Thursday, 24 May 2007

The Road to Columbus

One more week before I need to be in Columbus. Toni bought back the last of the new silks and the new limited Edition silk today so they are all wound and ready to pack.

I am teaching a class next Thursday at 5pm with 5 other designers, Jen Funk Webber, Heather Holland-Daley, Jenny Hart, Karen Kluba and Kat Rocha. The class is called Beyond Embroidery Boundaries and each of us have a half hour to teach our technique.

My part of the class is - 'Techniques for stitching with Hand Dyed threads' and as I have mentioned before, my Aussie buddy Janie, has designed a class piece using the limited Edition silk and this class will be available for stores to purchase and teach to their customers.

Friday night I'm taking part in the 'Sample It'. This is a chance for stores to come and buy one packaged product from each of the vendors who registered for 'Sample It'. Since Columbus Market is an order only market, stock is shipped after the designers arrive home and 'Sample It' is an opportunity for stores to buy something from designers that they can take home and show their customers. I am going to have packs of my 10 new silks for sale so I'll be busy this weekend packaging them.

The catalogues, colour cards and silk lists are now printed and ready to pack. I've started putting the silks on our thread display and have packed all the models.

My trusty helper Fran is coming with me and with our allocation of 4 suitcases and 2 carry on bags I hope everything fits. No doubt I'll be paying for excess luggage. I just hope we will have room for clothes!

Monday, 21 May 2007

I hate Mondays

I hate Mondays and I imagine there are thousands, if not millions of others out there who feel the same. It's not as if I have to get up and out the door to a regular job, so I guess it is a hang over from when I was gainfully employed in a full time job. Those were the days when I ONLY worked 8 hours a day..... but then again, I had to get up and go to a workplace on Mondays.

This Monday was spent dyeing silks, packing orders and trying to stretch and pin Flamenco and the Wedding Sampler. The mat board I have won't work so I need to take a trip to pick some up. Maybe that will go on tomorrows job list along with a hundred other things that need to be finished before Columbus.

I the midst of dyeing I had a call from our Vet. Ian had taken the kids (4 legged variety), Bronco and Peaches, for their annual check up and blood tests on Saturday. That in itself cost a small fortune and much more then our own yearly check ups but he did come home with a little bag with heart worm tablets and some free shampoo and chewy rawhide things for each of them.

Bronco (in the front) promptly ate his but Peaches has been walking around with hers and hiding it from Bronco. Unfortunately, she heard a noise outside and ran to bark at the offender and Bronco pinched it. Peaches wasn't impressed and ticked him off so he has been making himself scarce this afternoon. She is sitting happily in her basket under the table in my office with her chewy thing sitting beside her.

Anyway, I digress. The Vet rang and something showed up in Bronco's blood tests so he needs to take pills for the next 6 months. They are both 9 years old this year so I guess we have to expect things like this to start happening. They are great company and real poeple dogs and hate it when the suitcases come out to be packed for a trip.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Where has this week gone?

I can't believe that it has already been a week since we left Maui. I've been so busy the days are flying by. I need to find a way to add another 12 hours to each day.

Things are falling into place and I think I will have everything done in time for Columbus. Some of the new threads are coming back from the winders and I've finally sorted out the order forms and the new ink stamps and printed out 6 months copies of The Gift of Stitching Magazine.

Oh, I don't think I have mentioned that. Kirsten, who I spent time with when I was home earlier this year, has appointed me the US distributor for her magazine, The Gift of Stitching. It is excellent value for money and keeps getting better with many recognised designers contributing beautiful designs.

Anyway, Kirsten now has subscription cards that can be sold by needlework stores and I'm going to be marketing them here in the US and hopefully selling heaps to all my customers. The idea is you buy the card from your LNS, take it home and log onto the magazine website and register by putting in the unique number you find on your card. It is also an excellent small gift to slip into a card to send to a friend. I'll be introducing them at Columbus and hope the stores can see the potential that I do.

I finally managed to be away from my laptop long enough for DH to scan the new silks for the colour card and I've decided to post a sneak peak of the 10 new colours.

The new names are: Parrot Fish, Illawong, Black Opal, Black Coral, Desert Pea, Rose Bay, Jindabyne, Shark Bay, Dandenong and Sea Grass. They will be available for your LNS to purchase either at Columbus or if they aren't attending Columbus, the week following the show.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

The last few days have been hectic. I've been dyeing top up stock and extra stock to send home to Marilyn for the Aussie orders. Besides this, I've been trying to finish preparations for TNNA and have finally organised the electricity and furniture for my booth. There are so many costs involved in attending shows but I'm hoping for a good response and tons of orders.

Another of my model stitchers, Jann Gray, has just send me a photo of the piece she just finished stitching. It isn't the best photo but I thought I'd post it for everyone to see.

