Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here are some Halloween sights, taken yesterday on the search for jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Click on any image to view it larger:

One of the many pumpkin farms we stopped at.

A spooky, old building. Is it haunted? I don't know.

Fun gourd witches at another pumpkin farm.

And, of course, pumpkins!

A mini haunted house.

This pumpkin bale wishes you a Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Weekend's Craft Fair

Last Sunday I hauled all of my wares to an arts and crafts fair which featured northeastern Ohio Etsy shop owners. Here I am setting up my table:

My husband prepared some of his photos for sale, too:

And my daughter came to help me:

We had a lot for sale and we sold some of everything we brought: homemade candy, hand crafted herbal products, handspun yarn, photos, books. As you can see, I also brought my spinning wheel to show how the yarns were made.

We did okay, but the attendance wasn't huge. I was hoping to do a little better. It's kinda hit and miss with craft shows.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Being Female

I belonged to a religion for eighteen years, almost everyday of which I felt caged or different because I didn't quite fit that religion's definition of femininity. I was constantly told what being female meant and what my life would hold for me, and that I would like it. I was living someone else's idea of what my life should be because I am female.

I hold to no religion now. I am my own person, or at least I am learning how to become my own person. It takes a while to flush out the dogma.

Here are a couple of quotes that I've come across lately that echo my sentiments, but say it so much better than I could. The first is from a couple of YA authors who write strong female characters. They were on a panel from which an attendee drew a list of advice on how to make a kick-ass Young Adult heroine. Here's one piece of advice:

Ignore orders from both sides.

[Tamora] Pierce discussed how upsetting it was for her, who grew up during the feminist revolution in the ‘70s, to arrive at college and have women saying that “real” feminists were gay or celibate. (“I was neither,” she quipped.) This debate extends to her female characters, as mentioned above. “The whole point of what we did was giving every woman the power to choose how they wanted to live,” she said. “Not to present only restrictions on women, but to present the possibilities that come from being female.”

“The thing about being female,” [Esther] Friesner said, “is that it makes us think there’s only one way to be female. I’ll bet there’s at least two or three, or six, different ways in this very room. There is no one female… Sometimes the biggest battle is ‘This is what you should be doing,’ handed down by the feminists or by the anti-feminists.”
And here is the second quote, from Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address to the graduating class at Stanford University:

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Don't be trapped by dogma. Trapped is exactly how it feels, and if you feel that way, start asking questions and then find the answers out for yourself.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making caramel

I usually don't make caramel until December so that I can send it off to friends and family far away. Today as the warm, sweet caramel smell filled my kitchen, I had to keep reminding myself that it's not December. This batch of caramels won't be tucked in with Christmas gifts, though. I'll be selling it at my booth at the upcoming Art and Crafts fair I'll be attending this Sunday.

Who wants to lick the pot?

 I'll also be selling my homemade herbal products, handspun yarn, and some of my husbands photos.

Caramel poured out and cooling.

And, of course, I'll have copies of my books on hand. I usually sell a few at these types of things, and with Christmas looming closer, some people might be interested in my Christmas book, My Twelfth Christmas. It certainly smells like Christmas in my kitchen right now!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Texting Mittens Knitted from Handspun Yarn

These are some texting mittens that I knitted out of some of my handspun yarn. They're for my daughter:

The gray inner glove is yarn I that spun from some angora/wool/silk blend roving that I purchased from the Crooked River Fiber Fling last August. The lavender outer mitten is yarn that I spun from some superwash Bluefaced Leicester that I dyed with a dye made from elderberries.

My son wants a pair, which I'll make using yarn that I'm planning to spin from some cozy, brown yak down. My husband will get a pair, too, only he'll use his while pursuing his hobby in the winter months - outdoor photography. His will have a little bit of nylon (he's worried about durability) and a pinch of quiviut (musk ox - just about the warmest fiber there is) blended in with the yak.

The pattern I used can be found in the Fall 2010 issue of Spin Off magazine.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A re-post from way back in October, 2008: Magical Thinking and Cornish Witchcraft

An article in the November/December 2008 issue of Archaeology Magazine talks about witchcraft in Great Britain. Recently, an archaeologist uncovered strange pits while doing work to extend a barn on her property in Cornwall. She has since brought students out to help her uncover several more pits and an ancient spring, all filled with what she believes is evidence of witchcraft spanning many centuries, including the 20th.

Many of the pits were lined with the skin (including the feathers) of a swan, on top of which were placed varying amounts of eggs almost ready to hatch, pebbles, and bird parts and claws from various types of birds. The spring was lined with quartz and contained things like nail clippings, human hair, straight pins, and small pieces of cloth. Part of a cauldron was even found.

Quoting from the article, the archaeologist, Jacqui Wood, said:

"Over the last 30 years I've been quick to dismiss ritual as an explanation for unusual archaeological finds. It usually means that the archaeologists can't think of anything better. So now it seems especially ironic that I end up with a site absolutely full of ritual."
The earliest dates for the pits are the mid-1600s. Whatever was being done here was important enough for the practitioners to risk being pointed out as witches. The 1600s were a dangerous time to be caught doing anything with a pagan tinge. It was doubly risky because swans were symbols of royalty and owned by the crown. And apparently whatever these practices meant is still important. One of the pits dates from the 1950s. It was lined with the skin of a dog and contained dog teeth and the baked jaw of a pig.

Old magic and magical thinking is still among us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spinning at the Harvest Fest

I live right next to a park which used to be a farm. The farmhouse and barn are still there and are not a part of the park. They're owned by a foundation which has been restoring them to their early 1800's glory. My little town was a hotbed of Abolitionist activity back then and many of the houses were stops on the Underground Railroad, this one included. So I was excited to volunteer to demonstrate spinning in the farmhouse during Case-Barlow Farm's Harvest Festival yesterday.

The day was windy and cold, so it was nice to be inside. There were lots of activities outside, like butter-churning, candle-dipping, pumpkin-painting, and demonstrations of rope-making, chair-caning, and civil war troops in a camp, among other things.

Lots of people came through the farmhouse and it was fun to talk to them about spinning.