On You, the Woods, and That Fire.

dscf2729So on Easter Sunday I celebrated something of an anniversary.

Three years ago on Easter Sunday, I had made enough money selling my teddy bears to finally leave living in the woods, in that little spot 20 miles from the nearest town with no car. I had made a great friend while living out there. In order to ship the bears that had been sold I walked 3 miles up to the nearest little hamlet where there was only a sheriff’s station, a convenience store, and a post office. Every day I would walk three 3 miles up and 3 miles back just to ship those bears, and one day a car pulled up beside me and said, “I see you walk everyday. Do you need a ride?” I soon came to discover that he was also in a similar boat as mine. He had no choice but to move so far away from civilization, he knew no one out there, and was struggling just as bad as I was. When he dropped me off, I told him to come over sometime if he wanted some company. He did. Often. We’d play cards, sit out in the grass and talk about our dreams, what we wanted out of life. We’d share our food. He’d give me lifts up to the post office so I wouldn’t have to take the 6 mile trek. He became a very good friend of mine. And once I had made enough money selling teddy bears, it was time to go and he offered to drive me four hours down to Orlando. So on Easter Sunday of 2011, Mario and I piled into his car and left the woods for good, with great thanks to all of you that supported me from the beginning and with many thanks to Travis who said to me when he dropped me off, “You’re gonna survive. You’re good at that. I’m gonna try, but I don’t think I’ve got the same fire that you do.”

I never saw, nor heard from him again. But, I’ve thought of him often.

On this last Easter Sunday there was quite a bit of nostalgia playing through my memory. I was resurrected that Sunday that Travis drove me out of the woods and into my future. That was the moment I gained something. I was so used to losing everything, however, that was the day that I GAINED, FINALLY, something….hope, a future, a purpose. I spent the day thinking about that….And three years after that I was now ready to make another leap into rebirth.

This Sunday though, I was met with something that I had never expected. I discovered so many people are disappointed in me. I never saw that coming. But, I understand it. I crumbled. I was shaky. I contacted two very close people to me. My friend in Wyoming and a new friend in the Netherlands. I told them how devastated I was. It was never my intention to anger anyone. I felt like an absolute disaster. They both reminded me, that for the many people who are disappointed and angry, there are still quite a few that believe in me and wish to see me succeed.

“I’m gonna try….but, I don’t think I’ve got that same fire that you do.”

And that kept haunting me. He drove me out of the woods and back into the world because he believed in me. He saw something in me that inspired him. He saw that I had a chance….because of that fire in me. Its amazing how a month long friendship became a lifelong sense of purpose and duty.

To all of you that believe in me, I owe it to you to continue. I owe it you to continue surviving. Scratch that. I owe it to you to THRIVE. You’ve invested in me not only your commerce, but your hope. That a little man with a set of knitting needles doesn’t just knit teddy bears, but reminds with his writing about his life and his craft, that hope, determination, community, and civility still resound loud and strong in a world of screaming and yelling.

I cannot apologize enough for not having some of your bears out on time. I am doing my absolute best to make everyone happy and get them done in a timely order. And I’ve seen some argument about how I can sell bears if I haven’t delivered the ones that were already ordered. Well, I have to keep moving forward, keep going. I have to survive (quit saying that, I tell myself, say THRIVE). Since my first sell in 2011, I have knit and mailed nearly 1700 bears by now. That is a LOT of teddy bears. And they keep going out everyday. One after another. And though some may be late, they always arrive. They may not be on time, but they get there. And I have some of the most amazing supporters anyone can ask for. They defend and say, “It was worth the wait. That little teddy bear showed up on my worst day and made it better.” That matters to me. That keeps me going.

So, to those of you that have not received your bears, they are coming. I apologize for the delay, but they are coming. And I promise you when you open that box and see him wrapped in that little brown paper with only his eyes peeking out, you will melt. And the tag wrapped around his neck with a note from me will remind you that no matter what happened, that little bear was worth the delay. You have something to cling to, to hold, to bring into actual life all the hope and joy you’ve wanted to see exist in the world.

It is because of this that I spent Easter Sunday thinking about all of you that took me out of the woods, out of homelessness, and into life, into purpose. And I made a decision that the future of this blog, the future of these bears would rest in your hands. This endeavor of mine rests on what you want. I’ve been told I don’t communicate enough. Very well. I give you my pledge that every single email be answered, and that this blog will also feature YOU. You can say what you want, good or bad, but it must be written with your name. No screen names. It must be your name with contact information. And I’ll post your writing here on this blog as a featured guest. Good or bad. I want to add more video content. I want to do more video blogs showing you the process of this knitting of mine. I want to offer more interaction. More skyping, where you can talk to me and speak with me. Ask me why I’m doing well, or why I’m aggravating you. I want us ALL to be involved in this. I owe my everything and anything to YOU….and I want to be more accessible in more than just emails. I want us to be a community. If you’re mad at me, I’ll listen. If you have questions about knitting with double pointed needles, I’ll do what I can to help you. If you want to show me your own projects, I’ll look at them and possibly share them with others.

So, I guess my announcement is, this blog is now in your hands. If you want me to go, I’ll go. I’ll shut this down and go. And then figure out what to do from there. But, if you want me here, if you want us all to be a part of something that can really do some good (by reminding me of being bad at things), I’m in. If you want this to be a community, a place of refuge,

I’m in…..

….if you are.

The future of this blog and these teddy bears is now in your hands.

 

 

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230 comments

  1. Love you and your blog, books, bears, etc. please continue moving onward and forward and drag me with you in all your adventures!

  2. I’m so sorry that people have said they’re disappointed in you. It’s a real shame because what you’re doing brightens the lives of so many people, not only the people who receive your bears, but also the people who read these little glimpses into your life, the ones who find hope and calm in your journey when the rest of the world tells them to give up, and the ones you’ve inspired. Keep going. Never stop fighting and continue to thrive.

    -Faith

    1. I can understand why they are disappointed so I place no blame. I’m a one man machine. But, I do my best to never EVER give up. It’s that fire…That desire to thrive, to do well by others, and to please people that keeps me going. Thank you for the kind comment. You’re a sweetheart!

  3. I say stay positive and have more faith in yourself. From your gallery I can see just how talented you are, and I truly look forward to your posts. I hope in the near future that I’ll be able to purchase one of your beautiful teddy bears. Keep knitting on!! As you can see you have a lot of people who have their confidence in you.

      1. I was feeling concerned for you that you were giving a lot and asking people what they want and that what you want should also feature. My perspective has changed as I have read and absorbed more. You seem to be teaching me about openness and acceptance, thank you. Needless to say, I enjoy reading your blog and like your ideas for taking things forward. Looking forward to seeing where your creativity takes you.
        Sarah……….misty UK spring morning.

  4. Don’t go! You give peace and hope to me with almost every post. As for anyone who gets angry about not getting a bear on time, well they just have to realize that they are not ordering on Amazon or from a retailer, they are ordering something very special and I truly believe that those who “get it” will receive their bear when they most need it, even if that isn’t when they wanted to receive it.

    Hang in there, keep writing to us when you feel down or angry or hopeless or joyous. I am so glad I discovered you and your blog.

  5. Hi Gregory, Good Heavens, man, didn’t anyone tell you you cannot please all the people all the time? Let me say it this way: all you can control is yourself. So as long as you know you are sending out Love with everything you do, that is all you have control over. Celebrate the folks who support you and Love those who are irritated with you (hint: they don’t matter, anyway, so you may as well Love them — it might be the only Love they get this year).

    Now, some people are more anxious than others; their patience meter stops at about age 3. I have a suggestion for you to help you deal with those folks. If some folks don’t want to pay the full price for the bear because you are (or might be) “late” in delivery, you could charge them 2/3 or 3/4 the cost, to cover your supplies – they would then pay the rest of the cost of the bear when you are ready to ship, plus an additional $15 handling fee (you need to be compensated for storing “their” stuff while it is being processed), plus shipping/handling.

    See how that would work? The people who have a patience meter that goes higher than age 3 would simply pay your price plus shipping/handling — do you suppose this might help the anxious ones develop patience?

    Heavens, people, let the man work!

    Another idea would be for you to increase the price of your bears by about $20 each — that would compensate you for the time you feel you need to spend communicating with the world. That would not deal with the timeliness issue – or should I say perception of timeliness.

    Thank you for your work, Gregory. I ordered a bear awhile back, haven’t seen it yet, am not worried about it. I trust you to get it done as soon as you are able.

    Love and peace, Diana

  6. I hope that you continue thriving! Your posts remind me that life is good, no matter what or where you are in said life. Looking forward to tagging along on your adventures from Nevada’s high desert!

      1. Nope, I’m fairly new to your story…but it is a lovely, magical place with the snow-capped (usually) mountains and Tahoe dropping into the sage-brushed desert. Can’t beat it and if your adventures ever do send you this way, you’ll have to drop me a line! My hubby and I would love to show you our favorite spots!

