Craft Season Approaches-9/9/2019

Each time I have a vending opportunity and sell little or nothing, I have second thoughts about the whole process. Is it worth it to load it all up, set it all up, sit there for hours, only to pack it up with maybe a few dollars in my pocket? Then the notices start arriving about opportunities that I haven’t tried before, hubby suggests new shapes or scents for soaps, I try a new product for myself and think it will sell and start downloading the applications.

Last night I ordered some “holiday” shaped molds and a flower shaped mold for cold process soap. Last spring, I added a sheep, a goat, and a couple traditional shapes. I rarely make the loaf shape that has to be sliced anymore. I played with a gorgeous swirl, but it didn’t set up properly and had to be re batched which caused the swirl to be incorporated. Then last night, shortly after I completed applications for two events I have never done before, a friend and I chatted and she may have yet another we can do together, both demonstrating fiber prep and spinning as well as vending our wares. The Holiday Markets at the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market, that I have done those for several years and had mixed results will conflict with one of the others, but I can still possibly do two of them. If they all pan out, that will be 5 events in a couple of months and will hopefully reduce my stock so I can reassess what sells and what doesn’t. Oddly, the two soaps that are preferred by my eldest’s family and by me are two that don’t sell at events very well.

I started out with mostly body care products and a few knit hats. As I have continued my adventure in spinning, more knits and weaves have been added, but the types of markets that I am doing generally don’t support the cost that a hand spun, hand knit or hand woven garment require. If I were to value my time invested in the process, the prices would be so high as to frighten off lookers. As a result, I generally try to recoup my fiber cost and some tiny amount for my design and time, but mostly consider it my entertainment expense. If a 4 ounces bag of wool costs $15-$25, pricing a hand spun, hand knit hat at $30 causes folks pause, but really doesn’t pay me for my time at all. It takes several hours to spin the fiber and several more to knit a hat out of medium weight yarn, my hand spun is often finer and so takes longer, so the pay for my time is $5-$15 total for 8-10 hours of work, not even sweatshop pay.

Maybe I’m going about this wrong. I started making soap for family, but only one son’s family wants it. With jobs and kids in the house, they need easy to care for clothing, so hand washable hand knit woolens aren’t favored. I have tried online shops and don’t sell much if anything there either. Maybe I should just make enough soap for the two families, spin and knit what I will wear and not worry about selling any of it.

Can you tell, I am discouraged, but still hopeful?

A Day of Retirement – 9/7/2019

I wonder how I managed when I worked outside of the home. I have been retired for almost a decade now and time to sit and not do anything but rest just doesn’t seem to be in my day. That may be because I generally can’t sit calmly and do nothing, I have to be reading, knitting, spinning, or up gardening, cooking, or cleaning the house or the laundry.

Hubby is a night owl that prefers to sleep later, I live by the sun, ready for bed by 9:30 p.m. and awake with first light. That morning time is used to do animal chores, garden, or sit and spin.

Once we are both about the house, the other household chores are tackled. With two large dogs, there is always vacuuming or mopping to be done. Most of the rugs in the house have been discarded over the years, except for the Oriental in the living room. The wood floors are easier to keep clean than rugs. The living room rug needs professional cleaning, but gets vacuumed several times a week until there are no dogs in the house.

Each day, we try to get in a brisk walk of more than 2 miles. Most of those walks are taken on an old paved rail grade that begins at the Blackburg library and ends in Christiansburg with a side leg that goes off of it at about the 3 mile mark in the opposite direction to an old farm that is now a park. Other days, we go to the local pond that has a graded soil and gravel path around it and is almost a mile, so we do it twice, with the path down to it and back, it gives us our two miles. On these walks, I often take seasonal photos. When I am solo, I wander the hills around our house or if visiting eldest son, try to walk their road or hike with the grandson.

Today the photos were mostly wild flowers, it seems that most of them are shades of purple, though I didn’t take the time to try to identify them.

And a barely flowing creek, another victim of our current drought.

Being retired does provide more freedom to attend events during the week, to grocery shop when needed, not just on weekends, and to help out with grandchildren.

Olio-9/4/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Some weeks are spent in the kitchen, others doing fibery crafts.

About a week ago, I left for a fiber retreat in the south west part of the North Carolina mountains. The venue was delightful, as was the company of the friends that gathered. It began a week that has been devoted to fibery crafts. For the retreat, I had packed plenty of fiber to keep me busy spinning, but half way through the first day, I got bored with the natural colors that I generally spin and indulged in a grab bag of sunshine yellow and heirloom tomato red Romney wool. The idea was to work a gradient beginning with the yellow, but as I pulled it out of the bag, I realized that though they looked lovely together in the bag, they would not gradient, so the slightly more than 3 ounces was spun separately and it plyed up finer than I had hoped for as I wanted to weave a shawl with the 8 ounce grab bag. Once home Sunday afternoon, I began on the red using a long draw technique and got 4.9 ounces of yarn heavy enough to weave, but not enough yardage.

At the retreat, we do door prizes and have a dirty Santa exchange and in the exchange, I got a 4ish ounce bag of Pohlworth that I realized was very compatible with the Romney.

It was spun yesterday, plyed this morning and though I haven’t measured it off the bobbin yet, it is 4.2 ounces or similar weight long draw spun yarn.

This day is too hot to garden or cook anything more than a stir fry this evening, so the morning was spent playing with other fibers as well. The last of the Santa Cruz wool was washed and rinsed for a 4th time and set to dry on the deck. It is so full of vegetable matter, mostly feed or weed seed that I may never get it prepped to spin.

Before I left for the retreat, I realized that a lovely little Jacob raw fleece that I had improperly stored had several moths in it. Hoping to save it, I put it in a black garbage bag and threw it in the deep freezer. This morning, I removed it and hung the black bag in my closed car. It is supposed to get up into the 90’s today which in the superheated car should kill off any eggs that may have been layed. The freezer should have killed any moths and larva. After it has had a couple of days in the car, I will open it and examine it for damage and wash it if I caught it in time to save it.

Though today is stifling hot, there are signs of autumn, some of the early changing trees and scrub coloring, the Autumn Joy turning pink.

At the retreat, I took a class in Rigid Heddle weaving. It is not new to me, but looked like fun. The instructor had prewarped the looms with white cotton and I grabbed a skein of Aran weight Acrylic to use as my weft. We made two mug rugs in class and after. I failed to leave enough space between my two to get good fringe, so did rough easy to remove knots until I got home. Last night I sat and hem stitched the edges after removing my temporary knots, and evened the fringe on them.

A gal never has too many spindles so about 10 days ago, I ordered a Jeri Brock Turkish spindle. It came today and is cute with it’s laser cut out. It is a bit stockier and more substantial than my Jenkins and looks like because the shaft is heavier, it might be better to carry in my bag with a bit of fiber to spin and save the more delicate Jenkins for home or when it can be securely packed in the middle of a suitcase along with my Snyder turk that I use for plying. When traveling not to a retreat or demonstrating event, I always have a spindle or two so I can still spin.

My Facebook memory of today was jars and jars of tomato sauce canned and cooling on the counter. Not this year, the tomatoes failed early and the bed sits idle. I’m still toying with buying a 25 pound box when the weather cools again and getting at least a pot of spaghetti sauce cooked down. The cost is about the same as buying the Organic store brand at the local grocer, but then I would have to “doctor” it up. Indecision.