Monday, April 15, 2013


This post is going to be somewhat vague (and a little weird), but I want to be up front with an issue that pops up from time to time in our industry from a business person's point of view.

I have used eBay as a way to clear excess inventory for over ten years now and have most recently started moving most of my operations (at full retail price) to eBay.  (You can find me at

Once in a while, I hear from a distributor or designer who is upset about the way I am selling her product (whether that be on my web site or elsewhere.)  It has come to my attention that some shops are complaining to at least one of my distributors about the fact I am using eBay to sell merchandise (most of this merchandise is at full retail price; certain older items, over-stocks, or otherwise less-desirable items I am offering in auctions.)

Now, one particular distributor has told me she can no longer sell to me, since I use eBay, as other shops have complained.  I still have a number of this distributor's products in stock, and am using eBay to sell them, much of it at full retail price.  Now, this distributor has told me I have to stop selling anything she wholesales on eBay, and she offered to purchase those items back at wholesale.  (Keep in mind, I paid shipping on those items for starters, and would have to pay return shipping, which would mean I would lose money taking this offer.)

This same distributor's products are sold every day at a discount on a number of other stitching web sites.  I have never personally agreed with the "everything on sale, every day" business model in our industry.  Our mark-up is low compared to other industries, but that decision is each business person's to make.  One of the beautiful things about being a small business owner is making your own decisions.

When I started my business 17 years ago, I faced numerous complaints from other shops (and distributors) who felt that online businesses were unfair and hurtful to the industry.  However, the shops who did not get on the Internet were the first ones to go out of business.  Times change, and so businesses must change, too.  Stubbornly hanging onto the past would mean our malls would be filled with buggy whip outlets and top hat stores.  (Well, and even then, how much longer will we have local malls?)  I have found on eBay that I can reach a much larger group of stitchers world-wide, and the format makes it easier for me to fill orders by taking out a lot of the steps.

No distributor (or designer, or manufacturer) has to agree to sell wholesale (or even retail) to anyone.  However, attempting to control the way a product is sold, adherence to terms of sale, limiting discounts, or agreeing to sell something at a common "retail" price is called price fixing and is punishable under the Sherman Antitrust Act, a federal offense.  Anyone who would bring such a case before a court and win can collect up to three times the damages sustained, plus full compensation of legal and prosecution fees.

I guess I just wanted to let y'all know that the kind of backstage bickering that goes on sometimes in our industry is not only meddling and counter-productive, it's also misguided, uninformed and potentially illegal.  Please know that I am not angry at anyone, nor do I wish anyone any harm.  There are so many great shop owners, customers, distributors, designers, and manufacturers out there!  And I love you guys!!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sarah Chapple 1831

Look at all of the great little plants tucked here and there on the lawn!
I'm not great at keeping secrets... but I kept this one for a couple of years.  I purchased the Sarah Chapple 1831sampler at auction online and paid a pretty penny for it (well, thousands of pretty pennies). But, oh, was it worth it!!!  Look at those cherry reds and olive greens.  They knock my socks off (first, though, they knock my shoes off...then my socks.)  I love anything with a house on it, a red house is even better.

Sarah's signature ... what a girl!
Two years ago, I taught about my sampler collecting at a Silver Needle retreat in Tulsa, and I did take this sampler there.  The gals at the retreat were pretty jazzed about getting their hands on a chart of this one, so I'm pleased the graphing is done.

Can you believe this wonderful girl was only 11 years old when she stitched this sampler?  There are over 42,000 stitches in this one.  Way to go, Sarah!  She was a diligent stitcher.  This one was tricky to graph, because there were sections of her stitching where a lot of the stitches were off by one thread this way and that way and the other way, so I was constantly having to make adjustments.  The back of the sampler is way neater than anything I ever stitch, and most of the verse is stitched over-one on FORTY-EIGHT COUNT LINEN.  I suspect she may have had super powers in order to see those tiny little stitches.

Sarah Chapple 1831
The sampler is in good shape -- very few areas of loss...not many holes.  The sampler at one point had been GLUED down to a board just along the edges, and there is some discoloration right through the center of the scene at the bottom (you can see it as a dark smudge that runs through the fanciful tree on the left of the house).  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the U-shaped border around the verse!  The urns on either side of the house (in the center) don't match, which I also LOVE!  The flowers in them are different, and I think those motifs would make great little fobs or pincushions.

