Through The Mud With a Smile

So, last night I crawled into bed. I did my usual routine. Ate some late dinner ( I can’t eat at normal times of day. When I eat, I go straight to sleep. Not sure where that comes from), fired up some of the Golden Girls on my laptop (the sound of them soothes me into sleep), Mario crawled up beside my pillow and rolled into a ball, and then I began to doze off……THEN WHAM! Hours later, somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning, I bolted straight up, wide eyed with panic. My mind was racing, my breath was panted, and my body was solidly stuck in a state of tense. And what brought this on???? In my heard I kept hearing, “I’m 42 years old! I’m 42 years old!!!!!”

Would sound kinda of vain if that were the ONLY thing in that statement, but it bled with so many other underlying fears that crept up on me. It’s tough scraping by every month. But, I do it. But the closer I get to the end of the month, the pressure of scraping by becomes a reality, and that reality becomes more and more of a nightmare the older you get. I mean, if I were in my 20’s this sort of life would seem like the beginning of great possibilities. It would seem Bohemian and thrilling. But, now that I’m in my 40’s its becoming this terrifying notion that I’ll be 50, still hoping to get by each month knitting teddy bears. No savings, still, wondering if arthritis will set in and ruin me. And then I’ll be 60. And hopefully 70…..and I’ll be living with Mario in a badly run State home for the indigent, both of us eating cat food out of the same can. What?????

That was the panic that sat in last night. Fear of the future. I”m getting too old to barely get by every month. Something big needs to happen. Something that takes me to the next level…..but, then again you have to ask, what IS the next level? I guess one option is to design a logo, slap it on my front door, file some papers and call myself a legitimate design house/business, charge HUGE amounts of money for my bears, and become a man that would rival the Steiff Bear. (Really, aside from Steiff, who else is there???). Another option would be to find a small yarn company, or just an individual yarn maker and work with them. You know, attach my bear pattern to their yarn, and use ONLY  their yarn when I work up one of my bears. Cross promote each other.  I had always hoped that my book would sell MILLIONS of copies and that would solve quite a few problems…..alas, not yet.

I guess I’m intellectually stifled right now. I’m in brainstorming mode. I do know this much, though. I’m not interested in spending another year just drudging through financial mud with an optimistic smile on my face. I don’t want to do that anymore. I need ideas. New, fresh ways of thinking. What is the next level?  How do I get there? I want to start moving in that direction PRONTO……so, that’s where I want to hear from you. Let’s ALL get into brainstorming mode. All ideas are welcome (except for going on “Dancing with the Stars.” I’m not doing that). So, leave comments, tell me what you think the next level should be?

IMG_0577And of course, I still have a few Rainbow Bears to adopt out in order to get the rent gathered up. My friend Butch said they weren’t doing as well because they were ugly. Bah! I think it’s ironic that  a man named Butch wouldn’t like a Rainbow Bear! Just sayin’!

Click here to adopt a Rainbow Bear and prove Butch wrong! All are ready to ship with a signed card from me 🙂



  1. Write another book about the journey of you and your bears. Something more upbeat, not that I didn’t love Mad Man Knitting. Make sure Mario is a big part, aliong with photos and a patten.

    1. How about a crowdfunding campaign of some kind where you share more of your story, your hopes and dreams with this continued project and way of life, etc., which would allow people to donate toward some of your needs. For example, gifts at different rates could mean buying skeins of yarn, or enough for bears (but not necessarily bears they receive), or *gasp* a donation toward the cost of enough bears to give you a day+ off in order to rest your hands and your soul? This could also help toward something of savings so you’re a little less hand-to-mouth per se. I could take this part of the conversation offline with you as I’ve worked on crowdfunding in various forms. You already have the cool blog, but perhaps another regular way to keep the money coming in would help?

      Also, what if some of us from further than FL have yarn we’d like to donate to the cause? Should we just box it up and mail it? Do you have a preference of type and weight?

      Anyway, just a couple ideas. Best wishes and keep up the good work!

      1. by the way, I think your Rainbow Bears are sweet. If you have people saying otherwise they OBVIOUSLY weren’t the intended audience or prospective recipients! 😉

  2. Aw, sweetie, if you’re 42 then that’s a milestone. Astrologers look at that as the Uranus opposition, and it really is a ‘mid-life’ thingy. Uranus and Pluto have been squaring off in the skies for awhile now, and they will do so until spring next year. If you’re 42, it could make you a bit jittery about the future. Just have faith, keep doing what you are doing and know that this too will pass. Your track record of getting through the tough days is 100% so far, right? Those are awesome odds.

