Last weeks blog post I wrote about how and why I price Ewethful yarn the way I do. All the steps that going into making the yarn and all the extra behind the scenes expenses. What a great response I received from so many of you both here on the blog and on our social media sites. Thank you so much! One awesome woman commented on the blog about how someone she buys yarn from on Etsy has an option for customers to buy something which is then donated to another crafter. Meredith, thank you for mentioning this because that is where the "Fiber it Forward" idea came from.
As I discussed in the last post, it is important to me that I am sourcing wool from local shepherds and that I am able to pay them the price for their wool that affords them the ability to run their business. This coupled with all the additional expenses of running a business make it hard for me to mark my yarn lower or even offer sales. So "Fiber it Forward" is a joint attempt with you all to make Ewethful yarn a bit more accessible to those who could otherwise not afford it at this time. For whatever reason.
My online shop at ewethfulfiberfarm.com now has an item called "Fiber it Forward." Anytime you have a few extra dollars, or when you are already shopping, you can pick from an option of dollar amounts that will go into this account that I track. Each time we reach $40 raised I will have 2 skeins of yarn or 8oz+ of fiber that will be sent out to a recipient who could otherwise not budget in our product, but who would enjoy getting it in the mail! All the money you donate will go to Fiber it Forward and Ewethful will cover shipping costs (United States only) and any additional fiber costs.
So there are two ways you can help me with this. One is obviously to donate! The second way is to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) of you or someone you know would enjoy being the recipient of the yarns or fibers. I will share updates as fiber is sent out but all recipients will remain private. I will be doing this on the honor system because in my heart I have to believe that good people are the people coming to visit Ewethful at the shop and here on the blog.
So there you have it. Thank you all for the wonderful comments, please keep them coming. I love knowing you are out there and reading what I have to share.
Stay healthy and take care until next week. Thank you for all the support!
PS if you commented on last weeks blog post, Sheila is the winner of the giveaway. I commented back on her post. Please get in touch!
I recently read a post on Instagram about a new sweater pattern that was released by a popular designer in which the yarn called for in the design was close to $400 to purchase. My first thought was oh my, I couldn't afford that! Then I thought, wait what would it cost if you knit the same thing in the yarn I make? Well it wasn't close to $400 but the reality is it would cost on average about $150 to make a sweater out of one of Ewethful's yarns. There has been a lot of talk in the fiber world lately about the high cost of some yarns as a lot of the most popular patterns are being worked up with yarns that come with a pretty hefty price tag.
This lead me to thinking you all might be interested in what goes into my pricing. I'll admit that Ewethful yarn is not cheap. I have struggled with pricing ever since I got into the fiber business. I cringe when someone balks at the price of my yarn. But then I also get a bit defensive because I know the value and work that has gone into every skein of yarn.
For Ewethful yarn it all starts with the shepherd and it is important for me to be able to support local shepherds with a fair price. I tend to pay about $12-15/lb for raw wool that has been skirted. I also have some sources I buy from that cost less at about $25/per unskirted raw fleece which is a great price although it does come with some extra work.
We'll use a recent batch of wool that I purchased and processed out to yarn as an example...
I started with 3 bags of raw wool that ran me $75 to purchase and was about 12lbs. Good price. I then had to skirt the wool (remove any vegetable matter, poop and/or fiber that I did not want to process) which of course takes some of my time. Post skirting I probably had about 9 lbs of raw wool ready to be washed, resulting in about 6.5 lbs of clean wool. Don't forget, washing takes time, wear on my machine and of course the cost of scouring soap which is fairly expensive.
So now I have 6.5 lbs of clean wool. Next I run it thru the Picking machine and condition the fiber. Then it heads to the Carder and next the Draw Frame machine prior to spinning. A couple hours of work, conditioning liquid, plus wear and tear on my equipment and there is some fiber loss during these processing steps.