I designed this for my son and daughter-in-law for their wedding and I'm sad to say, I'm still in the process of stitching their actual wedding sampler as I wanted to do it myself. I was right on schedule then the new year came along and I was so busy with orders and preparation for Nashville, that I had no time to stitch. The one Jann has just done is going to be a model and it will be released at TNNA.

I still haven't decided on a name so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

Monday, 14 May 2007

Back to Work

I arrived back in Houston yesterday morning and slept most of the day. Today it was back to work to ensure everything is ready for the TNNA wholesale show in Columbus. I leave on May 31st as I have to teach a class that evening but the show opens on June 2nd. There was something wonderful waiting for me when I arrived home. Ginny Zimmerman is a wonderful model stitcher and has stitched several models for me but this time I had her stitching something different. I have collaborated with Leigh from Leigh Designs and Janet Perry from Napa Needlepoint to have Flamenco and Rhumba, two of Leigh's stunning hand painted canvases stitched.
Janet wrote the stitch guide which shows which Dinky-Dyes silks are used and where and which speciality stitches to use. Rhumba should be back from my other model stitcher, Linda B sometime in the next week or so.
Ginny did a fantastic job stitching Flamenco, but then I knew she would. It is hard to see the beads or speciality stitches but I think my silks look wonderful in this design. I can't wait to see Rhumba.
Toni, my 'chief' winding lady bought me back some of the new silks today. I love all the new colours and they look wonderful wound up. There are 3 new multi-coloured variegated and 7 solid colours. I am trying to bulk out the solid colours so it will be easier to work conversions from other silks and DMC and I'm trying to get to the point where there will be several different shadings in the same colour range and ensure that there will be 3 or 4 solid colours to match up with each variegated silk.

Friday, 11 May 2007

It's Friday

Aloha! So today is our last full day on Maui. We leave tomorrow afternoon for Honolulu then a direct connection through to Houston. I was so tired last night I went to sleep as soon as we arrived back at our apartment, woke up and ate dinner then went back to bed.
I think while I am at home I run on adrenaline as I work from the time I wake up until I go to bed and I've found when I am on vacation and once I start to relax, all my body wants to do is sleep. Pity we don't have another week here.
Yesterday we met up with Keri (Keri Designs) and her friends and that turned into a lovely lunch at a little place with a name that I can't remember. The food was superb and I'd definitely go there again.
We also made the trek up Haleakala, the dormant volcano that last erupted about 200 years ago. It takes a while to drive up those winding roads to the peak which rises 10,000 ft above sea level. It is rare that Haleakala is cloud free and yesterday was cloudy but the views from up there were still stunning.
Both these photos of the shoreline of Maui were taken from around 6,000ft.

The Silversword (below) has been bought back from the edge of extinction and is a stunningly beautiful plant. There are some lovely specimens growing near the peak of Haleakala

The other photo is part of the crater of the volcano. It is huge and there are numerous hiking trails for the adventurous tourist. I'm afraid I'm not one of them but I really enjoyed the experience of looking out over the barren landscape to the rolling mountains, rainforest and ocean far below.
I've come to the conclusion that Maui is a stunningly beautiful place and one of the few places I've visited that have impressed me. Coming from the beautiful area of Australia (the Whitsundays) that I call home, a place has to be pretty special to equal or surpass that and Maui has done that.
Even though I've had time to look around Maui, this trip hasn't been all 'play' and after spending the day with Keri today and talking through our plans, it is time to let the cat out of the bag.
We are planning a stitching retreat here in Maui. There will be classes in Hawaiian quilting, needlepoint and cross stitch with well known teachers, including Keri and myself, (although I don't really count myself as being that well known) and plenty of free time allocated for those who want to explore this magnificent island.
Since the retreat is in the early stages of planning, I can't give you any more details but those interested have at about 18 months to save your pennies for the stitching retreat of a lifetime.
Husbands are more then welcome and there is plenty of fishing, golf and exploring they can be doing to keep themselves occupied.
Since this will be my last entry from Maui..... Aloha and I'll catch up with y'all when I'm back in Texas

