The first Holiday Market is Saturday. Today is sunny, calm, and 70ºf, a perfect day to be outside. I took a walk and because of Saturday’s forecast, drove by the lot where I will be set up. I was hoping that I would be able to slip a strap or polycord under or through the car stop wedge that will be the back of my stall, but they look like they are firmly adhered to the brick pavers. Last year, the market manager said he was trying to get the town to install tie down rings in the pavers, but that has not been done.
The hope for the strap or cord is because Saturday is forecast to be a high of mid 50’s, 20% chance of rain, and 25 mph gusts of wind. I have to erect a 10 X 10 foot popup canopy and I don’t want to spend all 5 hours worrying about it taking flight, taking out my display, or another vendor’s stall. I have a few empty 5 gallon buckets and dozens of rock piles on the farm, so I think I will load up a few buckets with 50 pounds or so each of rocks and tie the canopy down to them. If the wind can take out 3 of those along with the 25 pounds of leg weights, I am in trouble.
Of my last soap making, one of my popular scents did not set up properly. The bars are usable but not pretty, so that batch will be retained for family use. I will have to make another batch of that scent for the December market and see what others sell to determine which other bars to make.
My crates are packed. I spent the afternoon making sure that I have the little clip on chalkboard tags for each scent of soap, each scent of lotion bar, and each salve. I still have 3 skeins of yarn to label and pack, decide whether I want 2 or 3 tables and if I go with 3, then I need to decide what to use for my 3rd table cover. I bought an Indian cotton throw in the fall, cut and hemmed it to make two table covers, but I don’t have a third table cloth that will go with the color or pattern. I’m sure I will figure it out by Saturday morning.
If it is windy as forecast, my A frame stand for hats and mitts will likely blow over. The T shaped one with clips for shawls can be anchored to the table edge with a C clamp. Maybe I should add a base across the back of the A frame so it too can be clamped down.
I will dress in lots of layers that can be peeled off if it warms up during the day. Fortunately a new and favored local coffee shop has opened in one of the fixed stores right at the market, so I can at least keep a cup of hot coffee or tea nearby to warm my hands.
This was last year. The display is changed and simplified now. You will have to wait to see how it sets up this year. If you can’t come in person, stop by the shop https://squareup.com/store/cabin-crafted. You can make your purchases there and I will deliver them to you if you are local or mail them to you if not local.
It was a beautiful busy weekend, that spilled over to today.
Yesterday, the asparagus bed was trimmed, weeded, and heavily mulched for the winter. A few peppers were picked, but there are many more soon to be ready. Some of the tomato vines were pulled, but I ran out of steam before the job was done.
I gave up on trying to stop the randy cockerels from escaping, but made the hen’s pen more secure so that at least they can’t get in with them. I don’t think letting them coop up with the hens for the next 3 weeks is a good idea, I’m afraid it would incite more fighting between them and maybe they would even attack the fairly docile cockerel that I put in with them. So far the hens are not letting him anywhere near them. The molting season is full on and the yard near their pen looks like I had a pillow fight with someone. Because of the mature hens molting and the pullets not yet laying, I am only getting 1 egg a day. Hopefully that will change soon and we will start getting more eggs with the holidays approaching and baking to be done.
It was a good weekend to start making soap again. I have an order for a full mold of a scent I don’t put in my shop anymore, and I needed three others for the upcoming Holiday Markets.
Two batches were made over the weekend, unmolded and cut yesterday. Today I was going to make the other two and got one made, the kitchen a mess and realized that I don’t have enough of one of the essential oils to make the other batch. Granddaughter is napping and I don’t want to get her up yet. Grandson has to be picked up from the bus stop in a bit more than an hour. Both of them need to be dressed and taken to Taekwondo by 5:15, so I guess I will buy the oil then and make the other batch tonight.
