Has it really been another year?!


I can’t believe the year’s almost over. Again. Doesn’t seem like so long ago that I was writing last year’s Christmas post! 

It’s been a year of incredible ups and downs. And I find myself, in the midst of some pretty terrible things happening in the world, reflecting on what’s truly important, and being grateful for what we have. 

So as we prepare to take our yearly family road trip up to be by the sea with our families, I wanted to take the chance to express my gratitude – once again – to EVERYONE that has supported Hearth Handspun this year. From our suppliers, to our mentors, to our partners of the D.R.A.F.T. group, to our customers and friends: You are the reason I can do what I love, and love what I do. And I don’t ever take that for granted.

I’ve seen a little meme going around Facebook; that ‘every time you buy from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance’. I have done many many happy dances this year, and have tried to pass along the abundance to many other small makers and artists whenever possible. The yarn and fibre community is like a big family, and I feel privileged to be part of it. 

So “Thankyou” (yep; You.) for your support this year, and a happy Christmas/Holidays to you and your family. We can’t wait to see what 2017 brings! ❤️

Love The Harnwells x

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Beautiful day in the ranges!


Isn’t it paradise?

I’ve had a horrible chest infection (so has my youngest!) Which originated from that massive shift around the black moon about 2 weeks ago. It hit us HARD in our household. I have a hideous cough lots of phlegm and I found myself yelling at everyone… it wasn’t until I sat down and had some quiet that I realised what I was actually struggling with. I felt like I wasn’t being heard.

I had had a few things I had been hesistating to talk to Ben about. A few of my friends had had some huge issues in their lives of late, and I had taken on the role of listener much of the time, but found that when I had something to say, they were distracted or not really present. And I felt like I had ben constantly repeating myself to the girls: The same requests and instructions every day.

So I made time to sit down with Ben, distraction free, and we argued, but in the end I felt like I’d gotten things off my chest (figuratively speaking, but hopefully it will help me in the literal sense too! 

And lucky me, I’m off to the Shepherdess Retreat tomorrow! Hurrah! Planning to take lots of pictures and suck all that knowledge in like a sponge! 

For now, blowing my nose, drinking water, packing and wearing my sodalite chunk.

Have a beautiful weekend, Friend x

Ice ‘cream’ that’s Nice-cream.

Had to share this recipe. 

Not only is it vegan, but it’s dead-easy. (But looks like you really went to a lot of effort.) – Which is my favourite kind of recipe!

It’s VEGAN ICE’CREAM’

Using an electric hand mixer, mix: 

1 can coconut milk, 

I can condensed coconut milk (yep: That’s a thing! I found it with the other condensed/evaporated milks etc at Woolies), 

2 tsp vanilla, 

And a pinch of salt. 

Mix, then freeze. That’s it.

I added pink colour, pink sprinkles & strawberries! 💗 Easy-as! And the girls loved it! 👍🏼👍🏼

When all the signs point to yes.

This week I went home. By home I mean that Ben and the girls and I drove back to the South Coast where Ben and I grew up and met, and where we left our home and our families and our jobs and our friends 3 years ago to embark on this adventure.

SO so much has happened in those 3 years. We’ve changed. The girls have grown. The places and people have changed.


It felt simultaneously like a spiritual homecoming, and also a spiritual cord-cutting.


Whilst staying at my mum’s, I walked the beaches I played on as a toddler, dug my toes into the sand, smelled the salty briny air, and connected. The ocean is so much apart of me. I was never a surfer like my parents, but whenever I go to the beach, people always comment that I look at home in the water. And I am home.


One day, while we sat over looking the harbour of my hometown eating lunch, I was relaying a story to Ben and pointed vaguely out to sea – and pointed right at a passing whale, announcing its presence with a glorious spray of water. I literally went “Oh-OH MY GOD! THERE’S A WHALE!” What a gift! A glorious all-knowing spirit animal, there just for me at the perfect moment.

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And I met with some old friends, that I hadn’t seen for a while, and we laughed and connected, and I realized that they’d all changed so much. And I was so different. But our friendship was the same. As with all true friends, distance and time cannot break bonds. We were still connected by our hearts.

But then some things, inevitably, were different. And I felt a kind of ‘letting go’. Like some of these childhood ways, comforts, habits: It was time for them to be put away. I dyed my hair, bought some new clothes, and forgot to check-in with all the usual ‘imaginary opinions’ that I used to check-in with as an insecure people pleaser. My step dad obviously hated my new hair. And I laughed and I truly didn’t care.