  7. I love your stories about bears and life, I’m a ‘craft person’ i knit, i embroider, i quilt (started Quilting in february this year) I even knit teddybears *S* Tiny ones for premies as well as baby blankets (for NICU at our local hospital) *S* I love the way you’ve taken contoll, more or less, of your life, and tell it like it is. *S* I love the way you keep going, no matter what *S* Just remember, Even you are allowed to take breaks, even long breaks, but don’t stop writing *S* I’m not to good at writing myself, unless i have a special theme to write about *S* And i do love to read what you write, you always give me something to think about *S* Either related to what you write, or by assosiation(? Not to sure if that’s the correct english term, as english is my second language *S*)

    I wish you all the best in, and around you *S*
    Mona Digernes, Kristiansand, Norway *S*

      1. Thank you *S* I do love to create, and it helps me to ‘forget’ pain in my body better than any medicine *S*

    1. Its like I’ve told Kara, who HATES to purl, “darlin’, sometimes you go forward, and sometimes you have to get there by going backwards. Knitting is but one part of it…..sometimes you have to purl your life, too.”

  8. I just ordered my first bear. You take all the time in the world. It could be finished a year from now and I wouldn’t be angry with you. Your knitting and writing and living inspire me, and I intend to keep the bear for myself as a reminder of your tenacity. Please disregard the customers who complain and remain focused on the small blessings of every day that give great strength.

    1. That is soooo kind of you! Its one thing to do the work, but to feel TO FEEL the inspiration….That makes me so honored. You have no idea. Man, these little words of mine thrown so lightly have such heavy impact. That means so much.

  9. Please don’t leave. I live for your blogs. I’m in a bad situation now, and I have no one else, no one to go to. You’re blogs give me hope. They say, “Look! He’s overcoming! He’s thriving! You can, too!” They always bring a smile to my face. Please keep the blog alive – the rest of the knitting ninjas in this world need you.

    1. Kerri? You’re not alone. Not while here. You’re part of this. You belong. And yes, YOU CAN THRIVE, sweetheart. You CAN. Don’t ever feel alone while here. If you believe me, then I think I just made you smile….see? If smiled when you read this, then you know, you’re not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Actually, no, I didn’t smile. I cried, but they were good tears. A dear friend taught me how to knit when I was at one of the lowest places in my life. Today, I knit to fight my way out of poverty – or at least to try to pay the bills. I knit women’s hats/gloves/scarves/shawls, afghans, and baby blankets, and I try to sell on Etsy and at craft fairs. Knitting needles are both therapy and defense for me; weapons against the evil in this world. When I knit, I feel like nothing can ever harm me, you know? Like the badness just all melts away. I use my stash to knit hats and gloves to give to kids that can’t afford such things to battle the cold when the snowflakes swirl. Like you, I consider myself a knitting ninja. In your blogs, I find a comrade-in-arms. I love looking at the pictures of your bears. I mean, there is nothing in this world that can defeat the warmth of a teddy bear!

      2. Yes, I am ANY knitters comrade. You know, when I first moved back to Savannah a good couple of years back, I used to keep my knitting needles by my bedside because it was a really bad area….I felt I could take out someone with my size 4 dpns if someone tried to snag me in the middle of the night.

  10. Please don’t stop knitting and blogging. I enjoy reading this when I get the chance. I’m sorry you seem to be dealing with impatience and rude behavior. Don’t let a few poorly mannered folks get you down.

  11. What a wonderful story. It is so inspiring to hear how you pulled yourself up from dire conditions. The only person who you should never disappoint is yourself. Always be true to youself and continue on your path. I enjoy reading your blog. Please stay strong and keep up the great work that you do.

  12. Please don’t stop. I truly enjoy reading your posts; your honesty and kindness come through so clearly. I too came to knitting when I was at a dark place, and I know the feelings of peace and calm it brings, and you evoke those for me. I would love to order a bear at some point, but you also make me want to start knitting one myself. Thank you for doing what you do.

    1. I think knitting does that for people! There is sooooo much therapy in it. You can learn so much about patience, about fixing your mistakes quickly, about going back doing right what you had done wrong….about the finished product in your hand, that you created something, that something viable rests in your ability to bring to life a feeling, a moment, a wish….and then you hand it over to someone else. Thank you for your kind comments, sweetheart.

  13. Gregory, thank you for putting yourself out there. I will be thrilled to get my bear when it arrives. Please know that even when it gets difficult and some people get upset there are still many of us out here who love you and will lend you our support and good energy. Your not-so-little words do have quite an impact. You are loved my brother, keep moving forward, sometimes we help pull you along and sometimes you help pull me. :-),

  14. Your bears are adorable. Don’t throw in the towel. I love reading your new posts and seeing the new bears. I’m in for seeing you thrive here on WordPress. Make your friend Travis proud. I hope one day you two will be able to reconnect. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I’d love to meet Travis again someday. He was a good friend. I taught him how to play Seven Card No Peek. Those were good times. He kept the loneliness at bay. He was a good guy. I hope his fire alight someday. He deserves it.

  15. Dear Gregory, your post could not me more touching, heartbreaking, and to the point. There is very little I can add to the comments already posted. There’s an entire community around who loves you, believes in you and wants to be part of your team. Please keep going. You are a model of humanity. A big Hug. Giovanni

      1. You deserve it !
        Enjoy this overwhelming flood of affection, this list of posts which grows and grows, each showing Love in so many hues.
        Big Hugs
        Giovanni

  16. When I read your last blog post, I was worried that your big announcement might be that you were going to move on. Quit knitting the bears. Quit the blog. I’ve been fretting over it, thinking how much I would miss you. I’ve gotten to know you through your book and blog, and I adore you. I wish you lived next door. I’ve been fretting about how much I would miss you if you disappeared. I’m not some lonely old cat lady with no life, but you have wormed your way into my heart, and I’m a total stranger to you. I guess that makes me a fan. So, I’m here to say, please don’t go!
    (And do post more frequently, if you can!)
    Kris

    1. You sweet darling! If you lived next door I’d subject you to boiled peanuts and conversations about books. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think we’d get along just fine. You’re not a stranger. You’re a kind one. And I’d miss being here, too.

      1. HA! You read my book! HA HA! NOPE! Cans don’t work. You need bottles….and as weird as it is, since they changed to PLASTIC bottles instead of glass, those still aren’t the same. I’m so happy you tried it!!!!

      2. I did that a lot as a kid, peanuts in my pop. And yeah, I thoroughly loved that book!! And yes, you can still get pop in glass bottles, at least around these parts (Chicago boondocks), if you know where to look. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Kris, Many of us have cats and we most definitely are not “lonely old cat ladies”. I’m in the process of retiring and find that all I want to do is knit and watch my beautiful kitty. A little crazy, maybe, but most of the folks that know my cat thinks it’s a completely worthwhile pursuit! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. If someone gets upset or disappointed with you over a teddy bear, they have bigger problems. “Do your best and forget the rest.” I think that should be the handmade motto!

    1. No, like I said before, they should be upset. Its my job to make it happen. To keep these bears going, to get the delivered as soon as possible. I do my best…and I think that shows itself when the bears are delivered. They are friggin adorable ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I so love what you are doing and it inspires me, I support your work and if I could do more I would. I have gently asked more than once that you contact me about my order placed last October and I haven’t heard back. I’m not in a hurry, or angry or disappointed, I’d just very much like to know what is happening, Was it lost? Are you waiting for the right yarn? Did you set it aside to get some breathing room because I am not in a rush? I am ok with any time frame you set, the bear is for me and what will happen is I will gift it to someone who needs a lift in my life whenever the need arises so there is absolutely no pressure. Communication, however, is important to me, I know you’re busy, please just look into it and drop me a note.

    With love
    Stacey

  19. My Dear Gregory! You had better stay and keep us all in love with your talents and this blog!! I waited for this post, by not deleting the other one!

    I have a suggestion, perhaps….and this is what some of those ladies do with their quilt work, crocheting afghans and blankets….put a memo on your page that due to so many orders….your Teddy Bear will not arrive until……whatever time frame…..OR…put up a message that your shop is on vacation to catch up…..OR….that you will resume taking orders…….whatever.

    Your one person with two hands! In due course I want one of your bears……someday in the future when I can afford one of them! ๐Ÿ™‚ They are just beautiful, and made with love and care.

    You have gifts!! Your writing and your knitting! You also have many of us that love you and support you. Keep your blog!!

    Love, blessings and hugs,
    Sandy

  20. I believe in you too. I think your story serves as an inspiration for lots of people, and I hope you will keep the blog–and the teddy bears too! I have been knitting for fifty years or so, and I’ve knitted a few toys, and I purchased your teddy bear pattern so I can make my next toy teddy bears for my two great-granddaughters.

  21. I first ‘met’ you when a friend forwarded your blog post about sitting in a cafe and having a conversation with some policemen. I have followed you ever since. Love your writing, your philosophy and I love your bears. kind regards Vivienne

  22. Don’t you dare go anywhere mister! You are much loved and believed in.
    I adore your posts, love to know that you and Mario are doing ok.
    And you share your wonderful gift by creating the cutest bears that bring happiness into so many people’s lives.
    You are truly an inspiration
    Joy xxx

  23. Remember that to thrive is to flourish! Keep up the fabulous work you are doing and don’t let other people’s negativity bring you down.

