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Knit a Bear, Sell a Bear, Pay a Bill, Repeat as Needed

Wow, I am REALLY go through this stash faster than I thought I would. If you recall my last post I had stated that once I knit teddy bears out of this remaining yarn, that would be the end of the teddy bear’s run. And in the last few days I have been FLYING through this yarn, knitting up bear after bear after bear, using little bits of some yarn left over to make mock sweaters, hats and scarves. Thankfully, sales are starting to increase since people now realize that when they see a bear, that could be the last one. I am so grateful for that, because every bear we sell gets us closer to getting our late bills paid off. Today’s bears will go to pay off the electric bill, which is due at about 10pm tonight to avoid cut off. We get these little bears sold, and we’ll be ok. Tomorrow’s bears will focus on our late internet bill. So, we do have a plan to get ourselves caught up. Just knit my little heart out, sell a bear, pay a bill, repeat as needed.

I finished this little one wearing tons of purple just a few minutes ago. I’m going to go ahead and get started on a second one as soon as I post this, because I still have enough purple to make a second one. I also had enough of this awesome multicolored yarn from Hobby Lobby to make one last bear in Fair Isle. So, take a peek at the shop, find a bear, give him a home!

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The Last of a Stash is Not Always a Bad Thing

Yep, that is my stash. Oh, now, don’t feel bad. Its actually going the way it should, each skein being worked through quickly until at some point, probably before Christmas, the last of this yarn will all be gone. And when we get to that point, there will be no more teddy bears. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and perhaps I should have gone out when I was on top, but I had to keep going to help bring in the money while Phillip was looking for work. However, in the last year the price of my teddy bears was cut in half, and where once it would take only 30 minutes to sell one, sometimes they now take a week. They’ve run their course, I think. And that happens sometimes. They haven’t been selling very well lately so I thought, “Ok, time to move on.” Of course I’ll still be working with my own yarn for the yarn truck, and will be pushing my writing more and more. We’ll probably push our little youtube show a little more. I’m still going to be MAD MAN KNITTING, but I won’t be selling teddy bears once this yarn is gone. But, unfortunately, the bills are piling up and the teddy bears are no longer able to save me anymore.

Its not a terrible thing, its a moment of realization. For 6 years these little guys fed me, clothed me, and ultimately put a roof over my head. They’ll always be legendary. They’ll always be a reminder of that particular story of mine, and how the world flocked to them, fell in love with them. Who knows? Perhaps in a few decades they’ll be worth more for their limited run. There are only so many of them out there. They’ve all been sent with a card with my signature, so its quite possible 50 years from now we’ll see them on antiques roadshow. 🙂

So, I’d like to go out with a bang. Over the next few weeks I’ll be knitting them up like crazy, listing them, then moving on to the next one. Let’s give these little bears a final, wonderful send off. Be sure to check the shop regularly. And don’t feel like this is the end of the world, its just the end of a limited edition series, think of it that way 🙂 Let’s go find these last teddy bears some wonderful homes.  I WOULD LOVE to have the last group of “KNIT BEASTIES” to find a new home. I think they’re all adorable. The elephant, the tiger, the lion, the rabbit, and the bear all in one adorable box. THAT would help out a lot.

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Six Weeks Away from Christmas Day

I know most crafters will be busy in the next coming weeks busy building and making things for Christmas, or things to sell as gifts. I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything like that this year. I don’t have the time to knit up a ton of bears all at once, so the best I’ll be able to do is knit one up when I can (hopefully at least one a day) and list him in my shop. I guess that puts us at about 5 weeks to get anything I can sold when you consider shipping and everything. So, these next 5 weeks are going to be critical for me, because God knows I need the sales in a bad way. Still trying to get caught up from that nightmare of an illness. I didn’t sell anything for three weeks, because I had nothing I had knit. I just didn’t have the energy. But, I’m back now and pushing myself into overdrive so that I can get some sales under my belt and get caught up on bills. I’d like to start off the year on level footing. Pray, and we’ll see. The way things are going, we might just end up having to do a “Going Out of Business” sale. The shop hasn’t been doing very well, and….that just breaks my heart. But, I’m trying, always trying. Trying to remain optimistic, but we also have to be realistic.

I like making these little guys with the hats, scarves, and mock sweaters. Not only does it fit the season, but it really is a great way to get rid of little bits of skeins that you don’t have enough of to do too much with. So, you’ll be seeing a whole lot more of them in the coming weeks. There are a couple of bears in there that could really use some homes right away and would make amazing Christmas presents. My little orange bear has been reduced to a crazy low price just so we can find him a home. This little guy with the hat and sweater needs to find a home TONIGHT, so if you can, please snag him and take him home. You can find him in my shop. 

And for all of you knitters out there, my book of animal patterns is on Craftsy. You can knit, stuff and sew a whole animal in one day. So, those would make great gifts, too. You can download the book instantly here. 

