Two Rednecks and a Yarn Truck Update

It is so SO amazing to me the amount of enthusiasm and support we’ve seen since Phillip and I said we were going to start a yarn truck. People really seem to LOVE this idea. It lacks pretentiousness, it doesn’t gloat, it doesn’t lord. Two simple guys selling yarn out of the back of a pick up truck. It makes you feel like everyone is accepted, everyone is involved, everyone feels welcome. And we are seeing how many people want us to succeed. That is the best part about this project, how much people REALLY want us to do well. That breaks my heart. Your heart tends to blossom like a flower when the glowing love of a singular person’s light shines on you. You BLOOM. So, thank you all so much for helping us get this idea up and running. We haven’t got the truck yet, but Pepe is allowing us to film the truck to help promote our project. We’re filming our progress everyday. Some days a little thing happens. Another day BIG things happen. Once our yarn truck is up and parked and selling yarn, we’re going to put all of that recording into a documentary to show the process of starting a yarn truck. So, I’m heading to bed now, Been a wonderfully long day. Thought I’d head to sleep with a quick little snippet to show how much we want this 🙂 Thank you all SO much!

Please donate. Every dollar helps! Thank you!

And Thanks To Pepe

Phillip did the test drive for what we were looking at to be our “yarn truck.” He rode along with our neighbor, Pepe, who owns the truck. When they returned I was anxiously awaiting to hear what Phillip had to say. Yay or nay? Phillip resoundingly said that the truck was in good shape, drove well, and was a bargain for the price. Then we mentioned to Pepe what we wanted to do with the truck. “We wanna sell yarn out of the back, like a food truck…..except with yarn.” And this wonderfully older Puerto Rican man’s eyes lit up. “That’s a good idea. I mean, all you’ve got around here is Joann’s and Michael’s…..” Say what????

So, we sat on the stoop of our building and started talking money. I told him we were raising funds to buy the truck and he started telling these wonderful stories about how his grandfather used to sell Cuban sandwiches on the side of the road in a truck so similar. How that sense of enterprise fed his family. And as we started chit chatting, we really got to know the man. Just above us, in an apartment similar to ours, was a world so much the same. He told stories about riding his motorcycle in Italy, from Naples to Sardinia, he said. Diving off the shores of Cuba to hunt for lobster. Fearing the tumultuous waves of the North Atlantic as his ship tried to cross it. He experienced life in his younger years on a whim, quickly jumping into moments that were inspired. Personal histories born of a need to see what life has to offer. Not wishing, but actively doing.

He looked at us and said, “I really like you guys. I love what you want to do with this yarn truck idea.”

“Well, we’re building the funding, letting everyone know we really want that truck to make our mobile yarn idea work. And we’re getting there. I’ll be heartbroken if someone gives you the money for the truck tomorrow. But I’d certainly understand.”

He looked at us and said quite simply, “Truck is off the market. Consider it yours. You come up with the funding, it’s yours. I’ll drop it to $950. I won’t sell it to anyone else. You come up with that, it’s yours.”

And we sat, enjoyed the evening, heard more stories, shared some of our own and realized that this dream of ours to have a Yarn Truck is really REALLY inspiring people. People want to see it happen. They really do. Even our old neighbor Pepe. Thank you, Pepe!

Getting the truck out of the way is the biggest hurdle. And we are getting closer to getting those funds everyday.

Tomorrow I talk to the city about the exactness of our license. What exactly do they mean by “the fee of your license is based on your inventory?” Little things like that need to be addressed. Thursday, we talk to the yarn wholesaler. It’s getting SO close to actually happening 🙂

So take a peek around our shop. Or donate if you believe in our dream. I want to see our little pick up truck parked with it’s blasted “MAD MAN KNITTING” sign on either side of the truck. We can do this. We really can. 🙂 oh! and you know how institutions for their fundraising will put a brick with your name in the wall of a new building? Well, since the truck will be used for our mobile yarn enterprise, we’ll scribble your name in the side of the truck if you donate. Can you imagine how awesome this truck will be?

Please donate. Every dollar helps! Thank you!

 

 

Can I Park Here?

I haven’t been this inspired in a long time. And when I get inspired, I move fast. I don’t think “we’ll do this one day,” I think, “Let’s do this today.”

What began as a simple brain storming 24 hours ago has quickly evolved into a reachable goal. Phillip and I had the idea for a Yarn Truck, since we don’t have any local yarn stores in town and there is no way to get a brick and mortar going because of costs, we settled on something mobile. So, when you think in these terms you quickly start seeing the BIG truck in your head, like a food truck. And when hunting down “retail trucks” you see these HUGE pimped out rolling mini marts that were massively expensive. But, we said, “Let’s do it!” But, realistically there was no way we could come up with the money for something like that. It would have cost around $10,000.

