Crafting Lifestyle

Living the crafting lifestyle

Is at least one spare bedroom of your home taken over by craft items?  Is there a spinning wheel in your living room?  A loom in the dinning room?  A plastic crate of fiber stuffed behind the TV?  You just might be a Craftsteader.

Craftsteading is the sheep-to-shawl sustainable lifestyle that fills your home with fiber equipment and lovely, handmade artisinal goods. Like homesteading or the slow food movement, it's about turning from soul-less factory produced items and and enjoying the lovely wonders of making it yourself. Whether you knit, weave, quilt, spin, sew, embroider or a combination of this and other fiber crafts, if you are slowly filling your home with equipment so it is hybrid living space/studio you are probably a craftsteader.

I like to start my projects with freshly shorn fleece from a small local farm.

My gateway to craftsteading was knitting.  At first it was just a knitting bag by my favorite chair in our apartment.  I discovered lovely yarns spun in small mills in Maine and Vermont and then I discovered a spinning wheel.  My first wheel had pride of place in the living room from the day I got her.  Once we bought our first home, I had a table in the spare room for planning knitting projects and a bit of closet for tubs of fiber.

I soon learned to love the beauty of raw fleece and attended Rhinebeck back when it was a small, cozy affair.  From that came a carder that needed space in the spare room and then a chunk of garage for drying all that fleece.   Over the years we moved again and I acquired more spinning wheels another carder and finally the first floor loom. One bedroom wasn't big enough anymore, so I took over the "guest" room.  Two spare wheels were stored in the dinning room.  A loom popped up in the family room.  The "spare" shower is a drying space for fleece. I was living the handmade made life--I had everything but the sheep on my small suburban plot.  I was "craftsteading."

Washed, picked and carded fleece is ready for hand spinning.

So I coined Craftsteading. It's a kind of homesteading for people in urban and suburban areas who like to craft. I started purchasing and cleaning raw fleeces when I lived in a townhouse-type apartment, so it's possible to do this kind of thing with limited space.  I made entire sweaters with handcards, and I've knit a king sized blanket from handspun before getting a loom. (BTW, I heartily recommend a loom for blankets after this experience).

In terms of crafts, you can make room for a spinning wheel, and possibly even a carder in a smaller space.  There are smaller folding looms that can let you weave textiles for your home and there's always knitting or crochet! I purchase the majority of my fiber in the form of raw fleece from small local farms, so I might not have my own sheep in the back yard, but I have something close.  I get lovely fleece and the satisfaction of knowing I've supported the rural lifestyle. Plus, I have more time to craft without sheep to care for--and that could be considered a plus.

I am weaving this rug with handspun yarn.
One of the hallmarks of Craftsteading is to try to stay away from those highly processed commercial rovings and do it ourselves, starting by washing the raw fleece, carding and spinning it into yarn and then weaving and knitting it. Of course, raw fleece isn't for everyone, but there are many local, small mills producing high quality rovings from locally grown fleece so that's something an aspiring Craftsteader can look into.  I've even found some that are handpainted and lovely.  Or you can bring your fleeces to one of these mills! Yes, creating cloth in this way is slow and time-consuming, but process is the very heart of craftsteading.

A handknit sweater made entirely from handspun
As a fiber person, I like to weave placemats  to complement handmade pottery dinnerware I've collected.  So their is a crossover in what we do with other crafts like pottery and woodworking (What weaver doesn't love a good woodworker to make gadgets for her loom!) So a craftsteader can blend their own talents with those of others towards a handmade way of life. It would be nice, as more craftsteaders make themselves known, to be able to barter among ourselves, or join forces to sell complementary items.

This loom takes up most of a room.
Craftsteading is for all who love and appreciate the beauty of something handmade, who devote good portions of their home to crafty pursuits and who seek out the local and the work of other artisans.  The lifestyle overlaps--a craftsteader could also have a giant garden, raise sheep or be a marvelous cook.

I invite all my readers who are craftsteaders or budding craftsteaders to take make themselves known! How much of your house is taken over by craft tools, stash and the like?  What can we do to support ourselves and others with the love of making things to live this handmade life?

1 comment:

  1. I love this website, Rose. It is very interesting.

    Your husband.