Competing With the Big Boys

So, as of Friday the whole world of sales and sales and sales goes into a massive hyper drive. The big boys, the Amazons and Walmarts will undoubtedly do well. And as they should! You HOPE they win big. After all, I’m a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise. I believe in working hard and earning your rewards. Not to mention they have about a bazillion employees that all hope to God they have a good Christmas season. If the company they work for does well, they’ll feel better about their own futures.

Well, I’m a small operation, no bazillion employees here. I have a husband who eats heartily and two cats that depend on my mood. So, I don’t have to compete on a level in which they do. There’s no possible way that I ever could, really. Not at this stage in my career. One day, though 🙂 One day perhaps my little Christmas Bears will become a holiday tradition. Something that simply becomes a part of Christmas. Imagine it….a big beautiful full tree trimmed in hazy lights, hidden behind ornaments that dazzle. A soft cozy warmth through the room, set by the glow of a quiet fire. And there, above the hearth is a stocking, about to burst with candies and fruit, walnuts and snacks, a deck of cards, a tiny Matchbox car…..and peeking from the fuzzy white cuff, right there at the top, is my little teddy bear anxiously waiting to be hugged. Man……One day….

Now, I can’t compete with the big boys, but I can do my own little thing, can’t I? I should. I SHOULD try and do what I can before the season runs dry. I figure I have only a few days, if but a few weeks before I’m basically unemployed until mid January. Once Black Friday hits, the big boys pull out their big guns and fire all rounds. So, before people get distracted by big screen TV’s and electronic games, I can do my own little part to find my own little place in the holiday shopping season.

So, my little Christmas bears are going to have free shipping in the US until Thanksgiving morning. And there aren’t that many more I’m going to be able to do. I might try another batch just before the post office cuts off any deliveries to be made in time for Christmas eve, but I’m pretty much nearly finished with my own Christmas knitting season.

You can buy one of my Christmas bears, here. There are two versions, but this little guy in the picture seems to be outselling his counterpart 🙂 Help makes this a holiday tradition that becomes beloved by man. And help out the little guy before the big guy takes all the fun away 🙂

Love you!

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A Tale of Chicken and Bears

“Well, what do you want?”
“Well, what do YOU want?”
“No, I asked first.”
“Well, it depends on how you answer!”

Sounds like your typical married couple, doesn’t it? Well, Phillip and I were discussing Thanksgiving dinner. With just the two of us, did we really want a turkey and the whole spread of sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, eggplant casserole, green been casserole…..and pie? Yes, there is an argument to be made for the amount of left overs, but, my our bigger discussion was this: we eat a lot of turkey alot anyway. No, really, we do. Believe it or not, turkey is a pretty inexpensive foul, sometimes cheaper than chicken. So, when I see it ground, I’ll throw it in a bolognese and make pasta. Turkey on sale at the deli? Boom! We have our little version of a Turkey Cobb, or just simple sandwiches.

Last year we had meatloaf. But, we have meatloaf frequently, too. So, it isn’t really a smashing feast of a dinner if you had it last Tuesday. So, it all came down to asking Phillip, “What do you want for Thanksgiving dinner?”

And of course his response was, “Well, what do YOU want?”

“Frankly, I don’t care. It’s your dinner, whatever you want. I’m fine with anything.” Quick backstory. My grandmother wasn’t fond of the whole Turkey on Thanksgiving thing. She did everything she could to avoid it. Sometimes it was Kapong. Sometimes it was smoked oysters. You never knew what she had in store, but one thing was certain. She wasn’t about to go the trauma of a turkey on a random Thursday in November. She wanted it to be something exciting, something different. I think I inherited that from her. So, whatever we have for Thanksgiving dinner, I really don’ mind. Just as long as it we’re not having turkey.

Phillip pauses for a minute, spaces out, stares at the ceiling, then erupts with a loud eureka. “I’ve got it! Fried Chicken! From Publix! You know, the family deal they do, with the potato salad, the baked beans and those Hawaiian roles!…..And a pie….pumpkin! And don’t forget the cranberry sauce.”

