in Siri when I asked her the first week I owned my phone, where is the closest K-Mart--She told me to go to Port ST. Lucie--when it is about 40 yds from Needle Nicely in the same parking lot.)  Anyway, my husband and I decided I could wait, even though my new phone will cost me minimally, because I had no immediate use for it, no operas, no out-of-town trips.

Imagine my surprise, Monday morning (November 7, 2016), when I checked the answering machine for messages left over the previous weekend.  My ornament finisher left a message to call her.  She had found a black i-phone in a silver case in the bag at the bottom of the ornaments I had just sent her for Christmas finishing.  Naturally, there was no identification on it.  When I called her, she was getting ready to go to Verizon to find out who owned it.  I have no idea how it got in the finishing box.  A brain fart?  The good news is that she will me sending it back to me when she sends the ornaments back to me.  No rush--the next HD opera I am attending will be in January.  (And no trips for the foreseeable future).

So, I have learned that I must add "locate me" to my cell phone and I may also ask for help to add messages.  Old dogs learn slowly--I was even looking fondly at my old flip-phone.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Christmas tree display case

Almost 40 years ago when Needle Nicely was only located in Blowing Rock, NC, we had someone steal a model of a Christmas ornament. Someone said to me, it was only an ornament.  Well, yes.  But I think of the price of the canvas, the cost of the fibers, the time it took me to stitch it, and then the cost of making it into an ornament.  I only have so much stitching time (the most important aspect of the formula).   Trubey and I conferred about this and came to the conclusion we needed a case that we could lock.  We would have a Christmas tree painted on the back and we would then place out finished Christmas ornaments on the painted tree.  The case was then locked. It was dismaying how often we heard the lock chatter as people tried to open the case.

 When we decided to open the shop in Vero Beach, FL, we knew we had to have another Christmas tree case.  We had a wonderful carpenter in Blowing Rock who did a magnificent job on the first, so we asked him to do another. The painting of the trees was done on two different occasions (about 2 years apart).  I have to chuckle because the tree for Blowing Rock was definitely a gigantic "pot" plant (the artist was a local who was often high--he later went on to design sets in Hollywood!). Amazingly, none of our customers noticed!   We later sold that case to a friend of ours in Miami at the Naughty Needle.  She has since closed her shop.  

Wednesday, Macy added the past few year's ornaments to the case.  Regrettably, few people really examine the ornaments in the case, so while it prevents loss; it also limits the visibility of the ornaments.

If you look closely, you can see Needle Nicely's limited edition ornaments hanging from the shelf above the Christmas tree case.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rearranging the pillows on the shelves around the top of the walls

As I have said previously, before Hurricane Matthew Marcia and I took all of the pillows down from the shelves around the top of Needle Nicely's walls.  We stashed them in cabinets all around the shop.
When we dug them out, Marcia took them outside and banged them together to eliminate some of the dust.  Then I weeded a few out (like an old beginner class model that we no longer use).  Those you can see in the list to the right at the top of the page (discontinued models on sale).  The prices are really steals.

Saturday Macy came in and we proceeded to return the pillows to the shelves, changing  their positions from where they had been.  Macy was the climber of choice.  She also put some more canvases on the walls to accompany those Marcia and I had put up.  The remaining blank spaces will be filled, probably next week after the sale.  I'm hoping that this week we are going to be too busy to think about things like that.  Here are pictures of the current situation.