For a while, I have been watching the not quite 5 year old granddaughter ride down our dirt and gravel driveway and across the sloping yard on her balance bike. Daughter and I had discussed that she was about ready to learn to ride a real bike without training wheels. I am not a fan of training wheels. I feel that once a kid has a comfort level with the balance, either on a balance bike or on a real bike on a gentle grassy slope, that they are ready to start pedaling. She was taken to the elementary school where I taught her cousin to ride a few summers ago, and wasn’t there long before her Mom sent us a video of her riding on her own. She still needed someone to help her start. Today, she asked me to take her riding again, so we went to the old high school track that is available for the public to walk or run on and she rode great loops around the track, into a head wind and then while I was approaching to help her start off, she did it by herself. She was so proud of herself.
I have continued to work on the Christmas stocking for the newest granddaughter. The chart that is used for the design is very poorly labeled and it violates every rule of knitting color work by spanning 10 or 12 stitches in a color change. I have cut short lengths and wound many bobbins to avoid it, but as it is going to be lined in the end, there are some places where I just spanned too many stitches and did the color change.
When doing a chart, each little box either has a symbol or lacks a symbol and there is a key to let you know what color, the symbol represents. This one has a key, but the key does not match the colors in the photo (the yarn does), so it has been a challenge of flipping to the photograph to see what color the symbol is supposed to be. To make matters worse, two symbols represent two different colors depending on where in the chart you are. As it is, I am going to have to double knit a small section to “repair” a mixed up color from the chart. The right photo is of the back of the stocking with all of the little bobbins and balls that I have to keep untangling. I have reached a point where I am only using 4 colors now and soon only three, then to join in the round and knit the heel and toe. Each stocking that I have made is lined. For my children I did stockings that were crewel work, each grandchild has either a quilted or knitted one. After they are finished and lined, I add a little cross stitched tag inside near the top that says, Made with love, (name they call me) and the year it was made. I hope they treasure them as much as I enjoyed making them.
Last Tuesday evening, son-in-law’s parents arrived by air, bringing Grandson A home from his 7 weeks in Florida. With them was A’s eleven year old male cousin. They got to have some quality time with the grandkids, enjoying some lunches out, a movie, laser tag, and the Children’s Museum. This put 9 folks in the house for breakfast and 3 dinners. They ate one dinner out with the kids and grands. Yesterday afternoon, they left to return to Florida, of course leaving A here to get back on his routine prior to school beginning in a couple of weeks.
The bed and bath linens have been laundered, folded and put away until that guest room is needed again. Last night, the kids rewarded us with a Mexican food meal out, freeing me from the meal prep, then we treated them all to ice cream out. Tonight is a return to Taekwondo for A and is also the adult class for the kids, so dinner will just be Jim and me.
Once home last night, I began spinning 4 ounces of over dyed Coopsworth wool. I had hoped to use it with another skein that was left over from making the sweater last spring, however, the yarn weight is nowhere near the same gauge. I will figure out what to do with them, perhaps make a hat and scarf set that can be used as a gift or go in my shop.
This morning, I dyed the 278 yards of Leicester Longwool that I spun last week. It is destined for my use and it is luscious.
In the midst of spinning, dyeing, cooking, laundry, and being grand-mom in charge, I worked on organizing my teaching materials, my product and labeling, and pulling out items that will be put in a reduced item basket to take to the fiber retreat toward the end of the month.
This evening just before preparing dinner, I got the area above and inside the chicken runs mowed on a high setting and the jungle thicket that even the chickens wouldn’t enter, clipped and pulled down. The cull chicks seem to prefer to stay inside their dry palace than to venture out in the wet to help keep the weeds at bay in their run. Maybe when it dries out a bit, they will come outside more. Tomorrow, I need to try to get two bales of straw to put fresh dry bedding in the coops. The hay bale that was designated for the coops is so wet from this summer’s rains that it is growing mushrooms. It will have to be broken up and used on the garden as mulch.
Yesterday was our eldest son’s birthday. It seems like yesterday that I was standing in our new kitchen (we had just bought a house and moved in only two weeks before) shelling fresh peas that we had bought that morning at the Farmers’ Market in Virginia Beach. We had also taken a walk up Mt. Trashmore, a city park build on the old landfill, with hopes that it would stimulate labor. It did, sort of. At any rate, the peas did not get eaten that night, a stay in the labor unit at the hospital instead and his addition to our family the next day. He is a delightful, intelligent, grown man now, 36 years young with his own wife and our eldest grandson.
