Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Not much stitching going on

About 3 weeks ago, I realized that I had a lot of dead wood at Needle Nicely on primarily 18mesh canvas that my customers weren't interested in (or couldn't see).  As a member of the Facebook Needlepoint Nation, Brick and Mortar Shop Owners, and Needlepoint Nation Stash Exchange Groups, I realized that I had an avenue for trying to sell these canvases.  Admittedly, many are discontinued; many are ones I wish I had time to stitch.  That's why they are still in my inventory.  But reality rears its head.  And in the summer, I have time to photograph and do the physical listing and maintain records for who has paid and who hasn't.  Of course, my husband has noticed that I have disappeared into the "computer"--our guest room.  He has finally stopped asking if I am working or goofing (I'm also an addict to video poker!).

I am lucky, because after almost 5 years of blogging, I am at least comfortable enough with a digital camera that I can use it  to take photographs and then edit, before posting.  So photographing the canvases to be offered for sale just require some time during the day.  Trust me, in Vero Beach in June, a specialty shop like Needle Nicely has many times during the day when other activities can occur.  Usually I watch DVDs--either from Netflix or from DVDs that I have purchased over the years.  I am currently watching the 3rd year of The Newsroom while I stitch.  When I am doing chores, like preparing shipping items, I either listen to a CD of Aaron Neville or Il Volo (the no longer little boys from Italy).

Coupled with this is that last Wednesday night, I experienced a gout attack in my left elbow.  The bursa was "compromised" so I had this mis-shapen, fluid-filled, large bruised area around the elbow. The pain went away overnight Wednesday, which was a blessing.  Off to the doctor for a diagnosis and eventual cortisone shot and a prednisone prescription.  I don't react well to cortisone--I become even jumpier and can't settle to anything, like stitching or sleeping.  I couldn't even coerce myself to start cleaning out "the closet from Hell".  Nope, I read and played computer games, with a tad of on-line shopping thrown in.  I finally went to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning at 7am.  How delightful!  At that, I only slept 3 hours, and then the marathon began again.  At least I had the Sunday newspapers to sedate me!  At least the treatment is working and things are slowly getting back to normal--I even stitched a little last night while watching the quiz programs.  Hooray!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Teaching needlepoint to the masses

Needle Nicely has a policy of encouraging non-needlepointers by handing out a beginner's kit that consists of about a 6" square of 10mesh canvas, an 18 needle, and several strands of Paternayan yarn along with stitch instructions for basketweave and continental stitches.  As Anna of once commented:  "the first hit is free".

Once when Trubey and I were in Georgetown, Great Exuma, there were men doing some sort of charting of the world's surface.  I didn' t really understand what they were doing, but it was certainly fun to socialize with the helicopter crew.  Here I am stitching in the shade (not happily, because I remember that I was stitching with an early leather strips fiber from Dede.  It kept snapping.  Yuck!)

But I did con someone else into trying it.  He was darling, but sad to say, after lo these many years, I can't remember his name!!  He was gorgeous, but sadly not a needlepointer, though he tried valiantly!!

And Trubey and I had a marvelous vacation bonefishing during the early morning and drinking and dancing with the helicopter crew in the evening.  A perfect vacation when you're young and foolish!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shop model philosophy

When I originally mentioned on this blog that I intended to stitch JP's 15" Santa, rather than the smaller 7" one, Anne Stradal was cautionary.  And Jane of Chilly Hollow encouraged me to consider one of Amanda Lawford's much taller Santas.

Years ago, Trubey believed in always having a model of something no one would consider stitching for themselves.  After all, a needlepoint shop should show what, in an ideal world, can be accomplished in needlepoint.  And that has been Needle Nicely's philosophy for over 40 years.  We don't often articulate it, but that's what we believe.  That's why over 30 years ago, I traveled to the Atlanta market in the airport Hilton and ordered 3 Gerry satchel canvases from Elizabeth Turner Designs.  One was for Trubey, one for her mother Zoe, and one for me.  I stitched mine for use as a shop model.  The only time it has been out of the shop was when Trubey's daddy took us to England on the QEII on about 1988.  I know I eventually stitched Zoe's bag, but can't remember if Trubey ever stitched her own.

Though  the original Mary bag was only stitched for a conversation (and wow!) piece, it is surprising how many other satchels of various sizes and designs we have sold over the years because we had this model.

The same philosophy applies to the 30" Susan Roberts nutcracker that I stitched two years ago.  Susan does the nutcrackers in 30", 18" , and 9" sizes.  I opted for the largest one because he makes such a statement.  Also, seeing the finished product was personally satisfying.  Here again, I have not sold another 30" canvas, but I have sold several of the smaller sizes.  So, the model achieved its purpose in being a sales tool.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Be Merry, 6

I originally had intended to stitch these diamonds in the Diamond Rhodes stitch.  Then, after looking at all those partial stitches, I shuddered--and reconsidered.  I like the way the slanted gobelin looks, so don't feel disappointed in my final stitch selection.

I have  stitched some more background and another few stripes.  I'm also creeping along with the stitches on the peppermint stick.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Noel, XII

I've been working diligently on the white background.  It's amazing how long it takes to make one traverse of that central portion.  Big sigh!  I can see some progress.  Having 3-day weekends should help me make more progress.
 I also stitched all of the dark brown outline on the big, gold ornament.  My mind is still flipping a coin over what, if any, pattern stitch I should be using for the gold.  I suspect that basketweave will win again.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Straggler new canvases

In the past few weeks, I have received some remnants from my canvas orders placed before the season.  I had notified most of the designers with outstanding orders to delay delivery after April until October.  I was looking forward to getting one from Juli Poitras.  The other included a special order from Cooper Oaks.