Then comes the spinning, plying, steaming and skeining. A lot more of my time, more wear and tear on equipment and a bit more loss in fiber along the way. So this particular batch I ended up with about 15, 4.25oz skeins. After steaming I still need to twist and label each skein. More time and expense for packaging. And we can't forget the dyeing! All those lovely colors that didn't come from nature do come with a price for dyes, equipment and my time.
So now I have yarn that I need to sell to recoup that money. This means I have to do marketing which would generally be festivals, social media, website updates, blogging, newsletters and so on. More of my time and money spent on booth fees, programs, apps, and credit card processing fees. And if its ordered online, time to package and ship plus the cost of shipping supplies.
So here we are. I have 15 skeins of yarn that are 220 yards and I am charging $25 each. When these skeins sell (as of this date none have) I will make a total of $375. Now let's go backwards. $75 right off the top for the wool. Soap and labels take another $20 or so. Wear and tear on equipment. There is no exact way to price this, but ordering parts can cost $40 alone in shipping plus the time the machines are down while doing repairs. Last year I spent close to $4000 on machine parts and updates. Now let me add on some of the misc. of owning my business... mortgage payment on building, utilities, credit card charges. Apps for website and newsletters in addition to professional fees to keep them updated. Alarm system, licenses, permits, taxes. Gas to get to and from wool buys. It's a long list. And remember we were down to about $18 per skein in costs just in fiber and prep. The cost of my actual time is always at the end and generally not quite what it should be.
Ok ok, so I think you are seeing why my yarn is priced the way it is. I could certainly cut costs by buying wool from a different source. Maybe even wool that has already been processed beyond washing and even ready to spin. But it is important to me in the process of making Ewethful fibers and yarns that I be able to financially support small farmers. (On the commercial market wool brings about $1 lb for raw wool so fiber farmers would not be able to make a living at that rate). I do this because I love what I do and love supporting our local agriculture economy. Eventually I will slowly make money once start up costs are paid off, the trade off in the decision I have made. I am lucky to be in the position that I am and do not take for granted the fact that I love going to work everyday.
As for other yarn brands, I'll admit that I balk at some of the prices I see. I even think, well if they are charging that then I should be able to charge... And then I stop myself. The reality is, I love my yarn and I want it in the hands of as many crafters as possible. Do I have more work to do on my pricing? Yes. Do those of us in this industry need to charge for our labor and skill? Absolutely yes. So where is the balance? Its different for each of us I suppose. Not a great answer but I can only speak for myself.
So what can I do to make my yarn and fibers more accessible for those on a budget? I'm still brainstorming ideas so please feel free to join in the conversation below. One tried and true way is to give it away! So comment below about anything you wish (does not need to be related to this topic) and you'll be entered in to win a skein of yarn or spinning fibers.
This week has been chock full of interesting, gross and enlightening farm adventures so I thought I would just share some "Tales from the Farm" in this post.
It all started out with chicken mites. Isn't that how your average week starts? I was having one of those days that never seemed to want to end. And per my usual I had started a project way too late in the day and by 8pm was regretting my decision. I was hot, I was tired, and my chicken have mites. De-lousing chickens when you are tired always goes well. Ha! We moved them into their old smaller coop this past weekend in an effort to get them to a bug free space while we cleaned. Chickens naturally go back to their coop every night, but when you change their sleeping arrangements, it gets dicey for a couple days. Mitch is working on the farm until dark these days so chicken wrestling was all me. One by one I pulled them from the coop and doused them with an anti-bug powder (mainly on their bums) in an attempt to rid them of their pesky little biting friends. After a struggle and 12 very pissed off chickens, the powder was applied, they were landed back on their nighttime perch and I had a very well deserved beer. This must be repeated again to kill any hatching bugs, but I'll be more rested next time! In case you were wondering the chickens likely picked up the mites from mice and wild birds which we have plenty of this year.
If you've been watching our stories on Instagram you may have spotted the crane who has taken up partial residence in our alpaca pasture. What a sight! It sits in the pasture and just calmly waits for the mice. If you time it right you can see it grab one off the ground and then take flight with its latest snack in hand. It is actually pretty cool although the alpaca, chickens and Cuddlebug the goat seem to keep a nice distance from their new pasture mate. It lives in the creek that runs our property so if its not in the pasture we can often here it talking out back towards the water.
