"This whole place used to be covered in wallpaper," Joni Beigh told her two guests. She was giving a tour of the clean, well-staged duplex side-by-side condo at 6101 Sheridan Road East before taking them to the room they came to see: a clean, white room with knee-to-ceiling windows referred to now as the "yarn room."
Beigh lost her father in 2007, and then lost her mother in 2008, both to lengthy illnesses. As Beigh is an only child, not only has she navigated the grieving process of losing both parents so close together without the support of siblings, but the burden of what to do with items inherited in an estate also falls on her. "My husband has been a big help in this process," Beigh says, as much of the original furniture in her parents' condo has been relocated to their home a few blocks away. As Beigh was discovering all of the yarn, however, she realized that just donating it was not the answer to closure.
As Beigh tried to organize the yarn, she started taking photographs of each lot and looking on both Ravelry.com and Etsy.com to find reasonable rates to charge for the yarns. She wanted to charge a discounted amount but not lower the prices to garage-sale levels. In order to reach as many yarn crafters as possible, she opened a Ravelry.com page under the name JoniBeigh to showcase the photos and prices of each yarn.
The other person viewing the yarn on the rainy afternoon, a gentleman named Fred, came to the condo with a handwritten list of what he was interested in seeing. Beigh had discovered much of the yarn in a walk-in closet, on shelves, in plastic bins and bags. All of the yarn was relocated into the yarn room, a central location in the condo with east-facing windows and tons of light to show off the true colors of all of the different mohairs, wool and wool blends, acrylic blends, and cottons. Fred was reaching for one ball of yarn at a time, inspecting the labels and quality of the strands, and determining what hard-to-find yarns had to go home with him.
"What's good is that a lot of these yarns come in large enough quantities to, you know, make a sweater with it." Beigh was walking around with the people who came to look at the yarn, reliving some memories and getting past other ones in the process. Her mother died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, and learning to live with the fact that most of her memories of her mother are of the angry woman riddled by disease, instead of the mother she loved growing up, has been a challenge. It is apparent by watching her tell stories regarding some of the yarns that she is not just in project mode; Beigh has been using this sale as a coping mechanism on some level as well, and selling the yarn is a larger piece of moving on than the average yarn shopper may realize.
The condo which houses the yarn, her parents' primary residence and a place where Beigh herself lived for a few years, is on the market. While there has not yet been much buzz surrounding the condo sale, Beigh hopes to sell the yarn and the condo in the near future. "If I can sell this yarn, that is one month of assessments on this place," she relates. She also has a plan for some of the remaining yarn that does not sell, but she prefers to let people buy it since many of the lots are discontinued, hard-to-find colors and brands. Some of the yarn was even passed from her grandmother to her mother.
While Beigh herself does not knit, she had learned at one point in her life and was contemplating keeping a small amount of the yarn to finish an afghan her mother started. Beyond that project, she does not currently have the time to knit and would never have the time to knit through the wondrous stash as it is. "The temple down the street said they would take any of the acrylics that were left over, and the children's hospital where I take my son gets tons of hat donations. They said they could use crutch caps." Beigh's son is a cancer survivor, and her experience with the children's hospital has brought her to finding out how they can use any donated yarn. Crutches can irritate the skin and muscles of smaller humans, so there are patterns on the internet which volunteers at the temple modified to cover the tops of crutches and make them more comfortable for the children who need them. She also has a daughter, with both kids in their "tweens" and beginning teen years, and the crutch cap plan was actually the idea of Beigh's husband.
Beigh is not expecting every lot to sell, but would appreciate any help in getting the word out so that people who are searching for rare, difficult-to-match dye lots and sweater quantities of wool can contact her. "My mother collected yarn much more than she knitted it," says Beigh. Her sale is an effort for her to help fellow knitters find a treasure, but also to move on from the challenge of losing two parents in a short time. Her mother became a different person as her Alzheimer's progressed, and selling her yarn has been a cathartic experience. With every lot sold, Beigh can move on by one more step.
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