When Farmers Go To Market

The Fayetteville Farmer's Market starts back up on Saturday. I wish I could explain how happy this makes my little heart, but there aren't enough words and I doubt I have your attention for that long (at least I'm honest with myself regarding blog readers attention spans). But know that it makes me very, VERY happy.

I've been spinning yarn all winter in preparation for the market to start back up. Based on this picture taken tonight, I'm doing okay as far as stock goes:If you're in the NWArkansas area, be sure to come out and support the local farmers and crafters. If you aren't in this area, just be sad you're missing out because it is a fabulous market.


The White Flag

I'm sitting here behind my spinning wheel, defeated and waving my white flag. I recently told a local couple that I would give spinning their poodle fur into yarn a try. I washed it, dried it, carded it and started spinning it. All went well for about 10 minutes and then the crazy allergies set in. I got itchy, sneezy, and my eyes teared up. I moved forward refusing to believe I was allergic to something so soft.

I gave it another go tonight and the same thing happened. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to let those that requested the yarn down, but I just can't see myself spinning 500 yards of poodle yarn at this point. It's driving me batty.

I am so disappointed. I do not like letting people down... not... one... bit. This is actually making me a bit sick to my stomach. I think if I try again, it will be better, but each time I pick the fur up, I'm left itching for the next hour. I guess you can't win them all. I'm going to give it one more go tomorrow night - we'll see how it goes but I'm not optimistic. It spun up into such lovely yarn - this really is sad :(

I'm almost embarassed more than anything. Basically this project went like this:

"Hey you, I like your yarn"
"Oh, my yarn? Thanks!"
"So my fiance and I have this standard poodle and we think it would be funny to knit a sweater for him out of yarn spun from his fur"
"Oh, that is the best idea ever"
"Think you can do it?"
"I can do anything, I'm kind of fabulous like that."
"Great, we'll be in touch"

And then they were in touch and the rest is sad, allergen filled, history.


*double sigh*

You see, this is really bothering me.

So much so that it warrants a "triple sigh"


Erin's new Mountain Dulcimer

See this...

I play it now. Wait, no, I own it now. I did strum on it for a bit but it's horribly out of tune and the instructions on tuning it that came in the case aren't clear, so I'll work on that via YouTube this weekend.

I'm hoping you all have heard of a dulcimer. Probably the more common for sound recognition would be the hammered dulcimer because it's so distinct, but I consider the plucked, or mountain, dulcimer to be more folksy and "of the mountains" and I'm uber excited to own this.

You see, once upon a time I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after college. I knew I wanted to go on to do some graduate work but wasn't sure in what area I wanted to study. Music History was an option on my list and I had it narrowed down to Music of Latin and Central America or music of the Appalachians - or bluegrass/mountain/Hillbilly (yes, I said Hillbilly - but I also capitalized it) music. I've veered off of that path of study, but still love the folksy music. Maybe I'll get a banjo next? We'll see.

I shall leave you with some rockin' videos featuring this fun new addition to my collection:


I've got nothing

I seem to have lost my blog voice for a bit. I'm not quite sure where I last left it. Probably somewhere between being snarky about something at work and writing a really good email to AT&T letting them know how I feel about them (it wasn't a love letter). Besides losing my blog voice, I've seemed to have lost the ability to latch on to an interesting topic and run with it.

Yeah, I've let you down.

I think a while back I said something about work not challenging me as of late and just as soon as I clicked "public post" I got a HUGE project at work. Karma, you listen, you're a good friend. The project is huge, fabulous, awesome, educational, sexy, huge, amazing, important, and did I mention huge? Yeah, it's that kind of project that if it doesn't get done, it will be a big deal... big, big deal. Well, with that huge, sexy, amazing project comes exhaustion by the end of the day that I can't event explain. There are no words to describe how fast I fell asleep last night and I quickly feel myself getting to that point tonight. *yawn*

The nice part about it is that I'm exhausted because I used my brain and hopefully my expertise today instead of being exhausted because I moved at a sloth like pace all afternoon. Yeah, things are looking up. It is so funny how that works sometimes. My sister mentioned that perhaps it's a sign that I am in the right place after all? I'm not fickle, just a firm believer that sometimes doors are opened when you least expect them.