Ok so I know we've all been waiting for the owl delicacy right? Well here is how this story goes. It's a little gross but pretty representative of life here on the farm. A couple days ago I called out to ElsieMae to see what she was chewing on. I thought it was a bone, but as I approached I realized it was... a cute little bunny butt, tail and back feet. That was all there was of the bunny. Basically torso down. A little weird but I just figured Elsie had been working on the bunny for awhile. I scooped it up and tossed it away. I kid you not, I turned around and Elsie was in a totally different part of the property chewing on something. You guessed it, the lower half of a cute little bunny. What the hell is going on around here I though, Elsie is not the best at catching things. I mentioned this to Mitch and after a bit of googling we discovered that owls consider baby bunnies a delicacy. But not all the bunny, really just the eye balls and head. Remember how many owls we have in our barn?!!! Turns out the pasture is littered with the lower half of a lot of cute little bunny remains. We are pretty inundated with rabbits around here so honestly it is a nice natural form of population control. I would just love it if they would leave the leftovers away from the dogs.
Last and final farm tale for this post. Our smallest dog Velma is all of 12 lbs and just about the best mouser there is. She is a dachsund mix and her little nose can shoot right down a mouse hole and yank them out faster than all three of our other dogs can even seem to react to a mouse. So of course I was hanging laundry this week and up walks Velma with her latest catch. She hasn't been on her A game this year so it was about time. The thing is, she was so proud she just followed me around with her prize. Where I went, she and the mouse went. After lots of praise I finally went and got a cookie for her. Once she saw the cookie she dropped the mouse, I scooped it up and over the fence it went. Later in the week here she came with a bird. I'm pretty sure the bird was already dead when she found it, but she got a cookie anyway. Scoop and over the fence it went. In case you are wondering, our "over the fence" is questionable.
Well I think that is it for "Tales from the Farm." I did also manage to make some yarn, work on some client fiber and even sit, spin, knit and read in the sunshine.
Until next time... Stay healthy, wear a mask, craft on and listen and learn from all different voices.
Know your wool. What? It was not until I tried to get my first sheep that I stopped to think, wait what, wool comes off that animal! It sounds so naive given the culture I live in now, but at the time it was mind blowing. Prior to that I had walked into a yarn shop, felt for the softest, prettiest colored yarns and was on my way. So really it is not so strange that I hadn't given any thought to where the wool came from. I did not even think of it as wool, it was yarn. Wow how times have changed. I of course still walk into yarn shops, but these days I am looking for locally grown yarns as they always have a uniqueness that will allow me to remember where I got it and supports the agricultural local businesses! I have obviously become very passionate about using what I call "real wool" and love to educate others on the importance of knowing where their wool is coming from. While tracking yarn back to a specific animal is a big ask, it is less difficult to find out the region your wool came from and where it was milled.
I am currently working on restocking a new batch of our Jacob yarn so thought this would be a great time to introduce where the wool came from so you too could know your wool and understand a little bit behind the yarn.
The wool from this yarn comes from a small farm not too far from us, just east of Salem. I connected with Julia of WileyJo Farms several years ago via Instagram. They have a small family farm where they raise beautiful Jacob sheep in addition to other farm products and produce. Every year I am lucky enough to be able to purchase all of their Jacob fleeces from them. Even more lucky it gets delivered to me straight from the source which gives us a few minutes every year to catch up! Priceless. You can check out their farm at wileyjofarms.com or on Instagram follow them at wileyjofarms.
Jacob sheep are a heritage breed sheep which makes them a very hardy sheep. Taken from the Livestock Conservancy website: "Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. These breeds were carefully selected and bred over time to develop traits that made them well-adapted to the local environment and they thrived under farming practices and cultural conditions that are very different from those found in modern agriculture."