I saw an old friend clearly, for the first time in a long time, and realized I’ve changed so much, that it was time to let them go. They obviously did not see my worth anymore, and I felt uncomfortable, inconvenient and taken for granted. But I know my worth now. And I could choose to let go of what was no longer worthy of me. And I did. And it felt INCREDIBLE.

Then on the way home I listened to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Woman Who Run With The Wolves” and had my mind absolutely blown open. I felt like she was summarizing the entire spiritual awakening I have had in the last few years!

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There were moments while listening where I audibly gasped, as I heard the author literally tell ‘my story’. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it!

It was as if she was writing the concluding paragraph to the ‘coming home, but letting go’ essay of the past week.

And I got home, and I threw open the windows of Hill Shadow House, and I scrubbed my kitchen floor, and I took out the garbage, and ripped all the unneccessary clothes from my wardrobe and bagged them up for charity. It was a purging. A throwing off of all that no longer serves me. a literal shedding of the skin; climbing out of my chrysalis to unfold my new wings. To welcome in this new era, and step into my power as the Wool Witch.

Here I was: Home at last. In my body, at my hearth, ready to use my intuition and the ancient knowledge of my sisters to create and to work the magic.

And then, the Universe threw me one final lightening bolt.


I had listed my last remaining skein of Activated Yarn onto an online Facebook yarn auction before I left. A roll of the dice. I reasoned that the person who needed it would find it. It was a golden bamboo-blended skein of Luck & Abundance. Infused with reiki energy, Zucchini flower, Aventurine and Citrine. A lady bid for it, saying she was going through a rough time, and could use some good luck. A second lady bid, and finally won the auction. She then contacted me by email saying that she had paid for the yarn, but could I contact the first lady for her address and send it there. She had bought as a gift for her.

Complete strangers. A completely random act of kindness brought about and manifested by threads, earth and energy. Ancestral medicine that made better three people.

That, my friends, is BIG MAGIC.

I felt overwhelmed and humbled by what had just occurred. The universe took me on this journey, showing me who I was before, and who I have now become. It showed me that I was rebirthing, shedding off all that no longer served me, while connecting to what is  deep, deep in my spirit. Then it finished up with a veritable “mic drop”.

BOOM!: THIS. THIS IS WHAT YOU DO.

The Volva has arrived.

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Know your yarn. 

The beauty of being a small business is knowing EXACTLY where your materials come from. And that it REALLY is ethical and compassionate.

Sure, you can buy commercial, mass-produced fibre. But you’ll have no idea if it’s from factory farmed animals, has been chemically treated, or made using unethical trade/labour. But it’ll probably be cheap.

I like to know EVERYTHING about my yarn, so you can too. ❤️👍🏼 The fibres are meticulously hand-selected from small local farmers. (Some are right here at Hill Shadow!) My dyes are sourced from a small business based in outer Melbourne VIC, who supplies ethical, organic and fair trade products. All labour (washing, combing, spinning, dyeing) is done by ME. By hand. At my hearth, in the Yarra Ranges, VIC.

So, I’d like to introduce you to one of my business’ cashmere suppliers.

Everybody: George. George, this is everybody.

When life gives you…

Perspective is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

On Friday night, a fellow fibre artist and friend of mine opened a sale album on Facebook. Now I normally try not to be comparative (that way lies misery!) BUT she had 65+ items in this folder and sold MOST of them in 4 hours.

She made HUNDREDS of dollars.

Now lemme give you some background info to be fair:

She is an established personality in spinning/fibre circles.

She’s good – VERY GOOD – at what she does. I would never try to diminish her success – she spins beautifully, dyes amazing stuff, and there is EVERY reason why she is so successful.

And we have a different product and a different niche: She dyes commercial roving with commercial dyes, and I dye locally farmed ethical fleeces with plant-based/organic/fair trade dyes. And I add the spiritual side as well.

And I’m comparatively new to the market.

But despite all this I felt INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATED AND DISHEARTENED.

How can she sell all that in 4 hours, and I don’t even sell one item a week?! I pour my heart and soul into my art: I BELIEVE IN IT. I spin sometimes ’til my eyes hurt at night, lovingly tending each skein to completion, and severely underprice myself (often only paying myself $1 an hour and often end up giving lots of stuff away!). And for what?! Is it worth it?! Maybe I should just give it away and find ‘real job’.

I felt flattened. I felt heart broken.