Here is the verse:
                 On Isaiah c. 40th v. 8th 
And is it so that to life's journey's end
God still will prove my Father and my Friend,
To all my weakness still will bend his ear,
And my most feeble accents deign to hear?
Sweet truth _ the fading flower that blooms today,
May ere to_morrows dawn, have passed away.
The grass may wither, and the flower may fade.
Our brightest hope be wrapp'd in deepest shade,
"But God's own word for ever shall endure,"
It stands to all eternity secure!. 
                         Sarah Chapple
                             Her Work
                        Aged 11 Years
Matching the fabric was tricky. It's definitely a natural linen, 48 count, like I said, but it's got that 200-year-old grime thing going on.  It's not DIRTY, but it's not CLEAN, you know what I mean?  I actually have given stitchers a few options: 40 ct. 18th Century Rook by R&R Reproductions is my top pick, but you can also use 40 count Natural or 40 count Dirty linen by Zweigart.  Coffee-, tea-, or walnut-dyeing these fabrics before you stitch will give the fabric a more authentically grungy look.  The fabric has a definite greenish-cast to it.  The stitch count is 301 by 407.  Here are the FINISHED sizes, depending on the count of linen you're working on:
28 count: 21 1/2" by 29"
32 count: 18 3/4" by 25 1/2"
36 count: 16 3/4" by 22 1/2"
40 count: 15" by 20 1/4"
Here is the fiber list.  There are a number of colors of which you'll need multiple skeins, and that information is here as well.  All stitching is done with one strand, if you're working on 40 count.

Au ver a Soie: 2212, 3724, 3745 (2), 4525 (3)
Needlepoint Silk: 333, 336, 505 (3), 976
Gloriana: Elizabethan Green (2), Holly Berry, Spanish Moss (2), Vanilla
Silk N Colours (The Thread Gatherer): Linsey Woolsey (2)

The Sarah Chapple 1831 reproduction chart is $25.00.  There are a few ways you can get a hold of this graph.  The quickest/easiest way is through my Etsy store.  Click on this listing:  Or, have your local shop order it through Hoffman Distributing or Norden Crafts (both will have their copies in the next week).

You can also order the silks set ($113.00) or the fabric ($50.00 for a half yard of 40 count 18th Century Rook or $38.00 for a fat half of 40 count Natural or Dirty Newcastle linen).

Anyway, I hope you like Sarah's sampler.  I really do!  I purchased another new/old/antique one this week from eBay, and I think that's going to be a secret, too.  Secrets can be fun, I'm learning!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cross Stitch Camp in Kansas

Last week, I was contacted by Heart's Desire and told that it was not going to work out to fly me in for camp later this month.  I didn't want y'all to think I backed out on you -- I was set to go.  Debbie did offer to buy the class kits to teach at the retreat, but that's not something I'm comfortable doing, and so I'll save the project for either another retreat or release the project as a chart pack/instructions sometime down the road.

To those of you who are going, I hope you have a great time, and I'll be thinking of you. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ann Womack finish and shelter news update

March was crazy.  The good news is, my jeans are fitting a little bit looser and I made it through.

I'm updating today, because I need to, and because Bonnie O. sent me a wonderful photograph of Ann Womack, which she just got back from the frame shop.  She stitched it on 40 count Confederate Grey by Weeks Dye Works with DMC floss 3857.  Didn't she do a great job?  I love seeing these finishes!  If you've got a recent finish of a pattern of mine, e-mail me a picture to  I'd love to post your handiwork.

I've had some questions about how things are going at the shelter with the dogs we rescued from Stone County a few weeks ago.  Number 76, my favorite (above), had to be put to sleep, as she had breast cancer.  Southern Pines Animal Shelter took in a lot of the dogs that were in the roughest shape (we got the last ones that were pulled from the house and yard, so they were the ones hardest to catch and least socialized.)  But, I think so far, about 15 had to be put to sleep, due to aggression and health.  We sent out another dozen or so on a transport to a rehabilitation program in Sarasota, Florida.  And we have another dozen-plus left at the shelter and in foster care.

One of the dogs we took in had puppies the day after rescue.  They are all well.  And our remaining dogs are starting to act more like ... well, dogs.  They play, run, bark and sleep SO soundly.  Each dog is starting the healing process.

Shirley Gai, an area woman with a past history of hoarding behavior, turned herself into authorities the day after our rescue, and was released on bail.  She relinquished the dogs to the shelters, which made things much easier for us in terms of rehabilitation and medical treatment.  Her attorney has said she is anxious to move forward, and I am hoping that she gets into some kind of treatment program to help her with her mental health.

I'm hoping this month will seem a lot more "normal."  Believe it or not, I am still working on a reproduction, and hope to get to other designs this weekend.  I continue to put in many hours at the shelter helping with facility improvement, crisis management, bookwork, and just the day-to-day stuff.  I will have a preliminary interview this Thursday or Friday, and hope to know soon what the future holds for me.  Wish me luck!