The thing about heritage sheep (and livestock in general) is that the reason they tend to be heritage - meaning they have been around for a very long time - is because they are fairly self-sufficient and dare I say tough? For the most part they lamb without needing our help, their feet can tolerate our wet soil, their fleeces can handle the seemingly endless moisture and in general they are pretty self-sufficient animals. All of that said, as with a lot of heritage breeds, their numbers are dwindling so there is a very real effort to breed and preserve all of the heritage breeds. You can get more information about preservation efforts at livestockconservancy.org
Truth about Jacob wool is that it is not the softest you are ever going to feel. The wool, just like the sheep, is hardy. But it is beautiful, strong, warm and is suitable for making outerwear sweaters, hats, shawls and mittens. It is rustic and that has its own beauty. As I have come to learn and appreciate over the years, not all wool has to be the super softest and in fact the finished products from heritage wool tend to wear better and longer.
So there you go. A little about this yarn, where the wool came from and the business and farm you have supported along the way. I have recently restocked our light gray and will be adding dyed, dark gray and Jacob white over the next couple weeks.
Stay healthy, wear a mask, craft on and listen and learn from all different voices.
Thank you for reading!
Emily of Tin Can Knits recently wrote in an Instagram post, "Spinning is time-consuming as hell, and it doesn't make much sense to anybody who hasn't already caught the bug (kinda like knitting). But I tell you, I love it SO HARD." Me too! That was my first response. My second was that I wish more people understood how amazing and rewarding it is to handspin.
If I had a dollar for every person who has told me they would like to learn to spin, but they are worried it will take away from their other crafting time. Guess what, it will! But that is okay. Spinning, like all crafts, ebbs and flows. Sometimes I spend a lot of time spinning, sometimes knitting, or crocheting. But what if I had never learned to spin because I was afraid it would cut into my knitting time? In all likelihood I would not own a wool mill, but that is a little extreme. For most handspinners, spinning is therapeutic. It is truly a chance to get back to the animals, to feel their fibers slip through your fingers while making the yarn and being able to design your project from scratch. The rhythmic act of treadling, and letting the wheel take your fiber is so soothing, I often lost track of time and everything else going on in the world.
For most people, learning to spin is not intuitive. It takes time, a lot of practice and patience. It's important to remember that people have been handspinning for a very long time, originally out of necessity. If they could do it with the most primitive of conditions, you can certainly do it too!
Learning to spin was not easy for me. In fact it was one of the most challenging things I have had to learn as an adult. I had a lot of frustrating times sitting at my wheel. Even learning to treadle (using your feet on the peddles to turn the wheel) did not come easily to me. I had moments where I would get it. Then sit down the next time and feel like I was starting all over from the beginning. And of course there were times when the fiber just flowed easily even if I had no idea why. I trudged on, determined to learn this new craft. And eventually I got it! How? Classes, watching others, videos (DVDs and YouTube videos alike) and practice. So much practice. What I am trying to say is that if you are like me and handspinning is not intuitive, don't give up. You'll get there and it will be so worth it!
If you have been thinking of learning, have tried it once or you are already in deep as a Beginner, I encourage you to push on. I have created a list of my top tips for Beginners, or things I wish I had known as I was starting out learning to spin.
If you live in the area and are interested in learning to spin on a wheel, please feel free to comment and we can set up a one-on-one class (outside with safe practices to keep us all healthy).
Kim's 10 Top Tips for Handspinning Yarn for Beginners
1. Practice. 10 minutes a day. This is not a craft that you can learn from one class and expect to be able to pick up a week or month later. Practice is key. Have a wheel and use it.
2. Start with appropriate fiber. The toothier the wool is, the easier it is going to be to spin. By "toothy" I am referring to coarseness. The more coarse the fiber, the more it naturally wants stick together. So while it may not be the most tactile fiber to start with, it will give you a higher chance of early success! Recommened sheep breeds: Jacob, Romney, Shetland Fiber to avoid: alpaca, mohair, silk, merinos and other fine wools or blends.
