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Archive for the ‘organic’ Category

Spring is for growth and change.  I think I’m doing a pretty good job of celebrating that this year.  But I’m also prone to biting off more than I can chew, so we’ll have to see how this all plays out.

I’m sorting, purging, and cleaning of course. I spent three weeks with a stupid back injury from some ridiculously mundane activity and haven’t been able to do a normal spring clean and it has been DRIVING ME CRAZY.  I’m going against my nature and trying NOT to make up for lost time but rather pace myself and be content with small victories.  Ugh. Small victories suck. I want ACTION!

So, I completed cleaned and sorted my file cabinet.  Who still has tax returns from 1996? This girl did.  I also had manuals for appliances purchased 15 years ago-even if I still have the appliance, I confess that there have only been 2 times in the last TWENTY YEARS that I actually have needed to look at a manual. And yet I saved them all.  Not anymore!

One really neat thing that I found was a bunch of my writing.  For several years before I began this blog, I had another one with quite a bit more traffic.  It was….more colorful than this one.  I generally try to keep this pretty tame, but the other was full of personal information and a bit of scandalous behavior.  I wrote a lot between 2001-2006, and it was neat to see some of that work.  I also found a bunch of my old zines.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term, they are a low cost publication, often in black and white, sometimes created by an individual and other times with a group. They can be a single publication but are often published as a series.

Anyway, I found some of my old zines and it was interesting to look through them. I’ve decided to publish them as e-books here.

I’m also sorting through other areas of my home.  I have a lot of cool stuff. Not as much cool stuff as my mother, but since many of my cool things are hand-me-downs from her house, I still have some neat things.  If you like antique oddities.  She most recently gave me a box of old books-one on Eugenics from 1904 which, at quick glance, has little to do with racism and more to do with how to feed your baby so that it doesn’t have “fits”, like…bonafide daily convulsions which were apparently commonplace 112 years ago.

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She also gave me a complete set of first edition Foxfire books, including the one with my husband’s grandparents in it.

I love old things.

Yesterday I scored a couple of neat old things.  A vintage suitcase (the one on top) to go with my collection.  I use them in my studio to store all of my supplies (2nd photo), and I need a few more for my Pike Place Market display.

But my big score yesterday was a 1936 Figidaire.  We’re going to repaint it and have to replace the handle (right now we’re opening it with a screwdriver) but it seems to be going strong and keeping things cold at 80 years old.

 

I’ve been in this appliance quandary and am glad to have it settled.  As you may know, our household has access to about 10 amps of electricity (most U.S. homes have 200).  We seem to do just fine with this, but it does require consideration for new purchases.  It’s not as if we couldn’t have more…we could upgrade the lines and put in bigger power, but this self-imposed limit is a good thing for us.  It’s a good thing for everyone.  And since we heat with wood, cook with gas or wood, use an outdoor bath tub, and do our washing at the laundromat…the refrigerator is probably our biggest electricity draw.   In case you were wondering, our electric bill is about $15 per month. We have a small (about 3.7 cubic feet) refrigerator which we purchased new about 5 years ago and is already a piece of junk.  It’s the 3rd one we’ve owned in the past 12 years.  Supposedly, refrigerators made prior to the late 1940s rival today’s energy efficient ones and from what I’ve read…the slightly larger one (4.7 cubic feet) we’ve just purchased will use the same amount that we’re using.  And it’ll match our 1920s green and cream cookstove perfectly.

FYI, no home we visited in Europe had even an apartment sized fridge.  They were all in the 3-4 cubic foot range.  Even for families.  Even houses in rural areas.

Okay, back to more new stuff.  I PASSED MY ENTRANCE EXAMS AND WAS ACCEPTED INTO COLLEGE!  That’s really the biggest news.  I’m going back to finish my teaching degree. Because of my schedule and location, I wanted an online program with a lot of flexibility but a good reputation and accreditation.  I think this one will work. It is competency based, which may allow me to move more quickly through some courses since I have years of teaching experience.