The week has been a mixture of rain and sun with only a little gardening done. Our neighbor has an overgrown Bearded Iris bed with three colors of Iris in it and he has known for years that I wanted a bit of each to go with my Grape Iris and Dutch Iris that were already in my gardens. I had permission to come get some, but always waited until they had finished blooming until I thought about heading up to get some and didn’t want to dig without knowing which clusters to dig from in order to get a bit of each color. He called one night this week and told me to come up with a shovel and bucket and I came home with some of each color. They were planted in a flower garden that I had begun early spring above the vegetable garden. Next year they will have multiplied and I will have more beautiful color.
Yesterday, I also stopped and got flowers for the wooden wheelbarrow that my Dad made for me about a dozen years ago. As the weather began turning to spring this year, I brought it in to the garage and refurbished it, putting a new axle, handle and leg supports on it. It also was screwed instead of nailed together in my efforts.
The little carved bear on the edge of the porch was a craft show purchase many years ago. It is chain saw carved and holds a solar light that comes on at dusk, not providing much light, but a guide to where the edge of the front porch is located on a dark night.
Some preparation of products for my shop were done with all three salves made and a couple of scents of lotion bars formulated. While doing them, I prepared a written lesson in salve preparation and making and lotion bar recipe and instruction for a class I will be teaching in the fall at a retreat.
I got brave this week too and finally tackled dyeing a skein of yarn for my shop. My first attempt was not my hand spun, but a 150 yard skein of Suri Alpaca. For my first attempt, I used the kettle dyed method and Greener Shades dye. I tried dyeing half for 20 minutes longer than the other half, hoping for a two toned monochromatic skein.
I don’t think I achieved what I was hoping for, but I am fairly pleased with the result. I have several skeins of undyed natural white yarns in the shop and I will be dyeing several of them in the next few days experimenting with adding more color.
Two days of this week were spent in preparation and recovery from one of the dreaded diagnostics that senior citizens are encouraged to endure. At least I don’t have to go through it again for another decade.
Today began with a solo run to the Farmers’ Market for salad, broccoli, a cucumber already, herbs, bread, and flowers. Jim had breakfast with me in town and then took off on the BBH to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and grab a hot dog in Roanoke.
After my early return, my day has been spent mostly outdoors, weeding and cleaning up the shrub bed along the front of the house. It needs new mulch, but I didn’t want to drive back into town. Pushing the mower up and down the hill by the driveway to clear around the shrubs growing there, the meat chickens pen which was up to my waist with grass and lambs quarters, the area in front of the Huck’s coop so that a containment pen could be made for the anticipated chicks. We are on chick watch. The next couple of days should produce our first batch of chicks for the season. Their coop and pen await.
A plastic chicken wire pen attached to step in poles awaits them. The electric fence will be restrung this evening after I re-hydrate and it cools off some.
The other layers (who have contributed to the eggs being sat) and the proud Papa continue to harass the two gals sitting. One hen insists on laying her egg in the nest of the first broody each day. I marked the original 10 under her and then quit as I didn’t want to disturb her so much. Whatever doesn’t hatch in the next couple of days will be discarded. The same will be true mid June when the second hatch is due. I need to block off the nesting box for the first hatch before they coop up tonight. I don’t want a newly hatched chick to be pecked or accidentally fall out the pop door as her nest is right at that door. One of the girls has taken to pecking the egg of one of the Americaunas each day if I don’t collect them as soon as I realize they are in a nest. They aren’t totally breaking the shell, nor eating the egg, just slightly fracturing the shell. I hate having to discard an egg most days.
We are expecting rain for the next two days. I may take advantage of the wet soil to continue the weeding of the garden. I still don’t have the popcorn and pumpkins planted. I did re-weed the blueberries today and there will be a small harvest of them. One of the aisles between beds was weeded and covered with spoiled hay today as well. I have concluded that from now on, I will just buy my turnips at the Farmers’ Market. I harvested the first few that I planted and they are all full of the little white worm that torments me each time I plant them. I have used wood ash in their planting row and around on top with limited success in the past, but it didn’t work this year. I guess the chickens will enjoy them.