3. Fiber preparation is key. It's so easy to get pulled into those lovely hand-dyed wool top braids and batts. Stop! Don't do it! Not yet anyway. Instead go with fiber that has been hand-carded or processed at a mill as roving. These fibers will be less processed and in general this means less condensed which is easier to spin. Quick lesson: Top is wool that has been combed so that all the fibers are parallel. This fiber, especially when dyed, is often very dense and alick making it harder to spin for beginners. Roving is generally a much looser fiber as the wool has only come off the carder and is therefore less organized and less dense. Again I would avoid dyed roving and stick to natural colors.
4. Practice treadling. Easy enough! Treadle treadle treadle. If you are sitting in front of the t.v., treadle. Talking on the phone, treadle. No fiber needed just treadle. Getting yourself comfortable with treadling is half the battle right!
5. Understand adjusting tension and keep it light on your wheel. Keeping the tension light on your wheel will keep the wheel pulling fiber in from you at a slower pace. When you are first learning, slow is good. You definitely want to take some time to learn what type of tension your wheel works with (scotch, double drive or bobbin lead) and then once you understand, loosen your tension. There are endless videos and tutorials online so google and go!
6. Let your wheel take the fiber. The idea in spinning is that as you spin, the wheel is taking the fiber from you either in small or large amounts depending on how much tension is on the wheel. You are guiding the fiber, but the wheel is taking it. See tip 7 for how to guide vs. give.
7. Hold the fiber as lightly as you can. Guide vs. Give. I had a teacher say to pretend the fiber is a baby bird - if you hold it too tightly you could hurt the bird. The idea is that the lighter you hold the fiber the easier it is for the wheel to take the fiber from you. If you have a death grip on it, the fiber isn't going anywhere and you will be fighting your wheel. Believe it or not you can even just let the fiber rest in your hand, letting the wheel do 95% of the work! What?!!! I used to hold my fiber so tight afraid the wheel was going to take it too fast and then the fiber would break. Now I actually practice seeing how lightly I can hold the fiber as the wheel takes it in.
8. Oil and clean your wheel. Oil your wheel fairly often with an oil for spinning wheels. There are many options options available. I generally use wheel specific oil for ease of use but gun oil is another great option. Cleaning your wheel is a bit more of a chore. But those little fibers get into the tiniest of crevices and can slow down your wheel. Cleaning often and keeping those loose fibers out of your wheel will make for a smooth spin.
9. Don't worry about the "rules." I tell all beginning spinners, don't worry about the rules. Just make yarn! This should be fun and shouldn't be stressful or a chore. If you are making yarn, you are winning! Later down the road, you can choose to be a more technical spinner if you would like. But for now, get the basics down and have fun!
10. Take a break. When those frustrating moments happen, take a break. Do something else and come back to the wheel refreshed. A new mindset could be all that is needed to have a breakthrough.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope these tips will be helpful to beginners and will hope to inspire those of you on the cusp of sitting down at a wheel and giving handspinning a try!
Please feel free to comment with questions, thoughts or your own tips.
Stay home, stay healthy, craft on and listen and learn from all different voices.
More than once I have gotten the comment from friends and followers asking "when do you sleep" or something akin to that. This got me to thinking that you all might enjoy following me thru a day just to verify that I do indeed sleep. Ha! So join me for a day in the life of....
For the sake of this "day in the life" and since harvest is just beginning I am going to let you in on a long day. Summer days are long around here! When Mitch is in full swing farming he often works until dark which during Oregon summer is around 10pm. All of this to say, I try to sleep as late as I can while still getting everything done in my day. I pull myself out of bed no later than 8am although truth be told 7am is always the goal. The first part of my day revolves around helping to get Mitch out the door. While he is exercising, I am making his breakfast, lunch, coffees and plenty of snacks to keep him going until that late evening hour. All of which he runs out the door with. After Mitch leaves comes the house animals. We have 4 dogs and they all patiently wait for breakfast, whenever that time may be.
Once the dogs are fed, I feed myself a little something and then we head out to the farm animals. Along the way I am most likely doing laundry, pulling weeds and watering outside. The dogs accompany me and usually run ahead in an effort to eat any possible poop or eggs they can find before I catch them. Gross but the truth!