The reason for going back to school?  Earning a degree is important to me, but looking ahead I’ve realized that I can’t keep up this level of yarn production. I may choose to partner with another spinner (if my daughters are reading this, I’m looking at YOU!) or even start over with yet another fiber business.  But, I’m thinking that it would be good for me to have a backup plan and that could be substitute teaching. While I don’t see myself working full time in a public school, the local districts need help and working a couple of days a week might pair nicely with a fiber business. Or social security.

The other idea is that it might allow me to travel.  I’m not too keen on teaching English in Asia, but I might be interested in teaching 3rd grade in Scotland for a year.

And who knows? What I’d really like to do is to design curriculum. I mean, I already do this…but am hoping that having a degree might allow me to better market myself and perhaps I could find work if I’m a certified teacher.

So yeah. Big news.

At this moment, I’ve got way too much on my plate and I’m trying to sort out which thing will have to go.  School, yarn business online with occasional events, yarn business as a Pike Place Vendor, part time health and nutrition program coordinator at Washington State University, teaching summer quarter for kids academic enrichment program (ala Hogwarts) at a local community college, Finney Farm education outreach, farming, homeschooling my soon to be 15 year old.  I can’t complain about having too many options, but I’m going to have to spend some time in the next few months sorting out my game plan, since I’m set to being school in the fall.

And finally, as a reward for getting through this long winded post, I’ll post some food porn and a recipe for MAPLE BLOSSOM FRITTERS. Which are amazing.

To make them, collect new blossoms and shake them off a bit in case they contain any little critters. Mine didn’t, but I guess it’s possible.  Make the fritter batter (simple vegan and gluten free recipe below) and dredge the blossoms in it.  Dredging is a culinary term mostly used for dry coatings, but the process is the same…you don’t need to really immerse but rather drag the blossom through the batter. I used a fork laid across the blossom as I was pulling it out to remove extra batter.  Fry in oil. I had intended to do some as savory treats with a homemade chutney or sauce but wound up coating all of the ones in this batch in powdered sugar.  Which was amazing.

4-6 cups blossoms
2 cups flour (I used half gluten free flour mix and half rice flour)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp corn starch
2 cups cold  water
vegetable oil
powdered sugar

And finally…coupon code for free shipping at www.yarnarchy.etsy.com
SPRINGSHIPPING

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Normally I consider myself to be an early riser. I am, in fact, the only early riser in my household.  I like to be in bed around 10:30, and wake around 6:30.  However, even though I am a native Washingtonian (such a rare breed these days), November is a difficult month for me.  I am fat and sleepy.  I’ve been a vegan for over a decade and I know that many people think that we are all emaciated anemics, but those types clearly don’t have my awesome inherited metabolism which hoards every calorie, like a greedy dragon sitting on a big, round, bulging pile of jewels.  I have been on enough diets to know that I can’t lose anything unless I’m eating 1000 calories or less per day (15-20 points on the ol’ weight watchers system) which I am clearly not doing, but dang it! I’m hungry! It is cold outside and I just want to eat soup and bread all day. Even when the bread is gluten free, and I’m topping it with Earth’s Balance organic vegan margarine, and even when the soup is basically fat free…somehow I’m still managing to round up.

But let me tell you….when the system collapses, my people will still be healthy while my husband’s tribe, the 5000+ calorie a day type, perish within weeks.  My people are savers.

So I’m hungry, and I’m tired.  I am dragging myself out of bed at 8:30, which wouldn’t be so bad except that I WENT TO BED AT 7:30.  Seriously.  It is just so darn dreary in November.

