Saturday, February 27, 2016

The journey to wi-fi

Needle Nicely has had a computer for its inventory record for approximately 25 years.  It has never been connected to the internet.  I'm the one who I felt would be playing on the internet, not any of our employees.  I have a computer at home that I use for Needle Nicely's blog, email, and website. I added wi-fi to that computer over a year ago when I purchased a Paperwhite kindle.  What  a wonderful experience.

Last spring I ordered an ipad for Needle Nicely so I could access the websites of various needlepoint designers for my customers.  Of course I didn't consult anyone.  I ordered an ipad for wi-fi.  You can now hear my very loud duh!!  Not working at all, thank you.  So began my ordeal to add internet service and wi-fi to Needle Nicely's location.   I started a week after receiving the ipad.  I got lost several times within Earthlink's telephone tree.  I, of course, want to combine my soon-to-be two account locations.  Finally I connected with a gentleman named Michael.  He said he was a different department and would connect me to someone who could set-up my account.  That resulted in my reaching a telephone message informing me to leave my name and number and someone would contact me.   Three hours later, no contact.  So I started through the phone tree again, but again in a different way to prevent a dead-end.  Amazingly, I got Michael again.  Now, what are the chances of that?  I accused him of being the only human employee of Earthlink.  He denied it, but did offer to take my information and make sure someone would contact me.  Two weeks passed.  No contact.

Then someone hacked the credit card number that Needle Nicely uses for automatic payments from monthly accounts, like internet access--Earthlink.  After telling someone the new number, I used the opportunity to once again attempt to get wi-fi.  I spent over 1 1/2 hours with a gentleman in India, who spent most of the time reading me the account agreement at least 4 times.  When I urged speediness since it was a business line, he read the agreement again.  I think he did manage to merge the two accounts.    I have received two emails from Earthlink concerning the shipment of the modem and router, both showing the wrong address for Needle Nicely (it's the one we had before Hurricane Wilma so rudely relocated us 10 1/2 years ago).  After the first email, I called Earthlink again, to be sure they were shipping to the correct address.  I was again assured everything was correct.  Before I stopped at our old address and told the people there where we are located, the shipment arrived.  Truth be told, I decided to go with AT&T at the shop for wi-fi, after all the hassle with Earthlink.  I'm still with Earthlink at home because that is the email address Needle Nicely has had from the absolute beginning.

However, I'm beginning to feel like a Luddite.  The past two months have been quite frustrating about my wi-fi and internet connection.  I've spent hours on the phone talking to Ind-yah.
Today, I was working on the internet at 4pm, then left to stitch and do other things.  When I came back at 5:30 to do this blog, no internet.  I guess I just need to reconcile myself to weekly talks with Ind-yah and work on my British/Indian accent.  I do catch myself changing the cadence of my speeh with repeated conversations with Earthlink consultants.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Noel, IV

The moment has arrived.  I had to start the woven stitch inside the ribbons.  What a nail-biting experience!  This was made even more complicated because the top of the center area is split by a large gold ornament, so I had two chances to screw up.  I made the count 4 times for the left-hand area.  Then I did the same for the right-hand area.  Still, my fingers are crossed that everything will mesh together in the end.

In an effort to catch up on stitching this canvas, I worked on two ornaments this week.  First, I did the turquoise and white ornament in tent stitch.  Next, I did the solid turquoise ornament in one of my new favorite stitch combinations--slanted gobelin over 2, 3 rows of basketweave, slanted gobelin over 2, etc.  Both of them were stitched using Kreinik metallic.  I've also been stitching on the background with a strand or two of Very Velvet ribbon thrown in for good measure.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tough two weeks

It's been a tough two weeks, physically.  It seems everyone in Vero Beach has been fighting a head/chest infection that my doctor told me usually lasts 3 weeks.  Two weeks ago, Marcia came to work coughing and sneezing.  This was Thursday and Friday.  All weekend, I wheezed and sneezed.
On Monday, I disinfected the shop counter, telephones and other areas where Marcia had sneezed, but it was too late for my asthma and pitiful sinuses.  But I'm stubborn--I have a regular doctor, but I am reluctant to miss work to see him.  I held out, though I left work about an hour early every day.  Than, a regular customer who has the same doctor, came in and chastized me for not having gone to see him.  She did just after her last Needle Nicely visit and she was now symptom-free.  So I called and went to see him.  I've now had a cortisone shot for my asthma, and an antibiotic for my sinusitis and I already feel better.  Will I procrastinate the next time--sad to say, probably.  At least I have the consolation that sinusitis isn't infectious so I wasn't typhoid Mary to my customers--and my husband has had no ill effects.  That's a relief!