But, the universe decides to pull every thing together to make you see things perfectly, clearly, and accurately.

I was sitting here knitting, staring out the window and my eye caught my neighbor’s pick up truck, which he wants to sell for dirt cheap. The more I stared at that little pick up, the more I saw it all come together. We’re not big, flashy, shopping mall people. We’re blue jeans, ball caps, boiled peanuts, Budweiser, pick up truck people. So, why not go that direction? And the more I stared at that little pick up, the more my mind blossomed into “brand.” (you can’t fault me for that, it’s what I’ve been trying to do for years).

Imagine traveling, driving, walking down a street and you see two redneck looking guys a pinch rough looking around the edges, knitting and crocheting in folding lawn chairs in the back of a pick up truck, selling boutique yarn out of bushel baskets. I think MANY would certainly stop with interest. THIS was an idea we could work with because it really is who we are at the core. Great lesson. Never be something you’re not. Don’t try to follow the trend. BE yourself. BE the trend. And I have spent all day researching, looking searching, hunting everything I needed to know about getting this up and running and running fast. Why not? When you speak on the internet, people hear…..and I want to rush into this fast before some fool takes this idea before we implement it into reality. The last thing I wanna see is two guys in overalls in the back of a pick up, wheat hanging out of their mouths, knitting and crochetting while sipping out of a mason jar. I don’t want someone stealing our idea and making a caricature out of it. No, I want to see Phillip and I being ourselves, laughing with the people that come buy, making them feel welcome. Pretty much doing our usual “show” while selling yarn out of the back of a pick up, teaching people how to use DPN’s for the first time, shaking hands, finding the right pattern for their crochit-a-long 🙂

Instead of it costing $10,000…..it will cost us roughly $1500. Brilliant.

I made great GREAT strides today in getting together all the info I need to get this yarn truck idea up and running. Got the info I needed for the licenses, got in touch with some yarn wholesale dealers, found a company to do giant magnets for the side of the pick up that say “MAD MAN KNITTING,” found a place that supplies bushel baskets for $2 a piece, found 5 locations we can park at and bring THEM clientele, and learned we could park at some of the retirement homes and donate some of the stashes we have to them. When I’m inspired, I fly high 🙂 Having a great idea with this idea. I LOVE this. All we need now is the funding. And I’ll bust my tiny little butt to get it.

So, I’m pushing this hard. I’m going to make this happen because I haven’t felt this energetic and productive in a long while. A new idea, a new experience, a way to REALLY make an impact. All I need is that little pick up truck that I’ve been staring at in the parking lot all day long….We could be parked in front of the Funky Monkey in a week if it were up to me. And I’m going to make that happen. By selling books, teddy bears, Strange Friends in our shop, and putting up our little donate button to get the truck, the licenses, the magnets….I’m not worried about the yarn. We’ll get the yarn. And I’m going to film the whole process. Update daily with videos of our progress. I did make the first contact. Told them what I wanted to do. “Can I park here?” They responded with a “LOL! That sounds amazing….”

I think this could be it. I think the tide could be turning back in our favor. I would love to ride a wave while knitting on the back of a pick up truck……

So take a peek around our shop. Or donate if you believe in our dream. I want to see our little pick up truck parked with it’s blasted “MAD MAN KNITTING” sign on either side of the truck. We can do this. We really can. 🙂 oh! and you know how institutions for their fundraising will put a brick with your name in the wall of a new building? Well, since the truck will be used for our mobile yarn enterprise, we’ll scribble your name in the side of the truck if you donate. Can you imagine how awesome this truck will be?

Please donate. Every dollar helps! Thank you!

 

Smiling with a Sunny Inspiration

Its a rather beautiful and sunny Sunday morning. I’m often inclined to find that Sundays should be grey. It should be mandatory. Grey Sundays let you veg in your pajamas, rest, make a big pot of stew, and relax in a huff in front of your favorite binge. But, not today. Today, I’m rather glad that today is bright and full of light. I even had to take this picture of one of Phillip’s Strange Friends happily greeting the morning sun.

I took a stroll around the building this morning. There was this sad, twiggish hibiscus that was covered in mold, never bloomed, and sat sickly in it’s own dispair. But, a few months ago, Phillip pulled it out of the ground, potted it, began tending to it, and now its full of life, blooming multiple flowers nearly every day. The lush, deep green leaves just needed some care, some love, some sun.

