Still Life from Quimper

Still Life from Quimper
A shot of an almost-completed still life needlepoint

Welcome to my Blog

So very happy you came to visit. Now, pull up a chair, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and read on about adventures in needlework.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Website Updates

That's right, my website has more stuff on it. That's one thing I'll say about this long, dry summer waiting for temp assignments to come in - I've gotten a lot of work done on Nease's! Let's see, what have I done recently?

  • Added some Featured Products to coincide with the school year (including samplers and a constellation in honor of my friend Sirona who teaches science for gifted kids and knows sooo much about planets and stuff!)
  • ALL the shades of Persian yarn that I currently have in stock. There are over 300 shades on my website, and about another 50 that are out of stock (i.e., I didn't re-order after I closed up shop so as not to overstock the storage unit and its budget), so if anyone is looking to match a color of yarn or add to what they already have they can do so via my website. Or call me and I'll see about getting it in for you.
  • A good quantity of DMC thread, that necessity for cross-stitching, is also on-line. I've inventoried the second third of DMC threads in the storage unit and the list is quietly sitting there, waiting for me to run out of things to do that are more exciting than coming up with creative ways to say, "bright green with some yellow shades." Some call it procrastinating, I call it creativity.
  • All of the Teenie Tweenie designs by The Sweetheart Tree are now on-line! There's a bunch of them, and as I added the scissor fob Teenie Tweenies I could just feel my head hitting the desk *headdesk* when I thought "What a great stitch-along these little scissor fobs could have been!" They are great little projects, and for you non-stitchers out there, these are tiny stitched pieces that have a front and a back. You stitch both the front and the back, sew them together, add some cording, and voila - instant thingie to hold onto your scissors! You'll never lose your scissors again (unless the cat gets frisky and decides that your beautiful, hand-stitched scissor fob is just the right shmoo to attack and it must be done at all costs). The best part about stitching these is that they are designed to use scraps of fabric (mostly the small counts, like linen). Think "de-stashing exercise."
  • All of the reproduction samplers currently in stock designed by Handwork Samplers. I had carried her designs as an auto customer for several years, until the cost became too prohibitive and the sales were not what my "market research" indicated. I came to realize after a while that they seem to be more a culturally Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic form of needlework. On the other hand, the stitchers who did enjoy stitching this type of needlework are totally enraptured by this form. And it was always nice to take out the folder full of samplers and show customers how so many of these large pieces were stitched by young girls at the age of 8 and 9 and 10. By firelight and candlelight. About 250 years ago. It still amazes me.
  • FABRIC! FINALLY some fabric (besides Aida 11 count) is on-line. I had stressed and pondered how to show the colors and changes of the hand-dyed fabrics which I knew I would have to photograph, and I finally realized that I could include a skein of DMC white in the picture, to give a stitcher a frame of reference. Every stitcher knows what DMC white looks like, so no matter how different your monitor shows from the picture I've taken, you can use the skein of white as your touchstone. Pretty clever, eh? I also came to realize that one of the hand-dyed fabric companies, Picture this Plus, already had a website that showed their lovely fabrics on-line, so they had already done the hard part of the photography. Yay! So while I still have a list of R&R Reproduction fabrics to download from my camera, I've been able to enter all of the fabrics by Picture this Plus and some of the Jobelan fabrics currently in stock. Which also involved measuring each piece on the front porch table when the weather wasn't rainy (like today) or too incredibly hot (it was anyway) or the sun wasn't shining too directly on the fabric, thus washing out any picture taking I attempted to do. So if you go to the "Fabric" section of the Cross Stitch pages, you'll see the different sizes of pieces I have, such as 8 x 13 or 17 x 38 and their price.
So yay! My website is becoming more well-rounded (and I'm still heading to the gym at least twice a week so I won't be!), with more products, more offerings, and using some extra features to make it more dynamic for visitors. My next step is to change around the pictures on some of the individual pages (like Accessories and Tools), and maybe even help redesign the banner ad on Hoffman's website. You can visit their website where they have a ton of banners rotating on their home page, and mine does show up during the on-line rotation. It takes the stitcher right to my website, and Hoffman was where I referred sooo many customers if they needed a particular pattern and I didn't have it, or if they wanted to look at all the baby birth samplers or wedding samplers or graduation announcements out there (not many for the latter, I'm sad to say). While I certainly have Google AdWords as an advertising medium, I'm also planning to get myself onto and, though those will have to wait until I've gotten some more steady temp work.