The downside of feeling  "punk" is that I haven't felt like stitching, so my Noel has suffered.

Of course, while cropping this picture, I noticed that what I call the Byzantine mosaic that I did on the bright yellow ornament is obviously a variation, since it appears that I compressed the stitch in one area.  Ah, well!  Only someone looking really closely will notice!  And you're the only people I'm pointing it out to.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Spindrift Designs by Nancy Norton

This past week, a carriage-type clock that we received as a wedding present died (We'll be married 25 years in August).  It was battery-operated and classic.  Every time I looked at it, I remembered the person who gave it to us:  Nancy Norton, who owned and designed for Spindrift Designs.  My memory fails me when I try to remember exactly where she was from, but it was somewhere in Michigan.  She later retired to York, Maine.  Nancy was a true individual.  She was acerbic and smoked, cursed and drank a lot; but she was also a talented designer and a good friend.  Coming from Blowing Rock, NC, I really enjoyed my moments with Nancy over dinner and during the day at many needlepoint markets.  In the 70s there was a market in Charlotte that was primarily cross-stitch, but they were trying to encourage needlepoint designers.  That is where I first encountered Susan Roberts.  It was also where I went looking for Nancy, because I knew she was exhibiting there.  I walked the aisles and finally came to where her booth was supposed to be. But, no Nancy.  Then, I heard muttering.  She was sitting on the floor in the back corner of her booth; she had an ashtray and was smoking.   She was muttering curse words, because she suspected that this show was not her audience.  However, I told her bluntly that if she continued sitting on the floor and insulting everyone within earshot, of course she wouldn't have a good market.  So, she reluctantly stood up and tried to be sociable.  I had to keep checking on her to keep her smiling.

Over the years, Needle Nicely continued ordering from her.  Several times I would suggest changes to her designs (which always made them more marketable).  She finally snapped, don't you like anything I design?  I said, yes, but with some tweeks!  Of course, one change I suggested made her summer Chicago market.  She had thought my changes were insignificant, but obviously the buyers now loved the design and it paid her Chicago expenses.  She even called to thank me and tell me what had happened.When she retired, she sold her company to someone whose name I cannot remember, but they never were successful in merchandising it.  Sad to say this often happens with shops and canvas lines.

I miss your friendship and your personality, Nancy.  RIP.  And even my husband has suggested that I try to refurbish your clock because it is such a symbol to me.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Items to consider before opening a needlepoint shop

I have to preface this by saying that I deal with Facebook only because I think it is a business necessity.  I love my friends dearly, but I am not really interested in the minutiae of their daily lives. I am too busy with my own life, especially running Needle Nicely.   That being said, I am a member of the Brick and Mortar Shopowners Group because it is a nice coming together of shopowners to share problems and locate odd dye lots of fibers.  A win-win.  Less a favorite of mine is the Needlepoint Nation.  I seem to find myself sucked into discussions there that I wish I could ignore.  But someone Wednesday night asked how many canvases a medium-sized shop needs--my head exploded.  I recognized her name and know that she travels far and wide and stitches in classes and participates in clubs. I know that it isn't my business whether she opens a shop or not. However, I am of the ilk that I will try to save the world if I can. First she asked how many canvases a shop might have.  So I started telling her by category--belts, 400; Christmas stockings, 150; etc.  Ironically, she wasn't interested in fibers, even after I mentioned how expensive they were.

A shop cannot operate with canvases alone.  You must have a variety of fibers--and a variety of canvases.  Years ago, when Trubey and I were in Blowing Rock, NC, women would come into Needle Nicely because they had heard it was such a wonderful shop.  They wanted to own one like it.  They would talk with Trubey and me about how they were friends and were both getting 2nd mortgages on their homes so they could open a shop like ours.  I'm not sure you can imagine our horror.  Whatever you do, do not attach your home to opening a needlepoint shop.  All the women we have known who opened shops as dear friends and partners are no longer speaking to each other.  The needlepoint industry is brutal.  They are always undercapitalized and therefore guaranteed to fail. People looking to open a needlepoint shop are idealists.  They really don't want to face the realities of running a business.  To start with, if you are in a year-round area, you must have a minimum of one year's rent in reserve; a seasonal shop needs 1 1/2 years rent--as a minimum.   No one wants to believe this formula, so they open and they struggle for several years--and then they fade away, hopefully before they have endangered their home.  Those who survive often require an infusion of cash periodically.  That is just a fact of life.  Many shopowners do not take a salary.  I do, but sometimes in the summer I skip a paycheck because summer is our absolutely dead period.  I try not to do this very often.

