Tag Archives: self sufficiency

Using What You Have Part 2: New Skills Day, Spiders and Waylon Jennings

A little while back I wrote about the appeal that the phrase “Use what you have and you will never be without” holds for me. I  applied it again recently when I was feeling guilt about the fiber tools/patterns/techniques  that I have rarely and sometimes never used. I usually get them for two reasons: 1) they are new and interesting and get that adrenaline flow going about how much fun they would be  2) I tell myself that with the new tool I will surely use up lots of my pounds and pounds of fiber sitting in the attic in plastic bins….

Okay, that worked well when I bought a lucet over two years ago. A cute, inexpensive, beautifully made wooden tool that has been around since the Middle Ages which you can use, among other things, to make braids. My supposedly rational thought: I can use it to braid lots of my roving and make seat pads which I have always wanted. I put it on a shelf where I could admire it… and never touched it again.

So the other day I decided I would take a couple hours and have a learn new skills afternoon. I first went for the lucet and watched a youtube video. When I learned to spin back in those Middle Ages there was no youtube and few books on spinning. Much harder to learn things then. I do appreciate the internet for that. Here are my results.

Lucet

Lucet and braids

That was fun. I can make lots of braids and sew them together for seat mats and virtuously use a lot of fiber.

Then I looked under something on my table and found an article that I had gotten from somewhere and even put in a plastic sleeve (I love office supplies, I feel so organized and efficient, I enjoy wandering around Staples even if I don’t get anything) and then forgotten of course.  There was instruction on how to crochet circular or square mats from roving- which meant no sewing braids together. That sounded good. Easier to complete and could use up pencil roving I bought and never used for spinning because I found the quality was not as good as I had hoped and it fell apart more easily than I expected when spinning.

seat cover

Crocheting chair mat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much better for ktichen chair mat- but how will I use the lucet now? It is back on its shelf and still looks beautiful.

Next skill to learn: chain plying. I had done some in the past and found my yarn was pretty twisty, and several months ago been shown another technique. I watched the video I made of my friend doing it -got to love that technology once again and believe me, I am not a big electronics fan but I guess as with anything else that helps my fiber, I like it for that! I practiced and created two skeins that were a bit twisty but became balanced when soaked in warm soapy water.

two chain plyed skeins

Chain plyed skeins

I  hung the yellow one on that spoon like thing I dug up when putting in herbs behind the barn. I still don’t know what was used for but now it is a proven yarn dryer thing.

chain ply fall colors

 

 

I will still give a prize to anyone who can

definitively tell me what it is.

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I have to interrupt this train of thought because  a friend, sort of a spinning sister, just dropped in. IMG_0908

Spinners and weavers have an affinity for spiders since they also spin and weave.

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Good-bye spider??

Uh oh. Someone else just found you too.

Now I have totally  lost my focus because my husband is rooting around for food- it is way past supper time-and put on Waylon Jennings and my legs won’t stop moving to the beat so I will stop for now. “Did old Hank really do it this way?” 🙂

 

“Use What You Have and You Will Never Be Without”

That’s an old expression that came to mind yesterday morning as I was finishing my herb garden. Gardening brings several of my favorite activities together: planting and growing of course,  chickens who contribute aged bedding and manure for fertilizer and soil amendments and even wool leftover from combing which I use for mulch. I also use grass clippings. The last three are just sitting around with no other purpose so I feel good about using them rather than wasting. Rather than spending money on materials that do the same thing.

Even I don’t want wool showing in the garden so I cover it with grass clippings. Wool will protect and takes a long time to break down and I will have to replace the grass clippings before I need more wool.  We don’t lack for grass clippings on this acre. In the front of the  picture you can see the layer of wool on the left. It is covered by grass on the right. It was supposed to get hot today- to me 78 degrees feels a bit too hot- so I was out early as can be seen by the shadows.

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Mulching with wool under grass clippings

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Discovery of  something or other

Does anyone know what this is? I don’t. We have a collection of items found on the property by the previous owners and some we and the chickens have dug up- hand forged nails, small bottles, broken pottery- and I just dug this up in the herb garden. It looks like a spoon but the bent handle has slots which a spoon would not have. Back in the 1830s-not that this is likely that old- when the house was built and for a very long time afterwards people weren’t putting their trash out for the town haulers to pick up.  🙂  They were burning it and burying it. They had much less waste from packaging and other things than we have. Since this was behind the barn it could have fallen off of something too.

We also have a large two person saw, and an old oil lantern that were used here. I enjoy thinking about the people being right here where I am, using those things. Our fireplace has a metal arm that swings out to hold a cooking pot or an iron.

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Swinging arm original to fireplace for irons and pots.

We have a couple of those irons. They are so heavy! The women must have developed arthritis and all kinds of other problems with their shoulders and arms after hefting those things. Unless they were like me and avoid ironing at all costs. They didn’t really have that choice though.

Thinking about all these items and activities happening here long ago makes the expression in my title come even more alive. I like it because it gets my creative juices flowing. What can I do to complete an activity and not have to buy much, or maybe anything? What can I use or create from things that I have already? That expression likely came about long ago from people who did not have the material wealth to buy whatever they needed. Or a Walmart nearby to sell it to them. We have many more options and often they come in handy. But do we need to always use those kinds of options?  Or can we be more creative and less wasteful?

chicks July 10

Chicks almost two months old July 2014. Thanks for the picture Laura!

I know I will be wasteful with certain things such as my chickens. I am sure that the chickens kept here long ago in the same hen house we now use were eaten once they stopped laying eggs. It makes sense. But in 2015 I don’t need to eat them in order to survive. So I guess I pick and choose my wastefulness! But look how cute and goofy they were ten months ago.  Who could eat this even now that they are full grown? People more sensible and practical than me, people who were  masters at surviving by using what they already had at their disposal, that is who. We can only marvel and sometimes learn.

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No one is eating you!

And be grateful we don’t have to iron with hot 8 pound irons.

Next week back to wool and sheep! There has been a lot of dyeing here today.

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About half of the dyeing I did today. The rest is still cooling.