I tested out my voice last night by doing some Hail Marys. It really sounded like it was starting to come back 🙂 Thank goodness for that.

Hope you all have a wonderful day.

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28 Years Tonight

28 years ago tonight, I was standing in front of the Berlin Wall, watching it being destroyed, pulled down, torn to shreds, history changing, political climates moving. And I was drunk as a skunk.

Ok, let’s put it this way. Stories of that night are some of the best drunken bar stories I could ever summon. I remember everything about that night, but couldn’t tell you a thing about the three days that followed. And before I go on, I have to say how much I love this pic. It truly does look like a bunch of boys from BAHS, and notice the second from the left swigging his Sekt. 🙂

It was an amazing night, full of history, full of insanity. I am grateful that I was there by accident. Didn’t mean to GO there because it was happening, but was living there, looking for a party, and finding myself telling my friends, “Let’s go before anyone else gets there!” Oh, the madness of being 17. Of course, by the time we got there thousands of people were already waiting to watch it happen. And we just fell into the crowd and started drinking.

There were these observation stands that we had on our side that were utilized by us on the Western side to peer over into the East. Now, a lot of people don’t realize that there were TWO walls. One that surrounded West Berlin, then a huge stretch of land that had land mines, then a SECOND wall. This was not just a concrete slab that divided a city, but rather, a death trap that surrounded one of the largest cities in Europe to keep people from getting OUT of the Soviet Union. Getting through was impossible, and escapes were rare.

However, we had these sort of observation stands that people on the West would… well, stand on, with many people having long standing, decade long dates to communicate with family members they had not seen in years, communicating in sign language. Now, the night the Wall fell, I climbed up on one of these stands that already had a hundred people clambering to hold on to, peering into the other side. Now, I’m a wiry guy, so I was able to hand on like a monkey for dear life off the side. To my left I heard the whirring of a platform rising beside me. No more than three feet from me was Dan Rather being lifted into the air to begin his broadcast for his network. Bright lights were everywhere, big crowds reveling in the moment, alcohol flying, chanting and yelling, noise and rambunctiousness everywhere! I saw him, he saw me and we both in a way of tilting the head were able to peer over the Wall and see this long line of ever patient people in the thousands, single file, quite silent, passports in hand, waiting for the moment the border would be open. The contrast of our excitement, versus their trepidation was astounding. I looked to Dan Rather, he looked to me and said quite humbly, “Shit….”

A few hours later I was down with the crowd, mingling and drinking and watching people come through to hug total strangers, flowers being put in the barrels of rifles, West Germans handing out celebration and alcohol, East Germans still asking, “Are you SURE I’m allowed to be here? It’s not a trick? They won’t shoot me?”

Witnessing history happen is much different than being a part of history. I was never a part, but salivated in watching it unfold right before my eyes. We were there, at the biggest party that century had ever seen, decrying, dismissing, destroying a socialist empire dead set on killing its people should they try to abandon it without firing a single shot.

That was when that pivotal moment happened, that singular moment in history when we watched communism die (TAKE A LESSON YOU IDIOT LIBERALS!), where we began to dismantle the Wall piece by piece. It started with little pick axes, car keys, crow bars, anything anyone had to chip away at the Wall with was being utilized. And soon, huge chunks were pulled to the ground, stomped on, dismissed. Of course I wanted to be a part of it, but I didn’t have anything worthy of chipping away at concrete. So my drunken little mind began to while away. You see, I had this bottle of Sekt that I had been drinking (it’s a really shitty German sparkling wine you can get for real cheap, and real cheap people were handing them out to keep the party going). I thought to myself, “you know, I could take this bottle, smash it upside the Wall, and use the broken bits to chip away at the Wall!” So, I lifted the bottle in the air, held it high and way behind as though I were coming in for a hot landing, gave it some tork, gave it some speed, smashed the bottle against the Wall, broke the bottle into a nice shardy mess….and kept going, slicing open my leg.

I was far too drunk to care. I laughed, bled on my pants, bled on the people I hugged. I don’t remember going home. But, I do remember being there for one of the most cataclysmic moments in world history. I still have that scar on my leg. I see it when I shower and smile a little. That’s a moment of history right there. I was there. I was THERE.

So, when people ask, “You lived in Berlin? You were there when the Berlin Wall fell?” I reply quickly, “Oh, yes. Absolutely.”

“And do you have a piece of the Wall from that night?”

“I sure do…..in my leg.” 🙂

 

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Who Needs a Voice When You’re Knitting?