I simply had to ask, “Why the cranberry sauce?”

“Duh…it’s Thanksgiving. Sheesh. And be sure to get the one in the can. You know which one I mean, right? The one when you empty it out, it still has the ridges from the can embossed on it. Get that one.”

God, I love that man 🙂 It doesn’t take much to make him exceptionally happy.

Now, one could demand that you simply head to your local KFC and get Thanksgiving dinner, right? Well, Publix does a remarkable job with their fried chicken. They start frying them at about 10am, so if you happen to step outside, and the wind is right, you can just smell that deliciously greasy aroma all around you. And besides. He doesn’t get fried chicken often. So, plan in motion. Plan set. Fried Chicken for Thanksgiving dinner it is. But, we’ll have to get it the day before because Publix is closed on Thanksgiving. Should be ok. He’ll still adore it.

So, I’ve been busy on my next batch of Christmas bears. Knitting up heads and legs and all points in in between. And the next bear that sells will fund our Thanksgiving dinner, because I’m going to take it just ONE step further than he knows about. (Don’t worry, he rarely reads my blog. “Why would I,” he proclaims, “I was there!”)

But, yes, I have something special I wanna do on said day, just for him. So the next bear that gets adopted goes towards doing something amazingly surprising for that special man. I’ll tell you what it is Thanksgiving day….just in case he decides to spy on my writing 🙂

To grab a Christmas Bear, click here.

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This World of Salacious Hanks and Skeins….

We had this really fun moment on my facebook page last night. Phillip and I have been watching “American Horror Story, Season 8, Apocalypse.” And as the writers did in a previous season, “Coven,” they made Stevie Nicks the “original white witch.” Bah, I thought. REALLY? Oh, come now, I wrote, “We all know Kate BUSH is the REAL white witch.”

The whole ordeal on facebook was just a bunch of fun. People chiming in to declare which of the two women was the real “white witch.” Again, the whole thing was done all in good fun. I respect Stevie, but I admire Kate. Someone even reminded me, “Seems like a lot of people who disagree have never even HEARD of Kate Bush.” (Some people really, REALLY are defensive about Stevie Nicks. AH, but, we do the same with our Kate!)

But, what on Earth does this have to do with anything? Well, I noticed my numbers rising in recent days, thanks to my Christmas Bears. And by numbers I mean “followers.” I’ve never liked that term, “followers.” You that read my blog, my books, buy my bears, you’re not “following,” you’re participating a life that I get to share with you. I think I said once, “I don’t have followers. I have readers who are leaders in their own right.” Yes. I believe that. You’re not following me, you’re sharing with me an unusual relationship between a man who screams with his words and quiets with his knitting and….well,  you.

Now, back to the facebook post. When I wrote the comment about Nicks V. Bush, I saw my numbers (ahem, “followers”) drop. Oh, it could be for anything. “HOW DARE YOU SHIT TALK STEVIE!” Boom, out they go. “I THOUGHT I WAS HERE FOR KNITTING!” Slam, goes the door as they bolt. “WITCH CRAFT???? I THOUGHT YOU WERE A CATHOLIC!” A heavy “harumph” as they take flight. Woo!

I’m old fashioned. When leaving a party you disapprove of, thank the host kindly for inviting you, then quietly leave without announcement. But, that is what makes me uniquely Southern, isn’t it? Being rebelliously old fashioned.

The point is, when you put yourself in the public arena, no matter what you say, nor what you do, something will piss off someone. HOWEVER! You also get to see some interesting people whom never comment come to life and say something that gets your head in a place that makes sense.

And she said, “And because of this I love you even more. I love Kate Bush!”

It hit me, then and there. I seem to gather people who are….off. Best way to put it. And those of you who are slightly “off” will totally smile and wear it proudly on a sleeve with a sense of honor. You know what I mean when I say that. It is a good thing.

