A couple of years ago I was in rough shape with a bad back. Lots of pain. Trying to carry on work. Reduced activity. Mostly, I could manage the pain if I laid on my left side. [I didn’t do this without pain meds]
Couldn’t lay there indefinitely and since I’m a lifelong knitter of big projects, I was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t do my normal knitting projects. However, there’s always a gift.
I picked up four short needles and started to play around with a circular pattern, ultimately coming up with a pretty cute owl. Standing about 12 inches high, full of character with claws and a beak and orange and black eyes. And then I did another.
My husband, happy to see me happier, took hold of one, gave it a squeeze and announced “this is a girl!” And we chose a name. Petal. And then I did another, and he again gave it a hug and announced its gender. And Peter was born. We actually started to get attached to these owls.
While I was slowly producing owls, I came upon a story of a young woman who was working diligently in high school without financial hope of ever getting to post secondary education. This idea didn’t hit like a thunder-bolt; it sort of emerged as a possibility. If these owls found their way into a few public spaces, maybe people would buy them.
And so I kept knitting. After my back surgery put me upright again, the owl production grew and people started to buy them, at $50 an owl.
What has been amazing about this project is the enthusiasm of others. People have commissioned owls to send to adult children. Grandmas have ordered owls for upcoming babies. A couple store owners have lined the owls up on shelves. And owls have headed into the arms and hearts of kids and those young at heart people, too.
Bev Bayley commissioned a Hudson Bay-like owl and that launched a little series of Hudson’s. A couple of business owners wanted owls in their corporate colours. Tyler Thurston of a4c multi media did a logo for Hootables and miGuy Digital Services team (Hugh Stewart, Tyler Hollmann, and Cindy Diaz) created this website.
My daughter offered to design canvas labels with the individual name of each owl and UCA Branding kindly produces them cost-free to me. And so on the derriere of each owl is a sewn label.
It goes on and on. Owls (I call them Hootables) are now in Thailand, Montreal, Victoria, New York, New Jersey, Cayman Islands, and beyond.
In the summer of 2013 I was able to take the proceeds and write a cheque for $9,000 for five semesters tuition for a deserving young woman who’s taking Early Childhood Education at Algonquin College in Ottawa. That’s $9,000 from yarn, and fiberfill, and labels, and love! And it’s not just me. So many people have made this opportunity happen. In June 2015 a year’s tuition went to a Georgian College student in Midland. 2016’s student has been selected.
So here’s the gift. Laid up, an opportunity presented itself, and a whole community has embraced with enthusiasm this effort to give. Isn’t’ it remarkable the number of gifts that nestle inside the negative stuff in our lives?