I ordered this belt of woody cars for a customer.  It is by Susan Barnes and produced by Cooper Oaks.

While checking out the belt canvas on-line, I couldn't resist this canvas of lavendar harvesters.
 Vero Beach has lots of sea turtles laying eggs on our beaches in (I think) February and March.  We have laws restricting the location of outdoor lights on properties facing the beach because new-born turtles head for light (the moon over the Atlantic) and if homes have lights, the turtles will head inland and die.  This belt canvas is a JP design.
 I can't remember if this is a long pillow or a Kate Spade-style pocket book (Imagine the middle chevron as the bottom of the tote bag-style purse).  Either way, it will be fun to stitch.  It is also a JP design.
 And, lastly from Juli Poitras, is this heart-encircled picture frame.  I also think it would be delightful with a monogram or short saying in the opening.
 This classic Santa canvas is a 7" canvas by JP designs and is a reincarnation of a canvas that they originally presented 25 or 30 years ago.  Julie also does this in a 15" version, which I hope to stitch as a shop model later this summer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Be merry, 5

I completed stitching the "Y" in the woven stitch.  I also continued with the background in basketweave, though it is difficult to detect my progress since the blue silk 'n ivory matches the painted background so closely.

On the bottom border, the repeat pattern of stitches continues with the pink satin stitch, the red fern stitch, the alternating Scotch stitch in greens, the lavendar fern stitch, and lastly the white slanted gobelin.

The peppermint stick has been started.  I've seen where peppermint sticks are padded.  I decided that I didn't want that raised effect, so I am doing a double strand of silk lame 18 in slanted gobelin, following the red and white stripes.  I am pleased with how it is turning out.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Noel, XI

A wonderful thing happened Wednesday, June 1, when I was stitching on this.  I had finally reached a point on the inner woven stitch where I could count across the green ornament to see about stitching that little outpost to the right.  I managed to get the count right and started stitching that area.  Then, I thought about the outer border stitching; I counted over and discovered that miraculously I had managed to have it mesh up with the inner stitching.  Hallelujah!  Now on to wage more battles!

After considering stitch possibilities for the right-hand teal ornament, I broke down and stitched it in basketweave.  I think this is a perfect example of perhaps trying too hard to stitch everything in pattern stitches.  Sometimes it just isn't possible!
I now have miles of background to stitch and two very large ornaments.  I estimate that it will take me another month.  I can't wait to see if I'm right in that estimate!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Can we talk? Credit card and debit cards in retail.

Last October the Big Needle, Inc, purchased a Clover mini-chip reading card terminal.  We have had it since then because, as a small business, we were threatened that as a noncomplying business we would have to recompense people who challenged charges on our non-chip readers.  Needle Nicely paid too much for this beauty.  Since installing it, I have discovered that Publix doesn't have chip-reading terminals.  I have also noticed that the USPS also doesn't have chip-reading terminals, not to mention other "big box stores".   As a small business owner, I resent this.  Needle Nicely averages $500 per month in credit card charges.  That is six thousand dollars a year.  Ouch.  Many of my customers no longer carry cash and rarely write checks.  Give me a break!  If you charge one skein of perle cotton ($1.93 with tax), I'm losing money.  And my customers think they are supporting my business.  Please don't do me any more favors! And even though debit cards cost you nothing to use, Needle Nicely still pays a percentage to accept them.

I understand that my customers want to use a form of payment that is convenient.  However, I don't want them to pat themselves on the back for using credit/debit cards.  Both of them cost the retailer, because banks have passed the costs on to the retailers so the customers won't get angry about up-front costs.  Everyone must remember that someone must pay.  In the case of credit/debit cards, the retailer is always stuck with the short end of the stick--that is, we will pay the fees that the banks don't want to pass on to their customers.

If you, as a customer, really want to support the small businesses in your community, consider using cash or checks.  A radical thought, but think about it.  It isn't that the small businesses will pocket the cash and not report it.  Cash has no carrying charges--nor do checks.  Please consider these as the way you pay the small businesses you deal with.  This ranges from bookstores (Vero Beach Book Center) to butchers (The Butcher, Vero Beach) to Peter and Rita (upholsterers in Vero Beach) to Ray's Auto (a repair shop in Vero), ABC printing, or the Knitty Gritty (both in Vero Beach).  Give us all a break and try to help keeping us in business.  None of us want to tell you that we don't accept credit/debit cards, but we really, really, want just about any other method of payment.  We're small businesses and, unlike big corporations, don't have the leverage to get lower credit card rates. And the carrying charges are becoming prohibitive.

Thirty years ago, many specialty stores refused to take credit cards.  In that business climate, they could get away with it.  Today's business climate dictates that it is not possible to not accept plastic for payments.  I wonder if small business owners will rebel and refuse plastic forms of payment.  I am considering it.

Also, I would like to suggest to those customers who tell me "I need to go to an ATM and don't have any cash".  Go to the ATM before you patronize a small business.  It isn't just the needlepoint shop that will appreciate this--ALL small businesses will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Or, always have your checkbook handy.