Another week in the books

Another attempt at the 24 seconds from my front door. The colors are changing, leaves dropping and nights cooler. The egg production is slowing, but still getting plenty of eggs from the hens.

Earlier this week when I released them and checked on food and water, I realized they had only a tiny bit of water. They followed me to the yard hydrant as I filled the bucket and jostled to all fit around the perimeter to get a sip. Once all had gotten a bit, I filled the tub in the run and refilled the bucket for the coop.

Our walks this week took us to a section of the Rails to Trails Huckleberry that we had not previously walked and back to the Pond, always a favorite, and up to the Conservancy which is probably my favorite hike. The pond was full of life this week.

An Egret looking for fish, ducks, and geese, so many, many geese.

This afternoon, I will dress in my re-enactment clothing, go to the Wilderness Road Regional Museum, and portray the spirit of Mary Draper Ingalls for the Spirit Trail wagon ride through the history of the region. This is a fun event and I understand that all of the slots for rides are booked. Hot cider, cookies, and crafts for the kids waiting with their parents for their turn on the ride are available. This will be the 3rd or 4th year I have been a spirit. If you were fortunate enough to get a seat, you will see me on the side porch with the village developer and shopkeeper, Henry Hance as he tries to sell his wares and calm my fears over the “indians” seen down the road. If you don’t know her story, Google it and read the Wiki article, it will give you an idea of why she was fearful. If the “indians” follow the wagon up on the last run, one is a blond, blue eyed child and I will call out to see if he is my “son.”

How did you get started?

When I am doing an event where I am spinning and selling my yarn, knits, soaps, and salves, there are certain questions that I can be assured will be asked at least once during the course of the event. One of the questions is the title of this blog. Cabin Crafted, the cottage business begun out of a desire to share the soaps, herbal salves, yarns and knit wear that I was creating faster than we were using them up. The we, includes family members that want and wear the knits and use the soaps and salves, not just hubby and me.

Another question is, “How long have you been doing that (spinning)?” That question goes back to shortly after I relocated to this area to work and be near the retirement home we were building. I began “helping out” at the local yarn shop, unpaid in cash but for credit to buy yarn, patterns, and needles. I would assist with craft shows or when the regular staff was unavailable. About a year of so into this, the shop held a weekend retreat at a local hotel with a few vendors and several classes that could be taken for a fee. Though I couldn’t stay for the whole weekend, I did take a couple of classes and one of them was learning to spin with a drop spindle. We had to to furnish our own spindle, but the various wools were provided by the instructor. I ordered a basic top whorl spindle online, a heavy simple tool. We were taught the basics, offered several different samples of wool to see the different characteristics, which I didnt appreciate at the time. That first skein of yarn is still in my possession, though the spindle is long gone. The skein is thick and thin, not well plied, but my first yarn and will be with me forever.

In the following more than a dozen years, my spinning has progressed through many different tools and I have even taught a few spinning classes and have made a few handsful of simple spindles from dowels and craft shop wooden toy wheels.

Another question that is often asked is, “How long does it take you to spin that yarn?” That is a difficult question to answer. The length of time it takes to spin a skein depends on so many factors, such as how heavy the weight of the yarn you are trying to spin, how many ounces of fiber you began with, the amount of twist you are putting in the singles and the plies, and what type of tool you are using. Yarn can be spun on spindles or spinning wheels. Spinning wheels are also varied, from antique quill wheels, single and double treadle wheels, wheels with large and small drive wheels, and various spinning ratios. Fairly new to the offerings are e-spinners. These are small electric spinning tools that are basically a mother of all and bobbin driven by a motor. The last time I was asked at the Fall Festival, I hesitated, unsure how to answer. Shortly after the festival, I decided to to spin a 4 ounce braid of Polwarth wool on my single treadle, small diameter manual wheel and to try to keep track of how long it took me. I didn’t track it exactly, but spun during TV time, so I have a fair idea that the 4.2 ounces took about 16 hours to spin and ply.

This skein is even and consistent, fairly tightly spun and plied and spun to 18 wraps per inch, a method of determining weight of the yarn. Eighteen WPI is fine or lace weight yarn and it ended up 355.5 yards of yarn.

That brings me to the other comment that is often made, which is to question the price of hand spun yarn and hand spun, hand knit items. I don’t even try to make any money on my craft, if I were to price the skein above, taking in the price of the fiber at $28, plus 16 hours at minimum wage in our state of $9.50, that skein of yarn would have to be marked at $180. Assuming I calculated my time at only $2 per hour, it would still be $60 and that is just for the yarn, not the time to knit or weave it into a garment. The local market wouldn’t support that. If I sell the skein, it will be marked at $.10 per yard, so $.50/hour for my time. If it is made into a woven shawl, I have to take into consideration, the price of the skein of linen yarn that I bought to warp the loom plus about 10 more hours. If I knit it into a shawl, it would add another 25 or more hours of time to the skein.

As the holidays are approaching, support your local craftsmen at the various shows in your region and know that your purchase is supporting a local business, getting a craftsmen’s design, time, skill, and a piece of their heart. They aren’t your local discount store.

Our Daily Walk

Every day, we try to get in a brisk walk. Generally, we shoot for a graded or paved area. In the next county, where we do most of our shopping and dining on outdoor patios when we eat out, there is a Rails to Trails grade. This trail begins in one town, ends about 9 miles away in the next town, but in the past couple of years, it was also extended with a connector trail that goes another 7 or so miles still in the same county, but in our direction, terminating at the pond we frequently walk around. Our walks aren’t long, varying from about 2 1/3 miles to 2 2/3-3 miles. We also live a few miles down the mountain from Mountain Lake Conservancy where the hotel used in the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed and there are a number of trails and graded paths to be walked there. Some of the walks are nearly flat with only a few gradual ups and downs.

We do this to keep us strong and to improve our health as we are both well into our 70’s.

When I had my primary care physician visit after my hospitalization, I made the comment that I wasn’t your typical 70 something from this area and he whole heartedly agreed. Life has been hard on some of the residents here and many even a decade or more younger are much older physically than either of us.

Today, we decided to do a section of the Huckleberry we had never walked before, it is in the newest section. There is parking at a heritage farm park and the trail passes through it. We had wandered the paths in the park before the trail was put through. We started at the park and walked back towards town. It was a lovely section to walk with a wooden causeway over a wetlands and much more contour than the other sections we normally walk so a bit of a challenge. If we had walked one more mile, we would have been back in town.