06 April 2014

Announcing: The Homestead Hobbyist

I've been blogging on The Indoor Garden(er) for five years, since I decided to buy seeds and start them on my windowsill in January 2009. But, of the 542 posts on the blog, only 11 were posted in 2013 and 2014. It's not that the plants have stopped doing interesting things that I'd love to share--it's that my interests have expanded well beyond gardening.

Since I started The Indoor Garden(er), I've learned more than I would have imagined about gardening through trial and error and following others' adventures. But it took me a while (too long, some people would say) to determine that growing tomatoes indoors was a little unreasonable given my space and budget. In hindsight, it should have been a no-brainer, but it was exciting and made me happy to come home and see those big, green, 9-foot-tall tomatoes in my studio apartment living room/bedroom/dining room. Since my first gardening attempts, I've side-stepped sequentially into baking, canning, pickling, cheesemaking, winemaking, spinning, and knitting--all wonderful homesteady skills to have. And although I still have quite a number of plants, some of which are doing quite interesting things, I've strayed pretty far from my original interests on this blog.

So I'm rebranding the blog to be more inclusive of my interests--you are now reading The Homestead Hobbyist. Because I live in a city, in a basement apartment in a house with a postage-stamp yard, homesteading can only be a hobby for me rather than a full-blown lifestyle (for now). Sure, I could go a little bonkers like I did with those tomatoes, but through all my semiridiculous experiments, I learned the importance of being reasonable--or, at least, less unreasonable.

One example of less unreasonability ("less" is relative, of course, so it may still be considered quite unreasonable by some): I recently opened a shop on Etsy, also called The Homestead Hobbyist. I opened the shop knowing I'd eventually get around to renaming the blog, as well. Now that I decided that I've hit the soft launch stage of my shop and should go public with my wares, I decided it's time to change things up here too!

My long-term goal with the shop is to offer a small variety of items related to homesteading (either homestead-enabling supplies or homestead-made items). At the moment, the shop contains only hand-dyed fiber for spinning; it has one skein of yarn I spun from fiber I dyed, but it will have more in the future, because I need to check quality of my dyed fiber and get ideas about different ways to spin the colour combinations I'm dyeing. I've been enjoying dyeing, and I have gotten much, much better in the few weeks that I've been more intentional about it all. In a few weeks, I'm taking a two-day dyeing class as part of the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival to get even more exposure to dyeing techniques and theory. I'm also applying to be a vendor at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival at the end of September--it'll give me plenty of time to get a business license and develop creative (ads, banners, business cards, etc.), and it'll give me a production goal to work toward. Plus, I love working festivals--and I'll get such a thrill being there selling my own products and meeting all the fiber artists who come by! I'm really pretty darn excited about this--and unlike a lot of my other endeavours, the excitement over selling my hand-dyed roving and other supplies hasn't waned, it has only grown stronger the deeper I delve into it.

Here are a few sample braids available in the shop. You can click on them to go to the shop listing, or check the sidebar on the right for recent listings and a link to the shop.

Helianthus

Blue

Midnight Garnet

I imagine there are some gardeners out there who are also fiber artists; I certainly know a good crew of them. I was introduced to spinning by a plant friend I met through the local chapter of the Gesneriad Society. She discovered that I was growing cotton and decided to teach me what to do with it. I found spinning to be a relaxing yet productive activity, and I quickly became enamored with all fibers and all forms of spinning. So for those of you who have read about my gardening adventures over the years who are also fiber artists and may want to know more about my fiber-dyeing plans (or those of you who may not be fiber artists but are also interested), my goal is to focus on dyeing saturated colours in semisolids, gradients, and the occasional variegated multicolour braid. I have a variety of fiber bases I’ll be playing with--Falkland, Romney, Rambouillet, Merino, BFL, Tussah, SW Merino/Nylon, Polwarth/Silk, and the like. In the future, I plan to expand to more luscious blends--especially those that include my favourite fiber, yak. I have plans for custom blends with yak, as well--but that will be quite down the road, as yak and custom blends are expensive by themselves; together, they're only reasonably priced in unreasonably large quantities.

A few housekeeping details for those who might be wondering:

The URL here is still www.indoorgarden-er.com. I did register www.homesteadhobbyist.com, but I couldn't figure out how to redirect everything without breaking all the old URLs--so I'm staying as www.indoorgarden-er.com, although www.homesteadhobbyist.com redirects here. If I ever expand my business beyond hand-dyed fiber, I may build a more robust site to house both a blog and a shop on www.homesteadhobbyist.com--but that's well beyond the rough one-year plan I have.

I also changed my Twitter handle to @Komhuus. Komhuus is a name I use on many online platforms--Flickr, Ravelry, Etsy, and now Twitter (I actually had already used in on Twitter, as a brief-lived science journalist identity back when I was a science writer--I haven't tweeted from that account in two years, so I changed its handle and deactivated it, then reappropriated the name for my main account). If you must know, Komhuus was what I named a character I played for a few years in Dungeons & Dragons. He was one of my favourite characters ever--when he died (at a high level, in a random encounter, no less), I just couldn't enjoy my new characters as much as I enjoyed him.

2 comments:

As a "micro-homesteader", actually on a postage stamp lot, you may be to the level of "mini-micro homesteader" how about an angora rabbit as your fiber producing homestead "livestock"? A homesteader always needs livestock!

I've been holding out for a yak.

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