A few years back, we had some visitors who were thinking of moving to our farm.  One was originally from Israel, and the other from California.  They asked me “Some friends told us that you can’t see the sun here for months at a time, is it true?”  I sputtered and told them of course we could see the sun!  I didn’t know where their friends got the information but they were clearly misinformed.  A few overcast days later, it occurred to me that I was thinking of northern Alaska weather, with their months of darkness.  I asked the visitors “Do you mean can we see the actual sun?  Like actually the orb in the sky, not just the light from it?  Oh. No, we totally can’t see that.”  We get about 97 inches of rainfall per year in my little microclimate, and about 1/6 of that (12+ inches) happens in November.  Although Seattle is behind several other major US cities in terms of rainfall…we are hours from the city and it’s a heck of a lot wetter in this neck of the woods.

I’ll stop bellyaching about the darn weather, and get back to the good stuff.

The weather (and bowls of hot soup) officially signify the beginning of knitting season. I am spinning and knitting my days away, and gearing up for a couple of big shows in December…not to mention my biggest sale of the year. What? You forgot?  Mark it on your calendars!!!!

  • November 28th –Dec 1st SALE-free US shipping from all three of my Etsy shops.  For international customers, I will subtract and refund the cost of US shipping from your order.
  • Additionally, you may use a coupon code for 10% off nearly everything in the store-no discount on bulk pricing listings or membership/yarn clubs although you may use it on gift certificates.  This coupon is good in all three of my Etsy shops. With free shipping and 10% off, this is my largest sale of 2013.  The coupon code is: BUYNOTHINGBUTETSY
  • I will still be offering my Buy 6 Get 1 Free promotion, and the coupon code may be used for that as well.  This only happens once a year!!!
  • For those of you shopping other times throughout the month, please feel free to use this coupon code for free shipping: WINTERSHIPPING
  • Drawings!  I like to offer some customer appreciation around this time of year—with each Etsy order, new blog subscriber, new Facebook follower, or new Ravelry project through Dec 15th, your name will be entered into a drawing.   I’ll be giving away three $25 gift certificates on Dec 16th.
  • Speaking of gift certificates, I can offer them in any dollar amount. These make fabulous gifts, as do my yarn club membership packages.  You may want to add these to your holiday wish or gift giving list!
  • Event schedule:Belling ham Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, Urban Craft Uprising  in Seattle Dec 7th and 8th, and Crafty Wonderland in Portland Dec 14th and 15th.
  • SHOP EARLY FOR THE BEST SELECTION!  I have SO many upcoming events, don’t wait until the last moment!

I’m serious about those yarn club memberships making great gifts.  Don’t forget to put it on your wish list!  I have them in 3, 6, and 12 month increments, you can get handspun or sock yarn or a combination of both. You can upgrade any of them to a deluxe membership which includes luxury fibers and art yarns…oh the possibilities!  I have had several customers use their membership to make a sweater or wrap–I chose themed colors (fall, jewel tones, etc) and each month was a new and wonderful addition to their growing project.

Speaking of projects, I have a couple to share. The first is a lovely lace cowl made with 1/3 of a skein of sock yarn-the pattern is free on Ravelry here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/horseshoe-lace-cowl

DSCF8594 DSCF8595 DSCF8596I didn’t make this one myself, I did a trade with a wonderful woman on Ravelry…but I think I’d better start knitting because I can make three of these babies from one skein and they’ll make excellent gifts!

The next one is a cowl I made a couple of years ago. The pattern was on my blog, but I can’t seem to locate it. It is super easy, a great use of art yarn, and uses less than one skein.  Plus, it can be used as a cowl or headband…what’s not to love?

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This pattern uses Yarnarchy art yarn, made with uncarded locks of kid mohair. I find the woven look of the seed stitch to look great with the contrast of the unruly locks.  The photos feature the Haint colorway, made with handpainted roving in smoky charcoal and ebony paired with bright sulphur yellow mohair locks. You’ll need  about 80 yards of yarn (heavy worsted, about 2.8 oz per 100 yards), and size 7 or 8 needles.

Cast on 22 stitches.

Row 1: K1, P1 to end

Row 2: P1, K1 to end

Continue in this manner until the cowl measures about 20-22 inches in length (depending on head /neck size and desired fit).  Beginning with a row 1, K,P,K,P Bind Off 1, continue to end. You should have 17 stitches on your needle, with a bound off stitch on every 3rd stitch.