As I wander down the hill on our property to the barn and sheds there is generally a cacophony of animal sounds coming at me. June the Shetland Pony starts the moment she hears the backyard gate open up at the house. Before she can even see us she is neighing. As I walk down the hill, the sheep to the east start talking and running down their pasture which quickly notifies the alpaca and Cuddlebug, the goat, that the food lady is coming. Nothing like the sight of 4 alpaca and their goat buddy tearing down the pasture for food. Before I reach the bottom of the hill I can hear our rams start up their morning song and the chickens in the barn stirring and clucking wondering why I sleep so late. It is quite a sight and sound!
Our chickens are free range so I open their coop door and off they all run to explore the outside. The sheep, alpaca and Cuddlebug get pellets in the morning. This is the highlight of their day! In addition waters need to be checked, horse poop needs to be scooped and June needs a good brushing in addition to picking her hooves which I do every other day. (This is basically just what it sounds. Using a pik sort of tool to clear out the crevices in her hooves of dirt, debris and poop). Once everyone is fed, watered and accounted for we head back up to the house.
Snack and shower time for me and then I try to get out the door to the Mill. My morning alone gives you some idea of why having shop hours was not great for our schedule. Only in the past couple months have I let go of trying to rush out in the morning. Instead I just stay calm, enjoy the morning routine and get out when I get out. That is a luxury of being self-employed.
Lucky for me its only about a 20 minute drive to the Mill and it is all lovely fields and backcountry. No traffic so plenty of time to relax, see what all the other farmers are doing and plan my day at work. I generally spend about 6 hours or so at the Mill. Since it is such a short day I really focus on a solid plan of what I can get done. An example of an average day was today! I washed wool and plyed yarn while running roving thru the drawframe. Once both of those were done (ideally around the same time), I started spinning the last batch of yarn for a client while steaming all the yarn that was already completed. I occasionally sit down to eat and generally I'm getting together orders to ship before I leave for the day. And the cleaning! I always underestimate the clean-up time. Nothing worse than coming into a messy mill the next day.
Once I return home I generally make an afternoon/evening tea and exercise before its time to start evening chores and dinner. I also write blog posts, work on the business and dye up yarns and fibers in the studio on those nights I'm not exercising. I'll admit a lot of my "days off" involve many of these small but important jobs I can do from home.
During harvest I do all the evening chores as well. Off season I am lucky enough to have Mitch who puts the animals to bed. But this time of year its part of my responsibilities. Evenings are much more quick. The dogs get fed and settle in for the night. June gets a little love time and her evening pellets. The chickens get closed into their coop for the night (In case you were unaware, chickens naturally return to their coops at dusk for the night) to keep predators at bay and depending on the time of year may hay the animals. Not a bad way to spend the evening and I almost always get rewarded with a lovely sunset.
Finally its dinner for us! As I mentioned, Mitch can get home as late as 10pm so we eat dinner pretty late. I try to have it ready for him so we can talk, eat and spend a few minutes together. This farming thing would be a lot easier if I didn't like my husband so much. But I really do enjoy his company so the first couple weeks of harvest are always a bit of a hard transition for me. The routine of course settles in and any random days he ends up not working we try to wander away from the property to somewhere we can sit, eat, drink a beer and just relax together.
So there you go! Needlesss to say I sleep well! On my days off from the mill you can fill in those hours with cleaning pastures, coops, the house and running the errands. And maybe a little extra knitting time. Farming is no easy life. There is a lot of work involved, a lot of long days and for us, working as a team is the way we get thru it. I hope that gives you a little peek into what a day in the life looks like! And don't worry, I do sneak in some knitting and spinning too!
Thanks for reading! Stay safe, stay healthy and please, listen to all the voices.
Wow you guys! I think I better start with the biggest thank you to all of you who have taken the time to visit, read and comment on my previous post. It has been one of those days and you all truly helped lift me up! It never occurred to me that the comments would be so amazingly supportive and thoughtful. Thank you!!! A couple more days and I will pick the winner of the giveaway.
