Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yarn De-Stash at Stitching Memories - What Fun!!

When one of our LYS (local yarn shops) offered to host a de-stash sale for anyone who wanted to join in, I knew I had to give it a try. Actually, I had ulterior motives - to buy some different-than-I-already-have yarn inexpensively plus the opportunity to get rid of my extra, unwanted yarn - so this was a great excuse. One woman's yarn trash is another's treasure, right?

Stitching Memories, in Portage, Michigan, is owned by Mary Stillman. She's had a couple previous stash sales in her shop's parking lot. The first one went well, but the second was cancelled due to weather. This time around the weather again was lousy, but we yarnies are a tough bunch, and 30 mph winds plus cold rain didn't slow us down at all. We came ready to deal.

There were 15 tables of de-stashers, and even though the weather scared off buyers, we all sold. Not all were knitters - the Button Lady was there, and there were cross stitchers too. But most of us came for yarn, and there was plenty there - hundreds of skeins of every color and style imaginable.

My own personal game plan was to only buy in the dollar amount of what I actually sold. Great game plan, but it didn't quite happen that way. (What? You're surprised??) Temptations overwhelmed me and I succumbed to the Yarn God, who directed me to several tables of unavoidable wool.

I sorta behaved - I bought wool for a couple of felting projects I've been wanting to try, plus the fun knitting book "One Skein Wonders". I also picked grab bags of novelty yarns to try out - one of the $5 bags has enough yarn to make dozens of baby hats, booties and probably a couple of adult scarves.

Even though the big crowds didn't show, those who came were serious, and many walked out with large bags full of yarn. There were some fantastic bargains - I saw a friend buy four skeins of a buttery yellow mohair for $1 each, and Lopi wool quickly disappeared. There were $1 grab bags that only lasted a few minutes. The Button Lady next to me was selling her colorful handmade polymer clay buttons for just $1 each, any size (okay, so I bought a few, really, just a few . . .).

One of the really lovely things that shop owner Mary Stillman did was to make arrangements for donations from sellers' sales to these three charities: the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, the YWCA Domestic Assault Crisis Program or Portage Community Outreach Center. You could designate the percentage amount of your sales to go to any or all of these charities. I chose the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission. The best part is that anyone who donated a portion of their sales received a 20% off coupon to be used in Mary's store.

The local knitting guild sent more than 400 skeins to be sold, and 100% of the proceeds were designated to be split equally among the three charities. At the end of the day they were wheelin' and dealin'. Those ladies didn't want any of that yarn coming back to them, and they offered some super deals. By the end of the day, more than $800 went to charity, courtesy of the de-stashers!

Another nice thing that Mary Stillman did was to make this sale free for sellers. If you needed a table, they were available for only $5. It was an easy sale to participate in - her shop handled all the money and individual sellers didn't have to bother with a cash box or making change. Instead, each buyer was provided with a tab sheet, with purchases filled in by individual sellers. When the buyer was ready to leave, they went to a central check out and paid for all purchases at once.

Before the four hour sale was done, we were all wind-whipped and soaked to the skin, yet I heard no complaints. Sellers made sales under umbrellas, yarn got wet, and great yarn deals were snapped up. As a friend of mine said, "I really needed that sale." She was quite serious. And I felt the same way.

Friday, May 22, 2009

So How's Tom???

So many of you have been asking about Tom, and so far, the news is good.

He's begun eating meat again! A change in his meds by a sharp doctor has made all the difference, and he's able to eat small quantities of meat without much trouble.

He had his sixth round of chemo last week, so this week is hell for him. He calls it "feeling icky", which doesn't really describe much yet clearly gets the point across on how utterly lousy he feels. Extra rest helps, and for the first 10 or so days after chemo he sleeps a lot. Yet every day he tries to accomplish something - folding laundry, or vacuuming, or making a few phone calls. It might take him an entire day to do a chore, but he's very determined. He's never been one to sit around.

Yesterday he was feeling pretty good in the morning, and decided to mow the lawn. It's been two weeks since it's last cutting, and our lawn grows far too well - the cats were disappearing in the tall grass. Here's Tom on his mower, happily zipping through our "pasture", and making our lawn once again looking like someone actually lives here.

