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A Remark on this Refuge

The sun is starting to rise, peeking cleanly through winter stricken trees, the browns turning bright with the gold of the heavenly orb’s daily promise of life. Of course, I’ve been up since about 3am, working  through the darker hours of the late night so that I could greet the dawn with a sense of purpose.

I wanted to share this picture with you. Its my dream house. My dream life. This little house is why I’m optimistic, why the knitting needles are always clacking against each other, why there is always a new bear looking for a home….I never thought about it, but I guess saying that my bears are always looking for a home is my own personal self portrait in their stitches, a reflection of my own hopes and dreams, that somewhere out there is the place for me, where there is no fear it will be taken from me, where the closest neighbors are the deer in the woods, where my only visitors are the birds that come to sing merrily in the morning, where my only companions are my husband, our cats, and the squirrels that anxiously race through the oaks. Jewels of blooming flowers would be akin to daily blessings, where the warm sun and cool breeze compete for my affection. Its not a big house, barey 900 square feet, with one bedroom and a loft. It would be tucked away in the woods, far from the pain the modern strains of a pandemic anger have infected. A refuge to write in, a quiet life moved only by the seasons, a simple existence of quiet reflection. I guess the monk in me is still loudly calling  my spirit.

So, I wanted to share this picture with you so that you could see my dream, so that you could see where all of this will one day lead: me, on that porch, reflecting and writing something of benefit to the world, as the bold begonias and bougainvillea offer their advice and approval.

My bear this morning was born from one of those skeins that screamed of Spring and whispered of Easter. Striped in pastels, in hues of pink, and mint green, he reminded me of a classic day in Spring, of simple wildflowers popping from a sea of light green clover. If you’d like to adopt him, click here.

….One more bear closer to my dream.

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I FINALLY Got More “Crayon” Yarn!

Oh, I’m so happy to say that I was able to get more of that delicious yarn I was making my “Crayon” bears with. I mean, those little guys went FAST, really fast. And when I went back to replenish, Hobby Lobby was plum OUT. Despite yesterday being the coldest day of the year for us here in Central Florida (a whopping 28 degrees when Phillip and I left the house), I was adamant to rush back to see if they had restocked….and they had! Now, apparently someone had made it before I did (who knew this yarn was so popular?) and had nearly cleared out the entire row, but there was one left and I snagged it.

BAM! Made my way to the check out with my coupon and dashed back home to get started on making as many as I could. I get a solid four bears out of one skein, and God knows we need the money, so if they were selling that well, I wasn’t about to waste a second. I even got up an hour earlier this morning to get back to work on them, rising well before the sun to complete a days work before the rest of the world warmed up. I get excited about yarn sometimes, love watching the random colorways take their place in coded fashion, love seeing the colors move from one to the next, which is why even though the sun isn’t up yet, I was already taking pictures. And as mentioned before, I was making my bears smaller, so they would work up quicker, so they’d be more affordable….and in some way, held tighter by smaller hands.

If you’d like one, and there are few at the moment, click here. I really find them delightful, and with the drabness of winter wearing us all down, I’m so in need of more color at the moment, hoping in some way it will usher in the brightness of spring.

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Days That Tend to Frighten a Little

Its coming up on about 4:30 in the afternoon, and rest assured, when you work for yourself and sell your things online, you have no such thing as a standard work day. You work all hours of the day. But, I was about to rest for a minute, Phillip will be coming home from work soon, I’ll spend a little time with him, then get back to the needles.

I’ve been trying to sell a couple of bears since about 6 this morning, but sadly, nothing at all is moving. I had figured if I could make them smaller, make them faster, charge less for them, they’d go like gang busters. But, they’re just sitting there in the corner in a giant box. I mean NOTHING is moving. So I’ve been posting, promoting, dropping prices where I can… and if you want to call it some wide eyed sense of desperation, I wouldn’t disagree nor argue with you. It gets a little scary when sales drop off so fast. As an entrepreneur, you just think of going back to the drawing board. Too many days without a sale can be a disaster. And though it tends to frighten a self employed knitter a little, you just have to hope and pray a sale will come in; you get back to work, posting, promoting, doing everything you can. And try not to think that your everything isn’t enough.

“Stay positive,” I tell myself. That can be the ONLY thing that can save you from panic sometimes. Staying positive.

Ok, back to work….fingers crossed something will sell soon. You can visit my shop here.

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“All He Knits is Teddy Bears….”

