Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Market Gossip

The other day I got a newsletter from my LNS with a bit of a rant about a market exclusive. Some patterns were available only to shop owners who attended market. They were supposed to wait until the market opened and race over--literally--to place their orders for the limited edition kits. One shop owner flouted the rules and placed her order for all the kits a particular designer created just before the start of market.

It might be unseemly, but I'm not entirely sure this shop owner's actions are illegal or even unethical. All's far in love and war and cross-stitch. It's a business after all, and if you can get a jump on your competitors, why not? On the other hand, designers don't really want to be angering their middle-men.

Market exclusives are a way to get people to attend market. Mary Agnes of Needle Nicely has written thoroughly and convincingly about the costs to small business owners of attending market. So you can see why the industry needs to offer a special draw. And when she says that needlework shops are small potatoes in the world of small business--currently defined as under $7M in revenue--consider that "cross stitch stores' average gross sales increased from $131,000 in 2004 to $156,500 in 2009." That's from a 2010 industry report (pdf). (And because Mary Agnes has a needlepoint shop, let's compare apples to apples: "Needlepoint stores' average gross sales decreased from $221,000 in 2004 to $169,000 in 2006, and then went back up to $192,500 in 2009.") That's just minuscule in the small business forum! (Remember it's gross not net.) This reminds me of a Sayre's law: "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake...that's why academic politics are so bitter." Henry Kissinger will tell you he came up with this concept; I will grant him brevity: "University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." And now we can add needlework to the mix. 

Market exclusives bring shop owners to the market, but are market exclusive kits a good idea?

  • They can't be that good for designers: they're only going to make a limited amount of money on their design. It will all be up front money (as opposed to a designer who is still getting small royalties on a pattern she designed eight years ago) and a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, but it will dry up quickly.
  • It's not good for shop owners who simply can't afford to attend market. They are going to lose money to the shops who can attend.
  • Now it's not even good for the shop owners who do attend market (and play by the rules). *NB the designer is helping the shop owners fulfill preorders they had received thinking you know they'd get a couple of the kits.
  • Are they even that great for us as consumers? Do exclusives make us buy without thinking (better for shops, not so good for us)? We've all seen what can happen to oop charts on E-bay: prices shoot through the roof (not so good for us, and not good for designers who don't get that money). Does exclusivity have any kind of benefit for consumers? If the answer is yes, why aren't we all making up our very own patterns--the ultimate in exclusivity?
The industry has tried to mitigate some of the drawbacks for shop owners by making "exclusivity" a limited-time deal. Shop owners who come to the market get first dibs. A month later shop owners who didn't attend can order the pattern for their customers. But is it worth it?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blogiversary, A Day Late

My dad's birthday is And I can only remember it now because it is two days after the girls' birthday, which is six months after Christmas. For most of my life, I've been calling him on 6/26 only to be told his birthday is tomorrow.

Best Pal's birthday is either August 5 or August 12. Another friend from college has the other birthday. It's okay because they get my birthday confused with my other bestie's birthday which is four days before mine. (In college, people were always trying to have surprise parties for us. Inevitably, someone would come up to me and say, "When's Kiki's party?" [Yes, it's true, Kiki and Nikki.] To which I would inevitably reply, "What party?" and then they'd run off like they were on fire. Or, you know, mumble, "Oh, right," and shamble off.)

So it should come as no surprise that I thought my blogiversary was tomorrow, but it was yesterday.

Last year I wrote a fun retrospective. I was going to go through and pull all the blogiversary posts, but I think you can do that as well as I can. There's a handy archive widget over there. -->

I found these questions when I googled "birthday questionnaire." I changed some to be more blog appropriate to celebrate 11 years of blogging. Enjoy.