    1. I forgot to say that I ordered one of your sweet little bears and expect to receive it whenever you get to it – in your own time – and not a minute before!
      Keep fighting the good fight and know that there are so many people behind you, rooting for you!
      Love always prevails.

  24. I am kind of surprised that after you say you are going to Thrive, that you would leave it up to us to decide your fate. Keep up the work, blog, knit, carry on with your life and make it worth the trip! I will tell you why you must do that. I was put on this earth to raise my children, I have 2 handsome sons, both have turned to drugs to make their life meaningful, one is not allowed at my home. I miss him ever day but seeing that you are pulling yourself up by the boot straps gives me hope that he will get his stuff together and make a life for himself. The other is going to school and holding a part time job, more than I thought he would be able to do. So, you give me hope. Keep it up.

  25. Gregory,

    I ordered a bear for my aunt before Christmas and I emailed you last month to ask (nicely and with no pressure) when you thought you might be able to make it. You answered me within days to say you’d finish it soon. The response from you was all I needed. As long as I know my order is somewhere on the list (and my aunt didn’t already receive it and it didn’t get lost in the mail somewhere) I can be patient.

    But I probably should have been more explicit and told you that I *know* all of your bears are hand made and I *know* you can only finish them as quickly as you can finish them. People who want mass-produced, cheap, loveless crap can get that from Wal-Mart. Yours are made with love by one person, and that takes time. People who don’t understand that should order bears from a factory, not from you.

    Also, please don’t spend all of your time in trying to chat and Skype with everyone… unless it’s something you truly enjoy. We all have a limited number of hours in the day. And yours, like most self-employed people, need to be either productive (read: money-producing or doing business administrative work) or relaxing (read: self-renewing). If you spend hours every day trying to chat with people to keep them amused, you will make less money and create more stress… and some of them will still be unhappy (probably more of them, since you’ll be knitting fewer bears while you do it). As another comment said, you can’t keep all the people happy all of the time. So please don’t try.

    If you’re both up for it, you might want to see if your friend (Kara, is it?) can help more with the administrative part. Let her read through the emails and answer the “when is my bear coming” questions, or ask you anything more complicated. The hurtful comments won’t hurt her as much and honestly you don’t need to read them. Let her be your buffer so you can save your energy for the things you can do that she can’t.

    With much love, respect, and patience (truly),
    Andrea

  26. Thankyou!! Reading this has given me the kick in the a** I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and work at what I want. I’ll be here if you will

  27. Please be careful with the “answer every message” promise. It may take over your life..You are still human, not a machine.. People Can be very demanding at times.;)
    You have a wonderful purpose in life and spreading yourself too thin to keep everyone happy can have an adverse effect. Do what makes you happy first and ease into other things.Youve mentioned before that stress can affect your teddys and we cant have that .
    Regards Phillipa in NZ

  28. Only you can decide whether to stay or go, but for what it’s worth, I very much enjoy reading your blog. Let people be disappointed…that’s on them, not you. You make me laugh, you make me cry and you make me keep coming back for more. God bless.

  29. You keep doing what you do! Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love, stay positive and create your bears and be who you are….I am a bear maker too, it is a passion. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and I have always liked your positive attitude. Keep up the great work!

  30. Gregory, I read about you while I was in Florida visiting a sick relative and I have been hooked ever since. I read one of your books and loved it. You are very talented and should continue on with your knitting if that is what really makes YOU happy.

    I sent you a note via Facebook about a bear but I don’t know how often you visit there, did you happen to receive it?

  31. I enjoy your blog and the strength you project through your work and your words. It takes a lot of courage to write so openly about disappointments and life in general without hiding behind a screen name or avatar. I am knitter but by no means as proficient as you are so it gives me hope that I can get better with practice and time.
    I find it so appropriate that you started your new life adventure on Easter..keep knitting and writing.

  32. Your gentleness and kindness are as lovely and inspiring as your bears. I hope you are able to continue on your path. I believe in your journey.

  33. I hope you’re picking up on the strong message that everyone seems to be sending your way saying positive things ๐Ÿ™‚ You have to do what makes you happy, so if that’s carrying on with what you’re doing, well it seems there’s a lot of us that’s happy with that.
    Perhaps you could put a little message on the order page saying that as the bears are all handmade, they can take a little while to produce (give a window of time?) and saying that you hope the customer understands – at least that way they are aware before ordering (just an idea, aimed at the more impatient customers). Remember – you’re a craftsman, not a factory machine, and your customers have to remember that too. The time, quality, care, and love that goes into handmade is what makes the difference, and if that’s why people are ordering handmade products, then most of them should understand that these things take a little longer, but are worth it.
    Good luck with everything ๐Ÿ™‚ Nร .

    1. Many people ordered bears around that time frame and that might be due to publicity he received in the media. If all you wanted was a bear, and not the love behind it and the caring knitted into it, you could have went to the store and bought one. I find your comment filled with apathy and impatience.

      1. Grievances are warranted. I know this. Let’s all be understanding and kind, figure out how to get everyone their entitled bear on time, and make as many people happy as possible. (But, thanks for the defense Michelle ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  34. I found your blog a few months ago while browsing Zite, and I love it. I would be terribly sad to see it go away. I understand perfectly that it takes time to knit a bear, I have been knitting a pullover for what now seems an eternity, but that’s the beauty of your bears and of my pullover: they are done with love and patience, to be appreciated once they finally see the light of day.
    I love reading what you write. Keep it up and keep knitting happy bears!
    Anja

  35. I hope you’re becoming increasingly convinced that we want you to continue writing and inspiring us! I used to hear an auto dealership commercial on the radio that always ended with the very southern and folksy dealer saying, “We love you and we need you!” Don’t forget that!

  36. Please stay. It must be incredibly difficult to deal with all the negativity. God knows that there’s an abundance of it.
    It’s really the reason that I’ve held back. I could never put myself out there like you do. The few things I have made I have given away. I’ve never been able to sell an item I’ve been asked to make because I take so long to create the item, or because I feel too embarrassed to ask people to separate from their hard earned money… and it’s silly, but I avoid the negativity… Don’t regress to the shadow. Dig in your heels and hold your head high.

  37. AMAZING story. A good friend shared your FB page with me because I make lace, love teddy bears, and she just knew I’d find you cool. Thanks for sharing.

    My Turn:
    In the grand view of things I’ve had a very blessed life. Nothing horrible has ever really happened. Although loosing my father a little over a year ago was a major low point. It did, however, teach me a big lesson; life is too short care what others think. Be yourself. Be what you want in life. My father’s motto in life was “To thine own-self be true…thou canst not then be false to any man.” Be the best you you can be, the people you should have in your life will love you for who and how you are.

    Still need some positive vibes? How’s this; you inspire me.

    I have taken the first itty-bitty steps towards having my own craft business. I am lucky enough to have a very supportive husband and mother, but I’m still on wobbly legs so to speak. I don’t always feel overly confident in myself, despite the copious amounts of compliments I’ve gotten for what I’ve made. Everyday I TRY to take one more baby step towards my dream. In many ways you are living my dream. Don’t let the grumblers get you down! Knit on friend. You are one of the good guys.

  38. OK. I’m a newcomer to your blog. I just ordered your book. And so, I’m not quite sure how to say this…the bears seem adorable. Handmade? How can you beat that? And yet, you know…folks aren’t waiting on kidneys or a transfusion or something. I would assume that the people who order the bears are doing so to support and encourage you. To paraphrase Vonnegut, “…you’ve got to be kind!” Please keep on knitting and writing.

  39. Gregory, you are an awesome person and have hugely inspired me. Thank you so much and please don’t go anywhere. Stay online and keep blogging – I look forward so much to reading your thoughts – and one day soon, when I can afford it, I’m ordering a bear off you because I just have to have one. Thank you for being you and all the help you’ve been to me,

    Denis de Lacy

  40. Come on, MAN!! You know you can do it! You just keep on keepin’ on with everything that you do. Take care of your customers the best you can and keep cranking out those gorgeous bears!! You’re right, too, once they receive their bear, they’ll see what all the hoopla is about and they’ll be happy they waited. HUGS to you and Mario!!!

  41. Don’t stop what you are doing. I know you are doing the best you can. People come to you because they love your bears. And your right sometimes you get behind but you always deliver your bears. Life gets hectic sometimes but please don’t stop knitting. Those bears are a symbol of hope ands belief. Look how far you come.

  42. Seriously! Don’t let the negativity in people hurt you, it is enough that it hurts them. Hold your chin up, listen for the positive and move forward fulfilling your passion and dreams. Don’t let someone else have so much control over how you feel or the things you want and desire. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good about you.

