Maggie’s Workshop Re-do!

shopstuff2If you haven’t noticed, Maggie’s woodworking company has gone crazy!  She’s been making wonderful fiber working tools and small looms and her work is so lovely!  She has made over 2,000 different products for fiber artists all over the world since she started last July, 2015.  And all this fantastic work has been coming out of her little converted garage workshop.  And unfortunately, it was in serious need of a make over!

We didn’t have a lot of extra funds to do too much, but we just sold the last two piglets from our spring litters and that was enough to get started.  So we headed off to Lowes to get some supplies and we got started!

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We knew that we needed all hands on deck, so we called in a couple of our friends to lend a hand and we got started.  First thing, we had to take everything out and get the place cleaned out and sorted.  When Maggie put her workshop together, she never really expected to become a production shop!  So she had a lot of her personal things out there.   And unfortunately, we had also added a bunch of odds and ends in the back end of the shop!  She didn’t want me to take any pictures of it before because she was a little embarrassed!  Poor kid.   She was doing the best she could in a tough environment.  We love that kid and none of us were upset, in fact, we were mostly impressed with her resiliency!

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She had a lot of odds and ends of wood left so we worked hard to get that all out and sorted.

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This was a bit of the shop before, just a big pile here in the corner of scrap wood that she was going to use to heat the shop as it got colder.

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The goal was to install some better ceiling insulation for her, get better lighting, make the space much more comfortable and productive to work in and make it cleaner and easier for her to keep clean.  She really does like a tidy space so I know this area was very frustrating for her.  She just didn’t want to let us know!  But we were ready to spend a few days and make it right for her!  She was pretty happy after she got used to the idea!

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Lots of loom dust for sure!!!  We had to really work to get the space all nice and tidy!  She has been super busy!

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Starting to get a little better, but still tons of work left to do.  Just getting everything out took the better part of 3 or 4 hours!

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Look!  The first nice and tidy corner!  We are getting there!

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Sorting everything was tough, because we kept finding all sorts of interesting things!  But we stuck to it and kept working.

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Like this little cute bird ornament!  And this cool finger puppet thing that Maggie made in homeschool studies!  dsc_0766 dsc_0767

Of course, we had to have some chicken supervision.  Maverick, the rooster, had to come and check it all out.  He approved of the work and went off to look for more work to inspect.

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Much nicer!  This area in the back of the shop will be for storage of her raw wood and various bits and pieces.

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We got the bright idea of using a leaf blower to clean all the dust and such out of the shop!   It looked like the place was on fire!!!

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And we took the time to burn up a bunch of junk and boxes that we really didn’t want to save for winter!   The goal was to get it all nice and tidy and a big pile of junk didn’t fit the gameplan!!!

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We started to fill up our truck with metal scraps.  We had a bunch of stuff from around the farm as well, so we just started to fill her up!

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Miss Julia blowing off some of the things that were going to be sorted and returned to the shop in some limited capacity!  Thank goodness for friends!!

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Wow!  Really making some good inroads to getting the place all nice and tidy!

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We moved some of the cabinets around to make it flow a little better…  and then put some drop ceiling boards in to help deflect some of the heat from escaping through the rough roof.  Maybe some day we will be able to really outfit this little space for her, but in the meanwhile, it’s way better!

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There had been a big pegboard in the back barn, so it got hung where it could help out!  Justin was a big help as he always is!  We should just adopt him!  :-)  I don’t think he would mind.  He could build a little house out back and be a happy camper!

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Wow!  How nice this looks….  we set it all under Maggie’s watchful eye and her plan.  We wanted to respect her hard work and how she wanted the place to be.  Now she has a much easier space to store all her fancy woods waiting to become looms and hand tools!

We were all busted after this first day!  A lot of work, but it was good work and felt awesome!

On to day two!!!

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We began to bring back in her equipment, working to make sure it was set up to make it easier for her to work smart and easy.  We hung several of the lights that we had bought and it made the space to bright and wonderful!  We had also bought the wood and material to make a great nice work bench as well, but that would be on the third day!

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Oh, the pegboard was wonderful!  She could get things up and hanging, ready to be used!

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All these scraps got sorted and the ones that just were not good or cracked, they got ready for the wood stove.  She did recover a lot of lovely hardwood for more tools!  That was great!  Like finding money!

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Not quite finished, but so much better!  And more efficient!  She’s been in the space now a couple weeks and it has really improved her ability to get orders done and out the door!   And just wait till you see the lovely workbench that she and I built!   I read the instructions and added my two cents, she did all the real work!!  Hey, every job needs a supervisor?  Right!

