Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Textile Center Garage Sale

Remember when you were a kid and it seemed like you waited all year for Christmas? The Textile Center garage sale is like that for me. Seriously! Although it has been an annual event for 15 years, this is only my third year in attendance but I'm already a huge fan. This year I decided to support them by volunteering in their set-up so I'll start with an explanation of how this starts.

The Textile Center is a center for learning about textile arts and is a non-profit organization of artists. In order to fund many of their projects, such as a summer camp for kids and various programs, this fund raiser was born. It is held in a storage facility/warehouse for reusable good from the U of MN so while we are setting up and selling the textile materials, the warehouse is selling used file cabinets and chairs. Desks and tables are arranged down the aisles, taking up two of the three largest areas. Donations for the sale are brought around to a side door and runners unload the vehicles while others are sorting, bagging, and pricing items not already pre-priced by the donors. I volunteered at the sign-in desk and directed the foot traffic a bit for three hours. It was fun to watch and I could shop when my shift was over but I only bought three books, resisting temptation until Saturday. There is a preview sale on Friday evening but it's a fund-raiser too, with admission at $25-30. I knew I could wait until Saturday.

Saturday dawned with mild temperatures, always iffy on an April day in Minnesota, and I met my daughter Kelly and friend Ann at a nearby parking lot and we drove together because the parking lot charges $4 per car and the off-street parking is very limited. This was a first for Ann and we just couldn't prepare her enough for the size and variety of items. There are patterns, magazines, books, yarn, wool roving, fabric of all types, and then all of the paraphernalia that goes with these crafts. A silent auction is held for the larger items: looms, knitting machines, and sewing machines. Lots of sewing machines. It was fun to look them over and I put bids on the two I was hoping to take home. No, I was outbid but it didn't break my heart. Magazines and patterns are ten for $1 and most of the books were only $1, There was a section of UFO's: unfinished objects. I don't know if I should feel glad that the owners have finally realized they were never going to finish that blouse or knit a sweater on size 2 needles, or should I be sad that they have given up. There were bags of wool roving, cones and  skeins of yarn, and then before us were the tables/desks full of all kinds of fabrics. They ranged from cotton, knits, wool, satin, linings, Lycra, decorator and upholstery. When I was volunteering a woman walked in looking for directions to the unloading dock and said she had thirty boxes; there were many people who must have done the same to amass that many textile goods. So we shopped, putting items we dare not let lay on the table a moment longer:

When those items were safely in the car, we went back, met with other friends, walked around again, and finally got in line for the BAG SALE. Doors would close at 2:45 with everyone out and when they opened again at 3 pm you could put anything in the bag for $2 per bag, larger items going for half of their marked price. We were in line at 2 pm with only about a dozen people ahead of us so our hopes were high. A bright sunny day and friends kept us from boredom but it was still a long wait. They came out and checked our hand-stamps (admission was $1) and the doors were opened. Yes, once I got around the slow movers I ran to the back of the fabric and went right to the woolens and put my choice pieces in a bag, rushing over to the cottons, then the knits, back to the woolens and decorator fabrics, staving off panic (what was next?) over to the yarn to find there was only a little bit left, but the aisles were really filling up as now everyone was inside. All the while, one of the workers is standing on a desk top and yelling encouragement with phrases like "Remember, Mother's Day is coming"and "There's always room for one more bag!" I left the fabric and yarn aisle and went over to the books to pick up a few more, skip the patterns and magazines, and on to the UFO's. You see, I'm always rooting for the underdog and those projects represented someone's unfulfilled dreams. I found a children's sweater only half done, but then I came upon the read find: vintage linens! I found some tablecloths so I stuffed all of this into my bags and admitted I could carry no more. I went up to the checkout and paid for my four bags. I found my traveling companions and we did our own show and tell, proud of our bargains. What was the time? 3:20. It only took fifteen minutes to choose and cram all that stuff into four bags and pay for it. Wow, that was very fast. So here's my stash for the day:
Classic sewing books and magazines on sewing and beading

Woven cottons

Wools on left, knits and heavy woven on right

Patterns: maybe for mother-in-law?
The children's sweater was ripped out (too many mistakes!), washable fabric had the cut edges serged before washing, and everything was examined for possible problems and alerts. I found one of the patterns was a size 16 so that gets donated back, but everything else looks quite good. The vintage linen washed up great and those tablecloths were not all for the table: one zippered bag held a sheet and three pillowcases with beautiful heavy white on white embroidery. They were probably in someone's cedar chest where they were kept for "good" but that day never arrived. Most of us do not want to iron sheets these days so now they end up in a bag sale where I probably only paid 50 cents for them. I hope I can find an extra special good use that will represent the hours of work that went into their work and learn a lesson that we are not to save these items for "good" but to use them and celebrate the good in every day. It was a good day.