  43. I was so worried about you after your previous post! I enjoy reading what you have to say and I adore the bears. The patterns for both the bear and bunny are easy to understand and are fun to knit up.
    I’ve worked in retail for most of my life and I’ve recently noticed how quick consumers consume. I think that with technology getting us what we want faster and faster, people are overestimating the human factor in creation. (which is why I roll my eyes when someone says “can you knit me something?”) You are doing a very tough job and YOU chose to do it the way you are doing it! I love that! So many people don’t get to choose that. So keep that FIRE going! I’m with you all the way.

  44. I think you are amazing doing so well with your bears I knit my heart out and have my own site on Facebook but it hardly sell anything some days I think why bother when I see other crafters selling stuff that looks like a kid made it and I work hard and nothing hope I do better one day like you keep up the good work

  45. Please don’t stop! It’s people like you that make me think that maybe someday I too, will thrive, let alone survive. Right now I’ll settle for surviving, that’s more that I feel I deserve anyways so thank you for letting me have hope. ๐Ÿ™‚
    P.S. I love your bears, it’s on my list when I have some extra money, to order one for my daughter. You are awesome!!!!

  46. Gregory, I could never be disappointed in you. I appreciate your honesty and I’m still a fan. I’m sorry people haven’t believed in you or have been rude. You deserve better. Please stay! The world needs more Gregory Patrick.

  47. I look forward to reading your stories and thoughts. It brightens my day when I see that you’ve posted something. You are an inspiration to many. There will always be people who are naysayers. But the people who love you and what you do are so many more! Keep it going and I’ll keep on looking forward to see what you’ve done.

  48. One stitch at a time! It can’t be done any other way. Bravo for admitting that you are human and no trying to place blame on others! A refreshing quality in this day and age.

  49. I love your blog, I love that you share your journey in life with us. Life is a journey and it has many twists and hills and valleys. We have awesome days when we can do anything and take on the world; other days when you just want to hide under the bed in a fetal position sucking your thumb. We are all human and we are not invincible and we make mistakes and we are insecure and have tempers and we cry because we’re sad or disappointed in ourselves. But what is awesome is, we all have the capicity to love each other and be understanding and patient. Somedays, it’s hard and maybe it’s because something else is going on and we take it out on the cashier at the store who rang up the grapefruit wrong or on the lovely gentleman who is late sending a teddy bear. I love your blog because that is what you share. The ups and downs; your frustrations and insecurities and your incredible perserverence and tenacity. Because you love and care. About us, humanity and yourself. You give so much of yourself so that we may learn and grow and remember to be good to each other because everyone is dealing with something. If people are upset about the bears being late, they will get over it. They will either forgive and buy again because the bears are just too darn sweet, or they will not. You can’t control how they react or decisions they make. But you can control what you take away from the experience and apply the lesson to your future. You can’t please everyone all the time. It’s damn near impossible. But you can be proud of what you have accomplished and will accomplish. You can be proud of the person you are. A man who shares so much. And touches the lives of so many. Please don’t go away. Please keep on because not only do we all need you and your writing and your knitting but you need those things also. It shapes who you are. Don’t let go of who you are, ever! You have a beautiful soulโค๏ธ Thank you for sharing it. And sorry if I rambled on too long๐Ÿ˜„

  50. Keep going Gregory. The nice people have to outnumber the impatient ones. All but one of the comments so far are positive, that should give you your answer ๐Ÿ™‚ keep on keeping on.

  51. I love your blog. I knit too, but when I can. Don’t worry that you don’t get the bears to someone on time, they are made with love that is the most important point and when they do open that package that is all that is going to matter. Your story is one of determination and hope. I was wondering if you were going to quit knitting, so glad that you are not. Keep on one stitch at a time, you have a lot of people that support you. Count me in! looking forward to more of your amazing journey.

  52. This is your friend, Dixie. I love you. As soon as I get money to replace my bear, I will get the money to you and order another bear. Don’t give up on you. We who care about you haven’t.
    I may be down in Florida (Kissimmee) Part of this summer. Keep smiling and don’t give up on you.
    Life is too short to be bitter or angry. I get that people are frustrated with their orders, but you are one man doing everything.
    I love you and Mario.
    Peace!
    Dixie

  53. Gregory, you are a blessing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. People aren’t used to handmade items anymore. Handmade takes time and love. You are a blessing because you share the love it takes to make these bears with the world. I marvel at all you get done. It took me 3 years to finish knitting my first garter stitch scarf. lol
    I do a lot of handwork: sewing, crocheting and knitting. I tend to only create things for my family. You are so brave to put your art out there each and every day. Your bears are definitely works of art.
    Keep knitting and thriving! I believe in you!
    Valerie

  54. Ignore the Negative Nancy’s your are doing great things. You are an inspiration to many. Knit on noble man.

  55. I say keep going, but only if there is a way to accurately give your customers an estimate on when they will have their bears. I totally understood that you had back orders when I ordered a bear in November it said it would not ship until January. Little did I know, however, that I still wouldn’t have the bear five months later for the baptism that I had intended it for. I leave town in two days for it empty-handed and have had no responses from the emails I have sent inquiring about it. You seem like a nice guy, but not responding to emails damages your character because it makes people wondering if you are cheating them. So, if you can provide a disclaimer or something or give a somewhat accurate estimate of when to expect the bears when someone orders it, it would be a totally different ballgame. And part of a good store/salesman is good customer service.

  56. I’m so sorry that you’ve gotten negative feedback. Your story and your fire inspire others. And your bears are adorable.
    Sending knitting love from Seattle,
    Sarah

  57. Gregory. My sister and I both ordered a bear last fall/ winter whenever. Not that important. I’m sure your doing your best to get all the orders out. But more importantly and the reason we ordered the bears was the inspiration behind them. We follow your blog and are thrilled to hear you thrive. Continue to thrive and prosper… Your struggle was not over night and the bear isn’t expected over night either… But we know it will come in its own time ..
    Take care
    Roger

  58. Don’t stop writing and don’t stop knitting. I too was concerned you were going to stop and I would hate that. I enjoy reading your blog, your frankness and honesty are rare these days. I wish so much that people would look around them and lift people up instead of tearing them down. That’s what we are supposed to do and it breaks my heart when I read negative things on your blog and others. WORDS WOUND!!! It may not hurt as much as a punch to the gut however, they are not easily forgotten.

    I waited for almost a year for a handmade set of interchangeable knitting needles, I can wait for a couple of your bears. That’s the thing with hand made stuff, you order and you have to wait for it to be made…simple to understand. You don’t get instant gratification on handmade things but my when you get them they are so special! I ordered bears from you because I wanted to help you. My daughter’s will adore the bears and they don’t know they are coming so it’ll be a surprise when they do, even if I have to ship my oldest daughter’s bear to her because she’ll be moving. No worries. I am will to wait and it will be worth it. On one of my trips to Florida, I’d love to come meet you and try to help you make a bear.

    Keep on, keeping on.

  59. Please stay! I love your blog and the bears. People just need to understand that all these bears are made with love and it takes time. Every stitch in the bear is a labour of love. Don’t give up! Press on! Hugs!

  60. I don’t understand those who are disappointed because you don’t ship bears right away. When something is in high demand, you wait for it! That makes it all the more valuable. I’m so impressed by your efforts. Please keep on doing what you’re doing and ignore the naysayers. A good product is worth waiting for, so keep it up!

  61. Don’t go. In fact, can I send you yarn? What you do is an inspiration and I want to help continue that in what way I know that I can. Because we each have something we can offer.

  62. I live in country Australia and have trouble with internet access but chanced upon your blog “Mad Man Knitting” and wondered about it so I read what you posted and have been hooked ever since. I look forward to your thoughts and agree with you especially how the stresses of today affect peoples’ actions and thoughts. Don’t give up, please. I can’t afford a bear at the moment but I think they are adorable. I can only knit squares for blankets so I think you are very talented. One of my grandmas was a knitter and did crocheting as well. She would have loved what you are doing tool. Just do your best. xx Eleanore

  63. Oh poo. I wrote a brilliant comment ๐Ÿ˜‰ and it doesn’t look like it uploaded. The gist: You and your story are important and we need all the stories we can get in this world. You owe it to your future self to see what happens. I am teaching a male friend to knit and he enjoys your sharing as well.

    I volunteer for hospice and if there is one thing it’s taught me it is that life is precious and finite. Enjoy yours the best you can.

    All good things, Margaret

  64. Dearest Gregory…if you only knew. Although I seldom knit, I am a crochet fanatic and teacher. We’ve talked before via email and I’ve gotten a bear from you (totally awesome.) I am self employed at crocheting, computer graphic web design and a yarn shop. I have experienced severe depression over the span of my life and though most of the times it is all good, there are times when it nearly overwhelms me. Sometimes I’m ready to throw in the towel myself when I get so overwhelmed and think to myself, “what’s the use?” Then your blog arrives and I go through a transformation. You give me hope. You give me encouragement. You give me inspiration. You give me love. If you keep your blog going if for no other reason than to keep encouraging folks like me who suffer from this occasional debilitating depression and self doubt, then I believe it is worth every last letter, word, sentence and paragraph. The bears help you thrive….YOUR words (blog) have helped me to thrive. I love you so much for it. God bless you. I’m so completely in.

