Saturday, December 8, 2012

Drop Spindles, Spinning Fiber, and Hair Clips

This day began as a very foggy, drizzly, quiet morning. I awoke at 6:30am. Unable to go back to sleep and unwilling to lay there longer while my brain raced with plans for the day, I decided to get up, but I did not waken Sean. Sometimes, I like to let him "sleep in." I threw on some clothes, thrown haphazardly to the chest at the foot of our bed, and padded upstairs to the cold and dormant kitchen.

The roosters had already began their daily morning crowing contest. It seemed that this morning, Sebastian and Charles were vying for "Alpha Crowing Rights". Occasionally, Rufeo would let out a pathetic sound and then, looked away embarrassed. The geese punctuated the chorus any time the roosters paused with melodious honk-honk-honks. It is a happy sound and it makes me smile to hear them.

The house wasn't cold, but the temperature had dipped to just under 50 degrees over night in here. I wasted no time in starting a new fire in the wood stove. Within a few minutes, a nice, cheery blaze crackled away. Then, I took some time to clean up the dishes from last night that I had neglected to wash, decluttered the kitchen table, swept the kitchen floor, fed the bunny and cats, played with putting together my new drop spindle and as a reward for my industriousness, I took some time to check emails, my blog for comments, and edited some pictures for today's post.

You would think that 4 paragraphs in, the subject of today's post would have been mentioned already, but my brain feels like wandering instead to trivial, homey things. I suppose, I should get to it, especially since my ability to allow Sean to sleep undisturbed is minimal. Today, I hope that Sean and I will have a little adventure at the Lawrence High School to do some market research at the craft fair being hosted there today. Specifically, I want to check out what offerings there are in terms of goat's milk soaps, herbs, yarn spinning items and hair clips. I expect to compare the: quality of the product made, packaging, price, quality of ingredients used, etc. If I want to make a go of this business, (and I do!) this information will go a long way towards learning what our local market can bear.

We did get to the craft fair. We were nearly an hour later than we wanted to be, but Sean called into the Kim Kommando show and won this EPSON XP-800 Wireless Color Printer (Retail Value $279) for talking on air with Kim. How exciting! I can think of many uses for it around here, creating marketing for our farm products.
At the craft fair, there were a couple of booths that were REALLY outstanding. One of them was a woman who sewed the softest, heavy duty mittens you ever want to slip on from recycled sweaters and lined with fleece. If I had had the extra $20 to spend today, I would have owned a pair, for sure! Another booth featured fired clay plates, mugs, and bowls. The woman who created them was very talented. I love that they were accented with paint, but left mostly to fire the natural deep red color that Maine clay often turns to. Our good friends, the Kratkas were selling good quality handmade hat/scarf sets made by Trish and greeting cards, coasters, and pictures featuring AMAZING photographs taken by her talented husband, Kevin. Check out their etsy store.

The first booth in line with today's mission sold wreaths made from herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage. They also offered fresh herb sachets, bath scents, and organic goat's milk soap. The soap smelled lovely and felt very creamy. The packaging was a simple and appealing lace wrap, opened at both ends. I was eager to ask her lots of questions and did. As I talked with the crafter, I got more and more disappointed. First of all, she doesn't make the soap herself nor buy it from someone who does. She uses pre-made goat's milk soap pours from A.C. Moore and adds food color (which is my second complaint) and organically grown herbs. This is only MY opinion, but at a craft fair, I really expected that the goat's milk soap labelled "ORGANIC" would be made by the crafter ORGANICALLY!!! Perhaps, the soap melt she bought was organic, but it really didn't sound that way. And, I really expected the colorants used to be organic and not food grade food colorants. She was selling the soap for $3.00/bar. They smelled nice, but I didn't buy any.

The Rossignol Farm Soaps booth sold soap that was very well marketed. The containers were simple and appealing. The product looked, felt, and smelled wonderful. They were not made with goat's milk, like my soaps are, but they were made with Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Palm Oils and other ingredients. Some soaps were scented with fragrance oils or essential oils; some had clays or charcoal. They also offered lip balms, hand lotion bars, and bath salts. They did not claim to be organic, but the products they offered really appealed to me. And, the hand lotion Sean tried was very, very nice. The soaps sold for slightly more, but I probably would have bought them, anyway.