Our neighbor that hays our fields came over to look at my brush hog today. He is going to take it home and refurbish it for me. Rough ground and rocks are hard on them and the design of the stablizer wheel on the back of the one we own is poor, causing the shaft that holds it to stretch out and has made the wheel unstable. One of the bolts that prevents wobble is bent too and he is either going to cut it off and replace it or just weld those two pieces together to prevent the wobble. It has gotten so that it gouges the ground when I mow.
Six batches of soap made for the December Holiday Market.
Four cut and curing. Two are cocooned until tomorrow. After much discussion with others and self arguing, I decided to have my 4 signature unscented soaps; Coffee Scrub, Jasmine Green Tea, Lavender Bud Oatmeal, and Rosemary Oat. With 5 scented soaps settled on are Lavender, Winter Mint, Bergamot Ylang Ylang, Mountain Man, and Tree Hugger.
To simplify the lotion bars and to try to make pairings easier, there will be Lavender, Rosemary, unscented, Mountain Man, Bergamot Ylang Ylang, and Tree Hugger.
As the beard oils are also Mountain Man and Tree Hugger, gift sets can be assembled for the Market. K and I took a trip to Michael’s and found some small boxes to facilitate making sample gift sets.
I recently went out for breakfast with a friend and she introduced me to an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal essential oil blend in a carrier oil that she had been given by her SIL. Later when I was talking to my daughter, she knew the oil by the name I gave her and another name from a Therapeutic essential oil company. Figuring out the component oils was fairly easy and coming up with my own blend was not too difficult. This oil blend carries with it a tale called the Legend of the Four Thieves. After reading many versions of this tale, I decided to come up with my own summary variation and have printed little scrolls of the legend with the uses of the topical oil to attach to each little 1 ounce bottle that I have prepared. Thinking that a one ounce bottle with a dropper wasn’t a very good way to carry it with you, some of the oil mixture was blended with a carrier oil and a bit of beeswax to create salve in one of the little screw lid tins as well.
I await my shipment of more tins to be able to make a supply to add to the wares going to the market next weekend. Our Farmers’ Market is mostly vendors of Organic produce or pasture raised meat, so I am hoping that adding these two products to the Comfrey Salve and Biker Bum Balm will be items that are successful with the crunchy crowd that frequents it.
My little natural first aid kit that I carry in my shoulder bag now has one more item in it.
Two nights ago, K and I moved two beat up hens and two young roosters to the cull pen with the meat birds that are destined for freezer camp next weekend. Last night, Mountaingdad and I went out on a date night and K locked the birds up after dark when their family came in from getting pizza. At least she thought everyone was locked up. This morning, I found the remains of both hens and one young rooster outside the cull coop but inside the run. There is a 4 foot fence around the run, a secured gate at the end and no evidence that anything dug in, so I’m not sure what got them, but it had to be able to go over the fence and get back out after eating. Tomorrow after today’s rain ends, I will attempt to make the electric fence hot again, strung along the top of the runs and around the back of the cull coop near the ground. Whatever it was did not get into the coop, so the birds must have been hunkered down somewhere in the run.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been knitting a shawl for a cousin. It was finished last weekend. Earlier this week, I got the ends woven in, washed and blocked. It took forever to dry as it is a cotton yarn that she picked. The package was mailed off and she received it today. She is delighted with it.
Ok, get your minds away from there, not that kind of hooking. Normally, I knit and spin, but occasionally I pull out a crochet hook to do finishing work on a project. I actually crocheted before I learned to knit, though I only made afghans and lace edgings then.
Before I did my first craft show a few months ago, I was weaving on a mini loom to see if that was another craft that grabbed my attention. I’m into crafts that don’t have a huge investment in the cost of the equipment, and don’t take up a lot of space once purchased (ok, so the spinning wheel was a major investment and takes up a few square feet of space in the loft, but that was an indulgence that has soothed my soul a many of stressed out evenings). I thought about adding Soapy Bags to my items that I was to vend. A little woven bag made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen or hemp that hold a full bar of soap, with a drawstring top and can be used as a washcloth then hung to dry until the next bath or shower. I made exactly one before the show and then did not even bother to take it with me.
