Saturday, May 17, 2008

What's The Value?

School is almost over for Erin and she has been working on ways to occupy her summer days. She will go on two mission trips with the youth group from church - one to Abbyville, LA, a community still dealing with devastation from hurricane Katrina and then to Mexico on an environmental trip (at least that is their story and they're stickin' to it!).

Lat Saturday evening the youth group sponsored an auction to help raise money for these trips. A good while ago , the youth director asked me if I would knit something for the auction. I agreed without hesitation. I have knit teddy bears for other church fundraisers and they have done reasonably well. I wanted to do something different this time; I decided on a felted bag because I thought it would appeal to a greater group of people than the bear.

This is the Booga Bag made from three skeins of Noro Kureyon. The Noro colors are beautiful and though the bag pattern is simple, it is fun to make. As is usual with an auction, they always want to know the value of an item to place on the bid sheet. That is a tough call with handmade items of any kind. This bag uses about $25 in yarn plus the time to make it. we decided that the value was $85 - $25 in materials and $60 ( 4 hours @ $15 per hour) in labor. That seemed fair to me though deep down I was thinking that no one is going to pay that much for this bag. Surprisingly, it was one of the first items that was bid on and it saw a lot of activity through the evening. I believe the bidding opened at $15 and when all was said and done it sold for $65. Not bad.

The bag was bought by an adult, but there was a little girl, maybe 10, who wanted it really badly. Sadly, the price quickly grew beyond what she could spend. I felt bad because this is a youth event and the kids should be able to participate. Though it is helpful in the fundraising process for the bids to go high, it does leave some people out. Because I felt bad for this child, I asked her what she had to spend on the purse. I told her that if she would donate that amount, I would make her another purse. Deal! So, the above picture is actually bag #2 that will be delivered to its new owner tomorrow at church.

So now I have contributed twice the yarn and twice the time. The problem with the twice the yarn part is that the second purse had to be made with exactly the same color as the first, and I had no more of that yarn left. So, I had to make a trip to the yarn shop. They had three more skeins of the yarn that I needed, and two skeins of really cool sock yarn, one blues and the other oranges, some cool new fuzzy sock yarn, and a few patterns. I will not confess here how much I spent on this little adventure. Suffice it to say that this second bag cost me much more than the $25 in required yarn.

Then there are the socks that were auctioned. I also agreed to knit a pair of custom fit socks. Again we went through the value deal. How much is a pair of handknit socks worth? Because I am terrible at placing a monetary value on such things, I finally smarted off with the value as being "priceless", and that is how the bid sheet read. I had asked that the minimum bid be $5o, but that didn't happen. The socks sold for less than the felted bag. Go figure. However, it was a child who wanted the socks so I was happy.

We also made a Dog Basket to be auctioned. It was a collection of goodies that any pampered pooch would enjoy. I was feeling pretty good about my participation in this event. I knew that if the kids didn't raise enough money for the trips that we, the parents, would have to pay for our kids to go so this was as good a way as any to get the job done.

But, my participation did not stop with the contribution of auction items. Then there was the auction itself. I could just sit there and watch everyone else having fun holding up their numbers and beating out their "pewmates" for great fun and food opportunities. One of the things being auctioned was the privilege ?? of being Rector For A Day. For some reason, Erin really wanted this and for the right price, she won it. I'm sure she will enjoy her day as head honcho. It will be interesting to see how the rector enjoys sharing his throne with a fifteen year old girl. It could be a humbling experience. Erin also bid on having lunch brought to her and three friends at school every week for a month by the youth minister. A great deal for Erin but not so good for the youth minister who has to drive 50 miles to feed her at school.

Then there is the group acting lesson and the Wii. No, we did not buy a Wii. We already have one. The youth pooled their resources to buy it for the youth center. It was neat to see all the kids come together and buy something that they will share in a community space that they are creating. The amount of money that each kid could offer didn't matter. They all worked together to come up with what they needed to be the top bid.

When all was said and done, the initial $25 in yarn for the first bag was nothing. I probably spent enough money to send the kid on a month long vacation in Mexico or Europe or maybe both. What the hell! I had fun making the items and participating in the auction. I also enjoyed seeing the happy people who won the items we contributed. Maybe the value of handmade items is measured in smiles rather than dollars. And, smiles are priceless.