Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Guide to Simple Living?

The latest issue of Yankee magazine arrived yesterday. It includes a "Back to Basics" section that lists where to learn DIY (do it yourself) skills. That fits nicely with my longstanding and growing interest in artisan products, skills and values, but the geographic coverage is understandably limited to New England. In the DIY spirit, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to adapt Yankee's post and beam framework to start, hopefully with your assistance, a list of Minnesota sources for learning these, and similar skills. Here's the list:

artisan bread baking
Photo by J. Harrington

  • Cheese Making
  • Open Hearth Cooking
  • Canning and Food Preservation
  • Butchering Meat Processing
  • Spinning and Weaving
  • Bee Keeping
  • Homesteading
  • Farming and Gardening
  • Carpentry and Building
  • Other?

Textile Center: Wisdom Rug
Photo by J. Harrington

We know that the North House Folk School [catalogue] in Grand Marais offers some of these skills plus many that weren't listed in Yankee. I'm going to poke around the Internet and see what turns up in Minnesota. I already know about bee keeping courses through the University, and have read about local wood fired baking and written on these pages about baking home-made bread. Please use the comments [if you can make them work] to let me know of any related courses you're aware of. Maybe we could turn this into some sort of "Angie's List" of DIY skills teaching / training. Not a bad way to start the New Year as far as I'm concerned. What do you think?


By Floyd Skloot 
My wife sits in her swivel chair
ringed by skeins of multicolored yarn
that will become the summer sweater
she has imagined since September.
Her hand rests on the spinning wheel
and her foot pauses on the pedals
as she gazes out into the swollen river.
Light larking between wind and current
will be in this sweater. So will a shade
of red she saw when the sun went down.
When she is at her wheel, time moves
like the tune I almost recognize now
that she begins to hum it, a lulling
melody born from the draft of fiber,
clack of spindle and bobbin, soft
breath as the rhythm takes hold.

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