Living On Line

The past week has been one that most of us who live in the cyber age dread – connectivity problems, dying computers and “upgrades”. I use the term “upgrade” loosely, because it was an upgrade in our internet service that started a cascade of problems that ended with me getting a new computer. Our local internet company promised us new whizbang faster internet speed and upgraded HD television service, so we said yes (who wouldn’t?!). The problem was they came out when husband/tech guru/maintainer of the home network was out of town.

They came out to install on Monday, 2 men and multiple calls back to the home office. They came again on Tuesday, 2 different men and multiple calls again to the home office. Panicked phone calls from me to the office after they left, because not only was I not on-line, my computer was crashing. Granted, my computer was 5 years old. I saw a definite cause and effect between their installation of the new service, removal of my computer from our secure home network and firewall, and the subsequent crashing of my computer. They did not.

Anyway, husband got home, after several anxious hours of text messages, phone calls, desperate attempts to rescue my computer or at least keep it alive long enough to transfer the files off it. And 1 relatively sleepless night on my part. My whole business, after all, is on my computer.

We bought a new computer, husband restored the home network and reinstalled my computer behind the firewall, all of our computers now talk to each other again and to the printers (most important!). He also transferred all of the files off of the old computer and onto the new computer, and insured that all of the graphing software, diagramming software and etc. will work – key for a designer, because no one is making new graphing software or updating the old software any longer (no market in it). And it all works!

So that led me to think about my graphing software, and I promise I’ll write a blog post about it next time. I get asked all the time about it. I’ve always listed which programs I use inside every chart I produce, on the Resources page. But I’ll write about it in more detail in my next blog post. In the meantime, I’m happily clicking away on my new laptop, with a Windows 8.1 OS. So far so good! And all’s right with my little world once again.

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Recovering from disaster

OH NO! Tuesday last week I got ready to write my blog post, went to our website, and ALL OF THE IMAGES WERE GONE! All of my blog posts were gone! WHAT HAPPENED?

Well, we still don’t know for sure what happened. Thank goodness my husband and keeper-of-all-things tech had made a back-up of our website two weeks ago, and we were able to restore the product information and the blog texts. But we had to restore ALL of the images, more than 500 of them, one at a time, by hand. That’s a lot of images. By hand. Did I mention one at a time? It took both of us working all weekend to get it done, but hopefully we’re back up and running.

As far as disasters go, this one is minor. I’m able to put it in perspective. I remember Katrina, and a retailer posting about the damage to their shop. I tried to help as best I could, in my small way. And I also remember stitchers posting about their losses from Sandy, and other stitchers losing everything in a fire. Images lost in cyberspace? That’s nothing compared to losing a lifetime of stash, threads, canvases, finished work.

I’ve often thought of what I would try to save, if I had time, in the face of an emergency. My models, of course – by far the most important part of the business, and the most expensive to replace. My computer, with the files for the charts, definitely. Those two things, in that order. My husband is meticulous about backing up the computer, and now the website as well.

I’ve also gotten to see the generosity of stitchers, who gave of their stash to help restore what was lost. After all, I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one who has bought the same thing twice, or has more thread than I’ll ever be able to stitch, or other things that could be rehomed. And stitchers are the most generous people I know, always, every time. It’s comforting to know that should disaster strike, our community is ready to help.

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(This is an attempt to recreate one of the missing blog posts!)

The dictionary defines “serendipity” as making desirable discoveries by accident. And I discovered some serendipity in Hippity Hoppity as I was designing it.

Hippity HoppityOf course, I’d much rather you think that everything I design is very carefully thought out and done on purpose, and not by accident. But that wouldn’t be honest! Sometimes I just luck into things, then decide to go with it.

As I was designing Hippity Hoppity, I was planning areas of texture and areas of satin stitch to be next to each for contrast. I got the first few areas designed, then noticed that the first two textured areas looked like basket textures! How wonderful! Especially since Hippity Hoppity was going to be in the seasonal and holiday tray series, to go with Easter and spring colors. So for the next two textured areas, I deliberately looked for stitches that would mimic baskets, specifically those cheap baskets we buy for our children. And I found them! The four highly textured areas in Hippity Hoppity remind me of childhood Easter baskets, and that makes me very happy.

I love it when a plan comes together! Even when I didn’t start out doing it on purpose. Sometimes it’s best to just let it flow!

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More about the business of designing

(This is an attempt to recover one of the missing blog posts!)

Our booth in Nashville 2014 smaller

One of the most fun things about being a designer is when we venture out to trade shows. The weekend of Valentine’s Day was the Nashville Needlearts Market, in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cool Springs just outside Nashville.

Trade shows are the highlight of the year for us. We see all our designer friends, catch up on what’s new over breakfast and in the elevator. But most important, we reconnect with the retailers and find out what’s happening in the shops. Over the years, these connections seem just as important as the interactions with our face to face friends – we email each other, we talk on the phone, we’re Facebook friends as well as business partners.

And we find out if the designs I’ve been nurturing are successful or not. It’s almost like sending children out into the world! I mean, I love my babies but will other people? Just because I think they’re cute doesn’t mean the retailers will like them.

This year we participated in The Great Model Giveaway again. This is a contest where the retailers could win a model of one of the exhibitors’ new designs. Each retailer was given a ticket for the drawing on the last day of market. And each exhibitor who participated  took a model down for the drawing. It’s very nerve wracking – like choosing sides for baseball in elementary school. Will I be chosen last? What if no one picks me! Well, I was absolutely thrilled when Royal Garden was chosen by the very first lucky winner!

Royal Garden smWhat an honor! To quote Sally Fields, “you like me, you really like me!”

This year’s Nashville Market was a great success for us in several ways, but the most important is always finding out what’s happening in the shops. We exist to support our local needlework shops; we love our retailers and wish them the greatest success always.

Now it’s back to work until the next market we’ll attend in August (there’s one in between but we won’t be able to go to that market this year). And I’ll be working and wondering if my designs will be well-received. I’ll just do my best!

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And the winner is…

It seems fitting that we should have our first contest during the entertainment world’s awards season! I almost want to get all dressed up, find a red carpet somewhere and stroll into a glittering room filled with celebrities to make the announcement of our winner!

Well, almost. It’s really too cold everywhere in the country to get too dressed up, and fancy shoes hurt my feet. But we can still celebrate the winner of our contest, Linda K of Saskatoon, Canada! In her winning entry, Linda said, “This design reminds me of a formal palace garden with fountains, flowers and an herb garden in the middle so I think it should be ‘Royal Garden’.”

Royal Garden sm

We had 111 entries submitted, with hardly any duplications. “Purple Passion” was sugggested 18 times, but for the most part all of the entries were unique submissions. I’ll post a list of all of the entries on the website later, so you all can see the wonderful names I’ve seen over the past few days.

Many thanks to all who participated in the contest, and helped with my creative block in naming the new design!

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