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July 29th, 2016 (09:38 pm)

A couple of years ago I started sending out milkweed seed with my Yarnwench orders and at that time planted them in my garden with hope of helping out the monarchs. Milkweed is now coming up all over my garden and I finally saw a monarch last weekend and got my hopes up. Today this is what I saw devouring my milkweed:

There are most definitely not monarch caterpillars! They are milkweed tussock moth caterpillars and they feed on milkweed just like the monarch caterpillars to make themselves toxic to bats and birds. I have to say, I'm very disappointed not to have monarch caterpillars. These fellas are eating the milkweed to the ground!

Another disappointment in the garden today was finding my zucchini which was gorgeous and wildly producing yesterday wilted to the ground today. Damn vine borers! I'm disgusted!

Well, that's what happens in an organic garden - some stuff thrives and other stuff dies. I know it's a healthy place for the butterflies and bees and it give me great pleasure.

My hummingbird moths are quite happy here!

More garden in another post.

yarnwench [userpic]

I'm dyeing over here!

July 28th, 2016 (02:27 pm)

So, I guess the best way to get back into blogging is to start with today. There's no way I can catch up on the 5 or so years since I was regularly doing this gig!

For those who don't know, I celebrated 10 years in January with my Yarnwench business! I never dreamed when we launched in January of 2006 that it would last so long and I've had such a good time building the business and my connections. That first year was intense. I put in long hours, often 12 or more a day, and I worked 7 days a week. Yup, I didn't really take a day off that first year,as I tried to establish the biz. It was our sole source of income for almost two years and it felt like a weight on my shoulders as I'd been a stay-at-home mom at that point for almost 18 years! But a nice thing happened. I reawakened a side of me that had been neglected during the sweet years of raising children.I'd stayed creative - I made and sold jewelry at a local department store, I did complex cloth quilts, worked on lots of mixed media and political pieces, and I even wrote a book (still unpublished, that one), but somehow fiber got put aside. To me, fiber art meant threading a thousand handspun ends on my loom and somehow I didn't see that happening again until the kids were out of the house.I took to my wheel on occasion and even did demos at the local nursery and elementary school, but it wasn't a big part of my life like it had been when I was first married and a full-time weaver/spinner.

Yarnwench has been good to/for me. It was there to support us when we needed supporting, It was easy to fold up and put aside when my daughter got sick and needed me. It has been both an obsession and a hobby, and it's been there for me when I needed it and waited patiently for me when I didn't. To say it saved my sanity a time or two would not be an exaggeration. To say it brought amazing customers and inspiring fiber artists into my life goes without saying.

These days I'm more of a yarn crone than a yarn wench. I work at my own pace and don't sweat it anymore. It ebbs and flows and that suits me just fine. I've got a long history and can look back on 165 pages of Flickr entries, an old defunct website, an inactive CafePress store, years of Facebook posts, and tweets, and know that I created something I can be proud of - and I am. Proud and grateful and fulfilled.

Today's work

yarnwench [userpic]

Alive and kicking

July 26th, 2016 (08:51 pm)

For many years I kept a blog here and every now and then I think of it and then spend an afternoon getting lost in the years of memories I kept. That's what I did today. I'm not sure how I got out of the habit of writing. I think we had a few hard years that were difficult to write about and that felt very private, and so I blogged less and less, until it was no longer something I did every day. About once a year I think to myself, "Gee, I think I'll start blogging again!" and I last an entry or two only to disappear for another year or so.

How do I even pick this up again? For now, I'll leave a butterfly here while I ponder where to start.

yarnwench [userpic]

Ambling Day

August 30th, 2014 (05:25 pm)

Today has been an ambling day for Kevin and me. Ambling days are those days when we just leisurely explore Pittsburgh. We've been here for two years now and there are still so many wonderful neighborhoods to discover.

Today we started with a wonderful old antique shop near Frick Park and then moved on to the East End Food Coop, which is a fabulous organic grocery store filled with bulk items, local meat and veggies, fair trade coffee - you name it. I'd heard of it, but Kevin stumbled upon it yesterday and knew I'd love it so we packed a cooler and made a grocery trip.

After that we went to Squirrel Hill so that I could visit Ten Thousand Villages, a shop which sells handmade items from around the world. That was absolute heaven for me! I bought a shibori dyed scarf from Indonesia and fabulous silver earrings from Kenya. I know where I'm going to be doing some Christmas shopping! For those that don't have a Ten Thousand Villages in their area, they're completely run by volunteers and dedicated to Fair Trade.

We walked around Squirrel Hill for quite some time and I got to chatting with quite a few wonderful, colorful shop owners. We went into an art gallery run by a most delightful French woman who had just pulled down one exhibit and was working on putting together another.She insisted we come in and sit down and she ran into her storage room and brought us a number of original Andy Warhols to look at - most of which were colored drawings of cherubs in compromising positions!  Andy was a Pittsburgh native and somehow she'd gotten her hands on these and was quite pleased to have them. Several of them were for sale - only $1000 each! That's actually quite a steal for original signed Warhol and I asked Kevin if he'd like one for his birthday. He said he'd think on that...lol. We said goodbye to our French hostess and found ourselves at another global market where I found wonderful ikat-dyed weavings for only $10 each! I could not believe my luck - and that's much more my speed! I picked up a couple for my ethnic textile room. One will live on the back of my couch and I think I'll turn the other (shown on my piano bench) into a pillow.
Our final stop was an amazing Mediterranean cafe where we had lunch - hummus, tabouleh, baba ganoush, dolmas, feta, olives...so very,very good.