All in all, it was so worth the time and effort.  It’s so much better for her.  We will keep working on the space…  we needs to get a decent door and a little more insulation around the old garage door.  We will keep as the budget allows!  And here is hoping that the cold winds stay away as long as we can get away with!!!

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Warping up the old Union 36 Loom

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As you can see, the kitties were very excited about us warping up the Union loom…

Actually, they were a little interested, once we really got rolling.  It takes several hours to warp one of these larger floor looms.  You first have to wind on hundreds of yards of rug warp, a sort of string.  And then you have to feed all these ends, or strings, in through the heddles and then the reed and tie them off to the front of the loom.  My Union has 19 sections and each section gets wound with 24 strings.  You don’t have to do all the sections, in fact, this time I only did 15 sections.  However, that is 360 pieces of rug warp you have to handle several times!  It can get a little tedious.  This is why when we warped up this old loom, we load it with many yards of warp so that we can make many rugs at one time.  I made 6 rugs on this pass.  I used afghan selvedge this time as the weft, so the rugs were very thick and soft.   This fills up the take up reel in the front of the loom, so it’s hard to do too many that way.  Six is a good number however and they are now all finished and up on our Etsy shop if anyone is interested to see them.

Windhaven Etsy Shop…  View the rugs!

However, please enjoy these pictures of our adventures!  It took Jessy and I about 4 hours to get it all done.  I do the winding on at first alone, and then after she helps me thread the heddles and the reed, I finish alone, tying all the ends off to the canvas apron up front.  It’s relaxing, in a sort of odd way.  I guess I just love weaving.  Sometimes life gets a little too hectic and I just don’t have as much time to get to it, but when I do, I always enjoy it!

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Homesteading and Minimalism…

I’m not sure if it’s the change in seasons or the fact that I am aging, or a sign of the times, but living a simple life and even embracing minimalism is something that has been near to my heart for many years.  There seems a real desire in me to limit the amount of earthly possessions to just those things that I love and I use daily and enjoy greatly.  I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and I remember my mother being quite the pack rat and myself, a great collector of anything that caught my eye.  Even for a brief moment.  I loved all things visual and just amassed a collection of stuff that was so immense it would fill my house in a heartbeat.  When I moved out to San Diego as a newlywed, the moving estimator was off by over 1,000 pounds and it was all because of my crafty use of nesting and organization!  He bragged that he was never over by more than 50 or so pounds.  Well, he had met his match!  When we moved back, my husband and I were both avid readers and book worms and we actually mailed back 45 HUGE boxes of books through the post office, book rate and they had to be delivered by a huge truck at their destination!

So, yes, I can say that I was quite able to be a collector, a hoarder nearly.  Stuff just felt good.  Yet, I was also a mover.  Ever since I was a young child, my family has moved around a good deal.  No, not circus performers or on the run, but just roaming souls that didn’t seem to stick around very long at any given place.  I was born in Alexandria, Virginia…  moved to Muskegon, Michigan, then Fort Wayne, Indiana, then Novi, Michigan, (3 different places) and then to Berkley, Michigan.  Then I married and moved to Spring Valley, California and then San Diego, back to Farmington Hills, Michigan, and then Pontiac and Utica, both in Michigan.  Then to Toledo, Ohio, and then to Perrsburg, Ohio (twice) and then back to Redford, Michigan and then back to Toledo and finally, here, out in Alvordton, Ohio.  Believe it or not, Alvordton has been our home for the longest stretch in my entire life.  19 different homes in 52 years.  And for the majority of that time, I have been lugging around a great deal of personal possessions. quote-celebrate-a-simple-life-j-r-r-tolkien-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures

Somewhere in the early 2000s, when we moved to Perrysburg Ohio and had a huge 3,000 square foot house, the urge to simplify really hit hard. I’m not sure why, it was the one time in my life that I actually, finally, had a huge space to fill.  4 bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, sunroom, 3 bathrooms!  And yet, it was there that things just fell apart.  My marriage ultimately ended, our finances hit rock bottom, we lost our beloved home.  It was that time that I just started purging of excess personal things and it felt good.  Super good.  Healing.  Wonderful.  The girls and I moved to a teeny little row house a stone’s throw from Detroit and we had to pare down to just the minimum.  And we’ve been doing so ever since.  Our beloved moby home was only 800 square feet!  And we loved it!

However, moving to the farm, we soon began to realize that a little homestead is a “stuff” magnet. Having 3 acres and 7 buildings means a lot of space to collect things.  And being new to all this homesteading stuff meant that we had no real good clue as to what we needed and what we should keep and have.  We dragged home stuff from livestock markets and garage sales and thrift stores as well as stocking up at the local feed store whenever we had a project or idea.  And of course, our place came with the residue of a hundred years of stuff.  And we were very good at picking up stuff on the side of the road that just might work for this or that idea!  In no time, we were starting to feel the need to simplify.  To get back in control.  Even to minimize our ideas and the way we did things.  In short, we had learned what worked and what didn’t.  It was hard.