After mowing, he made it until lunch, then headed for bed. But a few hours later he was up and talking about his next project - building my veggie stand. That will have to wait for another day, maybe even this weekend. As each day passes, he feels just a tiny bit better, but we let his body decide how much it can handle.

His oncologist has suggested that he take a break from chemo for a couple months. The triple-chemo treatments he's getting have weakened him, yet they are also responsible for making his tumors smaller.

Tom's definitely all for a break. While he's off chemo, they will still run tests to determine what's happening. But a summer with no chemo is wonderful, and we're hoping he'll regain some strength and some weight to continue his battle.

Thanks to everyone for caring - it means a lot. We truly appreciate all the love and kindness you've sent our way, and we're sending it back doubled to you!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Meet Mr and Mrs Scarfy Honeybear!

Several years ago, a new customer walked into my antiques shop. She owned a business a couple doors down, and was looking for antique furniture to incorporate into her business setting.

Over time, we got to know each other, and eventually, I found that she is a KnitNut. I say that lovingly, as anyone who is a KnitNut has my full and complete adoration.

Charlotte has become my knitting inspiration. When she was caring for her mother, she knit her way through countless doctor's appointments and medical treatments. She knit so much, she had lots of wonderful scarves and shawls - and I sold them in my shop, because they were so beautiful. Tom bought me one in bold blue colors that she embellished with a special cat button, because she knows how attached I am to our cats.

This past year, Charlotte and her husband have been going through similar medical circumstances as Tom and I. Her Tom (yep, we're both Tom-women) has struggled through very difficult times, and they both managed to keep smiles and laughter going while sharing their story on her husband Tom's blog.

Her Tom is a hobbyist beekeeper, which accounts for many funny stories. (If you think beekeeping is boring, you need to read this blog - are you going to be surprised!) Recently, Charlotte mentioned that she had knit individual tiny scarves for all the honeybear bottles they'd produced from last year's hives. I couldn't help myself - a mini Charolotte scarf on a honeybear bottle??? I just HAD to have one! She kindly tolerated my begging email, and sent me TWO honeybears - Mr. Scarfy with his black and gray shimmery scarf, complete with honeybee decoration, and Mrs. Scarfy, in her green and white scarf with pretty Spring-pink flower.

Thank you, Charlotte - I think they're GREAT!

Charlotte's been very busy knitting tiny scarves, as you can see in the photo of Charlotte and her Tom. Every one of those honeybears is from their own hives, and they personally bottled each one. Charlotte knit every tiny scarf in that photo!me-tom-choir

She's had a lot of time to knit, in doctor's waiting rooms and during the various hospital procedures her Tom has endured over the past year. I know that feeling far too well, since I knit baby hats, baby booties, scarves and baby sweaters under very similar circumstances. Knitting is calming and often mind-clearing; it helps get you through some of the darkest times. And after more than 30 years of non-knitting (Mom taught me when I was a teenager, but I wasn't really very interested back then), when the going got rough for me six months ago, I suddenly remembered Charlotte and her knitting.

It was if she'd sent me this silent light beam of hope. Knitting was something to not only occupy my time but to be involved in while waiting, and then waiting some more. Best of all, knitting made me feel like I was actually accomplishing something good.

Of course, Charlotte has no idea that she's had this effect on me. (Well, at least until she reads this . . .) Or that because of her, I've begun an entirely new journey as a knit-fanatic. It's all Charlotte's fault, and I am so thankful for her quiet, positive influence.

Every time I walk into my kitchen and see Mr and Mrs Honeybear, I think of Charlotte and Tom - and I smile. Plastic bears full of honey can make me smile really big.

So - here they are: introducing Mr and Mrs Scarfy Honeybear, honeys extraordinaire.

The label on the front says "BEE LOVED Honey from Tom's Bees". On the bottom is a special message: "Tom's happy bees are surrounded by flowers, love and a deep appreciation for their magic. Their message? Bee Caring."

I can do that.