When I heard that comment I was a little disappointed. Not because it was said dismissively, but because they failed to see past the stitches and see the meaning behind all of these teddy bears I’ve knit. They were created to promote hope, to allow a clutching at a promise, as a remembrance of surviving darker days.

These teddy bears represent so much more than just a one trick knit from some random guy in a baseball cap. They represent all of these things that I clung to when I was in my darkest hours, each of those bears, they’re slightly sad eyes, and their beautiful little pouts reminding that all will be well, you will survive these days, as long as you have hope, as long as you focus on the light and refuse to let darkness rule you. They were meant to be held, squeezed, allowing beaming smiles to flow forcefully through any grimace of sadness. These are not just teddy bears, these were beacons of reliance.

Every time one of these teddy bears is sold, I know in my heart of hearts, that I haven’t just knit and shipped a teddy bear, but rather, have born into the world another much desperately needed moment of joy, of goodness; that this little bear will be heading to a new home far away, spreading the only truth that I can ever rely on: “you are not alone…..”

I wasn’t upset by what they said, just reminded that people fail to see hope, and that jaded sadness still runs rampant through the world….

So, it is still very important to spread joy in the one of the most unique ways I can, by simply knitting teddy bears. And God knows, the world needs more joy now than ever.

You can give a teddy bear a new home by clicking here.

And these little guys really need homes very soon.

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Lots of Dots

Hey, even bears can have freckles, right? This is the other skein I decided to play with when I couldn’t find the yarn I was looking for to make more Crayon Bears. And despite Kara telling me, “No, it would look awful, like a bear with measles!” I persisted and bam! I think this bear came out quite adorable. And I really did want to play with dots. I was one of those kids who grew up just covered, and I do mean COVERED with freckles, so I’ve always been fond of adorable little speckled animals. If you’d like to adopt this little bear, click here.

And I’m so SO grateful that you all really enjoyed “Bad Fat Knitter’s” guest blog post. I really do enjoy her writing. I’m open to anyone who might want to do a guest blog here and there, so if you interested, just let me know.

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

 

Guest Blogger: “BAD FAT KNITTER”

Steffinie Kassabgi is the voice behind the “Bad Fat Knitter” blog  and is a “Foreign Correspondent” on the youtube show, “Knitter Be Damned.” 

HOLIDAY. POST TRAUMATIC CHRISTMAS KNITTING.

A strange thing happens on December 1st of every year in the crafting community. Weather you knit, crochet, bead, paint or one of the many other craft options (trust me, there are so many). It happens to all of us. I call it the “Gift Rush”. Every year without fail we make personal goals and promises to start our holiday crafting lists and projects in August or September so we can have that coveted relaxation time leading into the holiday season. We all know it never happens that way. If you sell your items then you have customers that contact you with last minute orders, extreme orders, large items they absolutely NEED by Christmas. Like it or not, those tend to come first. Those pay the bills and restock your stash. Those give you the true sense of purpose you crave.

When the calendar rolls over and December rears it’s head, somewhere in your psyche you go into a low-level panic mode. You begin counting…. 15 gifts must be ready to go in 24 days. The ones to be mailed out come first, the face to face gifts last on the list. Then you order them by size and quantity of supplies needed. As much as you love it, there’s very little time to run to the craft store. I know I prefer to go to the LYS or Michaels when I have time to touch and envision and relax. It’s just not fun to treat it as if I’ve gone to the market for a dozen eggs so I can finish the cake I have waiting on the counter.

With needles, brushes, pins and hooks flying you work like a mad man. Single minded focus. Work through the pain, frustration and irritation. Making promises to children, friends, spouses and significant others “If you let me finish this then I’ll …… just for you”. As each project is dropped in the finished pile (basket, bag, whatever you use) to be blocked, ends woven, washed, or wrapped you feel a tiny bit of that panic ease. Unfortunately, the panic increases with each passing day on the calendar.

Family holiday planning phone calls, emails and text messages ping, ding and ring in your ears. Brain fart reminders, Oh crap, Uncle Shim is coming to dinner this year, I don’t have a gift for him. Another to the list. Then there’s those silly laws that say you are required to keep a somewhat tidy home and feed the creatures you birthed. All of it cuts into your production time. In a cruel twist of fate, your greatest tool for combatting stress has become the main cause of your stress.

By the 24th (23rd, if you’re fast) you bind off the last stitch of the last project. That’s when the real fun begins, because by now you’re doing holiday dinner prep and baking in between. Time management is essential at this point. Smallest easiest projects first, get them wrapped and under the tree. Next comes the most dreaded job in a yarn artist’s life. That’s right, ends. So many ends to clip, trim and weave. Queue Scarlett O’Hara drama “As Gawd is my witness, I’ll never weave in another end!”

