Monday, November 28, 2011

Laura Strikes Again

Have you been stitching Laura Perin's Mini Mystery Monday piece? If you are curious about the various ways it is turning out for other people, head over to Needle Nicely to see what Mary Agnes says about it.

And if you missed the fun, Laura is doing a second Mystery on Monday, starting today!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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Exclamation Point to Be Reborn

Fans of Exclamation Point in Saratoga, California were very sorry to hear that the owner, Dee Matthews, was closing the shop so that she could retire and do other things. But there is hope! The shop will reopen in a new location in early December with a new owner, new plans and new hope that needlepoint goodies will be easily available again from EP.

Through the help of my spy Margaret, I was able to set up a brief interview with the new owner, Melanie Vancil, between chores like renovating a new shop, moving in furniture, and getting things set up for her customers to enjoy when it reopens in the new spot. This is what Melanie told me in answer to my many questions about her background and plans for Exclamation Point:

“Dee Matthews sold the Exclamation Point to me in October and I am moving it to Santa Clara and hope to open it in early December. Okay, on to the questions….I got into needlepoint about 6-7 years ago when I was an actor in one of the Renaissance Faire guilds (Italian to be exact) and they were talking about how their banner was getting quite old and needed to be replaced. Since we do try to be as close to authentic as we can in most things, I thought a needlepoint banner would be a good idea. However, I had never needlepointed anything in my life and had no idea what I was getting myself into. After some research on the Internet I decided I would try to find this little shop in Saratoga, CA called Exclamation Point. That's when I first met Dee (the owner) and started my first project; a banner 5' long, 2.5' wide at the top and about 8" wide at the bottom with circles with pictures in them, a Madonna and Child, and the Medici crest (it’s still not completely done). I'm sure she thought I was crazy! Anyway, I eventually started stitching with the S.W.A.N.s (Society of Women Addicted to Needlepoint) and started learning needlepoint from them. 

I first became interested in the needle arts when I was about 4 or 5 and my mother was doing embroidery. I used to beg her to let me do it too, which she allowed. When I was about 10 I wanted to learn to crochet. Since my mother did not know how to do that, I bought a book and taught myself. When I was about 16 I started teaching myself to knit. I completed my first sweater for my father when I was 18. I have done a little crewel embroidery and some printed and counted cross stitch. I have tried to learn tatting on my own, but have not been successful yet. I have run into some people at Renaissance Faire who have offered to teach me and I may yet get the time to learn it as well. 

I first thought of buying The Exclamation Point from Dee when she announced earlier this year that she was going to close the shop and "retire". All of the SWANs were quite disturbed with the thought that our favorite stitching place was going away and where were we going to stitch now? I asked Dee if she had thought of selling it and she said she would sell it if she got a good price. I mentioned it to my husband and both he and my youngest daughter said I should consider buying it. I toyed with the idea for several weeks and kept asking Dee if she was getting any interest in purchasing it. I finally told her I was thinking about it and we went from there. I had dreamed of owning a shop of something that I loved to do, but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I could actually end up really owning a shop for needle crafts! 

The Exclamation Point is reopening in the Franklin Mall. The store address is now 1055 Monroe St. in Santa Clara, CA. The new location is a little bigger than the old location. I have a lovely room to put the tables and chairs for people to come and stitch with lots of windows and light. I have a smaller area for framing and framing supplies, and a good sized room for the show room. There is handicapped parking and a large parking lot on the side of the building opposite Monroe Street and the parking lot can be accessed by turning off Monroe onto Benton and then into the parking lot. There is a map on our website ( showing how to get to the shop and the parking lot. Currently I am planning on having the shop open 6 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. I can be reached by email at: Our new phone number is 408-246-3800.

There are three restaurants around the parking lot, one Vietnamese, one Thai and one Italian, as well as some interesting little shops to poke around in. In six months I hope to have the crocheting/tatting area set up and classes ready to go for both tatting and lace crocheting if there is enough interest. I am trying to figure out what to do about the cross stitch that I want to bring into the store. I am also hoping to have demonstrations once or twice a year of bobbin lace making. I also hope to have the costuming corner set up. This will include hard-to-get items such as metal and plastic boning materials for corsets and bodices, boning casing tubes, and cartridge pleating tape for making pleated skirts, and other items to be determined as time goes by. Currently those items are only found online or at Lacis in Berkeley. I'd like to make them a little more easily available to people in the South Bay as well. There are already some small amount of buttons, beads and trims available in the store. 

In a year or two I hope to be charting some ideas I have for cross stitch and then also converting them into needlepoint canvases as well. We'll see what happens with that. One of the reasons I really enjoy needlepoint so much is that it has opened up from being very basic rigid stitching to having some wonderful textures, stitches and almost an 'anything goes' feel to it. Well now that I've written a book for you, I am going to end here."
Melanie Vancil 
email address -- 

Thanks, Melanie! I am pretty sure that you have the most unique introduction to needlepoint ownership that I’ve ever heard of--the Renaissance Fair!

Everyone join me in wishing Melanie and Exclamation Point well in the new location. If you are able to get there, the opening date is set for December 3 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m. Santa Clara's Mayor, Jamie Matthews will be doing the honors.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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There must be innovation in the air, because I have two articles on new frames for your reading pleasure this morning. The first article talks about the Millenium Embroidery Frame. It looks to me as if it is the offspring of an Evertite and a scroll frame.  I probably would not want to put a painted needlepoint canvas on this frame myself but it looks great for someone working on linen or similar ground materials.  I also know people who use scroll frames with needlepoint canvas successfully.  I just don't like the combination myself.

UPDATE:  Mary discusses the Necessaire Floor Frame made by the same manufacturer.

I've also heard about a new manufacturer of Japanese Embroidery frames.  Again, this is not a frame useful for needlepoint canvas but since many needlepointers are masters of all sorts of embroidery techniques, I wanted to mention this site also.  Note that both places are in the United Kingdom, so there will be shipping charges and possibly VAT depending on where you live.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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