Posts Tagged ‘homestead’

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?




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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My house is silent at the moment.  Quiet and peaceful and I only had to wake at 5:30 to find it this way.  Instead of sitting at the wheel and getting right to work, I’m enjoying the solitude.

The farm looks lovely right now. We’ve had this weird weather pattern…we had about 50 days without rain, one afternoon of rainfall, and now it’s been another 25 days without rain. This is totally not typical western Washington weather and I think it’s throwing me a bit.  For one thing, I am really behind on my spinning. How can I sit inside during gorgeous weather when I can (and should) be doing all manner of farmish things?  I have a backlog of dyed fiber waiting to be spun and I can’t really put it off any longer.  We’ll be at the Okanogan Family Faire-a barter faire in eastern Washington in early October, I’ve got KnitFit in Seattle in November, a holiday faire in Bellevue at the end of November, and I’ve applied for winter shows at Urban Craft Uprising and Crafty Wonderland.  And I’ll still be vending at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market each week through the end of November and there’s always my beloved Etsy.  So I really need to get on it.  The weather is supposed to finally rain today, so I won’t be distracted.

Often when I’m working, I direct my household from my spinning throne-a pink velveteen wingback armchair which belonged to my great grandmother.  When the house is empty though, I listen to audio books. I am an audiobook fiend, just like my daughters.  One of my favorites is “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Philips. I initially downloaded this from a friend’s computer along with a bunch of young adult fiction and thought it was in the same vein.  The premise was something about “if Greek gods were among us in modern day London,” and since the little girl is a Greek mythology nut, I thought we could give it a listen. She happened to be out one day and I decided to try it.  Perhaps there was some sort of divine intervention that caused me to be alone when I clicked play on track one….let me just say that it is definitely not a kid book. There is quite a bit of sex, but it’s British so you know…not actually sexual or erotic, just graphic and hilarious.  I highly recommend it.

I’m currently listening to a series by Laurie King.  This book isn’t my typical style (other than the British thing) but has turned out to be quite good. A friend recommended it to my sweetie who’s a diehard Sherlock Holmes fan. The premise is that Sherlock Holmes has moved to Sussex as a hobby beekeeper in his golden years and meets Mary Russell. She’s a neighbor, brilliant, and fifteen. They form an unlikely partnership and by the end of the second or third book, they’re a bit more than partners.  Again with the British thing—this time the romantic encounters are very spare, the barest hint of detail, and yet highly erotic for the briefest of moments before moving on to more practical scenes.  Anyway, I’ve become addicted to this series and since I’ve clocked about 40 hours of listening time, it’s getting to the point that each time I sit at the wheel I daydream of Sherlock Holmes even if I’m miles away from the audiobook.  Postscript: I had to go back and edit…Sherlock doesn’t hook up with Russell when she’s 15.  Still a scandalous age difference but not creepy.

Recently I’ve received a few requests on how to best deal with skeined yarn without winding up (ha! yarn pun!) with a tangled mess. I highly recommend that all knitters/crocheters own a ball winder. You can get them on Ebay for $10-$25 if you don’t have a local yarn store.  This is a pretty small investment and you’ll end up using the ball winder to organize your yarn in general, not just skeined yarn.  I think Knitpicks has them for $20.

If you’re going to be working a lot with skeined yarn, you’ll also need a swift.  These range from $15-$100 and the materials vary. I haven’t used one of the less expensive metal and plastic ones, but they probably work just fine.  I have a giant birch one that I think I’ve finally worn out and may have to replace soon.

If you have skeined yarn and need to wind it now, or if you don’t have cash to spare at the moment…here’s an easyish way to keep the tangles at bay.  Turn a round laundry basket upside down and place the skein around it.  This should hold the yarn in place as you wind off.  You can use the back of a chair if you don’t have the laundry basket but the basket works better. Grab a fat marker, thick dowel, mascara tube, whatever- and use it as a nostepinne to make a center pull ball.  Here’s a link to a video showing how to use a one www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNovkZdRl7M

On totally different topic…I can’t believe that I don’t sell more yarn club memberships.  I have them in 3, 6, and 12 month increments for both handspun and sock yarn–and aside from being a great savings, they’re also super duper fun.  Each month a new skein arrives in the mail, ready to play with. Sometimes customers will place requests like “no yellow please.”  A customer who requested only jewel tones used her monthly installments to make a sweater for herself. I had a blast selecting skeins from my inventory with her project in mind.  I should probably promote the memberships a bit more-they make great gifts.  I once had a gift subscription sent to a  newly widowed woman instead of the more traditional flower arrangement. I thought this was wonderful and again…had a great time picking out her skeins, considering which colorways might bring a bit of brightness and gladness into her life.

Next post is coming soon!  Another free pattern…this time a super easy mobius cowl!

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I found a few more project photos and couldn’t wait to share…  First, another great creation from elfguts on Etsy, a lovely headband:

Sarah from Australia has been making wonderful dolls for her family with the yarn!  I love all of them but I’m coveting the Harry Potter one!

Allie B’s Photography on Etsy made this darling hat and photo:

Normally my yarn is used for Waldorf dolls, but Kim (sew2beunique on Etsy) made these fabulous dolls!  I love them!