I have been knitting my bony fingers away trying to get caught up from being sick. Thankfully, I have my energy back, despite not having a voice. And who needs a voice when you’re knitting? All you really need is the cozy silence of the craft; get into the work, get into your head, leave your own noisy voice silent for a while. Now, I am on a 72 hour restriction from using my vocal chords. And I have to say, thus far, it has been no trouble at all really. Not when you knit like this, in a sort of contemplative way. A lot of people fear silence, especially their own. Their voices yield some sort of validation. They must be heard. But, sometimes, the voice is mute compared to action and thought. The things we do are sometimes louder than the things we say, and often carry much more value. Sometimes the things we say are trite and uninformed.

Validation comes from our own self subscribed ideas of what we need the world to see of us, when in truth, it should a completely different model: my validation comes from what I think about myself, but only if done critically. I cannot validate myself based on what brilliance I may think of my stances and my opinions, but must be forced to validate myself based on the things I do that should be improved upon.

So yes, these next three days will be very contemplative for me, perhaps as deep as the moments I haven’t experienced since I was in the monastery 20 years ago.

But, knitting is that lifeline sometimes to the silence you should enjoy and the action that results. And in the last few days I have knit more teddy bears than I have in quite a long while. I felt inspired again, enjoyed watching their faces being born again, felt their plumpness in my arms when I tested them with hugs again.

I piled them all into our knitting truck and took a picture, something akin to a family photo. And as I looked at the picture, I could only help think that of the nearly 4,000 bears I have knit in the last seven years, these little guys have all been something of a family, each of them commissioned to move through the world, finding homes, allowing their quiet little pouts to remind that hugs are often more validating than words.

We need to sell them soon, and I hope you’ll peek through the shop and find one that suits you. Because as words become less important, the hopeful gaze of a teddy bear’s face finds suitable validation in the comfortable hold of a simple embrace.

 

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Voiceless

If you happened to watch this week’s show, you noticed how much I had lost my voice. We made fun of it, tried our best to laugh it off, but at this point, my voice is now a harsh whisper, nothing really left of it. And now all I can really do is to continue doing shots of honey, speaking only when necessary, and waiting….And this is, naturally, the remnants of that horrible 6 weeks of illness. I coughed so much and so hard that I ruined my throat, just tore it to shreds. Now, I don’t feel sick anymore, there is a touch of a cough, but nothing like before, but the whole stretch has lingered for so long and has caused other issues that you just get annoyed. But, there you have it.

Phillip is enjoying his new job. He hasn’t quite made the hours that he wants, but they do keep increasing them little by little, seeing how hard he works and how dedicated he is to the job. So, hopefully, we’ll get one of those fat full time paychecks real soon.

On the knitting front, the little pumpkin colored bear I did in honor of November was so well received I had to bust out some more, using up all the pumpkin I had left. So, if you’d like to snag one, click here. We really do need to find them homes soon.

I guess that’s about it for now. I  have a lot of catching up to do, so I need to grab my needles and get back to work. Talk soon!

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Ah, November

Ah, November. The temperature bends to comforting degrees, the trees begin to shed their leaves, leaving colorful delights beneath our tread. The aromas of specified spices waft as we walk, and soft winds begin to strengthen.

Ah, November heralds the call of something we look forward to all year long: a festive period that lasts two months, a period of giving, of care, of comfort, and communion. We start with that easy scent of cooler breezes, we smile slightly and begin to see the seasons hand over their prominence. Soups and stews begin to simmer, the sun falls to his hideaway beyond the horizon faster, knitting needles begin working stitches meant for Christmas, and we find ourselves happily cozy with the slight chills that keep us bound to hearth and home. We exchange swimming pools with feasts of gourds, walk hand in hand threw straw strewn paths that lead us to ciders, and wander through jubilees that celebrate the coming cold.

Ah, November, you bring us Thanksgiving, a day of reflection, of gratitude, of being aware of how thankful you are for what you have. And as the holiday approaches there are many who fret and frown at the scheduling of families, of the preparation of the meals, of the perfection required to pull of the best dinner ever, but then there are others who spend the days and weeks before such a great holiday, really truly contemplating what they are grateful for. You begin to look at your life differently, you notice things you didn’t before, you don’t complain as much. You begin to let it all sink in so that just before the holiday hits, you’re prepared, ready to fill your soul with all the things you are grateful for. And surprisingly, you find things you would think were the most venomous moments of the year, were actually turning points that made you think differently, made you stronger, made you better in some way. And that is something to be grateful for.

I made up this little bear in homage to the month, in respect to the many things that happen as we begin passing through the greatest time of year; from here to Christmas, to New Year’s, all celebrating the better parts of how we view our lives and the world. It is a good time in my life, and hopefully in yours, that we finally made it to November, where we get a chance to be thankful, then to give, then to celebrate the miraculous spinning turn of the earth we all share.

Ah, November, your arrival is a prelude to the time of year we all cheer in the hopefulness of humanity. Where we remember what we have, remember what others don’t, and then remind that we are all in this together.

Ah, November, I’m so glad you’re here….

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