Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Wouldn't you like to know JJ Foster?
Did I ever tell you about JJ?
This is a photo taken by Steve Malcolm of www.ittakesballstoknit.com I hope he will forgive me for copying it off of his blog. That's me on the right knitting the pink, JJ is knitting green and that's one of her three boys on the left. We were in Seattle for the Mariner's Stitch & Pitch in July. I've posted about it before.
I think it was about this time of year that I met her, she and her mom had a shop for crafting that hadn't been open very long before I wandered in there with Superman on our day off to find out what night, if any, was knit night. I've posted about the shop before. (http://knittwhisperer.blogspot.com/2011/03/work-space.html) I loved it.
At that time, we were miserably underpaid. We were working for a company that employed both of us, my husband and I, but he was only paid to work an hour a day and never received a raise. I tell you this because it broke my heart not to be able to support their shop more than I did.
JJ is wonderful at making people feel welcome (she used to work for the resort at Disneyland so I think that was a skill she will always have) and the shop wasn't about selling foreign-made virgin crafting materials. The found great materials and recycled them for sale, and taught others to do it, too. To be that creative is some kind of ingeniousness most craft stores don't have. And never will. The other thing that she is great at is social media. She knew how to use it to her business' advantage. Also, she supported other businesses she came in contact with doing the same things she was doing for her shop.
She became involved with the other shop owners in organizing the local Yarn Crawl right from the start. The next spring after I'd wandered in there, she posted something on her shops page of Facebook, asking for someone to knit for the shop (she was going to Madrona and won't have time) that was required for the Crawl. I said I would and waited for the details. That became the first piece I designed AND wrote the pattern to be sold.
The second and last Sock Summit happened that summer, she was there for most of the event. I ran into here there on the Sunday of the event, having gotten separated from the others I went with and she ... well, I got a case of nerves and couldn't make myself walk up to Benjamin Levisay of XRX books. She cattle prodded me over there, and took our picture with our cameras for us. Benjamin wasn't what I expected, very kind and correctly identified the sweater I was wearing, which was from Knitter's Magazine, published by XRX. That acquaintance as become an even dearer relationship than I would have ever thought (see the post just prior to this one).
She asked me to design for shop in the Yarn Crawl again the next year, even though I didn't live in the area any more. And the next year. I flew there for the event, this was last February.
By this time, JJ was struggling. Her mom no longer wanted to participate in the shop, and without her, the shop would have to close. It did in June. I cried for days after she called to tell me. She didn't have to call me, that was a huge kindness on her part. I'm sure it was hard for her to do. Supporting everyone else's grief over the shop's closing must have been a huge burden and I hope she knew she and her efforts make her beloved.
In spite of the shops just closing, when it came time for the Mariners game, she would not tell me no, she wouldn't go. She picked me up at the airport in Portland, and we drove to Seattle. Walked all over downtown, and went to the game. It was hard for her, financially, but I think she felt committed to her boys to take them, and to me, too. It was the first time I met Steve Malcolm, who has another knitting program I will be assisting on...
She has got to be struggling even though she'll never say a word. She helped out at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, and she's taking vintage buttons that she finds, putting them on display cards and offering them to all the fiber shops she can get to. Some of her buttons appeared in a picture that Franklin Habit posted a picture of (I can't find it now, but it happened about September 6th)! That's all exciting, but I worry about her and her rent. She has some irons in the fire and I pray, or put a wishes out into the universe, or hope good Karma flows heavy toward her that things happen that are as good for her as she's been to me.
But mostly, I want to say, Thank You, JJ Foster. Whatever Chances you take I know are opportunities for the sun to shine on you as you have shined on me and been there for my benefit, and I will support whatever you hope to do, to the best of my ability.
(You can use this as a recommendation letter if you want. Any future employer can know we are not best friends, I will need your home address to mail you anything, you don't know my birthdate, we don't know each other middle names.... and I had to bribe your dog with cookies so that I could scratch his ears. With love, from ~t)