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I haven’t written yet about it, but I will next, however, we filled up the truck and took over 750 pounds of metal junk to the dump.  We filled our truck to the strap it down and drive slow level.  They actually paid us $28 to take it.  And considering that scrap is like pennies on the pound, it was a little embarrassing.  Some of it was ages old, but still, a lot of it was from us.  Five years of stuff.  And this was just metal.  We burned a lot of other things and we filled up our trash service as well for the week.  Just amazing.

I guess the point of this ambling post is that I’ve felt this real strong drive to just simpilfy and organize my life and my stuff to a point that makes me feel content.  I am certain that I can never go to the extend of having only 100 things and wearing the same type of outfit day in and day out.   (Of course, with just a bare minimum of clothing selections… )  I couldn’t get all of my dear hobbies and books and other goodies into a couple suitcases.  I’m just not quite that type of person that a laptop and a drawing journal is enough to live with.   I like making things and crafting things, doing things.  I have a lot of interests.  (As you probably have noticed since this blog and it’s posts number in the thousands and such!)  But I notice lately that I’m not doing any many of those things as I used to.  We’re a bit more busy, but I think it’s more than that.  It’s a sort of overload, an overwhelm of too much, too many interests.  I keep thinking I’m going to do this and that and of course, the internet and that darn Pinterest fill my brain with more and more ideas.  Crafty, things to make, things to try and do.  Just too much, again.  So I start feeling a certain discontent that just makes me not want to do anything. At least fun.  Creative.  And that just is no good.

So, once again, I’ve started to think hard about the things I love to do, and really enjoy.  And once more I am going through my collections, paring down, making hard choices.  Sometimes I wonder if I just like organizing.  It’s possible.  There is a huge rush to getting three boxes, a bag and a few hand held things together and taking to the Goodwill or our local free store.  I love to clear out a bunch of things and end up with a huge trash bag of papers and such.  I’m dreaming about a new scanner so I can just scan the boxes of paper things I feel compelled to keep around, just in case.  And I make rules for myself, new rules, guidelines to live by.  And sometimes they stick.

My thoughts also wander about around what do I want to do with this next half of my life?  There is a part of me that simply is amazed to have reach 50.  A half century.  However, what amazes me even more is that there is a likely chance I might have another 30 to 50 more years left if I am lucky and that is another lifetime!!!  Wow…  Time to sit back and reflect, is this where I want to be?  Me, a lifelong gypsy rambler, settled down on one piece of ground for 20 years or more?  It’s a little frightening.  It really is.

I enjoy my life now, it’s close to what I envision as my golden years might entail.  I love being out in the country, love the animals and all.  Love helping my girls with their businesses, love working on my own business needs and such.  But I do see some areas that are falling away from what I really want to do.  My creative side aches for more time in the sun.  I’ve started weaving again and I am so excited with that.  I really haven’t done a lot in nearly a year.  Just been so busy helping Maggie to get her business up and running.  And it’s doing great, strong and productive, so it’s time now to fall back and let her do it.  Jessy is helping her and they make a great strong team.  I can start to focus a bit more on my own thing now.  That is good.

Living with your adult children is something that not everyone does.  We are a bit of a reversed family here, as Jessy and Maggie actually own this homestead and land, free and clear of any mortgage.  We bought it 5 years ago for a song.  $12,000 to be exact.  Lots of effort and sweat equity has been in the mix for sure.  But ultimately, it’s theirs.  They just let me stay.  :-)  (I do have the smallest bedroom, does that count?  I am trying to be a good guest.)   I suppose if I really wanted to, I could up and leave.  Get me a little RV and ramble about the country.  But I would have to leave my pony and my goats and sheep!  Naw, I’m put for awhile.  I like being here with them.  I love seeing the wonderful young women they have become.  I love that they can function without me if need be but they still want me around.  They seem to like me!  We get along great.  We give each other space and yet we support each other’s dreams and help each other when needed.  It’s a perfect situation and it’s the way families should be, if you ask me.  I just don’t believe, in this day and age, that there is just one track for success and life.  It’s a crazy diverse journey and everyone must make their own path.

That being said, I think everyone that knows me, even slightly, knows that I want a yurt.  Yes, a nice little yurt to tuck away in the back yard, in our old garden pasture.  I want to be close enough to the house to get wifi and an extension cord but not so close that they will know what I want to sleep in all morning or when I feel like walking around naked.  You just never know.  I’d like them to be able to see if my yurt is on fire!  Haha…  and close enough to be able to get to the car without snowshoes in the winter.  I think it’s a wonderful thing.  I can decorate as I wish, have just what I love and adore out there in the way of things and maybe even get a little dog.  Sounds very good to me.