  3. When I was woken up by the question of what to do with the rest of my life, I decided to get a job. ANY job. I applied at McDonalds and loved every minute until I developed arthritis. I went to college on a program designed to get old people like me off unemployment (I’m Canadian and, at the time, i was over forty) and graduated yesterday with an Honours Diploma in Business Administration. I don’t have a job yet, but I am knitting while I fill out applications.
    This was my solution for my situation. I took a huge risk, left my kids with baby-sitters and didn’t clean the house while I studied.
    You are brave and resourceful. Take a risk and keep posting. Your blog encourages me.

  4. I know Lion has been generous towards you. Have you ever approached them about your pattern/yarn idea? The bear I got from you was made using their Fisherman yarn which is really perfect for the bears. Certainly worth a shot.

  5. Sorry to hear what you are going through. I can identify. I am just about 50 and starting life over. Yikes. Money has been a constant concern the past 2 years. I could not get a job . So, I returned to school. Yup at the age of 50. It has been a blessing, it is a 2 year program. I have learned a lot in the classroom and out of it. I am able to go to school and leave my worries behind for 8 a day. Yes, there has been days I wonder what the heck and I doing there, and am I told old to do this ? But I am doing it ! I achieved honors in my first year! My confidence in my abilitys has grown immensely ! Good luck to you !

  6. What about adding ads to your blog? They can be very lucrative! Have yarn or craft companies pay you to have ads on your blog 🙂

  7. Do your local firefighters, paramedics or police department have a ‘bears for kids’ program where they give (free) bears to children who have been victims of accidents/fires, etc.? I live in a community where these emergency services providers PAY for bears (and not nearly as cute and personalized as yours), for these programs. If you can connect with one of those in an exclusive paid arrangement, that might be a guaranteed income…?

  8. I think approaching Lion about a cross-promotion is a fantastic idea! You seem to have an “in” with the company already and it was what you used to make your bears exclusively for a long time.

    I am also 42 and currently unemployed after the ad agency I was working for closed their doors last year. With me collecting unemployment my husband and I are not better off financially (a lot of debt that isn’t going anywhere) but we’re no worse off either. The problem is, I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to go back to the 12 hour slog – not seeing my kids, missing out on family stuff, being unhappy just to make money for bills and not getting any further ahead. I’m not good at selling myself either.

    Your epiphany is a good thing, despite inconveniently occurring in the middle of the night. You have a lot to say and you say it eloquently. You are passionate about what you do and why you do it. The next level is there, waiting for you to discover it.

    I tell everyone who will listen about your journey and your bears. ❤

  9. what about expanding you bear line? adding clothes for the teddys? mini stuffies for the teddys? adding something like a rabbit or cat or some other animal that is an easy mod of the teddy to add more options? and turning it into an e-book? are your patterns available on ravelry?

  10. I have no bright ideas but I do wish you luck. And I also think that the fact you are here, writing and knitting is BIG. You have made it this far and are not just on the streets with a head full of stress but no motivation. It’s is a brilliant sign, you are making your dreams come true.

  11. Sometimes something bigger is calling from the eye of that big hurricane named Panic. I suggest trying a Jungian therapist, or at least doing a bunch of reading/watching videos about Jung. (The therapists are pretty expensive when you have no money…)

  12. Happy Birthday to You! How about trying to get an outside job as a knitting instructor? At Michaels, a VA hospital, children’s hospital, camp… Just a thought. I don’t know where you are at or what’s around you but you can only knit so many bears in your waking hours. Maybe try a new craft that isn’t so tedious on your hands…always behind you. P.S. The 42 thing is scary, I’m dealing with much if he same.

  13. I think the rainbow bears are cute.
    Someone else mentioned Ravelry and I am suggesting it also, It is a huge online community of knitters and crocheters. Offering your bear pattern on the site might be a good way to earn some passive income. Joining Ravelry is free and it seems fairly easy to set up an account for selling patterns.

  14. Gregory:

    Boy, can I relate to the middle of the night anxiety. Ouch. I had a thought that might be helpful along with all the ideas above. There is a national nonprofit organization called SCORE ( is the web site). It is a volunteer group whose members do free business advising and counseling whether you have an idea or are already in business. There are chapters all over the country and I know there are chapters in Florida. I run a chapter’s office part time up in NY. You can work with a business mentor via telephone and email, too. In fact, the email counseling will expand your mentor possibilities to volunteers around the country. If you are interested, I’d be happy to talk on the phone sometime or via email. Just let me know.


  15. I think your rainbow bears are awesome!! I have been trying to get one, but every time I click to buy 1 it says that it is no longer available. Well, I scored this morning and was fast enough to adopt one. Thank you. I like Aim’s idea on adding ads to your blog. Yarn companies may pay you to advertise on your page. Many of us are knitters or crocheters. It is a target audience.

