Lydia Christiansen works in her fiber mill in May 2017. Last month, most of her inventory was stolen while traveling to a trade show in California. Record file photo/2017.

Lydia Christiansen works in her fiber mill in May 2017. Last month, most of her inventory was stolen while traveling to a trade show in California. Record file photo/2017.

Community weaves together fundraiser after fiber theft

In late February, Lydia Christiansen and her husband Alan woke up to a small business owner’s worst nightmare. A trailer carrying most of their inventory was stolen.

The owners of the Clinton textile mill Abundant Earth Fiber were traveling with most of their inventory to a large trade show in Santa Clara.

The trailer was later found, but it was completely empty.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do with it, but all our stuff is gone,” Christiansen said.

Janae Cameron, a long-time friend and owner of Make Whidbey, didn’t take long to act. She and the owners of Island Nosh quickly came together to organize Noodles and Knits, a fundraiser for the Christiansens happening 6-8 p.m. March 19 at Island Nosh.

“I feel like a lot of small business owners really feel what they’re going through,” Cameron said.

This made her job easier, as she said she had no problem collecting items for the event’s silent auction.

“I haven’t asked for anything,” she said. “People have just come in and given us things.”

Items up for silent auction include hand-knitted hats, photographs taken by Christiansen, sheep pelts and knitting classes; most of the items are in some way related to Christiansen’s yarn spinning business. The $25 admission will get attendees a dinner of crab mac n’ cheese, salad, dessert and a drink coupon for wine or beer.

The family-friendly fundraiser will also include two baby lambs outside on leashes. All proceeds from the event with go to the family and its business.

Christiansen said some of her customers have been helping by continuing to order products even though they know it will take a long time to fill them, and others have made donations on the business’s website.

“It’s traumatic to experience such a huge loss and people relate with loss in a lot of different ways,” she said.

“It’s a serious loss for our business, which is also personal because it’s a family business.”

Cameron had organized plenty of events with Island Nosh before, but this one was easier. All three Clinton business owners are close — both in the proximity of their storefronts and personally.

“Because we’re all friends and really close with Lydia and Alan, it hasn’t really felt like work so much as like you’re doing this for your family,” Cameron said.

The loss has been hard on Christiansen, but seeing such strong support from the community has helped her to keep moving forward.

“I feel like knowing that our community cares about our little mill is enough encouragement to go ahead and try and rebuild and take the time to make more,” she said.

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