It’s raining. Quite a lot. And it is cold. Not exactly typical weather for July but I will confess that I am a great admirer of such weather. Latitude wise, I’m at 48 which puts me a couple of degrees further south than my ancestors who were primarily of the Irish/Scot variety. I love a good blustery day. Even on the fourth of July.
I’m in the middle of my summer camp season at Whatcom Community College and I’m just gearing up for the final big session. I design and write curriculum for a variety of day camps and have offered these at a wide range of venues over the past 15 years. Since I love stories, my favorite type of camps are inspired by a particular series or story theme. Through hands on activities, I create an environment where those stories come alive. I’ve offered a Middle Earth camp where students made the lights of Mirkwood and a scale model of a hobbit home using earth, clay, wood, moss… In King Arthur camp we learn about the middle ages by making curds and whey, create our own crest and shield, and hold a bardic competition. Pioneer Camp is inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder and in addition to learning many new crafty and practical skills, students come away with a better appreciation for modern amenities and often some critiques on our modern lifestyle. Last week was Camp Halfblood, inspired by Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series in which we learn about the Olympians through activities inspired by the gods.
Next week is my most popular camp, Hogwarts Satellite School. When our oldest daughter (now 22) was 6, we read the first Harry Potter book to her and she absolutely believed that she would be getting her letter and leaving us for greater things. I thought about this for a while. In the magical world, what about kids who lived too far away from a school to attend? Were there homeschooled witches and wizards? So I created a program based on the premise that I was a professor who offered a short course for magical kids who lived too far from Hogwarts, providing a 3-5 day intensive so that they could continue their magical studies at home throughout the year.
Since that time, I’ve taught this course to thousands of children. We study most of the subjects offered at Hogwarts, and we learn real magic. We study ethnobotany and our potions aren’t sparkly fizzy drinks but real tonics, tinctures, infusions, and salves made with real herbs. We learn the Elder Futhark, a runic alphabet. We study arithmancy and divination. It’s pretty amazing actually.
And…I realized a fun fact a few years ago. We had the opportunity to buy our stone cottage about 12 years ago, but we had but a short time to come up with the cash. Granted, it was a very small amount of money for a house, but a large amount of money for us. My husband was already working full time and I was working part time to cover our expenses, so I felt that I was the best candidate to come up with that extra money. I started booking Hogwarts camps and classes, but wasn’t entirely sure how many I’d need to teach since my income is mostly based on enrollment. In 8 weeks I’d made over 12k teaching Hogwarts. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that we bought ourselves a little castle by teaching Hogwarts.
Since this is a yarn blog, I should probably mention it at least once. I have only two events that I typically participate in during the spring/summer. Crafty Wonderland offers a one day show in Portland. Urban Craft Uprising offers a two day show in Seattle. Summer is not a good time to sell wool, and Portland has this habit of exhibiting record breaking temperatures on the day of the show. This time around, I was hawking wool in 101 degree weather! To be honest, I kind of expect just break even or even to lose money at these shows (with booth fee, travel, time, materials) and I mostly apply to them because I want the organizers to include me in the winter shows which are AMAZING. However, some lucky star was shining on me in Seattle and I was the only yarn vendor at Urban Craft Uprising! My sales were surprisingly robust. And…I also got to see and visit with a few customers who have become these dear friends that I only get to see a few times each year.
I am still not at my goal of pattern writing for the year. I’m planning some knitting time in August though!
But for now, some photos of farm and fiber…and kids camps!