Category Archives: Family and friends

Sheep of another Fiber

„TribuT“ by Jean Luc Cornec

My sister-in-law sent me a screenshot of these critters and I was so amazed!  I have an actual flock of sheep of a similar population.  And, I’ve been going through belongings trying to declutter and pare down on possessions and came across the rotary phone I received as a teenager – bright red.

I would imagine, as with roll down windows in a car, most of today’s youngsters would have no idea what to do with these phones.

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Filed under Family and friends, Fiber Arts, Reduce, reuse, recycle, Sheep

Happy New Year!

beautiful 2017 celebration greeting card design with fireworks

Designed by starline / Freepik

I hope 2017 brings you health, happiness and rewarding work.

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Thinking about Christmas in July

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I started my 2015 Christmas cards on December 11th after getting a brainstorm to see how many I could knit.  Really, really not enough time!  (Apologies to those reading this who received a plain old paper card from me last year!!)  I highly recommend allowing yourself a bit more time, therefore I’m sharing this suggestion in July.

My favorite resource for inspiration in all things knitting (besides my fiber friends and family) is Ravelry.com, so I went there to search for patterns and ideas and found many, many to choose from.

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I already had blank cards and stamping supplies on hand, so I started a knitting frenzy and whipped out quite a few cards in a relatively short time.  One lesson I learned and that I’m reminded of while looking at this picture, is that newsprint is not a good choice for a work surface.  The print can easily rub off onto the finished card.  Better to work directly on a table that can be cleaned off or use a blank sheet of newsprint or kraft paper.

Another consideration is the thickness of the finished card and envelop.  These squeaked in under the maximum thickness allowed for standard postage rates in the US, but if I had used a bulky yarn or had applied felted ornaments on my trees, etc. they might have been too thick and required extra postage to mail.  Check with your postal service for current rules and regs.

Each knitted tree, etc. doubles as an ornament.  I secured a single crocheted loop at the top of each one and threaded the loop through a small slit in the card using a yarn needle.  The recipient was able to either keep the ornament attached to the card or pull it free and hang it on their tree.

These were really fun to knit up and were well received.  If you decide to create some yourself, I would love to see the results of your creativity.

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The “Honorable Harvest”: Lessons From an Indigenous Tradition of Giving Thanks

The following essay was published in the Winter 2016 issue of Yes Magazine, to which I have subscribed for a number of years.  This piece resonated for me, as do so many that I read in each issue of the magazine.
I hope your holidays are filled with health, the warmth of friends and family and the joy of giving back.
 

 

 

FROM THE WINTER 2016 ISSUE

Good Health

Issue cover

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/good-health/the-honorable-harvest-lessons-from-an-indigenous-tradition-of-giving-thanks-20151126

What if this holiday season we fill our shopping baskets with only that which is needed and give something back in return?

In this season of harvest, our baskets are full, rounded with fragrant apples and heaped with winter squash. So too are the steel shopping carts that clatter across the parking lot, plastic bags whipping in the wind. How do we even name such abundance? Are these commodities? Natural resources? Ecosystem services? In the indigenous worldview, we call them gifts.

We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth: air to breathe, fresh water, the companionship of geese and maples—and food. Since we lack the gift of photosynthesis, we animals are destined by biology to be utterly dependent upon the lives of others, the inherently generous, more-than-human persons with whom we share the planet.If we understand the Earth as just a collection of objects, then apples and the land that offers them fall outside our circle of moral consideration. We tell ourselves that we can use them however we please, because their lives don’t matter. But in a worldview that understands them as persons, their lives matter very much. Recognition of personhood does not mean that we don’t consume, but that we are accountable for the lives that we take. When we speak of the living world as kin, we also are called to act in new ways, so that when we take those lives, we must do it in such a way that brings honor to the life that is taken and honor to the ones receiving it.The canon of indigenous principles that govern the exchange of life for life is known as the Honorable Harvest. They are “rules” of sorts that govern our taking, so that the world is as rich for the seventh generation as it is for us.The Honorable Harvest, a practice both ancient and urgent, applies to every exchange between people and the Earth. Its protocol is not written down, but if it were, it would look something like this:Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.

Never take the first. Never take the last.

Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. 

Take only what you need and leave some for others.

Use everything that you take. 

Take only that which is given to you. 

Share it, as the Earth has shared with you. 

Be grateful. 

Reciprocate the gift.

Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever.

Though we live in a world made of gifts, we find ourselves harnessed to institutions and an economy that relentlessly ask, “What more can we take from the Earth?” In order for balance to occur, we cannot keep taking without replenishing. Don’t we need to ask, “What can we give?”

The Honorable Harvest is a covenant of reciprocity between humans and the land. This simple list may seem like a quaint prescription for how to pick berries, but it is the root of a sophisticated ethical protocol that could guide us in a time when unbridled exploitation threatens the life that surrounds us. Western economies and institutions enmesh us all in a profoundly dishonorable harvest. Collectively, by assent or by inaction, we have chosen the policies we live by. We can choose again.