In all, it's been a perfect ambling day! 

yarnwench [userpic]

Homemade trail mix

August 30th, 2014 (08:51 am)

Here's a shot of the traill mix I put together after dehydrating my pineapple, apples and bananas. I added organic almonds (my addiction) and walnuts. It's a bit chewier than I'd like (though very delish) so next time I will slice things thinner and let it go until it's crisp. My grapes are still in the dehydrator (26 hours later) trying their damnedest to become raisins. After googling, I found out that if I'd only boiled them for a minute or two before putting them in to dry I would have been eating raisins yesterday... IMG_7595tm1

yarnwench [userpic]

Wild Card Bling Batts and other stuff

August 29th, 2014 (01:32 pm)

I've been very restless this summer and having trouble focusing on Yarnwench. I think the garden has been my main interest, and I find myself thinking/reading/focusing on sustainability and I keep wondering if there's something I can do with my time, besides my own small endeavors, to contribute in a greater way. I don't know what that might be, but there's this niggling dialogue running through my head. I think Kevin feels it, too. I know we're trying to figure out life after retirement. We still have a few years, but I want to do something meaningful. Not that my fiber business isn't meaningful! It is, and I can't imagine not doing it. I just keep feeling this urge to do something important! It may be that each day I look in the mirror and there's another line and another grey hair and I'm suddenly feeling that time is no longer stretching in front of me. When you're younger, the road stretches out endlessly. I don't feel that way anymore. Well, enough of that for now...

Yesterday the dehydrator that I ordered arrived and this morning I woke at 5:30 and spent the next couple of hours peeling and slicing fruit. I filled the whole dehydrator with pineapple, grapes, apples and bananas and my house smells like banana bread! I make a lot of my own trail mix and this way I'll be able to add my own dried fruits instead of buying them. I also want to create some energy bars as Kevin and I have taken up biking and often need a little boost after 16 miles on the road. The commercial ones are okay - but they're so expensive! I also want to have control over what goes into me. Anyone have any good recipes for energy bars?

And now to Yarnwench! Here's what I just carded up and I am totally in love with it.

yarnwench [userpic]

Autumn dye pots

August 27th, 2014 (01:50 pm)

I love dyeing autumn colors. I'm not exactly certain why, but sooty and smokey speaks to me for some reason. The kettles this week have been brewing up some witchy dark colors.IMG_7558a6

yarnwench [userpic]

Sale on Yarnwench!

August 26th, 2014 (05:07 pm)

Until midnight tonight all items on my Yarnwench Etsy Shop are 10% off with Coupon Code AUTUMNGLORY

Here's a little sampling:

yarnwench [userpic]

Hello! An actual post!

I haven't posted here in forever - or at least 17 months! It looks different and I'm not even sure I know how to use this blog anymore. A part of me wants to begin blogging again, and another part wonders if I want to devote the time for it, or if there's even anyone interested in what I'm doing or thinking.Life is calm and wonderful right now, and probably a little boring! I'm pretty happy with it that way!

Since I don't really know where to begin, I'll start with my new garden. It's been a challenge to grow things here in Pennsylvania. The top soil is thin (though fairly rich from the many trees we have) and below it's hard clay - very wet with poor drainage.My light is limited due to the many oaks and conifers on my property, so that's a new challenge for me. Last summer was my first full summer on this property and I really missed not putting in a veggie garden. We have so many deer in this area that I knew in order to grow any food I needed to get a fence up and it just didn't happen last year as the interior of the house took up my time. I decided that this summer was going to be devoted to getting my yard in shape so I've spent much of it outdoors and I've loved the physical work and the rewards of creating a garden space (om nom).

The last few years I've read way too many books on the food industry, much to the dismay of my family and especially Kevin, who has to listen to my preaching on a daily basis. I almost wish I didn't know what I know, but on the other hand, I'm glad I do and can take measures to eat in the healthiest way possible.

I've also read more than I should have on climate change and I'm feeling a little hopeless about the whole thing. I think we're past the tipping point, quite frankly, and I don't know if anything I do personally will be of any consequence, but I try to be conscientious and leave the smallest carbon footprint that I can. This includes composting as much waste as possible, eating and buying locally, buying my electricity from wind energy, and trying to reduce needless consumption.I see a lot of other people doing the same but until the governments of the world can figure out how to cut back on carbon emissions I'm not sure it really matters. I feel like climate change is the biggest and most overwhelming thing that humans have ever had to face and that all of humankind should be focused on saving what we have instead of killing each other over religion,race,and politics...

I guess I have to be satisfied with the small gestures and one of those is this garden. It's not big but I hope to grow it bigger. I need to learn how to garden each square foot so that it's productive. One thing I did was create the beds by sheet composting (also called "lasagna gardening." It's a method of creating no-dig, organic garden beds by building up layers of compost. I'm especially concerned with bees, butterflies, and other vulnerable creatures of our fragile ecosystem and decided that organic is the only way I'll go. Here's a link to my Facebook album on creating a lasagna garden.

And that is it for now!

yarnwench [userpic]


March 13th, 2013 (04:42 pm)

IMG_9659f1My bowl of magic.Beautiful shells, fossils, and rocks that have come my way from many people and places. It has grown bigger through the years.

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