My plan is to post once per week. Then today happened and it seemed a day to share. A not so perfect day at the Mill...
It started off with me dropping off the last 3 foster kittens at the Humane Society. I cried a lot last night and this morning as I said goodbye. The two tabbies are going to someone I know and they will have a wonderful life! The black girl has yet to find a home and I absolutely fell in love with her. Letting them go was rough, but they have had a positive and healthy start to their lives and that was my job. So why didn't we just adopt her? The long and short of it is we are full and on a tight budget. I have enacted a "no new mouths" to feed policy and I am trying to stick to it.
Despite my better judgement I decided to go into the Mill to do just a couple hours of work. My spinner is down for a couple days as we had to order a new bearing and as these times have it, the distribution center it comes from had an employee contract Covid-19 so shipment is a little delayed. That's ok, I am working on a big client order so I can finish running the already processed rovings thru the drawframe and finish the last bit of carding so we are all ready once the spinner is up.
The carded rovings are passed thru the drawframe in an effort to further align and even out the fibers prior to spinning. The more even the roving you have, the more even the yarn will be spun. Immediately upon starting up the drawframe I had a problem. The rovings were feeding just fine thru the first half of the machine but started backing up prior to exiting. Likely another bearing out. Grrr.
Ok, that is ok. I'll just finish up with the carding. As I went to prep the carder the vacuum duct, which pulls dirt and debris out of the machine while it runs, fell apart into 3 pieces and dropped dirt everywhere. I screamed my most frustrated scream, climbed off the ladder, called Mitch to tell him all the machines I had broken, then left. Ha! I'll teach this day.
I am one to always look for some sort of bright side. For today, I took some pictures of the new colors available in our Shyra yarn (Shetland/Pygora blend) and I love them together! You all are the first to see. They are available now in our online shop in limited quantities and dyed to order.
And then a super bright note on this day! Word that the Supreme Court has upheld that Civil Rights laws protect gay and transgender rights from workplace discrimination. Finally a win!!! Now that is a way to end the day!
Ok ok, I was looking back thru the blog and realized I have done this several times. With the best of intentions, picked up blogging again and then quickly run out of steam. I am hoping that this time, with a plan and some renewed energy, I will be able to follow thru for you all and myself a little better. I am scheduling out topics and dates. Ya know, using a calendar to make a schedule!
Here's the thing about me and business, both times I have done this entrepreneur thing I have fallen into it out of a love. The first with dogs and this time with fiber. Both times I had business plans, fought the fight with the banks to get funding and then dove straight in. Lucky for me, both times I took off running with enough customers that I did not have a moment to look back and evaluate if I was running things efficiently. Milling wool is labor intensive and there is a lot of overhead with thin margins. If I want to be truly successful it is time to sit down and really evaluate the business as a whole.
So here I sit working on the business. In all that is happening in our world, I have been looking for different voices and stories and one that I have found and truly admire is Mimi G Ford (mimigstyle on Instagram). She is a self-made maker/business owner and has a podcast about business called Mimi G's Business S.H.E.T Podcast. Reading her story and listening to the podcast have been inspirational to me. They are giving me the energy to get back into the business mindset, sit down and work on it (as well as in it), and in general just feel more invigorated and open minded about what I want from it.
Some of you may have noticed the recent name change on Instagram from ewethfulfiberfarm to ewethfulfibermill. I changed it for a pretty basic reason, Milling is what I do! Yes we have a slew of farm animals but I do not by any means consider myself a shepherd. I love them and I keep them alive and happy, but I do not put merely the time and effort into them as those truly breeding and raising flocks for sale. What truly gets me going, even on my off days, is Milling! I will of course still post endlessly about the animals, the grass seed farm and our life because it is our story, but the Mill is my profession and that is what so much of my life revolves around. Wool, dirt, lanolin, fiber and ultimately processing yarn.