The knitting “community,” this world of salacious hanks and skeins, this sphere of cliques and cool kids, pretty faces appropriately branded to homogony, this crafty “round about” of people coming in and leaving just as fast, has rules. (“This world of salacious hanks and skeins.” I think I rather like that. Like, I imagine a world of men knitting. The hot ones are named “Hank,” the not-so-hot ones named “Skein.”)

I think that is why I’ve had some staying power. You know I sold my first teddy bear nearly 10 years ago. Yup. This February will be 10 years since I sold my first bear. 10 years is a long time. There aren’t a lot of knitters that get to stay in the arena that long. I’m blessed because I am true to myself. I don’t hesitate to reveal who I am, what I want. I don’t mince words and I always have an opinion. But, in the process of writing about my life, sharing my life I reveal that I am always over there, on the edge, in the peripheral…much like the books and music and personalities I adore. They, too are over there at the fringe. And it dawned on me that I encounter people all the time who have that same inclination.

I seem to attract a great group of people that also feel disenfranchised by the knitting world, whom also have a deep feeling of expulsion for using the wrong yarn, for not having the right look, for “talking” about something else when you should be sitting there quietly counting in a knitting group, when what you really want to do is just explode.

And all the knitting in the world, and all the love that you get from the sharing of your craft doesn’t even compare, NOT EVEN CLOSE!, to seeing that you’re not alone, that someone else hears you. That you have companions on this trip, on these tales of a mad man knitting.

You don’t have “followers.” You have friends.

Ah, no comparison, really. Stevie and Kate are both brilliant and magical in their own way.  As are you, and as am I. 😉

Sorry! Guess I didn’t have very much to say today! Ha!)

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One Click Closer to Honeychurch

I feel good. I really do. And don’t you love it when my posts begin like that? Don’t you like it when my posts are about joy and not about sorrow? God knows, I love being able to write in that tone more than in any other. I hate when I have negative news to report. And thankfully, at the moment I don’t! So, let’s continue to ride an imbibing good vibe.

I finished my next batch of Christmas Bears. Oh, I was knitting like crazy this holiday weekend. You see, I passed this little house in my neighborhood. Tiny little thing. So, I looked it up on Zillow. Tiny little 800 square feet, two bedrooms, one bathroom, nothing spectacularly large. Exactly what Phillip and I are looking for one day. This charming cottage appeal with ivy covered walls, potted plants and an abundance of light. I mean, look at that. Isn’t it adorable? So, I dashed home to dream. Why not? Oh, there is absolutely no way we could afford it at this moment, but that really isn’t the point, is it? The idea is to allow a dream to inspire your ambitions, to get your thoughts moving in more positive direction, to get your smile slight and quaint as you pass your day. And after a busy weekend of knitting, I got to feel that sense of direction was manifesting itself. Sure, you could look at pictures all day of your dream, but what if you actually get to walk to it everyday, see it, experience it, smell the frail jasmine as it whispers through the breeze? That house up the road may never be mine, but getting to see what it might actually look like when made real is enough to keep me moving.

So, I happily got right back to work. Because another bear I knit is another step closer to getting a little house like this some day. Some day. To adopt one of my little limited edition Christmas Bears, please click here. Because that one click is just one more step towards “Honeychurch.”

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All That Matters is a Can of Spam

I just saw the most delightful little thing. Now, keep in mind it’s about 8:30 Saturday morning. Last week I found a little placard on our door from the Scouts. They were doing their usual yearly food drive to collect canned goods. So, I put together a few cans of food in a plastic bag, tied it up, attached the placard so they knew at first sight it was for them and went about my business.

Up rolls this little girl in her nicely pressed little blue uniform, her face a little down. Her little hat couldn’t hide her frown. My work space has a window that faces the front of the flat so I could see her walking up. They had parked their car on the side of the parking lot, mom had opened the back hatch of their car and you could see a few bags in the back, but not very many. The little girl walks up to our front door and jostles back real quick as I hear her shriek, “THEY LEFT FOOD FOR THE POOR!” (That was such a beautifully succinct, albeit naive thing she said and I love her for that).

