Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heart of Craftsteading

Dried beans from my garden. I grew two varieties of pole beans.
Craftsteading is a lifestyle choice, much like homesteading.  Unlike homesteading, one isn't likely to have a hog growing in the backyard, or five acres of wheat.  Instead one will find a house overflowing with tools and projects--crafts of every sort flowing out.  It shares the self-sustaining bent of homesteading, though not toward growing all one's own food.  Craftsteading is the sustainable, do-it-yourself lifestyle for the city or suburban dweller. It's great for people with small lots, lot of zoning regulations, or a brown thumb.

A sign of being a craftsteader is having craft-type items fill up the house--and I certainly have that.  My husband has a workshop in the basement and I've overtaken two spare bedrooms with my looms and other craft materials.  There's a spinning wheel in the living room and there tends to be fleece in the family room if I happen to be picking one while watching TV.  Otherwise I have a knitting project there. I have my dyeing operation out in the garage and below, you can see some linen/cotton yarn I dyed today for some placemats.
This natural linen and cotton yarn was dyed green for placemats.
If we are overrun by a zombie apocalypse, being able to weave one's own linens and spin lovely yarns will not be as handy a skill as growing food.  It will take years for people in a zombie eclipsed world to run through all the clothing already stuffed in their closets.  We have so much stuff in our consumer culture that it's ridiculous.

I think that's why I like the idea of slow cloth. It takes a long time to go from fiber to yarn to cloth--much longer than it takes to work the hours, even at minimum wage, to earn the money to fill a shopping cart with cheap machine-made imported goods.  But there is that certain satisfaction of having something handmade, and designed to suit one's needs.  I'm sure it's a very similar satisfaction as having one's table filled with food you've grown yourself.

But just as I can't grow all my own food, I can't make everything myself.  As a city dweller, there's that trade-off.  I've definitely made the handmade pledge and now eat off of handmade pottery.  The bowl the beans are in was made by an artisan in Vermont.

Another facet of craftsteading is trying to find food grown as sustainably, locally and organic as possible--and therefore supporting small farmers and homesteaders.  Fortunately, through my local farmers market here in Naperville, I've found a good supply of sustainably grown vegetables and meats.  Since I've taken the no-factory-farm pledge, we are lucky to have Yuppie Hill Farm and the Hometown Sausage Kitchen visiting regularly. Hometown Sausage Kitchen is new, a chef turned entrepreneur has worked with local farmer(s) to grow sustainably grown Berkshire pork and now heritage grass fed beef for those who would like to eat meat sometimes, but not from animals grown in prison and fed noxious hormones.  Being a chef, he has created some excellent sausages, as well as providing well thought out cuts of meat. This make me quite happy because next week I'll be picking up ground pork to make my own secret family recipe Italian sausage for the Thanksgiving lasagna.  Yes, lasagna is a traditional Thanksgiving dish--at least in my family!
I also dyed some alpaca red today
Craftsteading is my life.  Of course, there is the day job, but afterwards, I get to come home and craft away.  I've been dyeing some alpaca for a throw I want to make.  I have this idea of a multicolored warp and a weft in that lovely chestnut brown alpaca fleece I purchased recently.  I think it should be gorgeous! At least it looks that way in my head.  The hard part is getting it to come out that way on the loom.

The other aspect of craftsteading is growing at least some of my own food.  I try, but my garden was so-so this year.  At the top of this blog, you can see some dried beans that were supposed to be green beans. Well, we tended to leave our green beans on the vine too long so they were tough and bitter.  I decided to go ahead and let them finish the "bean" process.  This winter, I think I will cook some of these up and see how they turn out when served with pasta, one of my favorite vegetarian meals.





1 comment:

  1. Lord! What a busy bee you are! Love the green!

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