Last night, Phillip and I were brainstorming and came up with an idea that I certainly hope we can work on. I’ve been hearing about mobile retail trucks (much like food trucks) and in some of the larger cities, even knit trucks. That’s right. Mobile knit shops. Now, in a city like Orlando, with it’s size and it being a rather youthful and trendy city, that we’d have tons of local yarn shops. But, we don’t! We have one, and it is WELL out of the city limits, miles away. Our only options are the big box stores. Michael’s. Joann’s. So, we started thinking about starting our own little knit truck! We wouldn’t have to go far, we’re in a neighborhood filled with vintage stores, hipster bars, and trendy restaurants. We could park simply around the corner and be in the middle of all that traffic, which helps with my agoraphobia. Hell, we could park on OUR street, because we’re zoned for commercial, and tons of people park right in front of our apartment so that they can walk around the corner to those same restaurants for lunch. So this morning while having my coffee I looked up how much a bare boned little retail truck would cost, fitted with nothing but a/c, I found quite a few, boxy, simple, white trucks for around $5,o00. Then we’d do a simple decal with my black and white “MADMANKNITTING” logo, fit it with shelves on the cheap, find some local yarn suppliers, and boom! We could be in business, we could grab a niche market that no one else has tapped yet, and provide some yarn for the downtown area. All we’d really have to look into is whatever licensing we would need.

And I know someone is saying, “dude, you can barely afford your rent…..” Maybe so, but in times of crisis we look for new and solid ways not to just survive, but to thrive, and squash those cyclical moments of worry and fear for good. Maybe we could do an indiegogo campaign, or a Gofundme, and raise the capital we need to buy a truck and get started. I’m selling digital copies of my book for DIRT cheap so that we can bring in all sorts of funding, and naturally, we’re knitting and crochetting ourselves happily to the hilt. All of that can be found in our shop. Of course, I’d like for us to get started well before autumn, for that’s when the knitting bug REALLY bites people. There’s also a donate button below.

Maybe that’s why I’m so happy that this particular Sunday is sunny. Don’t you love the enthusiasm that erupts in you when you have an idea? Don’t you love the birth of a dream?  I’ve been smiling with sunny inspiration all morning. 🙂

OK! UPDATE! STOP THE PRESS! Phillip and I were just brainstorming, and the whole idea seemed to fall into place so easily, so wonderfully, and on a much MUCH smaller budget than $5,000. Our neighbor is selling his truck for dirt cheap. We load our yarn into tomato buckets, you know, those lovely rustic wooden slatted ones. We park, unload our yarn around the truck much like the old man that actually sells tomatoes around the corner. Then Phillip and I would set up two aluminum folding beach chairs and sit in the bed of the truck and knit and crochet. SOOOO much cheaper to start this way. We figure we could be up and running within two weeks with probably around $1,000. And besides, we’re not fancy so why get a fancy truck??? We would look so AWESOME. Two redneckish looking guys sitting in the back of a pick up, knitting and crochetting, selling boutique yarn. What an awesome sight that would be. 🙂 Not to mention, we’d get a HUGE magnetic strip with the logo on it. Done….DONE! Oh, this can be so easily done! We keep selling teddy bears, and Strange Friends, and digital copies of my books, we can have this done in a matter of DAYS. Visit our  shop! Support a dream! 🙂

If  you like this blog and would like to help us keep it going, please donate. Every dollar helps! Thank you!

 

The BIG Plan

So, in order to make this work we’ve come up with quite a few solutions. A plan, a BIG plan, to make it happen. And if you were to ask me, it’s not just wishful thinking, it’s a PLAN. With all of the downs that we’ve had, it’s time for a few ups. The only way for that to happen is to MAKE them happen. We start on a personal level.

We are now on a strict budget, a payment plan. We are now “accounting.” Rather than it come in and shuffled to somewhere to pay something fast, we’re doing it responsibly.

Secondly, I take a break, one day a week, to sit in my own selfishness and enjoy myself. No knitting, no marketing, no pushing. Just enjoy myself. And these days? That comes with a plate of cheese and crackers and a good long something to binge, while never removing my pajamas, while never answering my phone, but letting the heart, hands, and head rest.

Then we consider the “factory.” That’s me. I really need to take care of myself. I started this new ritual this morning. It’s not enough to simply shower then get on with the day. I woke about 5am, had said shower, coffee was ready, and with no where to go, walked out of the house and strolled. Walked. Saw. Thought. I’ve gotten back into tai chi, and am exploring the “Five Tibetan Movements.” I already drink two liters of water a day, let’s make it three. I’m nibbling on hummus (made from scratch!) and toss tomatoes in my mouth as though they were jelly beans. Happy body, happy head. Happy head, stronger stead.

Next, bust my ass. WORK WORK WORK from the time you CAN see until the time you CAN NOT. Then, after that? Relax. Take a bath. Read Calvin and Hobbes. No need to work 16 hours a day. Work 8 to 10, see how much more productive you are. Work smarter, not harder.