So I went to a movie with my friend Lou, and we grabbed a hot chocolate afterwards, and we got to talking about our grandparents. My German Oma immigrated to Australia in the 50’s. She had no English, was DESPERATLEY poor, and lived in a converted asbestos chook shed with 7 children. My Opa worked on the Warragamba Dam Project and was away for weeks on end, and my Oma supplemented their income by growing tomatoes to sell and milking the family cow.

Perspective.

This isn’t a PROBLEM. It’s annoying. But it’s not a PROBLEM.

So this morning I picked some daffs before Jerry the Goat ate them, and Tara and I baked a Banana and Raspberry Loaf. We ate it warm from the oven. And the washing machine broke down (Grr. But I bet Oma didn’t have a washing machine; broken or otherwise. And she had SEVEN KIDS), so I made plans to go the laundromat until payday. And the vacuum cleaner broke, and I laughed at the irony and took the broken piece out.

Perspective.

It’s not about being mindlessly, irrationally, ridiculously optimistic. It’s just recognizing what is an actual HARDSHIP, and what is a TEMPORARY INCONVENIENCE.

We have everything we need. I’m lucky to be able to do what I’m passionate about, and if I follow my passion, I cant lose. Success will come. And, you know what? The vacuum cleaner works better without that piece anyway 🙂

Living your life can be an act of rebellion.

Here’s my big lesson this week: Living life for yourself can be a HUGE act of rebellion.

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In modern day society, hubby and I don’t live a conventional life. We don’t have a huge mortgage. He works, I stay home with the girls, and work my home businesses. We don’t have credit cards – we try to spend only the money we actually have.

Sure, I could go back to full time teaching now. We could buy a new car on credit, take out a mortgage to buy a new McMansion in the suburbs and “have it all’. I could eat dairy and meat. That would make a lot of people around us much more comfortable.

But I value what I do for my family by being at home much more than society could pay me for working full time. My girls wont remember a shiny new marble benchtop, or a new car. But they will remember walking home from school hand-in-hand with Mummy, and having hot pikelets for afternoon tea, and climbing their swingset until its time to run over and hug dad as he pulls into the driveway.

And-every-day

My husband loves his job. I love mine. We do ok. We’re ok with not having a lot of stuff, because we have SO SO MUCH to be grateful for.

But this week, I’ve been challenged: Do I have the courage to be what I am, and to do what I do, even if it makes some of the people I love uncomfortable?

I read this article by Julia over at SacredFamiliar and it resonated with me a lot.

I spent ALOT of my teens and 20s doing what I thought was ‘best’. I had the voices of my parents in the back of my head at all times, and I always did what I thought would make them happiest. I never made a decision without mentally consulting everyone I knew to check if they’d be ok with it.

But actually, it’s not my responsibility to make everyone else comfortable and happy.

What if I had the courage to live my truth? With no apologies. And no explanations.

What if I called myself a witch.

What if I said, “I choose not to work fulltime.”

What if I said, “I don’t want a big new house.”

What if I said, “I actually don’t support the dairy farmers’.

These statements are all potential time-bombs. They all have the potential to be misunderstood. To be criticized. To make people – including the people I love – VERY uncomfortable.

But here they are. In writing, for all to see. My truth. Here’s me having the courage to speak it. Here’s me being FUCKING BRAVE. My act of rebellion.

Here’s me living my life for ME, not for what others will think.

Because – hand on heart – “This is what’s important.”


 

 

Dye me a rainbow…

Today’s efforts…

275g of beautiful hand spun Corridale fibre went into the dye pot today. I wanted to see if I could dye a rainbow gradient with natural dyes (why spoil a beautiful natural fibre with a chemical dye, huh?!)

This was a few hours of scouring, drying, carding and then spinning already, so I really hoped it would turn out beautifully!

I mixed up my potions like a crazy alchemist:

lac* for red,

lac and pomegranate for orange,

Himalayan rhubarb for yellow,

Pomegranate and indigo for green,

indigo at 2 different concentrations for light blue and indigo,

indigo and lac for purple.

All at different precise concentrations, mixed with the required amount of vinegar.

I mordanted the wool for an hour, then handpainted on each colour, wrapped it and steamed it, rinsed it and rinsed until no more dye ran.

Gee it was a process. But gee it’s worth it. ❤️

*Not hugely keen on using Lac or Cochineal for dyeing, due to them being ‘natural’, but made from ground up beetles. Doesn’t feel right. Doesn’t feel kind. So I’m just finishing this little sample pot off, and I’m going to try a plant-based alternative for red: Quebracho! Its made from a Mexican tree! Results TBA!