What if the Honorable Harvest were the law of the land? And humans—not just plants and animals—fulfilled the purpose of supporting the lives of others? What would the world look like if a developer poised to convert a meadow to a shopping mall had first to ask permission of the meadowlarks and the goldenrod? And abide by their answer? What if we fill our shopping baskets with only that which is needed and give something back in return?

How can we reciprocate the gifts of the Earth? In gratitude, in ceremony, through acts of practical reverence and land stewardship, in fierce defense of the places we love, in art, in science, in song, in gardens, in children, in ballots, in stories of renewal, in creative resistance, in how we spend our money and our precious lives, by refusing to be complicit with the forces of ecological destruction. Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and dance for the renewal of the world.

Robin Wall Kimmerer wrote this article for How to Create a Culture of Good Health, the Winter 2016 issue of YES! Magazine. She is the founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

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Filed under Family and friends, Natural world, Sustainability

Felted Soap Workshop

Back in October I taught a felted soap class at the studio at Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips, WI.

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Students and their lovely creations

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Coopworth wool that has been dyed, prepared on a drum carder and awaiting color blending magic

I brought along books about fiber and quite a bunch of examples of items that I had felted.  Not only soaps, but also knitted and felted items such as handbags, a cup cozy and mittens.

“Felting” wool is basically what happens when you put a sweater through the hot cycle in your washer and discover with chagrin that you have created doll clothes accidentally.

This explanation for how felting happens comes from BioTechnology Learning Hub: “The exposed edges of the cuticle cells point towards the tip of the fibre, creating a jagged edge. This allows fibres to slip over one another easily in one direction but not the other, giving wool the ability to felt.

Felt is created when wool fibres are agitated in water – they slip over one another and the scales interlock, preventing the fibre from returning to its original shape. The process can be controlled to create very dense fabrics such as felt and wool blanket and jacket fabric, but can also be caused unintentionally during laundering and ruin a garment.”

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Microscopic image of wool

 

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ESEM_color_wool.jpg

Using wool’s ability to felt to our advantage, we wrapped my handcrafted herbal soaps in colorful rolags made by blending colors using hand carders.  As part of the class, I taught each of the students how to properly use hand carders to prepare the fiber.  I also explained how color blending can be used to make infinite new and dynamic colors using a few batts of dyed wool.  We soaked the wrapped soaps with warm water and agitated the wool by rubbing it in circles on each surface until the wool had just begun to felt together, then we rinsed them, pressed them dry in a towel and set them out to dry and be admired.

Soap that has been wrapped in wool has become a popular gift item.  It brightens any decor.  Felted soaps are like having a wash cloth built right in and they work great to scrub a gardener’s hands clean.  The wool continues to shrink so that it is always tight against the soap.  The wool wrapper helps the soap to last longer as long as the soap isn’t allowed to sit in water, which would cause the wool to wick and soften the soap.

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Soaps, felted soaps, wool rolags and hand carders

UPDATE: Last spring I had the opportunity to teach this workshop again in an abbreviated fashion for a couple of groups of 4-H youth at UWEX Price County Project Fun Day.  The activity was well received and a couple of kids held off on using their soaps so that they could submit them for exhibit at the Price County Fair.

Each child selected their own colors and learned to use the hand cards to create a rolag for wrapping around their bar of soap.  I also gave a short talk about how soap is made and the characteristics of wool that allows it to felt.

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Price County 4-H Youth at Project Fun Day

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Price County 4-H Youth at Project Fun Day

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New Socks, New Skills

0203151834I’m really happy!  I’ve been hoping to pull together a sock class at the Yarn Barn for a while now.  We finally did it!  The students were Sue, Christy, Kathy, Dana and Sharon.  They are pictured here with their works of art.  The only prerequisite for the class was knowing how to knit and to purl.  I used a freely downloadable basic sock pattern from online and divided the 4 sessions to cover: Week 1. mastering double point needles; Week 2. heel flaps; Week 3. turning the heel and creating the gusset; Week 4. grafting the toe.  The students had great senses of humor and made each class really fun.  They all worked diligently at their homework between classes.  Each student left with a pair of socks either done or nearly so and a bunch of new knitting skills.  Perhaps best of all, they had all sorts of ideas for other knitting projects they would like to tackle.

We’re thinking about offering a stranded knitting / fair isle knitting class next and are also looking for suggestions for other projects and classes to offer.

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Christmas Cookies – gluten free

I needed cookies for a craft show I participated in recently that had a holiday theme.  I decided the gluten free cookies I prefer for myself would also be welcome to some of the shoppers at the craft show.  A friend who is a big fan of cut out cookies is also beginning an exploration of a life without wheat flour, so we teamed up for an afternoon of baking.  And, how nice, our holiday cookies are already safely stowed in the freezer!

We used the Leo’s Classic Sugar Cookies recipe from my copy of Karen Morgan’s Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free.

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