Author Archives: jean

Beyond the safety of Chilly Hollow

I was wondering if you can help me brainstorm new ways of reaching my potential audience. Right now, I am at the top of the Chilly Hollow Links List (a non-profit needlepoint blog which promotes all sorts of needlepoint endeavors.)  Almost all of my readership comes through this portal, initially.

Our certificate program has prodded me to be more ambitious.  Now I want to create a supportive “network” of web-site subscribers because most needlepoint commissions, project kits, and teaching positions are derived via word of mouth (aka needlepoint stores>)

My home away from home – Store in Everett, WA.

An obvious first step is through placing direct advertising within the bi-monthly or quarterly newsletters of the American Needlepoint Guild, The Embroiderer’s Guild of America, Needlepoint Now magazine, and TNNA (a national professional group for Needlework Merchants and Teachers.)  But I often wonder how many women would read my ads.

I know I do have another option – like submitting how-to articles to needlework magazines with the hope of being published.

Beyond Plan A and Plan B, my imagination needs some help.  I welcome any “out of the box” suggestion you could offer me.  The expansion of readership is a common goal we share.

Creative Photo Styling

I am a faithful reader of the quarterly magazine Where Women Create BUSINESS.  It’s a periodical featuring information about formatting blogs, setting up and advertising e-courses for potential students, and attracting excited customers to your business platform.  It is a candid resource every student should consult – especially when they are facing “a fork in the road.”   You will be able to learn how a variety of on-line business women deal with blog burn-out, new product development, and when it is appropriate to offer readers opportunities to socialize with each other at sponsored events. Holly Becker is a regular home decorating contributor whose advice I follow.  In the Spring 2014 issue she wrote an article about gathering imagery for a future blog post.  On page 48 she wrote:

“Make it a practice to jot down notes and sketches in a notebook…You can also attach paint and fabric swatches, and other bits into your notebook in order to help launch new ideas. Pull together ideas that fit the story and create a mood.  I like a photo to feel like a person was just in the room and left quickly to grab a cup of tea, but they’ll be returning soon. Engage the senses and spark the imagination of your readers.  A good storyteller can use a well-styled photo to say a thousand words without a single sentence by capturing details:  a fireplace burning in a background, a tray of freshly baked cookies, or steaming hot cocoa on a desk.”

As I read Holly’s advice I wondered how these suggestions could help me communicate the “Ah Ha” moments of needlepoint design.  (Aromas aren’t associated with silk threads or graph paper grids!) So, after a few uninspired weeks, I decided to showcase different tactile sensations (such as the wiry fibers of Japanese gold thread) each time I photographed a close-up image. It was a successful experiment.  I received appreciative comments from a few readers.  And I developed more ideas for painting needlepoint canvases each time I had to reshoot a close-up.

Now my new designs feature stitch guides for three-dimensional surfaces.   Believe it or not, I’m reviving an art form the actress Sylvia Sydney popularized during the late 1960’s!

(If you would like to take a glance at Where Women Create BUSINESS you can find it at Barnes and Noble within the magazine selection.  It is also available on the publisher’s web-site:  Stampington & Company.)

Third Time is the Charm


As an ardent gardener, I was initially drawn to Word Press’s free Yoko Theme.  The photograph of soft focus foliage has given my class project banner the perfect amount of alluring beauty and mystery.

However, as I read about its other features (, I realized the lush imagery had seduced my judgment.  I didn’t want a rotating slide show of my needlepoint designs to overwhelm my readers.  I’ve learned they want to examine a single tapestry for a long period of time.

An $18.00 Word Press theme (Moka) also caught my eye.  It’s too spare for my taste, but it would be perfect for a blogger who loves to shop at Crate and Barrel.moka-featured

Moka’s drawing card is the opportunity to use big images for posts.  The advertising at  states:

“If you use featured images for your posts, the Moka theme really comes alive and you can include big thumbnails (1070px maximum width) for your single posts and the featured sticky note post on the custom front Page.”

Large scale photographs can greatly enhance on-line magazines.  As I compared the advantages of the Yoko theme to the Moka theme I realized I was favoring a magazine format.  If I didn’t want to bore readers with continuous journal-like posts of my weekly artistic progress, I could captivate them with news of inspiring books, relevant exhibitions throughout the nation, source information (like where I bought that rare Blue Poppy seed).

This was a complete surprise!  An on-line periodical would give me the artistic freedom I craved.

Once realized, I knew I wanted to purchase the Zuki Word Press Theme.  It costs $24.00.


Zuki seems to be a perfect match for my minimal computer expertise.  It will allow me to create a custom front page.  And it comes with a default blog layout for a main content and a sidebar area!  (

I was especially drawn to the way the theme designers arranged the template for the front page.  They placed the categories of the blog along a horizontal line in the same area a banner would be.

The words:  Creative; Art; Travels; Design; Food; and Nature were written at this location with a soft focus font.

They also used graduated sizes of photos as small headers above a short explanatory sentence as the lead-in for featured articles.  From what I could tell via my computer screen, this arrangement definitely creates a gorgeous table of contents.

(I imagine the table of contents format also minimizes routine scrolling through an entire issue.  A reader could probably point and click to go directly to the chosen post.)

A note to my readers:  This blog assignment was rather confusing to me.  It’s taken me a while to realize I needed to write/publish class assignment posts through our URL.  Once I bought my domain name, and had access to two blog sites (not to mention my TypePad blog!), I was thrown into total ignorance/innocence.  So this is a reblog.  My first version was published at the jeanephillips site, on time, last week.  Needless to say, I still have a lot to learn!

Surprise! Three New Features for My Readers


I hope to expand my readership with the addition of some new learning experiences.  At the end of each month I will write a special post which includes a short You Tube video.  Here are my ideas for the first two films.

  • Viewers will be able to watch a step by step demonstration when they want to learn how to paint an original design on needlepoint canvas.
  • Then they will have an opportunity to learn about color theory with specific slides showing how proximity of hues can affect visual perception.

(I will continue to offer new videos on my web-site for six months.  If visitor numbers fail to rise, I can always use the videos for my teaching resume.)

Another new feature will be quite attractive to my United Kingdom readers.  During the summer several of them expressed curiosity about my daily spiritual practices.

I haven’t written a direct response.  Though I didn’t tell readers, needlepoint helped me stay calm and confident before and after recent successful cancer surgery.  I know it’s a wonderful, drug free coping mechanism I can offer to readers.

So, to maintain my privacy, I am collecting a series of recent articles and book titles (related to artistic meditation practices.) Readers will be able to receive further information within a new category titled:  “FYI.”

My third blog feature will be commercial.  For a modest fee, readers will be able to defray the exorbitant expense of most commercial painted canvases.  I will sell a limited run of 20 page booklets on my web-site.  Each document will give complete instructions for one needlepoint project.

I know this feature will be another “test market” project.  I hope I will be able to complete the draft for my first pamphlet by June, 2015