Oh, she started to giggle and dance a little bit, snatched the bag, the mom laughing a touch, the girl racing back to the vehicle with such enthusiasm and optimism. I hear the mom say, “Let’s go see if we can find more.” That little Scouts face had turned into this bright beaming ray of joy, complete with snaggle tooth grin. She looked as though she had found a purpose in life, and oh, if only innocence lasted longer in youth. She was helping people. She mattered. She cared. And caring matters, was I think I could hear her little heart hump. Caring matters. I guess all it took for her to change her pessimism was a simple bag of Spam, beets, and Chef Boyardee. 🙂

I know what it’s like to go hungry. God knows, many of us do. I relied on food banks back then. I’m by no means a wealthy man. Hell, I still have trouble paying rent on time, but if I can, I will. As bare as my own cupboard is (yes, that is a picture of my cupboard), I can still share a few cans of something for someone who has it a lot worse than I do. And that is truly my motto when it comes to pay back. I may not have much to restock that food bank with, but I will give what I have because I know someone like me is out there hungry, just needing a little help to get ahead. Even if it is “only” a meal. The sight of her exuberance was the best thing I’ve seen in a long while. (In my dreams, these teddy bears and books all become an enormous success one day, and those food banks would never have to worry again….)

I have seven bears left in my new batch of Christmas bears. I would love to sell them all by Tuesday so that I can make ANOTHER batch to sell. So, if you’d like one, click here. There are three of Version Two and four of the original one. All ready to go.

Have a great day!

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Hugs and Warmth

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away? Don’t believe me? Check your calendar! The year is quickly rushing by. Before you know it, Christmas is screaming at your doorstep, rather than caroling by. This is precisely why I decided to start my Christmas Bears early this year. Time can be cruel for a knitter during the holiday season. There just never seems to be enough time. So, you have to jump on the craft early. In terms of shipping, you lose a week. Then you think about post Christmas and everyone is shopped out, so you lose a month right there. So, this is the time of year a knitter relies on. And the window is small. Barely 4 weeks. That is just one of the reasons I got an early start on knitting and promoting and selling my Christmas Bears so early. If I waited until after Thanksgiving, I would have screwed myself into a corner.

The other reason is kind of selfish. We had a really crappy year. From hurricanes to pneumonia, to unforeseen betrayals and backstabbing, this was a shit year. Truly was. But, it got better. SO much better. I thank God every chance I get for getting me back to health.  And here we are, nearing the end of 2018 knitting season, anxious to end the year on one of the highest notes possible, with big smiles and warmth, of hugs to you, and blessings for all. Faith and hope have carried us this far, and faith and hope will help us to cross into next year a little bit more ahead than we were when this year started. And who knows what we may accomplish next year, but I have to say, I have all ideas whatever they are, as long as we are alive and we care for one another, all will be well and we will be at least one step closer to Honeychurch. We have our book of Storey’s “Basic Country Skills” and a slew of books on gardening and canning and storing, prepping ourselves mentally, stoking the fires of ambition, and grinning every time we see a small piece of land with a small cottage on it. One bear, one knitted stitch, one skein always getting us one step closer.

So, I’ve been pushing my little Christmas bears like MAD this year, starting early, finishing early, and resting to see how well we actually do as 2018 comes closer and closer to an end.

Now, my Christmas bear is shipped with a few little cute extras just to make the whole thing fun. A little “MAD MAN KNITTING” sticker with our logo so you can proudly show everyone how you supported us, a Christmas card from Phillip and me thanking you for a wonderful year (be warned, Phillip’s handwriting is FRIGHTENING), and a handful of Christmas candies, all stripey and red just to make getting a box in the mail a tad more festive. Man, I love this time of year. How could you not? Little shimmering gems of candy spilling out of a box to bring in a little more cheer. So, if you’d like to help us get one step closer, grab one of my Christmas Bears by clicking here. There are two versions this year. And yes! We are shipping to the UK this year since yours truly was made the #14th best knitting blogs for UK audiences. AWESOME!!!! So, grab a Christmas bear by clicking here and let’s make this the best Christmas ever. 🙂

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! We couldn’t do it without your support!