And the temp orders are coming in hot and heavy (thank goodness!). I had the opportunity to spend time on a mock jury for a case, where the lawyers were trying out their arguments with some strangers to see how their case would stand up in court. It was really, really fun and I had a chance to use my brain, something I really love doing.

Speaking of brain, I really need to get working now on my third of three talks for DragonCon. I was asked a couple of years ago to present a talk on the Tolkien Track about Frodo, the Reluctant Hero, and this year I'm serving on a panel of 3 talking about Music in Middle Earth, and I'm also presenting a talk on Sam as the Companion. My tendency is to read everything I can that I think pertains to the subject (since I'm doing this in tandem with my volunteer work with Mythic Journeys), and when a phrase or an idea just suddenly hits me, I write the talk at a frantic pace. This rainy day is definitely lending itself to a reading and writing day, so I'll end this blog entry now and wish you all a great weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Summer Vacation

It's been a wonderful summer and I've thoroughly enjoyed myself. We started with a road trip heading up to Vermont for our youngest niece's wedding (looove that Neon!) and Triple AAA's TripTik became, as always, my new best friend for road trips. We took no road trip pictures, alas, because we were really pressed for time on our journey. It was cool and rainy but oh, so very, very green.

But wait - there was more! Since we knew we would be camping once we arrived, and we had a little extra cash, we bought ourselves a real, live camping TENT in which to live. And what's more, Webmaster Bill had stayed in KOA Kampgrounds before and I never had even though I had wanted to during our looong roadtrips to Princeton in the summers when I was a kid.

So that's what we did - one Sunday morning that became Sunday afternoon, Webmaster Bill took the planned route from AAA's TripTiks, our desired Points of Interest on the way up, and lo and behold, we were booked at KOA Kampgrounds with our new tent! I will admit, I had poo-poohed the idea after my Wilderness Trip in college, but life changes you and KOA is such a community of its members, with playgrounds, ponds, stars at night, your own private spot with a picnic table and grill that I came to realize camping at 44 is different than hiking at 17. Not to say that I hiking is out of the question, it's just not where I am right now.

We traveled the highways and some lesser-known by-ways up to cool, wet Vermont, and I stopped at one point when we saw a Knit Shop to buy yarn for a hat because the weather was cool and wet and I sooo needed a hat to stay warm (in June, no less). Which I knitted in the car while traveling up US 7 and seeing some beautiful Connecticut countryside.

The wedding was beautiful - outdoors with a huge tent, a beautiful bride and her handsome man, a day without rain, and lots of folks from both families who came to celebrate. The ties to family and the land in Vermont were very strong, and I was so glad to see some untouched areas of trees and old family farms. The winters are very hard, though, and it must be rough to rise long before the sun to tend to the elements of farming life.

On our return journey, we headed through the Catskills and their twisty, windy roads (looove that Neon!) listening to the book on CD of Last of the Mohicans. We were both fans of the 1992 movie and its lush countryside, and it was very amazing to hear how the original story was written. Being in the same area with the famous cave, waterways, and remnants of the French and Indian War made the story all the more relevant. And once through the Catskills, the haul ourselves home quickly driving took over.

July started with some great friends, one set who had built their lake home by themselves after the rough-in work was completed by the experts (a 4-year long odyssey), and others who were building a Tumbleweed home near Asheville. The first set we enjoyed adult beverages, a lovely lake, the comfort of friends and their home, and the other we enjoyed camping, campfires, the community of others, and a real, live barn raising. It was so exciting, and I'm really thinking that in the next few years a modest mountain or lake home is a good goal to shoot for.

Now it's August, I've signed up with a couple of different temp agencies, and have gotten a couple of calls for some quick assignments. Which is what I've been asking for all along, but I'm narrowing my search for permanent jobs to some very real possibilities. The whole idea of SmartGrowth is very appealing to me, where you can live, work, and play all in the same area (think downtown Decatur, Paris, London, Boston, New York, and virtually any older area of a major city when most travel was by foot or on horseback) without the huge pricetag that these areas currently have for housing. Or in this new Green Jobs economy, where my desire to Save the Earth will be able to earn an income.

It's also almost time for Dragon*Con, where I'm giving three (3!) separate talks on the TolkienTrack. I'm almost glad I don't have any temp postings right now, as I'm reading in so many different areas to have a more thorough grounding on Myth and how it relates to Tolkien that the books are piling up on the living room couch for my afternoon and evening reading times. That will shortly take the place of afternoon web-site updates!

More pictures of ongoing projects soon - I promise!