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.

Cabin Crafted

At times during the worst of the pandemic here, I considered ending the shop as sales on the internet don’t really happen and there were no events. We live in a county of deniers, by statistics, it is the worst in the state as far as cases per capita, though not at the bottom of the pile for vaccinations. Masks have been a non item even during the absolute worst periods. With both of us vaccinated and hoping for boosters, I have recently done a couple of events outdoors, keeping my distance from others by the arrangement of my booth and keeping a spinning wheel between me and visitors. This weekend, I will be both vending and functioning as the Revolutionary War working woman/spinner at Wilderness Road Regional Museum where I volunteer, less now than before Covid. I will be set up on a roofed, open sided porch, which feels fairly safe and will probably be masked most of the time. Before Covid, I would often allow children, with their parent’s permission to sit on my lap and help me spin, then giving them the bit of yarn they spun. I won’t do that now and may never return to that level of comfort. When I participate at the Museum events, I always donate an item to the raffle and/or a percentage of my proceeds to the museum fund to keep them open to the public.

For the past year and a half of so, my wheels have gotten little use unless I am doing a public event. My interest returned to my spinning roots and the use of spindles. My favorites are the Turkish spindles, all but one of mine, beautifully crafted by Ed Jenkins in Oregon. They vary from the gorgeous Black and White Ebony tiny spindle to a couple larger ones that I use mostly to ply yarn spun on the others. The non Jenkins spindle is a tiny one not pictured.

Depending on the event and my mood, there are other spindles in my collection. The only one I use with any regularity is the Bosworth top whorl spindle on the left in the next photo. The center spindle is a Dealgan, a Scottish whorless spindle that I use for demonstration purposes and the Mayan spinner that I can barely make function, but kids love to see it. There are also two tiny spindles that are more decoration than functional, I have considered making ornaments from them.

In preparation for the weekend event, I have finally updated my online shop and the link at the top of the blog now reflects my current stock, though I noticed that some of the pictures are sideways. I guess I should try to figure out how to repair that.

I have been using up the bits of leftover yarn from making the breed blanket. My first project to use them was a wool hat.

And I spun another breed for the blanket, but must say, it wasn’t one I enjoyed. It was gray Norwegian wool, a quite coarse longwool with lots of guard hairs that shed while I was spinning it. It was plied as I spun and is ready to knit, but I haven’t brought myself to the point of picking up the needle to start it as it isn’t soft at all and will have to go on an edge of the blanket because of what I have already assembled.

We will see how this weekend and the Museum Holiday Markets turn out before I decide whether to get serious about restocking the shop for the future. I’m hoping the Saturday rain finds a different location to fall upon. We have gone from drought to soaked.