Volume #6 - 7/6/2012
Q. How important is social media in the cross-stitch industry and how do you make use of it for your company? What are some of the biggest changes in the industry you’ve seen since you began designing?
A. Because I have been designing for more than 36 years (!), I have seen SO very many positive changes! From a designer’s perspective I would say the one that is most obvious is the computer—from the ease of researching subject matter on the internet to the design software that makes it so much easier to create a professional looking leaflet. When I first started, I had NO graphic experience at all. It was months before I realized I could have my printing company produce graph paper for me with a large enough grid to easily draw in the symbols, then reduce the artwork to fit onto a standard size page. MUCH easier than trying to draw in those teeny symbols on a small grid! I also had to learn that I could rechart small areas of the design by cutting and pasting over errors rather than redraw the entire chart. The word processor was unheard of and I didn’t even own a typewriter to write the instructions! I hand drew the symbols and hand wrote the instructions…I was so inexperienced. In today’s world, the software makes it so easy to create a professional product, and in a fraction of the time. I even do my own leaflet printing now. I think I love creating the layouts as much as I do the actual design.
Q. Do you stitch your own models, or do you have model stitchers?
A. I have to have my designs stitched by model stitchers. I rely on them to find any errors. When I try to stitch my own designs, I know which way the chart is supposed to go so my needle just seems to stitch on its’ own without following the chart. If there are errors, or the instructions are confusing, I don’t see it.
Q. How long have you been a stitcher and how did you first learn about stitching?
Q. When did you begin designing your own patterns and how did that turn into a business?
Q. Do you or are you willing to travel for stitching events?
A. I do get invited to do meet and greets at shops, and when I travel I sometimes invite myself to visit a shop. I LOVE to meet the stitchers, love to hear what they say they are looking for in designs, chat with them about how they have finished one of my charts, how they got started stitching, etc. My husband works in DC during the week and is only home on weekends so
I pick and chose around our family schedules but I do try to visit shops and participate in stitch-ins and get-togethers as often as I can.
A. This embarrassed me at the time, but many years later, when I started telling this story
on myself, I eventually realized I was pretty smart! My very first book (black and white of course!) was published in 1977 by a local printer who believed in me more than I did myself--he extended me credit in my business name and I was worried about paying him back.
The book was Historic Virginia, a compilation of 16 Virginia buildings. Although I am not a native Virginian, when I moved here as a young military wife I learned quickly that Virginians have a great sense of tradition and loyalty to their wonderful state. I knew they would buy the book!
I chose the designs in the book so there would be something for everyone
In the state to call their own…it was geographically balanced.
So the book was published and I was so very proud of it! I had spent considerable time in the local library making lists of craft and needlework stores throughout Virginia and nearby states. I created the lists by looking through the yellow pages (remember those?) and putting shop names, addresses, and phone numbers on index cards. I had hundreds of listings. As soon as Historic Virginia was picked up from the printer’s, I sent out a sample of the book, along with a cover letter introducing myself to every shop on my list.
And then I waited for the orders to roll in. And waited…and waited. Nothing! Not one order in three weeks! I would pack up my kids and go check my post office box twice a day (not realizing that the mail goes up just in the mornings.) I was worried that I had spent my family’s money and still owed the printer for this foolish venture!
I had one last idea and I was too embarrassed to admit to it. I would start calling shops and pretend to be a stitcher asking about this wonderful new book and did they stock it. I was pleasantly surprised that just about all the shopowners said they have seen it, planned to order it, or already had but “the designer was slow in shipping to the shop!” Soon the orders began to roll in. The book sold like crazy and I was able to repay my printer, I made a tidy profit, and I was on my way!
Q. Besides stitching and designing, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?
A. I think I have a lot of hobbies. I love to create and recreate my home décor. When I was a young teen, I babysat in a house where the Mom decorated with “old stuff” that she had re-purposed into something fun and whimsical and that inspired me. I love to go “junking” and have had many successful purchases that started out dirty and dusty and ended up in a place of honor in our home. Great for conversation starters when entertaining.
I love spending time in the kitchen, sometimes just reading cookbooks! Now that the children are grown and out of the nest, I don’t cook and bake as much as I once did…although the best “eater” of my kids lives just a couple miles down the road so the leftovers don’t go to waste. Testing new recipes is always fun.
Traveling and cruising is a great enjoyment. Being a workaholic, my husband has recently started making the time to whittle down his very long bucket list and we have to keep up with it or we won’t be able to finish it all while still upright. I really don’t have much on my list, I started traveling earlier than he did!
In recent years, I have tried my hand at gardening. Our house sits on a large lot and
after much trial and tribulation, the yard is finally about where we want it. There are a lot of perennials and I fill in with annuals…it’s quite colorful this time of year. I am always trying for
a “cottage look” which in my mind is a very informal look…like someone has just thrown color together and it just “works” but I am now smart enough to know it takes a LOT of time and effort to get that natural look.
Q. If you could be an animal, which would you pick and why?
A. A cat! But not just any cat, I would want to be one of MY cats! My cats, Lucy and Ethel, want for nothing. My husband and I are there for them. We have a large patio and when they want to go out, they go stand by the door and one of us will hop up and open the door and let them out, and in, and back out, and back in…it’s continual. Even during the night! If we happen to sleep through their demands, they will walk on us until we can’t stand it any longer and get up to let them out. Their food and water bowls are always full, we pass out treats on demand, their litter boxes are always clean. They never say “thank you, we appreciate your service.” They DO however, let us pet them while they purr…they bring us toys so we can play with them, they snuggle with us when we are reading or watching TV, they spoon with us when we sleep. And we are happy to serve them!
Q. Greatest strength and biggest weakness?
A. For sure the biggest weakness is taking on too much…I have a hard time saying “No, thanks for asking, but I just can’t.” I often have deadlines that crash into each other. I procrastinate if I have too much time, and then all of a sudden what I had on my calendar one day is superceded by a lost trunk show and that causes a chain reaction that now beyond my control. I am so much better at organizing than I used to be, but to be forced to go to plan B, or C, or beyond, is very stressful. I am sure age is involved but knowing the reason for the stress doesn’t ease it!