Plowshares is the Craftsfair and Peace Festival sponsored every first weekend in December for the past 38 years by the Syracuse Peace Council. I have been honored to be a part of this celebration. I am packed and ready to set up my "Knit Wit" booth for this weekend's celebration and reflecting on the joy this annual event brings me.
Becoming a part of the Plowshares "family" was truly a blessing. Eleven years ago I lost the job I thought I would still have today due to the merger of two non-profits and the elimination of the administrative position I held. My immediate reaction, since it was the holiday season, was to take some time living on severance pay and unemployment while I decided what to do next and try to deal with the absolute anger I felt.
So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I ripped up every one of my business suits and dresses and crocheted the strips I made into rag rugs. This greatly helped me deal with some of the devastation. But then I sat back and said, "Ok, now what do I do with these 54 cute little rugs I've made?" A former colleague, another victim of the merger, suggested I see if I could be a last minute addition to Plowshares....a long shot, it was way past the deadline, only two weeks before the festival was scheduled....but they said I could have a small booth.
I had no idea what I was in for, but I lugged a card table and my rag rugs to a community center, stuck price tags on them and watched people actually pick a rug out they liked, pay me and take it home with a smile on their face....even when I told them "this was a dress I used to wear to our annual Board of Directors Retreat."
Near the end of the day, when I was very pleased that I would only be taking 14 rugs back home with me, a woman approached me and offered me a deal for all I had left. I took it. I didn't realize this usually doesn't happen. When she left, I kind of sat there, not really knowing what to do with my em ply table because I had to stay until the show was over. There was a sudden burst of applause from the other crafters....I was shocked when I realized it was meant for me. One of them came over to me and said, "Do you realize that you've accomplished what we all call 'the crafter's wet dream'? Selling everything?" Of course I didn't. And of course, it's never happened again. But it gave me just the shot of self-confidence I needed at that time in my life to go out and get another job and keep my head up.
I returned to Plowshares, still with rag rugs but adding something new to my inventory every year. Scarves, shawls and purses. This year hats and mittens. And gently used sweaters I've "re-designed" by adding buttons and knit patches. I'm so excited to still be doing it.
The banner on this blog heading is the hand-tie-died cloth that hangs near my booth at Plowshares. It does not belong to me, yet it greets me every year as I enter the facility the Peace Council rents and it keeps me company as I welcome old friends into my booth and greet newcomers. This is my holiday celebration. It's never about making money. I don't care if I sell a thing....in fact, I wish I could give it all away, and often give folks such deals I barely make enough to cover booth rental and the cost of yarn. There's such a wonderful, peaceful feeling to the craft fair, and the joy of knowing someone is getting something hand made.
I'm remembering complaining to my friend, Denise, in the past about how knitting "stuff" didn't seem meaningful and she encouraged me to think about it bringing joy to someone else who might not be able to do it....and I'm taking this to heart. Of course, I'm wishing she could be with me this year, to experience the peace of the two days. She'll be in my heart as always.
And Chris will be with me, as always. I'm looking forward to that, even though we will both be exhausted by the amount of work involved. I know that once we finally get everything loaded back at the apartment Sunday evening and crash in our chairs, we'll have huge smiles on our faces. I can't wait.