Fiber Arts, Animals, and Projects

These desert mornings are cool.  I put a cardigan on before I poured my coffee.  I put the chicks outside yesterday but I may need to run the heat lamp out there for mornings.  It’s going to get warm though.  It was ninety degrees yesterday and it will be again today (wasn’t I just wearing a winter hat Sunday?), so it may seem a terrible time to talk about fiber arts!  Fiber arts are apart of our series here and a welcome skill on the homestead.  Think cozy sweaters, gloves, blankets, and unique gifts all created by you.

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I have found that folks that begin crocheting first have a hard time knitting (where is that darned hook?).  I learned how to crochet from my grandmother, among many things (Lord, I miss her!), when I was thirteen.  I entered my first blanket into the school’s art show and won first place.  I was sure thrilled!  I went on to make many a baby blanket (about my patience level) for friends, all of my own children and my darling granddaughters.  Then moved on to cozies for candles and mugs and fingerless gloves.  Lots of fun ideas.  I have a loom downstairs I am just giddy to learn to how to use.  It may as well be a car in a million pieces; I haven’t the first idea how to put it together, let alone use it.  That is a goal for this winter.

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Gandalf at dusk.  That’s not snow, folks.

What about fiber animals?  I can’t have them here in the city (actually….I saw a weird video about folks spinning their dog’s fur), but I have had them before and will have them again.  Alpacas weren’t my loves.  They are cute and marionette-like, and kick.  Some of my friends adore their alpacas, it just may not have been our thing.  I need goofy, friendly, cuddly animals on my farm.  So we got sheep.  Oh goodness, I loved those sheep.  Olaf and Sven were just as bright as a pine cone but they adored me and followed me around the farm, in the house, and rather enjoyed rides in the truck.  They also liked to watch television.  (Spoiled much?)

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I have had a spinning wheel twice, and due to moving and patience issues in me (I do hope those are remedied now that I am an empty nester), I don’t have one, but that too will become one of my goals….maybe.  I once dropped off a whole bag of alpaca fleece a guy sold me to a fiber mill and I got back many skeins of lovely spun yarn.  I wonder if I could do it again myself.

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Homesteading is a lot of doing and a little bit dreaming.  We are always striving to do more, learn more, achieve more, enjoy more.  In the meantime, there are a few projects I am inspired to work on.  Better find some chunky wool…

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Here are some old past posts and projects for y’all!

Candle Sweaters and Pin Cushions (homemade gifts)

The Yarn Weasel

Alpaca Scarves and Crooked Washcloths

Vintage Handkerchiefs (a crochet project)

How to Crochet Fingerless Gloves (easy pattern!)

The Original Homestead Checklist

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First gather your friends and build a fabulous structure out of mud.  The small windows on the outside are so that intruders cannot easily get in.  It keeps children from sneaking in past curfew as well.  The small door is opened so that people can come in and out.  If you open both gates you can let in people with their horses and all their stuff.  Being hospitable is always important when homesteading.

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The front room is where business would be conducted.  You could come and get herbs or herbal medicines from us.  Get your broken arm set, or we could fix a wound, send you home with something for your sick child.  It would also serve as a guest room if anyone doesn’t want to travel home after dinner. (It’s a long horseback ride to Colorado.)

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A watch tower to see how your animals are doing, see the whole compound, see if you are about to be attacked by Indians, or more relevant, by traveling salesmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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The original kitchen.  The fireplace (kiva) is in the corner.  It serves as a cookstove by placing hot embers beneath pots.  The heat rises to the shepherd’s bed above.  We would put grandpa there, a sick child, or a new lamb to keep warm above the fireplace.

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I did barter for a hand grinder for grains so that will make my life a little easier, but one could always get a couple of flat rocks and grind the corn and grains into flour.  It wouldn’t kill me to work out a little anyway.

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This is Maryjane’s swing for when I am watching her while working in the kitchen.  It is covered in sheepskin to keep her nice and toasty.  Here is something I learned, see that black vase in the background?  I can still order olive oil and have it come up from Mexico on the Camino Real.  Or, if I am a little strapped for cash I can always use lard.  It might be hard to be a vegetarian on this homestead!

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These good looking men are standing in front of the hornos, the outdoor ovens.  Simply start a fire in them and close it up.  When it is down to embers, sweep the embers out and put a small piece of wool in there.  If it burns, it is too hot.  When the wool becomes a light cinnamon color it is ready to place bread into.  No heating up the kitchen!  I wonder if Doug will build me one.

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Coming out of my refrigerator.  I am afraid it was rather empty.  I won’t even ask if Doug will build me one of these.

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These are Churro sheep.  They have great, thick wool that makes wonderful blankets, and I will take their word for it, good meat.

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They were exceptionally friendly and Mark had a great time petting them through the fence and speaking softly to them.  It was nice to see him taking a break from video games and out seeing animals and history.

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How fitting that the weavers, carders, and spinners were there.  I learned how to card my future wool and turn it into roving.

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Imagine all the beautiful, natural plant dyes out there at my fingertips!  Many plants we use for medicine can also be used to turn yarn into lively colors.

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Welcome to my future homestead. (or a variation of it.) A gentleman that tagged along with our group was baffled with my absolute awe of everything.  He said, “You wanting to live like this would last one day.”  I answered a bit too quickly, “You don’t know me!”

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Pat and I taking a break from our many chores on the homestead.

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The weather here is so beautiful and the vacation is most appreciated!  If you are in Santa Fe, I recommend that you visit Las Golondrinas.  It is a wonderful place to see how things were a few hundred years ago.  There are many things that we could implement now.  Sometimes I suspect technology has actually made our lives more difficult instead of easier.  We are losing time, are frazzled, and it seems to take longer to do simple tasks.  Getting back to a simpler path is my goal for this year.  To find that homestead.  To live healthier and more free.  To find what I want and live it.  My birthday is tomorrow so this makes me think harder on what I want to do the next year.  I feel like life is short and if we want to live a particular way, we ought to get going on it!

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This is my new favorite saint, San Ysidro.  The patron saint of farmers.  May this year be the year that we get a farm!  Chase your dreams, friends!

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