  16. I was just thinking about this recently — what’s next for you that will ease the monthly strain. I don’t know what it is, either, but it’s good and it’s on its way. 🙂

    More books, perhaps, with a book deal now that you have a readership and a following. I’m sure you’ve got more to say.

  17. Many have made some good suggestions here:

    1. Sell patterns on Ravelry
    2. Sell advertisements on your blog
    3. Partner with Lion to promote your bears, or let your bears promote Lion yarn
    4. Write another book
    5. Publish a book of patterns

    1. You can sell patterns on both Ravelry and Etsy, yep. People are always looking for more cute animal patterns. If you do both sites you will reach people who only use one site and not the other, and Etsy lets you sell digital downloads now so it’s basically upload it once and not worry much about it again. It wouldn’t make you bazillions but if you can sort of break the link a little bit between “I do X amount of work” and “I make the rent this month” it will give you some wiggle room.

  18. Gregory, I am so proud of you!! Reading this the idea of teaching a “knit-a-bear workshop” perhaps at a community college or coffee shop came to mind.. Figure out how many classes it would take for the average knitter to make a bear. You could have 3 levels of classes, beginner, intermediate, and expert. You would have time to knit during the class while teaching and get income from the people taking your classes. Perhaps you can work with Lion Brand to have them provide yarn for the students. That would give new customers exposure to Lion Brand. Just an idea.. take what you can from it. Positive thoughts to you my friend!

  19. I wish I could provide the answer… but instead I can only offer this. As Lao Tzu says, “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” You’ve got talent, passion, a good heart, and lots of people who believe in you. Trust your gut. I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

  20. I have no brilliant ideas for you, but I will say keep going, and keep up the good work. There is something for you out there. All the best.

  21. You don’t feel like you’re doing well but you’re above water and that’s pretty damned good. You have a roof over your head, a hot shower and clean clothes. That’s awesome. 🙂
    Lots of great ideas on here today and I’m going to throw some more at ya, probably some already said too.
    *Write down every idea from everyone on here today and go back over them. Look at each one from different prospective and see which ones you can make work for you.
    *You already use Lion Brand almost exclusively so you should talk with them again and see if they will back a book, as mentioned above, about your current story. Struggling to get by, blogging where you can, you and Mario selling bears and catching up… OH and add the coffee shop cop story, that’s a gem. 😀
    *Create more patterns. They’re not much as far as pay goes but I agree with those above and I’ve mentioned it before, branch out. Bunnies, cats, dogs, kids even. Make hats or clothing you can sell on the side for the bears. Make patterns for each so you only have to make the one bear but have a constant stream of patterns going out.
    *You tried kickstarter once before and had folks help you write another book. Was that one published? If not, finish it, publish it and maybe see if Lion will back that one. You’ve written at least 3 books and these folks only know about one.
    *I know someone mentioned getting a job. I know this would cut into a lot of bear making time but I have to agree. You need something social sometimes. Get a part time job doing something you love to do. Michaels, Jo-Ann, AC Moore. You can get a ride to them until you’re able to get something worked out maybe with a co-worker to catch a ride. That’ll probably net you $100 a week for 20 ish hours, you get out of the house, you do something you enjoy, get a discount on yarn and maybe they’d also want to help you write that book. If not, I think you’d still love it. I worked at Big Lots just to pass the time and LOVED it. People are great and when you have down time you can write down other ideas for stuff. Sure, you won’t get as many new bears out for a while but you’ll be making a more steady paycheck in the meantime waiting for the books to take off or the patterns.
    *Have someone help you translate your bear pattern (and others you may make) to also be crochet patterns. You said your mother crochets, see if she’ll help you do that. You’ll be marketing to two areas instead of one, double the patterns.
    *Once a month or so have a two part or three part “Learn to knit The Bear That Saved Me” class. Have people pay you to come, sit, learn the pattern. Offer up coffee or sweet tea and go over the pattern. If they don’t get all of it the first part, they’ll have another day to come learn. Leave a jar out for donations and charge them to come and learn.

    Whew, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. 🙂 Again, write down people’s ideas. Run them by your friends and see if they can help you out with them or find ways to make some of them work for you. Good luck 🙂

  22. Do a knit along on you site, sell bear kits, people need to subscribe- like a sock club only for bears. Say it lasts a year, people sign up for a year (at a cost that covers yarn and patterns /and/or access to a members only online bear club where they can get patterns, tips etc.You will have to send out the yarn or however you decided to do it. ONly run if a predecided number of people subscribe. Payment upfront = garunteed income for the period.

  23. Hi Gregory, I have recently found your blog and greatly admire you. Have today ordered a copy of your book and bought a pattern which I’m knitting up. Hope this helps in some small way. Best wishes to you.

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