Christmas day dawns bright and cheery. With sore hands and the panic having receded with a few glasses of wine the night before you manage to pull off the great holiday feast. If you’re lucky someone else offers to do the dishes for you. Friends, family, laughter among all the praise and admiration of your talents. “Oh, it was nothing, I saw the color and thought of you.” Yeah, like you would ever tell them that you cussed and spat and blamed them alone for your swollen fingers the entire time you worked on the gift. Nope, you simply smile and graciously accept the love.

After all the family and guests depart, you look at your hooks, needles and shiny new gift cards to your favorite stash building stores. “I’m going to make something for ME!!! I deserve it.” I don’t know about you, but I hate shopping the week between Christmas the New Year. All that Holiday cheer begins to fade, people become hurried and much less kind. No one likes to wait in line, but they still choose to go to the store on the 26th of December and stand in a line for 3 hours to return a $20 gift they got from Uncle Bob that they don’t like the color of. More often than not they tend to take out their frustration on everyone around them. So, I wait until after the holidays to do my shopping for me.

Small projects here and there just to keep busy and relieve stress become the norm in the week after Christmas, if you pick up your craft at all. I do. It’s like a simple addiction to me. Something I love and have become dependant on for comfort. Yeah, it’s my “woobie”. It sounds odd, but I know I’m not alone in this.

After picking out the perfect pattern, perfect medium and settling into a comfy seat with a hot cup of tea or coffee you start YOUR project. This year there is a chill in the air over most of North America and here in Canada we’re getting lots and lots of snow. Turning on your favorite show, podcast, music or audio book you get into the relaxing groove of the thing you love. That thing that makes you YOU. Silence creeps into your mind and all the tension and frustration of the last 30 days falls away. 1…2…3…4…5…knit, knit, purl, yarn over, knit, knit.

Then the silence of your peace is broken “MOM, I love that color, is that for ME? I love it.” It begins again, 11 months to go.

I hope you find your peace and manage to make something for yourself in the New Year. Much love.

You can find more of Steffinie’s writing here.

A Gaping Hole in a Wall of Yarn

The Crayon bears were such a hit and sold out so fast, that I was giddy. Gleefully smiling and ready to knit up more. Within half an hour all five were gone. Yay! But, I was out of yarn. I had a hit, finally, something selling well and God knows, we need the sales in a bad way. I was getting emails from people asking when I’d have more in stock.

Phillip was at work, so I called up Kara. “Emergency! We need to get to Hobby Lobby NOW!”

“I’m on it!”

We darted through traffic lights, swerved through cars, bounced over bumpy brick roads until we squealed into the Hobby Lobby parking lot. Coupons in hand, I darted for the yarn section. Final aisle, way at the back.

Our eyes immediately were searching. “It has to be here somewhere.” I couldn’t find that rainbow blessing for nothing. Until I stepped back (you see more when you step back sometimes), and saw this giant wall of yarn, with a big gaping hole right in the middle. I leaned in closer, and even as if to mock me, there was a swatch of my rainbow yarn right there….next to that vacancy, laughing at me.

“NO!!!!!!”

The only yarn they were sold out of was that rainbow that had made these delightful crayon bears.

“DAMN! DAMN! NOW what do I do?”

I had no choice. I couldn’t let sales drop. People were loving these multicolored smaller bears that were smaller and much more affordable. I can’t stop now! I started peeking around. Like Goldilocks being judgmental, I picked some up and dismissed. Too this, not enough that. Until I held in my hand this delightful skein that needed no more thought. THIS is the one I can use. Just as adorable, just as delightful and colorful, just as whimsical and mysterious as the Crayon Bears. And again, the random way the colors work up, you have no idea just how he’ll turn up, but you’ll know that he’s unique, no two alike because of that randomness. All each individual in their own way.

So grab a little guy I like to call “Stripe.” Look at him, sitting quite politely in my lap. Pefect.  I think they make great gifts for little ones. They’re acrylic, small enough to be held in wee hands, and with a face that is both joyful and protective. I’m working on five again, thats how many I get in one skein. There was plenty of it left at Hobby Lobby, but maybe I’ll move on to the next mysterious color way working after this one. I’m thinking of dots next time. Yeah….”Lots of Dots.”

If you’d like take him home, click here.

Whew!

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