And now for an update on the state of things away from work. I previously discussed torso issues and how they were annoying me and worrying me and doing what issues do best. The good news is that those torso issues aren't related to cancer or something serious like that. However, the bad news is that means we still don't know what is causing them. This is frustrating. I change the way I eat for the better, still sick. I get more rest, still sick. I turn around three times and stand on my head, still sick. I keep hoping that I wake up one day and the symptoms are gone. That is how they came so why not have them leave that way? I'd be okay with it.

And one, last itty-bitty thing. I've started a batt club in my WoolyHands shop. It's kind of a big deal so go check it out here.


Having a hobby is hard work!

I've mentioned before that people often are amazed that I have time to have a hobby that I participate in consistently. Usually, I'm not amazed. It's just what I do at night instead of watching TV (or while watching TV if I must be entirely honest). However, sometimes I'm left without any time to spin yarn or play with wool and just finding 5 minutes to label some yarn is a challenge.

Let me be the first to say (or maybe the 2nd to say) that having a hobby can be hard work. Okay, perhaps having a hobby that produces some income is hard work. Producing income is not an occasional thing. We're not having a yard sale one weekend and bringing in $800. I'm relying on my hobby to pay for itself and make a profit at the same time. You can't do that with one weekend a year. A hobby like this takes time, daily, to keep up and sometimes that time just isn't there.

I've struggled in the past two weeks to find time to spin, card batts, and work on jewelry like I've been planning to do since January. This isn't a "Man, I have to spin yarn but don't want to" kind of thing, this is a "Man I want to spin yarn but the laundry/day job/garden prep/paying bills is getting in the way" kind of thing.

Perhaps someone needs to make a public service announcement. It might go something like this: "Attention ______ residents: There are new findings to support that having a hobby is not a luxury - it's a burden. If you have, at any time, purchased a lot of craft supplies only to have them go sitting in your closet, unused, because of something that Martha Stewart made look easy, please call J. Craft, Craft, and associates as you may be entitled to a large cash settlement".
I hate to use the word burden, but really, isn't it? I fill up a room in my house with my income producing hobby only to apologize for the fuzzy mess when I have guests that need to stay in my craft, no make that, guest room. I spend hours organizing my beads at my jewelry table just to make the back room neat enough to vacuum. I'm often burning an entire dinners worth of calories just toting my spinning wheel and baskets of wool around my house to find a good, sunny spot to spin yarn in. Hah, and you thought I did this for fun!

Well, you thought right. I love it. I love my little income producing burden, eeek, I mean hobby. When I complain that I had to clean up my wool room, secretly, I'm bragging that I got to spend hours documenting all of the fiber I've acquired. My fiber room and jewelry making spaces are to me what the big money bin in Ducktails was to Scrooge McDuck. They are a symbol of my wealth. I'll never say it's easy to keep up my hobbies, but I'd shudder at the thought of not having hobbies to keep up with.


What Makes a Home?

I recently overheard someone talking about my house and my decorating style by saying "Erin really makes it feel like a home in here" (this person doesn't live here nor is their sole purpose in life to say things that make me feel good). Since hearing that, I've walked around my house looking to see what it is I do to make it feel like a home.

Is it shelves full of books?

Walls covered in family pictures?

Art created by my siblings on display?

Collections of things here and there?

I couldn't place my finger on one single thing and it dawned on me... I'm like my mom. If there is one way to describe her decorating style, I would say it was "comfortable/eclectic". She didn't hone in one style but rather combined a mish-mash of things that all just worked together. While I don't see my mom's house when I walk into my small home, I do see her influence. I have pottery from the 70s mixed with pottery from the 40s. My napkins don't match but are all floral. I have a very modern rug mixed with a table and lamp styled after the 20s. All of these things wouldn't go together in concept, but they all just work.