The last booth of special interest was Cedar Valley Fibers. Kelly McKenzie offers hand spun and hand dyed yarns and fibers. She offers spinning and knitting lessons. It was very interesting to watch her spin fiber effortlessly with a small treadle-operated spinning wheel.

Back at home, Kristen and I created more hair clips to add to the two clips I made with Caitlin. Caitlin suggested adding some gems to the clips. These came out much better than my first attempts.

These are the four new ones I created this week:

This one is by far my favorite clip. The picture does not do it justice. I am going to have to invest in a better camera if I am to show them on-line. The black feathers all have a lovely green sheen to them when the light plays off them.

After Kristen and I were finished making a couple hair clips, Sean and I decided to finish creating my first drop spindle. Urged on by watching Kelly spin, I wanted to give it a try!
My drop spindle was created with a long dowel (.99¢) cut into 12 inch segments, 2-3 inch diameter wooden wheel for the whorl (.69¢), and a small hook for the top (Sean had these in his tool box). We made two of them.

Meaghan and I tried very unsuccessfully to try to get started. I watched tutorials and some very good videos, but still couldn't make it work. I am certain the problem was on my part.

Make An Awesome Drop Spindle

The Joy of Handspinning
Meaghan decided to spend time crocheting, instead of learning to spin simultaneously with me. Sean joined my effort to get the drop spindle to work. Our efforts were entertainingly unsuccessful. The biggest problems are (1) We have NO idea what we are doing, (2) I think we need to make the drop spindle slightly larger and heavier and (3) we need PRACTICE .

So, it is back to the drawing board for us.

Thanks for stopping by to visit with us tonight, friends. We are sure glad you did!
Sean and Sonja ♥

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  1. You are far too kind my friend!! Thank you for stopping by it was so good to see you! I had a horrific headache and I feel like I ignored you. I am really sorry. Inside I was jumping up and down you guys were there outside all I wanted to do was get home and go to sleep to rid my head of the pounding.

    You are awesome though! I love love the clips! When you get your spinning going I may know a photographer that might want to take some stock photos and footage if you are willing. =)

    Hope to see you soon!! xoxo

    1. I am glad your headache is better! That is a long day to suffer through.

      I am glad you like the clips. I was hoping to gift one to your and Kaitlyn if you would be willing to be guinea pigs for me??? Kevin is welcome to take stock photos of everthing, anytime.

      Let's get together soon! xoxoxo

  2. I am glad you got to the craft fair for your research and enjoyment. I do love your clips, Abby has worn hers every day since she opened up her package! You can also do an open house where you have your items made up and invite friends over to shop and visit. I am planning on doing one when I get all my testing done, scents picked and products made. Oh and check out crochet cotton face scrubbies on Etsy, Meaghan can whip some of these up and sell too. I may start doing them too, not sure yet. I am glad Kristen and Caitlin got in on the creativity too, it is so fun!

    1. Me, too. I think it is so important to see what other people offer, and learn all I can. It is such fun to create things. The best part is that like painting, it is something you do because YOU enjoy it. If others do, too- great! If it is not their cup of tea, well, maybe you can learn form that, too. :) I can't wait to test your tarts. They look so pretty!

  3. So cool! Looks like you saw a lot of neat items at the craft fair. I love to go to fairs like that. One day you will have a popular booth at a craft fair, I'm sure of it!

    Congrats on winning the printer. That is so exciting! :)

  4. The clips are great. What kind of clip holds it to the hair? Just wondering how gentle it is for finer hair. Thanks. Deb

    1. Another good question! The clips are the kind that bend to open. I am not sure what the technical name is for them. They are not meant to hold a lot of hair alone, but they can be used to clip to a pony tail or to cover a barrette as a decoration. On fine hair, they clip and hold all on their own. Because they are made with feathers, they are delicate, but our have held up well with moderate use by a 12 year old girl, a 14 year old girl, and a 19 year old young lady.

      I will try to take a picture of the back for you to see. :)