It is a cute little bag, but it took too long to weave, sew together, braid the drawstring and thread it through that I just didn’t think that I could make enough of them or sell them for enough to make it a worthwhile addition to my shop and supplies.
As I pulled out my wares to repack them in the little crates, boxes, and trays that I am using for the Holiday Market, I found the little Soapy Bag and thought again that this might be a good venue to sell a few of them. The focus of this market is buying local for your gifts that you purchase for the holidays. I really didn’t like the mini loom, but I still had a few balls of fiber and a set of several sizes of crochet hooks. I knew that I could whip out one in a hour or less if I use larger cotton yarn so I set to work yesterday to add to the supply.
They are very portable and I have two nearly complete, two different size yarns, two different fibers, two different colors. If I work on them in the car and while sitting with Mountaingdad as he watches TV, I may get 10 made before the first market day. Arranged in a basket with a seasonal bow, they might actually sell. What do you think?
It puts my sweater on further hold, granddaughter might get her socks for Christmas, but maybe they will make a nice stocking stuffer for some Holiday Shopper’s loved ones. If they do sell, perhaps I will get some in my Etsy Shop to go along with the soaps, lotions, salves, balms, beard oils, and yarns currently available.
For now, I need to go start a couple of batches of holiday soap and get back to hooking.
Late last evening, I received an email letting me know that I have been accepted for the Holiday Market in November and again in December. This weekend, K will help me set up my display for a dry run. I have been working a bit at a time to improve the curb appeal with the purchase of a few small crates and some small chalkboard signs.
I felt that my hand printed paper signs and lack of labeling contributed to my low sales at the previous festival. The little clip on blackboards, were easy to make with wooden clothespins, hot glue, a paint pen and the small blackboards. It has allowed me to identify the scents available, and each bar has a paper band with the shop logo and soap scent. I purchased two of the small square trays and glued dividers in them for the lotion bars and salves. The little soap crates will each have one or two varieties of soap and each of the two beard oils have their own little box. Testers will be out for the Beard Oil and Lotion Bars.
This left me with a challenge on how to display the handspun yarn. I have tossed various ideas around for a few days while I waited for decision. To facilitate carrying the small boxes, crates and trays, supply box, sign, bags and table covers, I use wood fruit box type crates. T suggested how to reinforce the bottom of those boxes so that I don’t have the bottom fall out when fully loaded. Those boxes are stapled together, so attractive, but not too sturdy. My idea was to use these boxes to my advantage in my display and today, I bought 16 Shaker style pegs, dug through my scrap wood supply for a 1 x 4 cedar board and set to work making a yarn display.
Out came the circular saw and the power drill, some wood glue and furniture clamps and the peg boards were fastened to the bottoms of two crates when stacked on two more crates it make a great display and the pegged crates can still be used to carry the yarn, table covers and other light weight, non breakable items.
After we set up the tables within a 10 X 10 foot space to see how it will work, we will determine the most appealing appearance to display the soap, lotion bars, beard oils and yarn on the tables. I am hopeful that the investment in the display items will attract buyers and the market will be a success for my fledgling hobby business.
My baby girl (well, she a big girl now with two kids of her own, but she will always be my baby girl) and I text back and forth often. Short little conversations, just keeping up. Oh course we talk on the phone too, but not daily.
A couple of weeks ago while shopping at one of our two natural food stores, I found the blue market bag on the left in the top picture. It is a One Mango Tree bag, made in Northern Uganda. One Mango Tree provides sewing training, steady jobs, a daily meal, school fees stipends for children, bicycles, etc. and the bags are eco-friendly and fair trade. I texted a picture of it to my daughter. She at some point had purchased one off of their website to use as a purse and decided it was too large for that purpose. She asked me how big mine was as it was sitting on the back seat of my car full of groceries and I measured it when I got home. It is about the same size as hers, but has a matching fabric strap where hers has a braided handle which she says hurts her shoulder when it is full of market goodies. I asked her what she was looking for size-wise to use as a purse and she gave me the dimensions she was seeking and told her the style of bag would be so easy to make, that I would make her one.