  65. *hugs* Don’t go, stay. Stay and knit with me, with us. Stay and talk to us. Your words give hope, even when it’s just venting. Sometimes we need to remember that it’s OK to just listen and nothing more. We don’t always need to give advice, to find a solution. It’s OK to just be, and like your bears, to love.

  66. Gregory, I’m wondering if I can send you the yarn and you could knit me a bear from that yarn? I’d need to know the amount needed and the weight, of course. Want you to make a decent profit on your efforts, though I know from my own knitting that you cannot charge enough to really make money on something this time consuming. Also, I rather sheepishly admit this (sorry) I want the bear to sit on my bed and go perfectly with the colors I’ve recently chosen for the room.

    As far as people that are disappointed in you? I don’t understand it. You are a child of God and you have a right to be you. You’re not marching to their expectations – they need to manage their own lives, not yours. I’m going to send you something that may help.

  67. Status Update
    By Judi Braunhardt Traynor
    11 Spiritual Truths to Remember

    1. Everyoneโ€™s path is different. Donโ€™t assume you know how people should walk their paths. You donโ€™t. Instead of advice, help people see their options.
    2. No one knows the whole truth. As you learn and study, take the pieces that resonate with you and throw the rest out. No one knows it all. However, everyone has something to share that is of value.
    3. Open your mind to other possibilities. Once you decide what is, you forever close the door on what may be. Stay open minded. New truths are just beyond the closed door.
    4. You canโ€™t save anyone. Itโ€™s not your job or your responsibility. Just be a beacon and let those who want to walk through your light do so of their own free will.
    5. Youโ€™re not here to change the world. The world will change by your presence. Make your presence positive.
    6. Donโ€™t give your power to anyone. You are the author of your own life. When you give someone else the pen, you give them the power to change your story. But youโ€™re the one who has to live it.
    7. Learn how to be a vibrational match for your desires. Do not hope, pray, or wish for what you desire. Instead be in the vibration of knowing what it feels like for your desire to be a totally normal part of your life.
    8. Love and gratitude are extremely high vibrations. Learn how to call upon them at will. One person walking the planet in a state of love and gratitude balances more than a hundred walking in fear.
    9. Be kind to yourself. Everyone has moments they regret. Learn the lesson, shrug, and keep walking. Donโ€™t drag your past with you into the future.
    10. Donโ€™t judge others. You donโ€™t know what kind of life theyโ€™ve had, and you donโ€™t know what lessons theyโ€™ve learned. Everyone is entitled to think the way they want to think. Even if itโ€™s not the way YOU think.
    11. You are a divine being, created from Love. You walk in Love, even when you donโ€™t remember. You will return to Love, even if you donโ€™t think you deserve it. There is nothing you can do to lose the Love of Source. Nothing.

  68. You have to stay! I’ve been a following you for over a year now though I don’t comment on everything, I do read everything. You are such an inspiration and I am honored to “know” the person that you share with us. I love your story, I love your bears and I think it would be extremely sad if you were to stop all of this. I know there are people waiting for bears and I understand the frustration, but I don’t think shutting down is the answer. I Love reading what you have to say, what’s been going on and I absolutely Love what you’re doing! Please stay, please keep knitting, please keep writing! โ™ก

  69. Gregory, there is usually a fine line between hope and reality, and usually the difference is tied up in time or money, or both. You’re struggling with that, but what you do is real, and for every hater out there, you have at least 100 other people on your side. Your blog made me angry because I want so badly to come to your defense and protect you. I don’t even know you. But I know what you do, and it’s not just hopeful–it’s reality, and you can and do help give other people hope. DON’T EVER GIVE UP. If it’s getting harder, then you’re doing something right. I think it was Diane von Furstenburg who said, “If your career doesn’t scare the s*** out of you every day, you need to be doing something else.” And if you need help, all you have to do is ask. You have my email and many others. I knit and so do many others who follow you. If you’re in a pickle, email us and ask for what you need. My guess is you’d get it and no one, especially me, would ask anything in return, save that you stick to your guns and keep doing what you’re doing. I owe the universe a few favors here and there…

    It’s hard to be true to yourself because there will always be so many people who don’t get it or are jealous or find pleasure in sabatoging your dreams. You will win if you stay true to what’s really important to you. And the collective “we” will be right behind you, rooting all the way.

  70. Please Greg don’t ever stop knitting your bears and don’t ever stop blogging. I just recently purchased the pattern for one of your bears and can’t wait to start making him. Your blogs have brightened my days when they have been dark and eased my soul when it was in turmoil. Who cares if some people are disappointed in what you do, as long as you are happy and fulfilled in what you do; that is what counts. Keep following your heart and if you ever need help knitting bears, I am just a holler away and would love to help out.

  71. Don’t let a few whiners ruin it for you and for us. I also make toys and I let my customers know that there is a 3 to 6 month waiting list. Set the expectation. If they don’t like it, send their money back.

  72. Gregory, as a lifelong, every-day-of-my-life knitter, I’m utterly and firmly on your side and in your fan club. I’m astounded that you’ve knit 1700 of the little darlings, and equally amazed that you can keep doing it at the pace you do. Seems to me that that fact ALONE reflects something profound about your fire and persistence and fundamental goodness. Don’t ever doubt it. Ever. And those who get impatient with your “slowness” quite likely don’t understand how long it takes to make something good — not merely the time of the actual hands-on work, but all the years and thoughts and imaginings that preceded this particular single piece of thoughtful, slow, careful, precise plying of four sticks and a string. Thank you so much for both what you do and how you think about it.

  73. You’d better THRIVE, Buster! this “bear lover” is counting on your inner fire, and bear-making passion, to get her own!

  74. It’s sad that people don’t realize good things come to those who wait. Don’t disappear back into the forest. If you feel comfortable with it I would suggest holding off on taking orders for a bit. You need to take the time to do the bears properly but also make sure you are taking care of yourself and your hands and arms.

  75. You write, I read. I am amazed at what you are doing and what you have accomplished. We get through our days one step at a time, one bear at a time, one row at a time. I don’t think you realize how many lives you have touched and how many people think of you during their day. I’m in.

  76. You, my friend, need to keep doing what you are doing. I look forward to your excellent words of wisdom and stop everything when I see a post from you to take the time to savor and drink in those ideas and thoughts. I think I still have a bear to come plus the remake of my sister-in-law’s purple bear. Take your time in this. I love you and will continue supporting you as I can. Your “sister” in AZ.

  77. Thank you for doing your best and being honest with us that’s more than most do. I trust my bear will show up and probably on a day when I really need him. Take your time, I only want good, happy, love, and patience knit into him.

  78. I support your cause and have no expectation at all for when I will receive my bear.

    But, I think it’s only fair to provide a realistic delivery date to your customers when they place an order. Even if you have to say that you are six months behind. You might lose some sales initially, but those of us interested in helping would still be here.

  79. I love reading your blog. I love that you use your hands to make something wonderful, and to improve your life. Many of us are cheering you on! Focus on the positive people, work hard and you’ll continue to thrive. Blessings!!!

  80. I believe in you, Sweetie! I love your bears, and to be able to buy one soon. Please don’t go away, or stop doing the wonderful things you do- I’m here for the long haul!

  81. Although I was not very present these last two years (thriving in my own endeavors), I stopped by from time to time to see how you, Mario and the bears were doing.
    It is not only a saying that patience is a virtue, it is. I have always been a very impatient child, not a “I want I want”, but I couldn’t wait for the result to show up like in an instant. As a teenager I stumbled upon the works of Buddha and started to reminisce about these sayings that the most important thing is the journey and not to reach the destination. So, I started to loose that impatience of mine and I it helped me so much, especially in my professional life, that I am reminding each and everyone around me constantly to stop, to breathe and to enjoy the moment. To your impatient customers out there, yes, we live in an express delivery world where you can ship around the world in less than a day but what good does it make? Does it make your product any better? Does the product, once in your hands, not have to convince you of its quality, usefulness and maybe pleasure you will have from it by using or looking or whatever the purpose of the product is?
    As a fellow knitter and crafter, the only good work I have produced is the one, I really took the time to do it right from preparation, to choice of wool/material, right gauge ;o) (oh how I hate that hahahaha), ripping back the tiny mistake in row x and carefully knitting the rows as if I had to present it to the Nobel committee. It takes time, Rome wasn’t built in a day either, nothing ever really is that is made to last.
    Be patient, enjoy the wait and anticipation, get over yourself, the guy is knitting is hands and ass off to make a living.
    Gregory, do not give up, keep them customers happy, revise and announce the production frame it takes to knit up a bear and ask for a little patience if the time frame can not be matched.
    H&K

  82. I’m SO in! The article you wrote “Forget the Gauge. Iโ€™m More Worried About YOU.” made me cry tears of joy. We (my husband & I) were very close to our own The Woods ourselves, & I was ready to throw in the towel, when your words inspired me. As luck would have it, very soon after that I finally found a job in this craptastic economy! I sent you an offer some time ago to help knit bears & it is still open. I understand the love required that must go into each bear, I know you don’t want turn your cottage industry into a factory, but I want to return the hope & joy you’ve given me. Even if you don’t want my help making bears, please don’t stop writing. There are those of us out here who need you as an example to ourselves. Pho on, brother!