There are rewards to owning a shop.  You encounter many creative people, both as customers and as suppliers.  Mixed in with both are some real dweebs that you would prefer to never see again.  But you have to suck it up, smile and not let them know they are on your last nerve.

You also have to make a decision about the parameters of your inventory.  What fibers are you going to stock?  What types of canvases are you going to stock?  Do you want only hand-painted canvases on Zweigart mono or a mix with some pre-worked on penelope and some giclee (computer generated and they look it).  Are you going to stock counted designs?  Usually, after a shop has been open for several years, you can gain a better idea of what the customers are looking for.  My customers are not fond of overdyes, so I have them in the fiber sale bins.  In fact, I just reduced them even more in hopes of having someone fall in love with them at a very reduced price.

There are many more considerations, but I think this is enough for now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More and more canvases

It's almost like Christmas at Needle Nicely, but UPS won't cooperate.  They and the post office are giving us only one package apiece a day.  This is the time of year when I should be getting a Bonanza! of canvases. But we'll settle for what I received today.

This first canvas is an Amanda Lawford doorstop canvas.  What a wonderful classic design, though some might want to change the background color.
 Last month we had several women in who were buying compact mirrors and luggage tags along with the canvases that go in them.  So I needed to restock.  Actually, some of them, like the basketball one, could be a Christmas ornament.  Now if I just remember to tell people to look in the white basket, not in the ornament section.
 This is a new design of, I assume, the New York skyline.
 Lee's Needle has a floral alphabet that fits in many of their self-finishing items.  I finally ordered one so people could get the idea to stitch everyone's name's first letter.  Time will tell if this marketing idea works.
This is a 5x7 (I think?) design from Lee's that can become the flap on a prefinished purse they sell--or it could be a pillow insert or can be applied to the side of a tote bag.
 This is only 5x7 (same size as the sailboat canvas).  I love the flow of those butterflies.  My mind is scrambling trying to come up with stitches for this and ways to use it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Noel, III

Whew!  Today, I finally found a tech support person at Earthlink who could tell me my wifi password.  While trying to locate it for myself, I managed to not be able to gain access to the internet at all.  GRRR.  So, once again, I called Earthlink, resigned to spending lots of quality time on hold.  I talked to five different technicians, 4 of whom, after seeing my abysmal record, kept tossing me forward.  Finally, I reached Ronald.  While waiting on hold, I worked on this week's daily receipts.
After 2 1/4 hours, I not only had wifi again, but had a file where I could actually see my password.  And just in case you think I am a total idiot, it is obviously a machine-generated password.  Nothing like that has ever emerged from my brain!  This little battle has been going on for 6 weeks since my internet went out for 2 1/2 days. Earthlink doesn't want to talk about that little episode.  Anyway, I have had trouble every time I have tried to download books to my kindle since that time.  But no more, I'm free at last!

Now that I can read again, on to my stitching.  Stuart came in this week and chastised me for not showing enough respect for the new version of Silent Night that Macy just completed stitching. He forced me to acknowledge that it was a simple, but elegant design.  Mea culpa!  Here it is before going to the pillow finisher.
When it returns from the finisher, I will take its photograph along with its 10-mesh version and the 13-mesh and 10-mesh versions of Merry Christmas.  All examples of how timeless good designs are.

Peeking out of the ribbons, you can see the lime green ornament that I stitched in diagonal mosaic, using a Kreinik metallic.  I have been continuing the mosaic stitch in very velvet for the ribbon and the woven stitch in the background using Stardust from silk 'n ivory.  This past week was truly the beginning of the season--that means that when I return home, I am wiped out.  My husband is very understanding and tries to find easy meals so I don't spend lots of time prepping and cooking.  Thursday and Friday I had Maryland steamed crabs from the Crab Stop, a new business in Vero.  They were yummy with a side of home-made hash browns (Trubey's recipe).  Of course, someone might wonder about the wounds on my fingers from trying to break open the shells.  My husband is allergic to crab, so he scrambled out a dinner for himself both nights.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

And the canvases keep coming

The assymetry of this canvas really appeals to me.  It is by Penny Macleod of The Collection Designs.  I won't stitch it, but I want to!
And I have mixed feelings about the Scotch stitches on the right side of the face on this canvas.  Too  close to acne--I think I would do something like Byzantine mosaic or jacquard, rather than the Scotch stitch.  But I love the rest of it.  Yummm!
I have a customer who is stitching this heart canvas as a ring pillow for her granddaughter's wedding later this spring.  It's an oldie, but goodie and forever appropriate.
This is the latest in the parade series that Ashley has done for Susan Roberts Needlepoint.  My mind is spinning, trying out different stitches for the various areas.