Last Wednesday on my way to knit night, I stopped at the fabric store and selected fabrics in the colors that she likes, taking photos and texting them to her (we live 850 miles apart). Once the outside fabric was selected via text message, we started on the lining and the questions about whether she wanted it stiffened with Pellon. She didn’t know what Pellon was but did want it stiffened to use as a purse. On my way to get bias tape, which I didn’t use, I found a card of buttons that matched perfectly. The sewing supplies sat in my spinning chair for a week. I haven’t spun or sewed all week, though I did start a knitting project and read two books, worked in the garden and yard.
Yesterday, I did make a pattern out of butcher paper and added it to the pile. Today after lunch, Jim went out to do a bit more with the weed wacker and I set about to make the purse. About an hours worth of cutting, ironing and sewing and my baby girl has a new purse. A few texts back and forth for her to see it compared in size to the other bag and to decide whether she wanted the button and if so as a decoration or functional and she is happy. I have plenty of the fabric left and think I will make her a matching market bag them mail them off to her instead of her having to wait for us to visit much later in the summer.
Since the spin in last weekend and the completion of the Tunis/FinnXJacob yarn, I stalled on spinning for a few days. Last February, just before David took his stock of Green Dragon yarn and roving to Hawk’s Nest, he had the most luscious hanks of Random Colors-Merino for spinning. He sold every last one of the ones he had made but since they were so popular, he made more for his shop. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased one to try and it is so delightful to spin. The one I purchased has rather muted colors, maroon, teal, camel with shades of lighter colors that blend into a wonderful single. The Merino is so soft and the fiber is long enough to make the drafting smoother and consistent. The colors of the single are interesting on the bobbin and I can’t decide what to do with it to not dilute the beautiful colors. It could be Navajo plied, but that significantly reduces the yardage of finished yarn. I’m afraid that plying two bobbins of it together will muddy the finished yarn. Maybe I should ply it with a solid, fairly dark neutral. The hank of roving is 100 grams. My single is fine, so the yarn is going to be lightweight.
Spinner readers, any suggestions?
Tonight is knit night. Jim is taking his motorcycle over to the dealer to get his Tour Pack installed and I am a bit leery of taking my car as the other day it acted as though the starter motor may be failing. I guess if it does, I’m only a few hundred yards from the Honda dealer and Jim can come get me after knitting in his car once he gets home on his bike.
As I sold all of my interchangeable knitting needles and ordered fixed circular knitting needles, I needed storage. Interchangeables come in clever compact cases that hold the tips and the cables, but fixed circulars come in individual packages and when they arrive, I will have 2 lengths of 10 sizes, a potential snake’s nest if put in a basket. I have spent a couple of hours searching through Etsy looking for a solution. I know what I want, something that resembles a CD case and I was willing to pay someone else to design and make it, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t either a roll or much larger than I desired.
My other desire was a means to make my favorite go to bag more organized.
This bag is a leather tote from Duluth Trading Company, it is my travel tote, my knitting bag, carries my wallet, tablet, notepad, small case with lotion bar, lip balm, comb, pens, camera, and a shawl or scarf. The bag is 12 x 4 x 13.5 with a zipped top. Because of its size, it swallows my tiny wallet and keys. One of my friends used to have a business making bags and she put a liner in them that had pockets around the perimeter. I sew, but my machine isn’t heavy enough to sew through the liner and the leather. After approaching this friend, she agreed to help me sew the lining in if I made what I wanted.
Today turned into a craft day as I tackled these two problems after some planning last night and a trip to the fabric store today.
First, I tackled the liner. I bought a firm drapery fabric, measured twice, cut once and formed just what I wanted. It is temporarily basted into the bag until I can get with my friend to sew it in place.
The other project was accomplished with quilting quarters, scraps from the bag liner, and a few inches of synthetic leather. I still need to sew the button and leather loop on, but it is colorful and I think will fulfill my needs. The supplies for both projects ended up costing less than a needle case on Etsy that would have been less satisfactory to me.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family