Friday, April 10, 2015

Roving Crochet Reporter: Volunteering at Textile Center's Garage Sale

In case you haven't heard, Saturday April 11 2015 is the 15th annual Textile Center Garage Sale, the largest event of its kind. The event takes numerous advance hours of preparation and planning by the Textile Center staff as well as an army of additional volunteers in the final days. One of our Crochet Twin Cities members, Maxine, volunteered last year (and caught the Garage Sale volunteer fever) so this year we asked her to bring along her notebook and camera and give us a behind-the-scenes look.

Maxine, the Textile Garage Sale sounds like a big crazy event. What in the world made you volunteer to be part of it?
Last year, I decided to destash my yarn and fabric collections and figured if I took the day off from work that it would force me to get organized, which it did - I donated about ten boxes and volunteered one day last year. This year, I only donated a box or two - but liked the volunteering part so much I signed up for two days.

The volunteer sign-up sheets show a lot of different jobs. What was your job?
I volunteered this year and last year in the book and magazine area. Last year, I mostly worked with books - sorting books by category. All the pricing is done by one or two experienced volunteers. They look up the price of the used book online at a well-know site and then price it even less than what they find. So you can get some great deals.

This year, I mostly worked with magazines. It's absolutely incredible how many magazines are for sale - at the end of Day 2 (Friday) we estimated by the number in a box and the number of boxes and there are over 9,000 for sale. Magazines and pamphlets are priced at 10 for $1.00 and since the Textile Garage Sale overall deals in whole dollars only (no coins), you can actually buy 1 for $1.00 or 10 for $1.00.

We understand you made a very special $1.00 purchase on Thursday during Day 1. Why don't you tell us about it?
Tell you about it, ask anybody in the warehouse they all heard me scream "I found it" when I realized what magazine I had in my hand! One of the reasons I volunteer in books and magazines is that I've been looking off and on for a very specific crochet / knitting magazine from the 70's with an afghan pattern that I started way back then and never completed. Last year I looked through lots of boxes during shopping time at the end of my shift but didn't find it so I wasn't really very hopeful of finding it this year either.

On Thursday I found myself working mostly in magazines and more magazines and I was getting pretty sick of magazines and then the runners brought in some boxes that I opened up that were all vintage 70s. I couldn't quite remember the title - lots of general needlework magazines back then - but I was seeing magazines I knew I'd seen before. I mistakenly remembered the afghan being on the cover but then I recognized the picture of the yellow cape-collar blouse on a magazine and saw that the instruction section was printed on light green mat paper and then read the cover bullet "elegant country garden afghan to crochet" and started excitedly thumbing through it and bingo, hit the jackpot! That's when I started screaming, I was so happy.

Wow, that does sound like a special find! You mentioned shopping at the end of your shift. Do all volunteers get to do that?
Yes, that's one of the perks of volunteering. It's nice to to have a first look at everything. I only bought a few other things but I'll walk you through some of the stuff that you might find and some other things that really tempted me!

First thing you might be interested in is yarn. The volunteers who work in yarn need to know how to identify the fiber content so that it can be categorized. They split the yarns into broad categories - crochet cotton, acrylic, wool, cone yarn - as well as a category for specialty yarns (including those frilly fuzzy kinds), another for rug yarn - and maybe a few other categories I can't remember.

Many of our Crochet Twin Cities members are proficient in multiple crafts and spinning is one craft that is really relaxing for a lot of people. There are shelves full of roving available - I don't understand enough about the process to know whether it's all at the same prep stage but it all looked like it would make wonderful yarn.

One of my favorite areas is the UFO section - unfinished objects. I had to really work hard at keeping my shopping bag closed when I walked through this area. Some of the projects are just a little bit unfinished and some are a lot unfinished. Here's a crocheted afghan that looks almost complete except for weaving in the ends.

And here's a crochet bedspread that looks like more work - but will be quite spectacular when completed. It's the bag on the left, cream colored. You can see other UFOs are around it.

I have to admit, though, that the UFO that really caught my eye is this one - a macrame lampshade. I think finding my vintage magazine from 1976 made me nostalgic - because nothing says the 70s quite like macrame.

There are lots of other shopping areas too - fabrics, patterns, even big-ticket items like sewing machines and looms that are offered up as silent auction items. It's a great event and I hope lots of you can check it out!

One last question: Do you plan to volunteer next year?
Absolutely! It's a fun way to support the Textile Center.

Thanks Maxine - and be sure and let us know when you complete that afghan!