My latest addition to my home was the lamp and table in the picture above. They came from my mom's house and when I stuck them in my car (carefully, mind you) I had no idea what I was going to do with them, I just knew I wanted them. I've loved that lamp since my mom brought it home when I was in high school and that table was just quirky enough for me to lust after. I brought them home and set them in my dining room. I pretended they weren't there, in the middle of a room they didn't belong in, while I searched out their perfect location. When that location wasn't found right away, I tried to ignore them while going on about my business, but they sat there, calling after me. "Erin... find us a place... we want to help you make this space a home". It wasn't until hours later when I was sitting on the couch when I realized that they would have a space in my living room. Furniture was shifted and then moved again and finally, the table and lamp sat center stage. They were perfect in their new spot.

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to put a lamp in my living room. Instantly that room hugs anyone who enters. Perhaps it was the room that was waiting on the right lamp to come along. Thankfully my mom bought that lamp 13 years ago - little did she know it was perfect for this house.


Tons of things to do...

... but not a lot to say.

My mind is going 500 miles a minute, to 14 different places, and I'm hoping my body can just keep up. Shall we take a brief peek into my brain?

I've been heavily consumed in the thought of going back to school. That thought scares me as much today as it did on Monday when I started thinking about it. I suppose I'll have to think about it some more. I hope to have some time next week to call an old friend who is currently practicing Music Therapy and hopefully she can shed some honest light on the school she went to, the program and being new in the field. I can talk all day long to advisors at schools. They have been doing Music Therapy for years... years and years. However, I want to talk to someone who's only been out of school for a bit. Someone who's still fresh, still learning, still excited. Needless to say, I'm more excited about that phone conversation than I've been about any conversation in ages.

I've also been finding 'keep me busy' projects to do in the office as I've been sitting with more free time on my hands. I've been helping out my old (by old I mean, ex) boss in our Programming Department organize the local musicians for the upcoming performance of South Pacific. Have I mentioned lately that I love musicians? They are quirky, picky, snobby, goofy, nerdy, smart, and passionate and I love, love, LOVE them. I've geeked out a bit (quit laughing, we all geek out and if you say you don't then you're lying... or you're boring) getting to work on this project. I've been playing with sheet music, with musical scores, with CDs and have come away from it with paper cuts, dry fingers, permanent marker stains on my hands, and a deep, deep appreciation for what these musicians do for Walton Arts Center. They learn music - LOTS of music - in a very short amount of time and then perform it 8 times from the deep, dark dungeon that is our pit. Sure, they get paid, but still, I'm kind of in love with all of them.

I've also been consumed with spinning yarn and getting ready for the Fayetteville Farmer's Market to begin in April. I'm kind of geeking out about that too. I love the market season for shopping reasons and for selling reasons. The thing with hand spun yarn and selling in person is when someone spies a yarn they like, it really doesn't matter the price, they are going to buy it. It's nice that I'm not the only person in the world like that. I suppose yarn is like art in that sense. It's one of a kind, if the yarnie doesn't buy the yarn when they see it, it's likely never going to be there again. I'm not going to lie to you, selling yarn is easy. However, spinning it does take finesse (I wouldn't want to fool you into thinking my job is completely easy). Actually, I've got so much yarn spun if the market were to start tomorrow, I'd be good to go. I just need to get a banner/sign made for my booth.

And last, but certainly not least, I've been dealing with torso issues since July. I call them torso issues because parts of my torso have been tormenting me and I don't want to go into details ('cause tummy issues aren't fun to read about). I went to the doctor who referred me to a specialist. Guys, when people say there is nothing wrong with our current healthcare system, then I'd like them to explain why it took me 5 months, yes, 5 months to see a specialist? That is 5 months where my issue could have been so serious it killed me while I waited. Thankfully it wasn't. So anywho, I saw the specialist they gave me some pills. Those pills didn't work so they gave me some more. Those haven't worked. My sister, who is a fear monger, sent me some scary stories of woman (some dead now, some not) who's situations sound eerily familiar to mine. That part where I said some are dead now left me worried, very worried. So another call to my doctor and I get to have a procedure done on March 22 which will hopefully rule out some other issues. I don't say I hope they find something because there really is only one thing they can find with that procedure and that one thing is not something I'd like to have, so I prefer rule out.

So anyways - yeah, my mind is all over the place. I'll just end this post with the classic TGIF, because Lord knows I need a weekend right about now.