That brings me around to this whole rambling post.  And that is, how do I make these changes, how do I mesh homesteading with simple living, how do I be a hobbitlike minimalist!  You know, loving all my things and yet living simply.

I guess it is a process that I am on, like making a reduction sauce.  My life is being reduced down to just the most savory things.  The rich broth and extract of all that is me.  I am in the picking and choosing stage of my life.  Not really the empty nest because it seems that I will be the one to fly the nest, not my little chickadees.  I want to make sure that I don’t leave my girls this massive mountain of my life that they will have to sift through and save a few bits of when I am gone.  I want things organized and orderly, and I want to enjoy the next so many years of my life intensely and completely and most of all, with a simple contentment that makes each day lovely.

I’ve decided to narrow down my “crafty” side a bit.  To some, this might still sound like a lot of areas of interest, but to me, one of a thousand craft loves, it’s quite severe!  I love fiber arts…  the wool, weaving, spinning, yarns and fabrics.  Those stay.  And I love drawing and painting, though I don’t do much of it anymore.   I want to change that.  (And thankfully, it’s a craft that doesn’t need a lot of materials or space, really.)   I have two interests that I have not fully explored and I want to…  mosaic and paper mache.  And a sort of blending of the two.  I’ve decided to give them a good shot and a chance to explore them a bit.  And the last is music…  which is somewhat of a craft and a hobby but also more of a social activity for me.

I do also enjoy scrapbooking, but I haven’t done it as much lately.  I have narrowed all my supplies and such down to three boxes and I will probably think about that and decide if I want to keep at those things or not in the coming year.  Since we rarely print photos anymore, I might just finish up with all the old photos and then be done.  I used to scrapbook with a friend in great details and enjoyed the paper craft of creating but lately, I haven’t touched it in years.

I think that is a very good start.  Still gives me a lot of areas to explore and a couple new things to dabble in and see if I like.  If I don’t, they will go to the wayside.  At least I will say I gave it a chance and we shall see how it goes.  I’m sure I will share my journey into the land of paper mache and mosaics with you!  At the very least, I will have a few cool things for my garden and my shelf!

Now, as to my “job” and what I will be doing?  I’ve given that a lot of thought as well.  I hope to wrap up a couple projects with the girls’ companies in the next couple months.  Jessy has just debuted her new geology game and it’s so cool.   www.geologygames.com   Maggie is full steam ahead with her woodcrafting and loom building and that is neat as well, since it falls into my craft of fiber arts nicely!  www.WindhavenFibertools.com

I’ve been dabbling in a new little business, that of the planner sticker world!  (Always have loved journals and planners and paper arts, it’s just perfect for me!)  It’s slow but I’ve had almost 100 orders so far on my Etsy shop and it’s only been about 8 months!  Yah!  I love the chance to use my graphic arts skills to make neat and cool stickers and planner sheets and such.  It’s something that I can see myself in for years to come.  It’s not hard to do, no real inventory or heavy lifting.  Just a few pieces of computer equipment and I’m good to go.

I’d also like to continue with customer service help and promotion/marketing for the girl’s companies.  They can pay me!  Sounds like fun and I do it well enough.  And I’d like to be involved in new product development as well.  They can handle the day to day stuff and that would be wonderful.  I can always help when needed in a busy time or holidays.  I do like packing orders!  But if I can pull back some in the day in and day out workings of their businesses, I can devote a little more time to developing my own business and expanding my crafting as well.  (Since I do earn a nice little bit of money with my rugs and weavings…  fibers and such.)

Of course, like all lives, my journey is subject to change.  I think I’d like to consider this my one year plan.  In one year’s time, I would like to be in my yurt.  I’d like to have my new job descriptions in place and the bugs ironed out.  I’d like to have my narrowed down crafts a big part of my daily life.  And I would like to be writing and blogging more.  That book ain’t gonna write itself, you know.  And I’d like to work a lot more on our family genealogy as that has always intrigued me and needs to be discovered and expanding upon.   Oh, yes and gardening.

Okay, yeah, I still have to have a lot of interests and such but hey, that is life, right?  Honestly, I did skim out a lot of other things in my wanna do list!  Rubber stamps, paper arts, quilting, cross stitch, sewing, basketry…  just a few!

Whew!  I hope I didn’t bore you all to tears and that maybe some of all this rumination resonates with you as well!  Let me know if you have any ideas…  comments…  thoughts…   you can drop me a line at:

sherri@chekal.com

 

 

 

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