special projects

Every January our local SCA group hosts an evening of eating and dancing. To help pay for the site, we hold an auction. Usually the tables are piled with cast-off garb, feast gear, books, nicknacks, etc. We don’t generate a huge amount of money for those things. But one year there were several handmade items on the table, which helped to increase the money we made. For this year I suggested we do an artisans auction — all items donated must be made by hand and relevant to our group. My contribution is handspun yarn (surprise!). I have three skeins of Shetland. One is the natural fawn color and the other two constitute my first attempt at natural dyeing in many years.

I started with three pots on the stove. One had alum, one had copper, and one had madder root. While the madder was simmering, I mordanted the yarn along with some fiber. I put one skein of yarn and a braid of roving in with the madder. In the alum pot, I dumped some turmeric and brazilwood. Since there was extra space in the pot I tossed in an old dish towel. After removing the yarn, I dyed a piece of linen fabric. The copper pot got logwood extract and then later I threw in some tin. Nothing exploded and I didn’t pass out, so I think it was okay.

The yarn dyed the best, but what a mess! I rinsed the skeins so many times and still it seemed like the water wouldn’t run clear. And despite straining, I ended up with all these fine pieces of plant matter in the yarn. When I reskeined them, I ended up with a dust pile underneath the swift. But overall they turned out better than I had expected. And you cannot deny the power of natural light in photos!

From front to back: madder root on alum, turmeric & brazilwood on alum, logwood on copper. #Shetland #wool #dyeing #plantdyes #handspun #handspunstagram #yarn
Madder root, turmeric + brazilwood, logwood

here we go again

Not posting so regularly these past few months. It isn’t because I don’t have things on my mind, it’s more that I feel like it doesn’t matter. This blog was very important to me when I started it, but anymore it seems like I just say the same thing over and over:

Look at this yarn.
I’m still knitting.
Went to a show.
Dyeing again.

And there’s that the entire year! So why do I need to keep reiterating it? How can I make this blog something relevant again? Maybe I should stop thinking about the ripples (or lack there of) and just post whatever I want… maybe I don’t want to post. It is rather time consuming. I don’t even know how to write anymore. Good grief.

Anyway…

I see a lot of people using words as inspiration for their year rather than setting rigid “resolutions”. I suppose it gives them more flexibility and it’s a way to make multiple changes in many areas. I’ve never really done anything inspired by the new year other than getting a new date book. However, after meeting with my accountant yesterday, I had a few thoughts.

1) I need to stop spending money on unnecessary things. She suggested I work on a budget, which would be a good idea not only for my business, but my home expenses. Rich always says that you should enjoy life, otherwise what’s the point (i.e. spend!). But that doesn’t mean I can’t cut out a few things — like those fun trips to Pat Catans every month or so.

2) If this is truly full-time, I need to be making more money. In order to sell more, I need to make more. Also, I need to stop spending so much time on stupid things like Facebook, labeling, data entry, and other boring behind the scenes things. Yet again, I can also integrate this into my daily life. I want to do more sewing and more baking and more weaving and cultivate my own damn hobby again.

3) I have literally NO FOLLOW-THROUGH. This is something I realized at the end of the year and it may be the reason I have accomplished so little in my life. I feel like I am just skimming across the top and never really getting in there. I have all these ideas and plans in my head, I’ll even SAY I’m going to do something, and then I never do it. Do you know how many blog posts I plan to write, but don’t? Projects I want to do? Things I want to make? Places I want to go? It’s really quite pitiful.

4) I need to be more proactive. I allow myself to get complacent and hope that people will come to me. Guess what? They don’t! If you don’t ask about something, you will never know. I am the worst at networking. It probably goes along with that lazy thing in #3. Also, I hate feeling like I am pushing myself on people. I just figure if they want to do something with me, they will ask. I guess I have to figure out how to get more from people without being obnoxious. Ugh.

To sum it up, here are my inspirational phrases/goals for 2015:

Reduce expenses
Increase productivity
Be more engaging

Sure, it’s not artsy or soulful, but most things I do are rather practical and square, so too bad.
Look! I put in on a picture. Now it’s legitimate!

2015words

personal time

I need a hobby. I used to have one when I started this blog in 2007, but it has since become a job. My other hobby, the SCA, requires so much work and causes so much stress that it should be a job. I feel like I have nothing that is just for me any longer. What do I spend my free time doing? Who am I kidding? I have no free time. I don’t want to knit even for myself because I am knitting all the time. So yes, for those of you who are curious, turning it into a business sucks all the fun out of it.

I find myself turning towards sewing. All my SCA clothing is made by me, so why can’t I make normal clothes for every day? I love fabric, but one only needs so many dresses for a “hobby”, so I thought that making modern clothes would be a good direction in which to expand.

I started a feeble Pinterest board to keep track of various patterns and tutorials, but so far I have only attempted a Simplicity that failed miserably. If anyone can mess up an “easy” Simplicity pattern (it was actually designated as “easy”), it would be me. And of course that episode has discouraged me from trying anything else. One of my main problems is my body. It’s short and lumpy and none of the patterns are designed for short people. Yes, of course I know you can adjust and shorten them, but guess what?! That sucks.

For my birthday, which was yesterday, I received The Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman. It looks cool, not too complicated. Maybe I will try again with a pattern that isn’t so stressful. But it probably won’t work. And then I’ll end up with a pile of shredded fabric. You can reknit yarn, but fabric isn’t so forgiving!

book