Amazing! Inspiring!!  Thank you!!!

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I posted a few new colorways today, one of which is called “Aunt Dot.” Although I do manage to write more detailed listings than most, I try not to ramble too much on Etsy but my blog is the perfect venue for a wee bit of backstory.

She’s my great-aunt actually, my Grandma’s sister and the youngest of 12.  I named my daughter after another one of her sisters, my aunt Violet.  Aunt Dot and Violet are peachy keen in my book. Aunt Dot looks quite a bit like my Grandma, who died of cancer when I was 20.  Red hair, green eyes, petite and shapely, strong and always productive.  Like all of the sisters in that family (there were originally 9), she is outspoken and fiery. Irish.

She lives on a 40 acre homestead across from the 150+ acre farm on which she was raised,  on top of Signal Mountain in Tennessee.  Aunt Dot has a large rambler style house built by her husband who was a brick mason, a huge yard dotted with oaks, a dozen cattle, barn, creek, chickens…There are muscadine grapes, many berry varieties, fruit trees, and probably a half acre in annual garden space.  Since it’s Tennessee, they can grow all manner of plants that seem downright exotic to those of us from the colder northern regions; okra, yams, and peanuts are among the many I long to cultivate.  Aunt Violet has a house about 35 minutes away in Chattanooga but she has always spent part of her week at her sister’s place.  They run the tiller by themselves, do all of the gardening, food preservation, lawn care, landscaping, animal husbandry…  They put up cases and cases of canned goods and always seem to be busy cleaning, making, doing.  Aunt Dot also happens to be a dandy of a wine maker. A few years ago, I visited after she’s undergone a hip replacement.  I asked about the wine making and she said “Oh honey, you know I had my hip replaced and I just haven’t done hardly much atall with the wine this year, nothing hardly atall.” I peeked in the garage and counted approximately 50 five gallon carboys of wine!  Yeah, hardly much indeed.  She drinks a glass after supper,  gives the wine away as gifts, probably trades it, and I suspect a bit of moonshine here and there.  Actually, one of my favorite Aunt Dot stories starts out with some of her moonshine (the making of which she credits to her “neighbor”).

We were visiting about 5 years ago and both of my Aunts (who were in their mid seventies) were all a-flutter because there was some Victoria Secret fashion show on that evening.  The spoke of it all day, made sure to speed us through supper and even called Aunt Violet’s husband and other kin to remind them to turn on the television. Aunt Dot offered us wine or moonshine (disapproving glance from Aunt Violet who doesn’t drink), and I chose moonshine–she poured about three fingers in a small jelly jar. During that period, Robert and I were in a fairly heavy drinking phase as we performed weekly with our bands or burlesque troupe at bars or clubs–sufficed to say, I felt my tolerance to be quite high at the time.  The program began, and I can honestly say that I was shocked. We haven’t had television since 1994, and although I’d certainly caught a show here or there, I hadn’t realized that thongs were acceptable on major network channels.  Aunt Dot and Violet were mesmerized. I slowly sipped my ever-so-smooth jelly glass of moonshine and attempted to rise after drinking about a half inch of the clear liquid, finding that I could barely move my legs. I sat in silence for the rest of the program, until the last sexpot sashayed down the runway. My Aunt Dot sighed, turned to her 77 year old sister and said “Violet, we were born too soon.”

Dang. I love those women.  This colorway is for Aunt Dot, who loves orange and brown.

I am getting ready to go to ELAW, the environmental law conference held at U of O in Eugene (www.pielc.org). Willow and I attend every year and I’m looking forward to it.  I have quite a few adventures planned for this year-mostly working vacations but I’m of the mind that those are the best sort of vacations.  I’m not exactly the lying on a beach type.  Good grief, the very idea of that makes me tense.   I am in the process of putting together a list of events, festivals, fairs, and conferences for 2012 and will post it soon.

I also want to learn more about what my customers create with Yarnarchy products!  I don’t have time to make much out of my own yarn, and I must live vicariously through my delightful customers.  If you email a Yarnarchy project photo to me, I will send you a coupon code for 10% off of your next order.  Here are some project photos I have received:

Cassie’s great Slouch Hat

Kathryn’s iPad cover. Not having an iPad, I hadn’t even considered such a thing but I love this!

Brenda Bush Photography on Etsy sent me a photo of a darling baby hat:

Molly Jones from Ravelry made this doll!

She also made this hat:

Melanie2 from Ravelry made this mitts:

And this headband for her daughter:

Elfguts on Ravelry and Etsy made this hat:

And this pullover:

And Julie from FeeVertelaine on Etsy makes wonderful dolls too! Her shop is at http://www.etsy.com/shop/FeeVertelaine, but here’s a doll she made with some of my yarn last summer:

I love my customers!  They never cease to amaze me! Such creativity…it’s an honor to create supplies for their creative endeavors.

Wait! One more thing! To cure your winter blues, to encourage the coming of spring, and in celebration of all things Irish (St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th and my own birthday on the 19th!), I will offer a fantastic March sale. All of my green toned colorways will be offered at 10% off the normal price for the entire month of March.

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