Which reminds me, it is high time I really start pushing my intellectual property. My books, my writing. So many of you have already read much of what I’ve written, but so many haven’t! There is an entire world out there WAITING. So, rather than pushing myself to think NEW and BIG (yes, I’m using tons of caps, but I’m emphatic), we can find new people, new audiences. And with my new facebook group “KNITTER BE DAMNED” almost at 1000 members, we could actually begin to see whatever marketing tools we have at hand really be utilized.

Our youtube show is gaining a lot of engagement. Our little catch phrases are…..well, catching on. People love seeing Phillip and I laugh and joke and talk about knitting. Two guys sitting back with a beer talking about the LIVES of knitters, and not just the craft itself, but how we IN the craft live our lives. It can be a rough road, but we’re finding more and more people joining our page as a place of refuge. They get it. They know the struggle. THEY LIVE THE STRUGGLE. So, why not talk to Netflix or Hulu about streaming it? Or making it an original program? Why not? If they say no, they say no. But, we can at least let them now who we are and what we have to offer. Waiting for them to find YOU is about as silly as waiting for the winning lottery ticket to find itself in your mailbox.

I’ll fizzle out fast if I don’t do one very important thing. Demand myself to go BIG.

I can do this. Overall plan? Take my first book “Mad Man Knitting (or) The Waiter and the Fly” and push it so hard it becomes a best seller, out of nowhere, a book written by a man about knitting as an escape and all of the humor and life changing moments REALLY could do well……excuse me, really WILL do well. Once it becomes a best seller, have it optioned for a film. Simple, right? Why not? WHY NOT? Look at what we’ve accomplished so far. It isn’t so strange to to think THAT could actually happen (WILL happen….see what I keep doing? Turning my dreams, my ideas, my hopes into realities by saying they WILL be accomplished, rather than wishing for them).

So! Let’s start with my books. You can check out the digital versions in my shop!

 

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Why Don’t You Just Calm Down…..

After my post yesterday, I received a lot of emails of encouragement. “You can do this.” “You’ve fought before, you’ll fight again, but you never crumble.”

But, the one that stuck out the most was, “Why don’t you just calm down?”

Suddenly, I noticed the stillness in the room, as though I had been in a panic, a frantic tizzy and someone finally walked up and slapped me.

You breathe deep. And you snap out of it, and realize why the panic began in the first place.

I am a different man since the days I was homeless. Financial issues, especially those regarding the home and the security of a domicile, can cause your mind to move in dark places of remembrance you purposely avoid on a daily basis. But, when you’re in a position where you are even slightly confronted with those old challenges again, the memories come out like demons and screw with your head. You get terrified, you get wide eyed, you get destructive and nothing anyone can say will help bleed out the pain from yesteryear. Nothing will ever erase that from my head, from my memory. But, when reflecting on it, it shouldn’t ever be erased, it should just be coped with. It will always be chronic. It will always be ghostly. Those years without will always be with me.

I’ve built for myself a nice little life, born from the ashes of a moment that went down in flames. Fortified with yarn, strengthened by my optimism, I have a place to live, food to eat, and people that love me. I have talents, I have ambition, and I have hope. And I am so protective of those things. I know that I deal with a certain kind of PTSD that….changes the way a man views the world. You are particularly on edge if you think you’re about to lose everything again.

Hence the rather simple and poignant statement, “Why don’t you just calm down….”

And it mattered. It really mattered. Quietly it brought to the forefront where we ARE going, rather than where we’ve been. It reminds of the simple light inside that shines with self reflection, rather than the bright luminescence of ego. You are in pain, and probably will be for quite some time, but don’t let yesteryear guide your emotions, let tomorrow lead the way….

Just sit down for a moment, listen to the quiet of right now, not the panic of memory. Listen to the quiet reminder that you have conquered more than many will ever be able to claim. Know that the memories you run from, are the same ones that could also keep you safe. If you fear being in that life again, then do everything you can to avoid it…..but, whatever you do, do not let go of hope….

In other words, “Pull your shit together, Gregory…..”

I’ll write more tomorrow.

 

Naive Optimism….

I imagine my optimism is naive sometimes. I am often so filled with hope, that despair doesn’t get a chance to raise it’s voice. It doesn’t get to be loud enough sometimes, but when it does, man is it a shrill. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed for the last 2 weeks, marketed, promoted, shameless left my little imprint everywhere, and it didn’t work. Sales plummeted, interest in my book was nonexistent, potential endorsements led to nothing. I was left right where I started. Penniless, terrified. I tried everything I could, and it didn’t work.

We just needed one really big win to make this happen, but all my attempts at that seem to end in more losses.

I wasn’t able to take care of my family, wasn’t able to pay the rent. I’m a fighter…..but, I’m getting tired. I wasn’t able to take care of my family. That’s the part that hurts inside, that’s the part that kills you a little….

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