I'm a musician... doesn't anyone understand?

Do I even understand? Let me say it again... I ... am... a... MUSICIAN. Yes, I play piano (fairly well), I play bassoon (also fairly well), I have attempted to play guitar (not fairly well) and I can get through scales on a few other wind instruments. So why am I working behind a desk?

That is a good question.

When I was just out of college, I knew I wanted to do one of three things with my life. Work in the performing arts (either right away or after getting a MA in Arts Admin), teach music history/appreciation at the college level and make it halfway interesting (something many professors fail miserably at) or become a Music Therapist. I still think I was incredibly lucky to land a job at Walton Arts Center in the programming department just a month or so out of college which allowed me a chance to try my hand in one of those three areas.

Okay, so it's not really a desk job, or it wasn't really a desk job. I used to get my hands dirty doing artist hospitality for oodles of famous types. I used to run artists around town in my little Honda Civic (ask me about the time Ira Glass sat in my front seat for a whole 20 minutes). I used to greet artist's managers upon their arrival to the theater, find stuff they needed, made everything happy and great and then do it all again the next day. I used to do that stuff. Now I sit behind a desk. I do lots at my desk. I talk to a lot of people. I work with local non-profits and educational groups on concerts and events. I manage a very busy calendar for a very busy performing arts venue. In fact, I learn a lot, every day. I really do like my job. However, I miss the hands on.

Or at least I tell myself that. I have to stop and ask "Erin, do you really miss the hands on or is there something else, something way back there, that you miss more? Perhaps it's the music? Erin, do you miss the music?"

Yes. I miss the music.

In fact, I miss the music so much that watching students learn music, watching someone perform music, just listening to music brings me to tears. My fingers ache to play a tune on the piano. I'm itching to pull out my bassoon and blow. I'm dyeing to lay pages upon pages of black and white sheet music in front of me and get lost in a forrest of musical notation.

Is it time to mark working in the administration arm of the arts off my list and look towards another area? That idea scares me. It scares me down to my core. I'm not sure why - I miss college and have been wanting to go back ever since I left it. So what scares me? Am I afraid I'll find the Erin I lost years ago?

Perhaps. Hopefully she's still there and hopefully she's patient, because change like this takes time and I'm not quite sure this Erin is ready to go that direction.


Stash Busting

Let me go ahead and admit I have somewhat of an issue. When it comes to spinning fiber, I have no monetary control. I can't give my money away fast enough. The highlight of my day is often finding a big, squishy envelope in my mail box. Those packages fill my heart with fibery warmth and fill my spinning bobbins with lush, lovely yarn.

Typically this doesn't bother me. I have mad skills (typically I'm more modest about myself) when it comes to selling yarn and fiber and I'm able to end each week with a profit even when I've been let loose on a fiber shopping spree. However, lately the fiber has been stacking up and stacking up. I blame this entirely on the fact that there isn't a need for a large farmers market in this area during the winter. It's a tragedy really and as you see, it's not my fault. I don't have a place to go unload my yarn every Saturday so while I keep spinning, the fiber keeps piling up.

Even though I take no blame for the current condition of my fiber stash and the current sad state of my PayPal account, I will do my best to fix both sides of the issue. I found a group on Ravelry challenging each other to spin 10 yarns before buying any more fiber. It seems I run with a large crowd when it comes to fiber purchases. There is a boat load of addicts just like me. Thankfully, that large crowd of fiberholics also provided a good support group. Many times this week I've almost strayed and purchased some locks here, a batt there, a braid of top over in that place... but alas, I have been strong. I have many other on my side cheering me on.

I've spun 7 yarns so far. There are plied yarns, singles, crazy art yarns, corespun yarns, corespun on wire yarns, and yarns that have no category. I can't seem to find the dent I've made in my stash yet, but I know it's there. Hopefully when I get to 10 I'll have a hole on my bookshelf large enough to have a good reason to go buy more fiber to fill it.

HEY - don't look at me like that. Turn around, look at your bead/fabric/paper/whateverelseyoucanthinkof stash and then admit to yourself that we all have a craft supply hoarding issue.

Uh huh... that's what I thought.

Now don't you feel bad for looking at me like that?