Now we are 11.
Where are you now? Work. Shhhh. Southeastern Pennsylvania.
What is the weather like? Gloomy. Hot and humid. One of the first uncomfortable days of the summer, which is entirely remarkable for having been so temperate.
What’s the last movie that you saw? What was the last movie that you loved? Saw: Chef. Loved: A Separation.
What do you wish you could own right now? A flat in London.
What do you want your next vacation to be? Someplace exotic. But I'm also thinking we should do a drive up the coast to the Canadian Maritimes. When we go up to Maine, people always want to see us but we just don't have the time; this would give us time. We have also discussed going to South Korea where my cousin's husband is now working, but only for one more year.
What are you most worried about? Oh, Christ, what am I not worried about? The whole of the Middle East, Ukraine, Ferguson, the Constitution, malaria in Africa not being treated because of Ebola, poverty, hunger, racism, the widening gap between rich and poor, Round-up. 
What is your favorite recent memory? Holding Special K for the first time.
What were the top three accomplishments from the last year? Getting a job. Setting goals with the dude at the new year. Connecting more with people.
What made you laugh the hardest most recently? The dude always says things that are incredibly hilarious but don't work entirely well out of context.
What are you best at?  What do you think are you greatest assets and skills? I guess writing and 
researching. And sarcasm.
What are your life goals at the moment? Did you make any progress on them? Saving for retirement, which has improved significantly since I went back to full-time work in an office that matches my contributions to 5% of my income. Also, the goals we made on New Year's Eve included connecting more with our friends and other people, and I think we can claim success there as well.
What are your wishes for the upcoming year? Travel more. Worry less. Cuddle babies.
What do you think you will be doing this time next year?  In 5 and 10 years from now? This time next year I will probably be in Maine. In five years, I will probably be looking for or starting my next job as director of the "shop." I don't plan further out than that.
What project would you most like to finish in the coming year? Birth samplers for the babies--even though they are not on the list for this year. I think we've settled on Lizzie*Kate's Oh Baby, which will let me make coordinating samplers. (We're into coordinating rather than matching.)
What project would you like to start? Oh, the girls are going to need Christmas stockings, don't you think? (Next Christmas; they'll be too small to appreciate these this year.)
What new crafting skill would you like to learn? To clean up after myself!
What is one piece advice would you give your future self? Relax.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baby Notes

My sister has finally gotten off her ass and written thank you notes. Ha! Listen, honey, I know exactly how busy she is. The real reason she was able to write them was that our mother was with her, and they could play man-to-man defense against those kids.

The even better news is that I can show them to you. These are the ones that we made at the crafty-girls shower. (Not the one my cousin and I threw; that one was sadly curtailed due to the fact my sister had swollen up like Violet Beauregarde off her diuretics.)

Aren't these the cutest? We did a great job, though I say it myself. Well, really, it was all Lisa, but the rest of us completed our assignments with gusto. (It was an assembly line job; I embossed the hippo.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Away Again, Naturally

The dude and I did a piss-poor job planning our vacations this summer. No sooner did we return from Canada than we were off to the sea in Maine. Poor planning or not, it was still a relaxing time away from the office. We drove up after work, so I didn't get much stitching done. And I forgot my cheaters (actually, I didn't. I couldn't find them and then I bought a new pair and then I found them again). Where was I? Oh, forgetting the cheaters, so I stuck with a project on lower count fabric so I could see. And that was my August Small, and I'll save that one to show you later.

Speaking of not being able to see, I did have a visit with Maggie while I was in New England. Her eyesight continues to deteriorate, and she is doing less. She gets out plenty--a couple of restaurants she eats at regularly and movies with my aunt. Funny enough, she asked about you. She wanted to know if it was okay to get rid of the 100+ cards you sent for her 90th birthday. Since that was over two years ago now, I gave her permission. I hope you don't mind.