So there you go! I'll be back soon. And if you have taken the time to come visit my blog thank you! Please comment below for a chance to win a skein of Oregon made Ewethful Yarn (no superwash ever) and some of our lovely stitch markers. One entry per person and I will pick randomly from the comments after end of day Wednesday June 17th . (Helpful hint: I don't have a lot of readers so you have a good chance!)
Thank you for visiting! Stay safe, stay healthy and listen to all the voices!!!
One of my personal goals for 2019 is to handspin the yarn and knit a sweater. My main inspiration has been the fiber-istas I am surrounded by. I know a lot of knitters and spinners alike who are sweater knitters. They are almost always working on a sweater and it seems that anytime I've seen them this winter they are wearing a different one. So darn it, I can do that too.
Another reason is because I have become a bit disheartened with some of the, dare I say, cheap clothes in my closet. I used to by a lot of inexpensive clothing. It was easy to feel like I was not spending a lot of money while have a lot of choices to wear. Over the last year it seems that these inexpensive clothes I am buying are full of problems. They aren't constructed well, they lose shape when they are washed and most are made of synthetic materials and assembled outside of the United States. Plus, I'm in the textile and fiber industry, what am I doing wearing all these synthetic fibers? Practice what you preach as they say, buy local and know your source. So I made a conscious decision a few months ago to stop buying poorly made clothes and instead save up and seek out natural fibers and support locally (US) made garments. Just so you know, between a new business and a new restoration home, this means I haven't bought any new clothes. Ha! But that is ok, It means I will have a smaller wardrobe but of quality items.
I'll admit my search for these perfect US manufactured clothes has not been easy. There are a handful of smaller clothing companies I love. They are putting out quality clothes that I think would fit my lifestyle - Mill, farm and general life. But a lot of times they are producing in small batches and when they restock I either miss the boat or don't have the money at that moment. This has really helped to kickstart me into my first sweater project in years. In addition I have pulled out my unused sewing machine and decided I can do this, I can make a few simple staple items for myself (please note that I hemmed a set of curtains which is the first time I've used this machine in the 10 years or so I have owned it)?
So let's see how this goes. The first 500 yards are spun to yarn and the sweater was officially cast on on Sunday. And so far, I am in love with the beginning of this challenge and goal. I'm thinking and planning grand things, and why the heck not?! I'll keep you posted on my journey.
A couple years ago Mitch and I had kept pigs. Gloucester Old Spots to be exact. We had two girls and one boy which we got specifically for meat. Man did I love that boy. So much so that I had to hand off pig duties to Mitch for the last month of their lives. A 200 lb pet pig was not something we could afford.
At any rate, being just the two of us, we have enough pork to last for a couple years. I am always trying to find new ways to cook up the different cuts. And as easy and quick as possible is key!
I used to make a super fancy pulled pork for sandwiches that included a rub, pan searing and a special broth. It is delicious, but time consuming if I'm trying to drop and run. So I thought I would share with you the easiest pulled pork recipe which is super versatile. Pulled pork tacos one night with all the fixins. Then add some bbq sauce the next night with the leftovers and you have pulled pork sandwiches.
And just so you know, I thank my pigs for their service everytime I cook from them!
Easiest Pulled Pork In A CrockPot
A hunk of pork shoulder
(and any fixins you need to make a meal)
1. Rinse and pat dry the pork shoulder
2. sprinkle salt and pepper to your desire on both sides. I use a spoon to pat the seasonings down into the meat.
3. Put the pork in your CrockPot.
4. Add the chicken broth.
Cook on low setting for 8 hours. Voila! The meat should be falling apart on its own with a fork.
For Pulled Pork Tacos you'll need tortillas of your liking and all the fixin's. I generally add black beans, sour cream, salsa and avacado.
For Pulled Pork Sandwiches you'll need sandwich rolls of your liking, barbeque sauce and cole slaw.
I am Kim Biegler, the owner and operator of Ewethful Fiber Farm & Mill, along with my husband Mitch - my steadfast supporter, enabler, grass seed farmer, maintenance guy and all around love of my life! Visit the Mill's website for more about us and well, to shop for fiber of course! ewethfulfiberfarm.com