Stitches, stuffing and labels… pointing the right direction

Funny how good things come from bad things.

I’m working with a group of clients these days as we learn how to recognize bad things and wallow in them and let them own us briefly, and then find the gift in there.

It’s a process taught to me by a good friend a few years ago and it changed my life. It changed the reactive rant into proactive positivity. And as I placed an item on a shelf this week, it felt like I’d come full circle.

Here’s the story…

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 first 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 sad 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. I wonder if I could make enough of 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. No charitable number. No money spent by me to promote this. I just kept knitting (and of course running my business, playing with grandchildren, walking the dog, and all the other things that fill a happy life).

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 of clients have lined the owls up on shelves in their stores. 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.

My daughter offered to design canvas labels with the individual name of each owl and her boss has kindly let her produce 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.

Last week I was able to take the proceeds and write a cheque for $4300 for one year’s tuition for a deserving young woman who’s taking Early Childhood Education at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

That experience was a ‘hoot!’

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?