On the next row, begin with the P1, K1 pattern but cast on one stitch in each place where one was bound off previously.  This should return you to 22 stitches on your needle, and 5 small evenly placed button holes across the edge.  Knit 1 row, then bind off next row.

If you want to use larger buttons, you can bind off two and adjust spacing to include 4 buttonholes.  I generally prefer to make tighter buttonholes as they have a tendency to grow over time. I rarely if ever unbutton my cowl, preferring to slide it over my head. This means the buttonholes can be fairly tight.

Sew 7/8” or 1” buttons on the opposite end and you’re ready to go!

If the locks are not popping out as you’d like, take a small crochet hook to pull the ends through to the right side of the fabric.

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I love fiber. I love spinning, I love color theory, I love playing with wool.

When I was growing up, I must have heard my Dad say a million times ” I get to do what I love! I would PAY to do this job! I can’t believe there are so many people out there doing jobs that they don’t enjoy.”  Because this was my model, I grew up with the expectation that I would always enjoy my work. And I have. Sure, I’ve had the occasional annoying boss or certainly had a bad day here and there but I’ve always loved all of my wage earning activities. If I wasn’t able to affect the bad boss or long commute, I would simply find  away to keep doing the thing I enjoyed in another venue.

I have always been crafty. Over the years I’ve had quite a few small businesses…from candlemaking to clothing. I even spent a few years hawking macrame hemp jewelry and crocheted bags to wholesalers back in the early 90s.  My seamstress friend Amy referred to me as “The Redneck Martha Stewart” quite a few years back and although I have mixed feelings on the title, I suspect it’s probably at least a little true. My friend George asked me if I was related to Frederick Taylor, who is credited as the father of the industrial revolution through his work in scientific management. George asked me this because of my natural tendency towards efficiency and production-something about a one woman industrial revolution.  He said this as sort of a backhanded compliment because Frederick Taylor is also credited as helping bring about the end of the craft era, which doesn’t suit me at all.  Being an anarchist, and a luddite at heart… I eschew capitalism, favoring collectives/co-ops/mutual aid and although I can’t help wanting to make each movement and action count as much as possible in the production line, I much prefer a peddle powered tool to one powered by fossil fuels or hydro-electric dams.

So I’m kind of in this interesting situation with the yarn business. I make this beautiful handpainted, handspun yarn at home with non-electric tools. I do use chemical dyes but they don’t contain heavy metals and my only mordant is vinegar.  I can do what I love, have flexibility in my schedule, and am producing (to me) a sustainable and ethical product. Unfortunately, I live in the woods about 7 miles from a village of 800 and it’s basically impossible for me to sell my wares locally.  I must rely on the almighty internet with all of it’s toxic accoutrements to market my goods and I mail my skeins all over the world.  My business is also a sole proprietorship, which doesn’t exactly match my worker owned collective/anti-capitalism ideology. But I’m working on it, and I keep trying to find a good balance.

Sales have been increasing since I began. I am in favor of slow and steady growth and although I’ve probably passed up golden opportunities I’ve also never been unable to meet my overhead costs or borrowed a dime.  Yarnarchy has been providing my family with about half of our needed income for the past two years and I have recently been considering some modest expansion concepts with the idea that I’d eventually prefer for the business to cover all of our household expenses.   Which would be outrageously awesome. With that in mind I will now be offering handpainted rovings and more kits.  I did a bunch of dyeing last week and here are some photographs:

And this is what they look like after the roving is dry and ready:

I must admit, although I dearly love fiber and dyeing is oh so fun..I’m finding it terribly difficult to spend time on yarn when there is so much to do in the garden!  Here’s just one photo, but if you’re interested in the farm you can visit the blog at http://www.finneyfarm.blogspot.com  If anyone has suggestions for my new product line, please do send me a comment!

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