Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview With Kate of Wool Gatherings

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Kate, I live in Washington State, and my husband Chris and I run a fiber business and Etsy shop called Woolgatherings. We have 2 kids, ages 8 & 11, who have always been homeschooled.

Marino Wool/ Bamboo / Silk Roving

2. How did you begin working in your craft and how did it develop into a business?

The fiber business was started over 25 years ago by my mother-in-law, and I took it over about 3 years ago, when she decided to retire and my kids were getting old enough to afford me a little free time. I have been working with fiber in various forms since I was a teenager, with her mentorship, so it was just a natural fit. At first it was just a hobby - I was primarily a SAHM just dyeing fiber occasionally for a couple of her long-time customers - but I started selling on Etsy in late '09 and since then, the business has really grown into a full-time job.

3. What is one of your favorite homeschool memories thus far?
My kids and I love to travel, so most of my favorite memories are of being with my kids out and about exploring the world. There is something so exciting about taking in a new environment, and being able to see it through the eyes of a child. It makes me feel like a child myself, in a way, because everything we are seeing is new to me too, and we are learning together.

One of the most amazing places we have ever visited was Kangaroo Island, off of the coast of South Australia - a fairly wild and unspoiled place with an abundance of wildlife and natural beauty. I will never forget driving way out in the bush and coming to a screeching halt to let a spiny echidna cross the road. My kids, especially my daughter, are huge animal lovers and they were *SO* excited to see this elusive nocturnal animal out in broad daylight, in its native environment. There was just something so magical about that moment, and that day, that always make me smile.

(This picture was taken a short while later that same day, at the "Remarkable Rocks" : )

4. What advice would you give to other homeschool families who are also trying to run a home business?
It's a day to day challenge to make all of the pieces fit together, and some days work better than others. It helps to be organized – technology is your friend! Of course the kids come first, and for me, this means that fun comes first. No matter how busy I am, I have a little rule with myself that I don’t turn down an opportunity for fun if it presents itself to me.

Silver Alpaca/ Tussa Silk Top(Roving) - Undyed Fiber for Spinning

5. Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
My work is all about color, and most of my inspiration comes from nature, art, and architecture. I am always looking around and watching how colors work together and play off of each other. I take tons of photographs, and again, I love to travel and immerse myself in new environments.

Blue Face Leicester Wool/ SeaCell Roving (combed top) - Hand Painted - 4 oz

6. Do you have specific goals for your business or for your homeschooling? Would you share some of those with us?

My goal for homeschooling is to really nurture my kids love of life and learning. We have always unschooled, though as they get older, their interests have led them to take a few more structured classes, and we are adapting to those changes as they come. For the future, I just hope that they can find what they are passionate about and are able to pursue it. For my business – I am happy with where it is right now, but someday I would love to have my husband come work with me full time.

Visit these web sites to learn more about her hand dyed fibers and homeschooling adventures.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sugar Roasted Peanuts

This is one of our favorite fall snacks. My mom has made these for years and they are usually gobbled up before the evening meal is served.

If you have small children, they will enjoy watching the last few minutes of boiling as the sugar re-crystallizes onto the peanuts. So gather round the family kitchen and cook up a new family tradition!

2C Sugar
1C water
4C dry raw peanuts

In a large saucepan mix all ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir every 5-10 minutes. Continue boiling and stirring until the water is COMPLETELY dissolved and the sugar re-crystallizes onto the peanuts. (Around 30 minutes)

Immediately remove the peanuts from the stove and pour into well grease baking sheets or 9x13 casserole dishes. Bake at 300 for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.

Allow to cool, then enjoy!

This recipe was submitted by Sonja of VeryVerdant.