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Day 4 update

The Luau last night was great. We went to the one at the Grand Hyatt. There is another that is better but it is booked out weeks in advance and we didn't realise.
The other one is supposed to be more authentic and although the costumes were clearly costumes, we still enjoyed ourselves. We were lucky to be at the top of the table right near the stage so we had a wonderful view.
Plenty of good food... pork, beef, fish and veggies and salad and yummy sweets.... and great singers and dancers. They preformed dances from not only Hawaii but also from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand and were extremely good.
The firedancer pictured was excellent and must be very practiced or very lucky as he doesn't seem to have any burns on his body.
Today we went to Hana about 2 hours drive from Kahana where we are staying. The road is built around the mountains that border the ocean and is very winding and very narrow in many places.
There are many bridges over the gorges and they are 1 lane and we would often find ourselves rounding a sharp hairpin turn to find another car right in front of us. Top speed for the 30 miles was around 20 MPH and down to 10 MPH on the really tight corners and bridges.
First stop was a State park with a beach of black sand. Actually a lot of it is pebbles of volcanic rock that get smaller and smaller closer to the ocean but it is a very beautiful place. The water is a magnificent colour and contrasts wonderfully with the black of the beach.
We sat here and ate our sandwiches and watched the mongooses running around looking for scraps and raiding the rubbish bins. At first I thought they were ferrets but we were corrected by the driver of one of the tour buses. There is no way I would want to drive up there on a tour bus! It is bad enough in a car.
After lunch we drove about 10 miles to the other side of Hana to Oheo Gulch also known as the 7 Sacred Pools. They are a series of waterfalls and ponds coming down from the mountains and running into the sea at Haleakala National Park.
As with most areas of Maui I've seen so far, that place is stunning. This part of the island is remote with rough rocky headlands that fall into the ocean and rainforest on the mountains.
Tonight is a quiet night at home and an early night. Tomorrow we are off to spend the day with Keri from Keri Designs and her stitching group and tell them all about Dinky-Dyes and show them my threads and designs.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Maui is beautiful

Aloha! Today is our third full day in Maui. It is so much like home (the Whitsundays) and I feel really comfortable here. The same colour water and the same huge flowering trees and same yummy tasting fruit. Fran took us for a quick look around on Sunday and we went to an Arts and Craft fair at the local community centre. There were lots of beautiful hand crafted products on sale and I picked up presents for my grandchildren... all 5 of them. (It's a long story but we have 2 new grandsons aged Matthew 7 and Tyron 8 to add the the mix of Kayla and Jabob who are 6 and Miss Madison 4) I also found a suitably bright Hawaiian shirt for Ian. Sunday afternoon we sat on our balcony that overlooks the pool and waterfall and stitched. Yesterday we visited the lovely Dolphine and Ruth Ann at The Needlework Shop and they were very happy to see us. We went through all the products available from Dinky-Dyes and I think they were suitably impressed. Although not a large needlework store, they have some lovely handmade needlework accessories unique to Maui and well worth a visit if you are ever in this part of the world. Photo left to right: Me, Anita, Ruth Ann and Dolphine. At 4.30 yesterday the resort had a local dance troupe to entertain (and free Mai Tai's). They sang and danced and explained many things about Hawaii, it's culture and how much work goes into perfecting the dances. They were wonderful and we had a great time. Today I need to stay in and catch up on some work and prepare order forms and catalogues for TNNA in Columbus in June. Fran and Anita are going to the beach and maybe snorkelling. I don't do salt water... to many nasties in the ocean where I come from, such as box jellyfish and Sharks so it has been many years since I ventured into the ocean. Tonight we are going to a luau and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be sure to take some photos to post. Aloha!

Friday, 4 May 2007

I have a Blog

I've been thinking about creating a blog for a long time but just never seemed to find the time. Or when I did have the time I didn't think to create a blog.
So, now I have a blog. I have to admit I pinched the name that Whiz gave me on The Wagon. It seemed to fit and I like it.
This week has been really busy. I finished dyeing up the 10 new colours ready for release at the TNNA Market in Columbus in June and packed and shipped nearly 60 orders from the Needlework Show. Toni my chief winding lady has been and collected all the new silkies and labels and it is over to her and her crew to have them back to me on time. This new release will bring the number of Dinky-Dyes silks to 136 dyed colours and our natural silk makes 137 lovely silkies on the market.
Janie has sent me our new Collaborative Design that I am going to be teaching at TNNA. It is stunning as usual. This is going to be a class piece for stores to teach their customers so I hope they all like it as much as I do. Here is a sneak peak for you all.
It is called Summer Breeze and has a specially dyed silk of the same name. The class pack contains a comprehensive chart with full colour photos and instructions, the skein of silk and 2 pearl buttons.
After all the extra hours I've put in during the last 2 or 3 weeks, I'm looking forward to leaving everything behind tomorrow while I head off to Maui for a week. I'm going with 3 of my friends Fran, Lisha and Anita and 2 other ladies who are Lisha's friends that I haven't yet met.
There is going to be some work with a visit with Keri from Keri Designs and her local stitching group and a visit to a needlework shop. I met Keri at the Houston Quilt Market a few years back and I just love her work and it will be great to catch up with her again.
The rest of the time in Maui, I plan on chillin out and taking it easy. I'll make sure I take some photos to post.
Later Gater