  83. Well, I’ll be one naysayer – but only by a little bit. Please do stick around, and please do keep making your bears, but I’m going to recommend that you don’t try to increase the frequency of your blogging too much. Blogging, pictures, writing, and emails all take time, and if you are so far behind, then that is time you can ill-afford to spend not-knitting.

    On the other hand, we do want to see you reaching out to us to keep yourself sane and healthy, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ So please do blog when and how you feel like blogging, without any sense of guilt.

    I have one other suggestion: if you could adapt the arms and legs to knitting in the round, they might go a little faster without the seaming up. The pattern you have actually adapts to knitting in the round very well, though my gauge changed quite a bit when I did that. If yours does, too, then you may wish to add or remove a few stitches to keep the same proportions.

    I purchased your pattern from Craftsy, and I would like to send you a picture of the bear I knit once he has a face and a name – though at the moment he looks more like a mouse because of how pointy I made his head. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Most of us are happy as long as you are happy, and as Diane said, you can’t please everyone all of the time. Trying only makes oneself miserable, but being happy and being yourself goes a long way toward making most of the people happy most of the time. Just keep plugging away – you’ll get there. We have faith in you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  84. Gregory, you are an inspiration to so many ๐Ÿ™‚ They say people enter our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime, and I believe Travis came to you at the time you needed him to be there to help you along your life journey…….and you for him too ๐Ÿ™‚ I also knit and sometimes sell, and I know how difficult it can be to get orders out on time when you also have to juggle life in there too ……. and the times you just want to put down the needles and do something else for a change !! It is testament to you that your order list is so long and the folk on there need to accept if they are to receive one of your special bears, they need to wait as long as it takes. You can only ever do your best, and the bears and the blog are only parts of your life, you can’t just knit/blog, knit/blog 24/7 ! What kind of life would you have if you did? I love seeing your bears and reading your blogs, as so many others do, and would hate you to go, but I also want you to be doing it because YOU want to do it, and not because other people want you to. It’s YOUR blog, YOUR life, and YOUR future, and you need to be here doing all this, because you want to be, please don’t allow other people to dictate how your life must proceed ๐Ÿ™‚ But just for the record…… I’m happy to be ‘in’ and a part of whatever this community may pan out to be, and thank you Gregory……just for being ‘you’ ๐Ÿ˜€

  85. A lovely post. It must be very difficult to be met with anger … I can only imagine it’s because people do not realise you are but one man with a backlog of bear orders. I’m hoping to put an order in myself soon, and when I do it isn’t just because of they are the cutest bears I’ve ever seen, it’s also because of you and the story that comes with them. I could probably pick up an equally cute bear from a shop in 5 minutes, but I’d rather wait 8 months for yours. Happy easter. Jodie May x
    PS. I write a craft and rustic lifestyle blog (ahandmadecottage.com) As soon as you have any videos or tutorial etc I’d be more than happy to share them with my readers. They’ll love you and your bears : )

  86. I’d be HONORED to sponsor you for the Fall Men’s Knitting Retreat in Seattle over Labor Day weekend this year. Would you be interested in going? It’s a half-week of knitting karma and support among male knitters. We’re a very welcoming and caring group. I swear the first time I went, it felt like family. You can contact me at ken “dot” mccamish “at” gmail “dot” com. I think you could use it and it would be a real gift FROM you TO me if you’d accept. We can work out the details such as what airport you’d fly out of, etc. but I’ll sponsor you and/or nominate you for one of the scholarships we already do. In any case, I think you’d really get a recharge of your life battery by going to the retreat. (The view from the retreat alone inspires tons of personal feelings of peace.)
    -Ken Mc.
    Jeffersonville, IN

  87. Your story is heartwarming. Your dedication, perseverance, creativity, mindfulness, and sensitivity are truly admirable. Your bears are gorgeous. I especially admire your tenacity to pull yourself up by your ‘bootstraps’ and keep on keeping on. And giving sooo much. You could have made a few bears, sold the pattern and be done with it, moved onto something else, but you obviously fill your bears with love as well.
    It’s also admirable that you want to give more, to build a community through all sorts of technological communications. It has to truly come from within though, your hearts deepest prompting. Then you won’t burn out. Follow your heart. Always.
    I’d be happy if YOU chose to continue on. ๐Ÿ™‚
    You are an artisan and a wonderful human being.

  88. I don’t want to see this blog end. I love your bears and I love the way you write. You have a big heart and you show it in your writing. Trust in God and keep on keeping on. We live in a horrible world and we need teddy bears and people like you. It is the only hope we have!

  89. I copy and pasted my post from Facebook here, since I see that you are likely looking for responses here first and not on Facebook! What Barefoot Lizzie said. Seriously, stay….please stay. I’ve been quiet through all of it, too, but been on your side the whole time. Often times people just don’t understand how long it takes to make something special and beautiful by hand. Just try to communicate better with them, that’s all. Your bears and writing are both awesome and inspiring; please don’t stop knitting or blogging. And I will be the first to post a photo of my work…..a purple tweed teddy bear that I made for my niece. Sadly it is not my pattern but I love how it came out. I’ll dig up a photo and post it. If I could figure out how to post a photo here, I would so if you want to see it (I’m pretty proud of it; it’s my first bear), let me know how to get it to you. Knit on!

  90. Whatever you do, don’t vanish! Your blog is valueable to those invested merely in knowing how you’re doing. I would suspect it is helpful for those who have ordered bears to know that you aren’t making major changes to your routine, which can be scary when waiting for delayed, handcrafted items, speaking from my experience in ordering handcrafted knitting needles last year that took much longer to receive than expected.

    One good thing is you’re taking ownership of the situation and not making excuses. I’m an avid knitter and knitting on commission is no joke. I have one set of fingerless gloves that my customer has been waiting on for a long time…just one. Non-knitters may not understand that the process itself can have an affect on the person, therapeutic at times, challenging sometimes when knitting the same item too. However, as you admit, people have paid, they want their item regardless.

    So my suggestion is to take time for updates via email. Perhaps sitting down with your list and coming up with a realistic timetable for completion and reaching out to the individual with an estimate even if it’s months away. Email an update once you’ve started the individual bear. Update your blog with general info, “still working on the backlog”, etc. Apologize as you have and keep the process as transparent as possible. You won’t be able to please all, but it will show a bit of good faith to disgruntled customers and the understanding ones will continue to be patient.

    Keep up the good work!

  91. Surely people are disappointed not to get their bears quickly as distinct from being disappointed in YOU – big difference. If you’re working that hard, your nose is to the grindstone and maybe you need to take a step back and get some perspective! Charge more for the bears – might mean less orders but financially it might work out the same but taking less of a toll on your health. They are beautiful bears BUT nobody dies if they don’t get their bear immediately. Any chance you could work for a day or two every week just to keep some regular income (it will def pay more per hour than knitting!) and might take some pressure off you and let you get some perspective………..

  92. I love following your blog and I love your teddy bears. I know how hard it is to try and fit everything in that you want to do in a day. My name is Tamara Gonzales and I just happen to love to crochet and I live in Wichita, Kansas. I have a blog that I am trying to update regularly (have had a problem with that lately). I love the blogging community so please keep blogging and keep knitting those beautiful teddy bears. Oh by the way if you want to read my blog, you can find it at http://www.crochetwithtamara.wordpress.com. I would love to feature you on my blog some day. You can also contact me at have_2_crochet@yahoo.com. Have a great day! Love and Hugs, Tamara

    1. And I would love to feature you as well, Tamara! I’ll check it out shortly! You’re so very kind! And there is a beauty in crochet that you cannot find in knitting….and vice versa. They have their own unique merits and beauties.

      1. I totally agree with you Gregory about crochet and knitting. I do adore the art of knitting but I have not been able to master it as well as crochet. Thanks so much for stopping by. ๐Ÿ™‚

  93. Me again! Just bought 2 of your patterns and also managed to put one of them on Pinterest.com so maybe that would generate a sale or two. Maybe you could do a few more patterns but I do know how much time goes into just writing up a simple pattern ……….

    1. You’re such a sweetheart, Rosemary. I’m trying to work up some more patterns now! Ok ok ok…so it’s only about 10 minutes a day, but I am working on some more. (A lion to be exact).

