A Break, or is it.

The past weekend Newbern Fall Festival was a success on all levels, except soap sales. The town, museum, and I all felt good about the traffic and sales. I took soap, stain sticks, salves, yarn, and some knit and woven items and spent two day behind the old quill wheel talking about the history and process of spinning. I added a quill full of finely spun Jacob to my bobbin and left about a half a quill full on the wheel. Of the yarn I took, about half of it was sold. Also a hat and woven scarf/shawl of the same yarn.

It is always a mystery as to what will sell at an event. Sometimes the soap sells as fast as I can reshelve it, this time, not a single bar (but my soap and salves are also in the museum giftshop, so some may have sold there). Often hats and fingerless mitts are the item, rarely yarn, but I sold 7 skeins this time. It allowed me to make a generous donation to the museum fund.

At any rate, my breed for the spindle blanket challenge is spun, plied, and knit into it’s square and a second breed is spun, plied, and 1 of two squares almost complete. I’m not really stressing over the October/November challenge, so I put my spindles aside, except for the one I carry all the time, and pulled out my wheel that has been so idle for many, many months. I have a 4 ounce braid of pretty Pohlworth wool and I am spinning it on the wheel. I purchased a skein of linen yarn in a compatible color and I am going to weave a lindsey woolsey shawl from them. I don’t have a plan for it; personal use, gift, sale, who knows, but I wanted to weave and had nothing but cotton available for the loom. Perhaps I should warp the loom with some cotton and weave a dishtowel or two to knock off the rust from my skills before I use the linen and handspun wool.

If I like the outcome of the shawl/scarf, I have another 4 ounces of sapphire colored wool that could be handled the same way, spun on the wheel, woven with linen or a tightly spun mill spun wool as the warp and made into another scarf or some cowls for the Christmas markets.

Yesterday, I received my personal property tax bill for my craft equipment and inventory and it was the most I have ever been billed. I look at my sales for the past two years and the expenses and question the wisdom of maintaining the cottage business. I do enjoy the demonstration and lessons I can provide at the events, and vending can be rewarding when someone really seems to like something I made, but most people don’t realize the time that goes into spinning the wool, knitting or weaving the garment, and thus my prices end up being only my cost without labor, so I am doing it for the pleasure rather than the profit. I guess there is nothing wrong with that, it does keep me in supplies.

Now to figure out how to market more than 50 bars of soap.

After the weekend, both hubby and I were able to get both our flu shots and a Covid booster. We are hoping for a healthy winter ahead.

Weekend gone

The weekend was spent in support of the museum where I volunteer, Wilderness Road Regional Museum. The weekend was the Newbern Fall Festival, the major fund raiser for the Volunteer Fire Department and because of the traffic it brings, the major fund raiser for the museum. The town of Newbern was the first county seat of Pulaski County and was established in 1810 by Henry Hance, who actually moved Wilderness Road to go through the town. As you travel through this small town, you can see many of the original homes still in use, but enlarged to accomodate modern families. Even the museum is the original Hance house, Hance store, and his son’s house with an addition to combine them. The Museum has no admission fee and is manned solely by volunteers. The property has several of the old buildings, including an old German barn and several outbuildings and the addition of a reconstructed outdoor kitchen building. To support the museum, several events are held each year with donations requested and some fees to help support the events. There are three events, Founder’s Day, Spirit Trail Day, and a Holiday Caroling event where two gorgeous Belgian Horses are brought in and pull a wagon through the property and town with small groups who have reserved space to ride. And the Fall Festival and Old Christmas without the ride.

For these events, the local historical reenactors come out in costume and set up at the museum for the day or days it occurs. We have a Revolutionary War unit of which I am a participant as a follower and spinner, a Civil War unit, blacksmith, period leather worker, bobbin lace maker, Colonial toy demonstration, and weaver. Sometimes there is a scrimshaw horn maker, a basket weaver, and candle dipping. This past weekend, an old cider press was put to use making apple cider to sample and in the yard, a kettle set over a low fire in a hole with volunteers stirring apple butter being made. Brown beans and cornbread sold, a raffle of several hand made items donated, and an apple pie contest. People wandered through for two days, watching demonstrations, looking at the old tools in the German barn, sampling cider, and on Sunday, purchasing some of the apple butter made Saturday with more to be canned up for later sale.

It was a successful event even though it started off damp and drizzling on Saturday and I came home tired and sore from sitting on the wooden bench spinning all weekend. It is nice that these events can be held outdoors or in the large open barn so it feels like a safe event.

Movin’ Day

Last evening was moving day. The hens were herded and/or caught in a big fishing net or by hand and relocated to the Chicken Palace with food, water, scratch, 3 nesting boxes, and an old ladder that was cut in half and propped at angles against the roof beam to provide with with all their needs for the next week or so until they are comfortable in there and know it is “home” from now on. I expect today’s stress and the strange digs will reduce egg production this week, but that is the price I needed to pay to be able to clean up and repair the coop for the littles. The rain cooperated just long enough for me to get the move accomplished.

It was also moving day or actually transplant day for the young tomatoes. I wanted to wait a bit longer, but the second batch needed to go in the hydroponic garden, so the first dozen were transplanted into plantable 4 inch pots, placed in a plastic container that was the perfect size and they will begin outdoor days and indoor nights until danger of frost has passed and they can go in the ground. Once they were good sized sprouts, I used another dozen of the plugs to start 4 more tomatoes because daughter wanted 6 and I generally plant 8 or 10. Since the starter tray for the plugs holds a dozen, I started some Thai basil and some Cilantro to also share with daughter. Those had sprouted or at least germinated and needed to be under the light and fan, so they are in a position to be ready to put in the ground about the time of the last frost and a short period of hardening off.

Before putting the second set of starts in the 12 cell hydroponic garden, the water was dumped, the container cleaned out, and refilled with fresh water and plant food.

I’m looking for another one of the resin half barrels that I have used for raspberries and often for flowers and herbs. I will transplant some of the larger herbs from the smaller hydroponic garden that Son 2’s family gave me for Christmas and start a new batch of the ones I use regularly to grow in the house. I do like clipping them and using them in salads and for cooking.

I’m off shortly to my first event in a year. Founder’s Day at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, dressed in costume, set with wheel, spindles, wool, and some items to perhaps sell. It is outdoors and the rain chances during the 4 hours is 70% for two of the hours, zero for one, and 40% for the other. I will set up in the loom house or on a porch to demonstrate Revolutionary War period fiber preparation. My dark blue skirt will be paired with a dark blue mask which certainly wasn’t part of their garb, but will be part of mine today.