Coming home from our trip to Maine always makes me feel like summer is ending. And today when I walked into work at 8:00 am it certainly felt that way. And then my colleague told me I didn't have to be in until 8:30 because summer hours are over. There were so many things I meant to do on my half-day Fridays but never did. I was waiting until I had a rainy day to scour thrift shops for some supplies for garden accessories I wanted to make. I was going to use another to clean the craft room. I'm sure there were many other "meant tos" on my summer list. But there were some fabulous "instead ofs" too. Like this:
Helping make babies fashionable, scrubheaven

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stitched Up News

I don't think I ordered that from my favorite ONS:

The same story with the "not your grandmother's stitching" spin. Hell that's not even my stitching. (And PS you do not know my grandmother.)

Need an idea for your next tat?

Roll out the Doctor.

Celebrity face in cross-stitch. This is the weirdest story: guy cross-stitches Marilyn Monroe piece in honor of the 52nd year of her death. Was he just two years late in thinking of it? And why is the newspaper covering it? There is like one sentence related to the stitching, and the rest of the article is fleshed out with Monroe trivia. Of course, I have now written nearly as many words about the article as the article has. And in clicking through, we will send the wrong message. The Burton Mail will be all, "hot damn! Look at all those hits! Let's run that article about the nun who created the portrait of Cardinal Romero with hot dogs!"

Now that's a picture. Aren't you glad I read the internet for you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So We Went Away

Walking in Stanley Park
The dude and I went up to Vancouver. We hiked, ate loads of Asian foods from across the continent, and relaxed. We had a fabulous time! I got some stitching done on the flight out but I'm afraid I had my nose in a book the rest of the time.

If you ever get to Vancouver, you should head out to the University of British Columbia. The campus isn't much to look at; we took a picture in front of the chemistry building and captioned it, "Sentenced to four years at UBC." However, MOA (the Museum of Anthropology) is unbelievable in the depth and breadth of the collection. There are hundreds of thousands of ethnographic and archaeological objects from native peoples from all over the world, with a special focus on the First Nations of the northwest. An extraordinary number of items are on exhibit or available to see when you pull open a drawer (there's glass). I bring you a photo of Precolumbian textiles. Let that sink in. Precolumbian...textiles. How are they not completely disintergrated? The dude pointed to the big, stripey fragment in the middle, and said, "Kate Spade." True, but hilarious in that the dude is so not a brand name guy. But just when I think he is paying no attention, he surprises me. Family lore says we are part Cree, so I used the available computer database to find some of the Cree items in the holdings. I guess I was awestruck by the beadwork because I didn't take any pictures.

I hear the university also has a nice botanical garden but we were at MOA all day and had no time to spare for that. (It's okay, we went to Butchart Gardens and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden instead.) I hope you've been making exciting summer discoveries too!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back on Track

Wait! What? Really? Yes!

I've stitched a flippin' small.

But it wasn't until I started stitching those black dots until I realized I've stitched this one before. Seriously, what has happened to my brain? Fortunately, I gave it away to my friend Lee so I needed a replacement. I changed the color yellow that I used, which I am happy with but now that I look back at the old one, I wish I had used those greens. It's love enough, and I am so pleased to be back on track with this SAL!

While I stitched this, I was thinking about something I saw on Humans of New York. A Jewish man had escaped Kristallnacht only to end up in the Philippines being attacked by the Japanese. I think what I like so much about HONY is the way it shows us the extraordinary of everyday people. Then I started thinking about a story I heard about Philadelphia Futures, a mentorship program for Philadelphia youth. A woman was talking about what her mentor meant to her. She was a junior in high school when her mother took her youngest sister on vacation and ended up abandoning her and her other sister. The interviewee started working so she and her sister could stay in their house. She had trouble her first year or so in college (ya think?) and ended up dropping out, but with the help of her mentor she is still working and back in college. So I guess the thing is we all have to remember that every has a story, you know. And we don't know it just by looking at them or studying history or statistics. Which is probably a lot heavier thoughts that this little stitch deserves!

You can find out more about how to join this SAL by clicking on the graphic in the sidebar, or by going to Stitching Lotus here.