  94. Sheesh you people, don’t you know what you’re ordering here? Hand crafted love! Not some mass-produced consumerist bit of tat. Learn some patience and civility. I’m ordering a bear, but don’t want it delivered, instead, I want Greg to use the time that it would take to make one, to relax. This is my gift to him, for all the love he’s sending out. If you can’t send some love back, you’re an asshole.
    Don’t go, I Love you Greg xx

  95. I’m in …………. and for the long haul, wherever that takes us ๐Ÿ˜Š we’ll be with you
    Have a virtual bear hug from me and a HUGE thank you for being here
    Steph x

  96. just keep being you, keep knitting those teddies, keep writing those blogs

    don’t listen to the naysayers – there’s ALWAYS gonna be people who will gripe & complain, & want to drag you down – don’t let them.

    one hard lesson I finally learned is that there will always be people who don’t like what you do, won’t like you, or have something negative to say. I would be suspicious if there wasn’t.

    but just remember that there is ALWAYS a vast majority of us who love & care about you, support you, & really like the bears you make & share.

    keep it up. I’m following you for the long haul

    1. You’re so right, Dan. Not everyone is going to like you. And the more publicity you get, the more inclined people are to shred you, beat you, take you down, pummel you. And what do you do? It reminds me of a dream I had once. I was having dinner with Martha Stewart. I asked her, “What is the secret to your success?” She said, “It’s all about how you treat people. Treat the people that work FOR you with a lot of respect. You can be demanding and harsh….but they need to know they’re valuable, and that you could not survive without them. Treat the people that work WITH you with even more praise. They’ll do half the work, but get only half as much credit as you do, because they’re name isn’t as well known. Make sure they know they’re contribution is worthwhile and beneficial and that you couldn’t have done it without them. And treat the people that are working AGAINST you to dinner…..and change their mind.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  97. Gregory – You are a wonderful knitter of teddy bears, but you are much more than that. I love your writing and am so happy everytime there is a new blog post. I only know you through your writing but I do know that you are creating good karma in a world that sorely needs it. Be kind to yourself; you are as human as the rest of us.

  98. I work with the homeless population in my area. I am also a knitter. And I am one of the ones that has ordered a bear, but not yet received it. You are very up front about the amount of time that it could take, so I am not at all disappointed in you. I think that what you are doing is powerful and in some way changes the world. I tell your story as much as I can, especially to the folks I word with. So, be confident in yourself. You are an inspiration.

  99. You are an inspiration to many including me. When I feel overwhelmed and frustrated I think of you, the yarn and those happy little bears. I am a knitter and I am most in my “happy zone” when I am knitting. I hope that knitting has not become a stresser for you. I can see how a love of a craft can turn into a chore because of negativity and impatience of others. Please enjoy the process. Let the little cuties take away stress and not let them add to your burdens. Keep knitting. Keep blogging. I know the bear I ordered will arrive when he is ready to make my house his forever home. Take all the time you need. Sending peace and blessings.

    1. I do love the process. You would probably laugh if you all saw my daily routine when I knit. I spend the first part standing, dancing while listening to the radio….then the second half of the day laughing while knitting watching the Golden Girls before bed. Don’t laugh! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Uhhhh (I can’t sleep at night without them playing. It’s a thing….being alone and left in the woods? I felt I had company. So, to this day I still watch them on my little laptop every night to help me sleep). Those ladies are awesome, aren’t they?

  100. I’m sorry to say I’ve never ordered one of your bears, but I enjoy your pictures of them and your stories. I hope you THRIVE, I crochet and have tried to knit and you that part about it supposing to relax you? Doesn’t work with the knitting, only the crochet. I am disabled so not a lot of extra $’s but if I ever do have extra I will order a bear. Prayers for you and the joy you spread with these little critters.

    1. I’m so glad you love my little bears, Teresa! And I crochet on occassion, too! This last winter I crocheted my blankets for my bed. Yes, it does get a bit chilly here in Florida in the winter, and crocheting them was quick and easy. Have you ever thought of offering your crocheted work for sale?

      1. Gregory, I am usually behind on requests from my 3 grand daughters and other family members and close friends lol. I am at the present working on my a pink shawl to wear on Sundays at church when the a/c is a little much for one growing older. I have sold a few things before, and I am going to try and do an afghan for the church to be offered off to contribute to one of their fund raisers. I have also made a few things for my old chemo room I had to visit every other week for a few months 3 years ago ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep on stitching!!

  101. Don’t let the future of your blog be in someone else’s hands. Keep doing it if you love it. Keep knitting bears. You’re growing a business and there will growing pains. Figure it out and make it work. You might need to hire someone who is strong where you are weak to help you get through the backlog. You can do it. I bought a bear because I love the idea behind it. I will continue to wait for the bear because the idea of your bears is a very good thing. I do hope that you work out a timely shipping routine for future orders. Once you do, I’ll place a standing order for baby gifts. My faith is in you and in your project.

    This was a beautifully written piece, by the way.

    Keep your chin up!

    1. You know, Caroline, I’ve been thinking about this, and maybe someone out there will pick up on it. I’d love to work out an agreement with some other fellas that knit. Ball cap wearing, boot strapping, dirty jeaned fellas that can knit. I could have an army of Mad Men Knitting. Can you see it? Down on their luck fellas given a chance with a set of knitting needles. What a wild scene that would be. Thank you for having faith in me!

      1. I did order the pattern but I’m such a slow knitter. And oh how I hate to purl (loved your purling analogy). I’m good at admin work. Excel spreadsheets, tracking inventory, bookkeeping. I think you could use a good admin person and a few extra knitters from time-to-time. I say this as a person who is really good at admin stuff. It’s the boring, no fun, organizational stuff but it keeps the creative juices flowing so you don’t have to worry about back orders. You have a tremendous gift that should be protected and nurtured, so recruit help to take the worry out. It doesn’t have to be permanent. Blessings!

  102. Keep writing. Keep knitting. Keep believing. You’ll get through the backorders.
    And blog as much or as little as you want to blog. You don’t need to please us. You are obviously sincere in your desire to keep all of your customers happy. You’re not shifting the blame or pointing fingers. Anyone who reads your blog knows that. You’re a human being, after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh, thank you, Joanna! NO, the delay is all my fault. I can’t blame anyone for that…..except maybe Mario, who is insistent on being on my lap sometimes when I need to work. Yeah, let’s blame her! ๐Ÿ™‚ (After all, I blamed her for that funny smell when I had company over one day ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  103. Stay! Your blog is one of the few I have bookmarked. I may not always agree with what you say but I want to hear it and think about it. Ultimately the person you need to please is you. Your history should inspire us all! I recently ordered a bear knowing there would be a wait. It gives me an opportunity to be patient and anticipate something good in the future.

    1. Thanks, Diana. What a maddening world if everything was agreeable? What dark conversations we would all have…..We SHOULD disagree, because we want the best of life and the world we live in….only different directions on how to get there. And if we’re both genuine about life being full of happiness and prosperity, then we agree…..just disagree on which road is the best to get there. I look forward to disagreements! ….and the hug and handshake that follows.

  104. Gregory…I’ve not written to you before. I don’t even remember how I found out about you…maybe through a facebook post. I’m a United Methodist Pastor…reading your story, your thoughts in your blog, prompt me to pray for you, that you might indeed thrive. The thoughts you share in this blog are real and genuine, and often inspiring. I have lots of things on my reading list, but as soon as notice of a new blog appear, I make it a point to read it as soon as I am able – and I am often the better for it. Going through some difficult times myself right now – and even though we don’t know each other at all…you make it feel like you are a companion on the way. I hope to have the funds to order a bear someday, and have him sitting here on my desk!

    1. Thank you, David! Where are you a pastor at? In which city??? There’s an awesome Methodist Church here (Reeves United) and I shop at their thrift store for books and trousers. I adore them. I haven’t been able to attend their services, though. I’ve often felt embarrassed to. With a bike ride up (about 2 miles) and my not having proper wear, I fear I’ll show up sweaty in blue jeans and a ball cap and worry. But, the kindness by the little elderly ladies who run the thrift store has been nothing but genuine and kind. And thank you for thinking of me as a companion! Cheers, man! We should talk sometime!

  105. Your 1700 bears works out at more than one per day. I don’t think so. No wonder there is a long stream of people complaining that you take their money and don’t send the goods, that you don’t bother to answer emails. Nothing new there though is there? I know who you are from a long time back under several variations on your name and you have a long and dishonourable history of this sort of thing.

    1. Nope. Its been around 1700 by now. What several variations of my name? Iโ€™ve always been Gregory Patrick. Mad Man Knitting. And if youโ€™ve got a complaint about my dishonorable history, then I truly hope you can counter that with some evidence. I donโ€™t take kindly to that sort of remark. Especially since you didnโ€™t reveal your name, nor how who seemed to know me. So, if you want to do this, donโ€™t do it anonymously. Say your full name and your contact information, and to which incidents in my past to which you refer and we can either settle this in the public forum or with litigation.

      Be prepared for either….

  106. Gregory hang in there, stay, and keep knitting and blogging. For so many of us you are an inspiration and I’m a proud owner of three of your bears and love them. You have alot of friends and supporters out here rooting for you!

  107. I, too, would encourage you to continue with your bears and your blog IF IT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. I’m puzzled that you say you will leave it up to “us” to make this decision for you. The decision is all yours, always has been, always will be. That is the only road to happiness and fulfillment, my friend.

    If you are looking for assistance in another vein, perhaps you could be more specific. Do you require a donation, yarn or monetary? Would you like volunteers to assist with the knitting?

    Perhaps you could expand your repertoire and start selling additional designs/patterns (I actually purchased your bear pattern). It does seem amazing that you could survive knitting bears. As a knitter, I’m well aware of just how long a project takes.

    However things work out for you, I certainly wish you the best and hope your life’s path is one that brings you joy and peace. Incidentally, I am also a resident of Central Florida and often think about you and wonder how you are doing.

    1. To be truthful? I need a good month to get everything caught up. But, as the first of the month comes around, I need to sell more to get rent and bills tended to. So, the next month isn’t any different than the last. I’m in a flawed cycle. I have TONS of yarn that people from all over the world have sent to me. (Hence the new sock yarn bears I’ve started showing. I adore those). Where in Central Florida are you? If you’re ever downtown Orlando, please send me an email and we can meet for coffee!

  108. My dear, you have no reason to be disappointed in yourself as long as you’re doing the best you can. Maybe you need to look at your orders & be very realistic about how soon you can have them ready to send out. Don’t over-promise! One thing I learned working at a consignment shop–if someone wants to have it done by a certain day, they’ll have to pay extra. Otherwise, just do your work in the order it comes in & give your customers a realistic estimate of when they can expect to receive it. They have to realize that you’re one person, working alone, & no one can knit 24/7 (tho I’ve tried!). So keep on truckin’–you’ve come too far to turn back now & there are a lot of us feeling joy in your sucesses!

    1. Thank you for the grounding. I do need to be more realistic about how much I can do. I knit up three today…..but, I had hoped to do five. I’ll keep on truckin’, darlin’. ๐Ÿ™‚

  109. I started to not read this blog post ‘cuz I thought I “didn’t have time.” Am I glad I stopped looking at worthless crap online and read this instead! This is worthwhile. This is what’s good about the internet. And I totally admire you for what you are doing and wish that I had such willpower! I hope you can keep going if that’s what you want to do. Some people just don’t realize the scope of what you’re doing: you are only one person hand knitting those little bears and there is a limit to what one person can humanly do! The teddy bear I ordered for my friend took longer than I thought it might, but you did what you promised to do. You made no promise of delivering by a certain date, only that you would do it, and do it in a timely order. And when it finally arrived it was so adorable that I wanted to keep it for myself; instead, I got a nice photo of it and then sent it on to my friend as originally planned, and she loved it. Thank you, and thanks for your inspirational words!

    1. THAT was what I needed to hear! THANK YOU ALLISON!!! oh, man…..see??? SEE??? They DO show up. And that little face peeking from out the brown paper wrapping just makes it all worthwhile.

  110. Well I just found you (via a friends post on FB)so I would hate to lose you now! You are inspirational so please dont go anywhere!

  111. Oh and please don’t be disheartened. Some people just dont understand that they aren’t just buying a bear, they are investing in something so much more…a human being. You get what you give in this world. The ones who complain and get angry are the ones who won’t really appreciate your wonderful creations for what they are…love knitted into bears.

  112. I think you are being a little hard on yourself. Everyone who picks up two stick to maneuver a ball of yarn knows that deadlines are usually not a good idea. Putting that pressure on yourself while doing something relaxing never has a good outcome.

    I, for one, am enjoying your posts and would miss them if they disappeared. Do what you can and know that there are some people who truly care about you not for what you can give them but for who you are.

    1. Maybe I am being hard on myself. But, I’ve grown. I’ve learned a valuable lesson in these these three years. My flaws. My self expectations are higher than they should be. However, when we learn from our own weedy foibles and we grow and bloom.

    1. I’ll be sure to look into your blog. And I LOVE that non-knitters come here! I think you said it best. Inclusion, always. Best intentions breed better company. I’m looking to invite more guest bloggers. I’ll take a peek at yours and take a look!

  113. Big bear hugs to you for your drive and determination. There will always be those who try to hold you to their level. Never think your best isn’t good enough. We have become such an instant society folks forget that good things are worth the wait.

  114. I read your posts and I say, don’t worry about people being disappointed in you! You are not a machine who can spit out bears every minute. You are a knitter who knits part of your soul into your bears. Handmade treasures take time and people who do order from you know that knitting takes time, the ones that don’t knit may not know how much work goes into your bears. Please continue!

  115. Hi Gregory,
    I love your story and I think you should keep on keepin’ on. However, it would be nice to know (approximately) when I can expect my bear to arrive. I can wait, but it’s hard to not have any idea of how long I’ll wait, you know? It’s my nephew’s 1st birthday tomorrow and I know it won’t be here by then, but soon? I’m looking forward to putting that bear in his chubby little arms. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks!

    Jody Mendenhall

  116. Consumers have a choice – either to order an item manufactured in China, identical to 10,000’s of others, through a company like Amazon that is huge enough to guarantee next day delivery & super-efficiency OR to order an individual one-off item from a craftsperson that can guarantee goodwill and care but no way the same efficiency. To go it alone in this mass-produced commercial world is tough but it needs brave creative individuals and there will always be clients out there for them. Just keep knitting – don’t dwell on negative emails if they are not constructive – your brain needs that space to keep generating creative ideas …….

  117. I can’t say it better than this:

    found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta:

    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

    What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

    Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

    In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

    -this version is credited to Mother Teresa

    Thrive! Create! Succeed! Be well.

  118. I can’t say it better than this! Thrive, build, succeed, knit anyway!!!

    The version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta:

    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

    What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

    Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

    In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

    -this version is credited to Mother Teresa

  119. >This is a repost as my original post seems to still awaiting moderation. Hopefully this one will get thru<

    Dearest Gregoryโ€ฆif you only knew. Although I seldom knit, I am a crochet fanatic and teacher. Weโ€™ve talked before via email and Iโ€™ve gotten a bear from you (totally awesome.) I am self employed at crocheting, computer graphic web design and a yarn shop. I have experienced severe depression over the span of my life and though most of the times it is all good, there are times when it nearly overwhelms me. Sometimes Iโ€™m ready to throw in the towel myself when I get so overwhelmed and think to myself, โ€œwhatโ€™s the use?โ€ Then your blog arrives and I go through a transformation. You give me hope. You give me encouragement. You give me inspiration. You give me love. If you keep your blog going if for no other reason than to keep encouraging folks like me who suffer from this occasional debilitating depression and self doubt, then I believe it is worth every last letter, word, sentence and paragraph. The bears help you thriveโ€ฆ.YOUR words (blog) have helped me to thrive. I love you so much for it. God bless you. Iโ€™m so completely in.

  120. Keep going. We need people like you. People who have a passion for something and work towards it. Your passion are your teddybears and the happiness they bring to others. Please don’t be down when others don’t understand who you really are. Breathe. Smile. Move On. ๐Ÿ™‚

  121. Don’t EVER quit blogging! I look forward to your posts. You are a beautiful soul. I could tell you about some of my experiences in Orlando about 41 years ago when I left Iowa at 17 to “find myself” and then found myself in Orlando. Lots of good times there, some painful ones, too. I am looking forward to receiving my bear and reading your blog for a long time to come. Sending my love from back in Iowa (a lot older and wiser ๐Ÿ™‚ ) And lastly, my name is Marta Nelson, and I emphatically and enthusiastically support you and what you do and who you are!

  122. This post was a bit of a gut-wrenching read… please keep your blog going… I became a follower because I loved your honesty about the ups and downs of life, and I loved your creativity, which is shown in your fantastic writing and adorable bears. You have been an inspiration to me, and if you like, I can do a guest post sometime…
    Above all, THANKS for all the hard work you have already done and shared with us.

  123. I hope you don’t stop knitting. I am the proud owner of a teddy bear that I bought back when you first started. It’s sitting on my bookshelf and it comforts me when I feel anxious and stressed. It helps me realize that with perseverance and belief in myself, I will be able to get up tomorrow morning.

    1. I hope I don’t stop knitting either! But, it really isn’t up to me. If no one buys a bear….there is nothing to knit ๐Ÿ™‚ I have always thought the greater message of this blog was about perseverance, hope, faith. Never giving up. It’s so good to hear from you again!

  124. Where is mine? I know you are knitting as fast as you can so I am only kidding. I know it will be sent as soon as you get it done. I have been enjoying the trips to the mail box in hopes of its arrival. Don’t stop….knitting or blogging. They are both connecting “threads” . We all have to keep going , keep being creative, keep enjoying life. I hope you have more good days then bad. I have enjoyed reading your blog. I am just up the road from you and you can check out my blog at poorhouseparadise.blogspot. Its just a few ramblings but it is so fulfilling … like my quilting. My daughter is going to teach me to crochet and I want to order your bear pattern someday also. I knit, but not real well. Keep signing on and speaking to us. I will be waiting for my bear …. I know it will be special. Hugs and prayers, Daizy

  125. PLEASE keep blogging and knitting and keeping us in stories about your wonderful kitty. I love your stories. I adore the bears. You’re a man with true gifts for so many things – heart and soul.

    I am looking forward to my own bear but can wait. I waited a month to adopt my cat. 8 months to grow my daughter. If I get my bear by Halloween I’ll be happy (so I can dress him in a swell costume.) I always look forward to your posts. xoxox (Marla – who also goes by Juliette with the odd little blog)

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