Friday, July 17, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Nikki Ross is a knitter and twitter friend that keeps me in stitches most of the time. I love to hear about the hilarious things that go on at her house. Her sense of humour always brightens my day. Then I have to tell her all the hilarious things that happened at my house when I was still raising boys. She is very close to nature in a very sensible way and has taught her family many traditional crafts.

You and your family live in the country and participate in so many different hand crafted arts. Were you raised on a farm?

Sort of? I grew up in Ohio. My grandfather owned several acres within the city limits, but he had a large garden, apple orchard, and several dozen free-range chickens. He also owned 31 acres in the county, where he grew what he called "Government Corn", more food for the family, raised hogs and steers. Every year my grandmother, who raised me until age 12, "put up" the produce from the garden for use in the winter months. Every autumn we had the hogs & steers butchered and quartered, and my family got together for 3 evenings of cutting & packaging beef. When I was little we lived "in town" in a house my grandparents owned, and when I got older we moved out to one at the corner of his acreage. Lots of room to explore the fields and woods, and sled in the winter!

In addition, I spent several summers in NC, in the Boiling Springs area outside of Murphy, where my grandmother owned a house with a couple acres next to her brother, who owned a commercial eggery. He had 22,000 hens!

Knitting, spinning, sewing, quilting, Richard makes soap, did you pick these up as a child or as an adult, and did someone teach you?

My mom's mother (mentioned above) taught me how to hand-sew and hem when I was very little... perhaps kindergarten age. My dad's mother taught me how to sew on a sewing machine and tried to teach me how to knit (a purse, with rug yarn, in seed stitch... and I *hated* it) in my pre-teens. I put away all those domestic arts until I was out on my own. Needed a wardrobe for a new job (in a bank) so I bought an old sewing machine, patterns and a couple hundred dollars worth of fabric & taught myself to sew all over again. I have won awards with my sewing -- 2nd place in the State in FL for 2 men's tailored suits I made my dh and Grand Champion once with a bridesmaid's dress. When I only had a couple kids I took in custom sewing for pay. Additionally, I quilt.

When I was pregnant with our oldest, Desiree (who is 23), I had a total of 4.5 months bedrest. I got bored with reading (imagine!) so I had dh take me out in a wheelchair, to a local hobby store, where I bought needles, yarn, and a basic knitting book and taught myself knitting all over again. One of my first projects was a knitted lace blanket for the baby with a different-pattern knitted lace ruffle all around it. We still have it!

The spinning is a relatively new addition, in about the last 8 months. I can already spin fine (sock weight) and ply, so I guess I am doing alright! I have taught Des, Diantha, and Veronica all to quilt, spin, and knit. Also my 17yos Artemas has knitted and Josiah, my 8 yos knits a little. We also cook experimentally and excellently... Artemas wants to be a chef!

Do you crochet?
Marginally, LoL. I have a queen-size coverlet that is ONE huge granny square, that I helped my mom make when I had mono when I was 11 and finished when I had the mumps when I was 12. LoL. Mostly I do a crochet-chain cast-on for socks.

You have another shop that has beautiful recycled yarns. What is your resource for yarn?

Wow, I get them wherever I can find high-quality fiber yarns disguised as sweaters. Thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, etc. I look for desirable and dyeable fibers in beautiful colors. Last year we took a trip from the Knoxville area where we live, to the Philadelphia area. We hit every thrift store in the lower eastern US I think! Brought back so many sweaters I thought I was going to have to put one of the kids on the roof of the van (this is a joke, LOL). If I find that the fiber is weak or beginning to felt, I finish shrinking the sweater and turn it into accessories instead... fingerless mitts, cozies, small handbags, etc. Nothing goes to waste at my house!

You homeschool your children. How many years have you done so?

We decided when we first got married that we were going to homeschool when we got married. As Christians, took the scripture literally that says, "Whatever is not of God is of beelzebub." We felt that if God is not welcome in the public schools, we did not want to turn our kids over to whomever *was* in charge. So we started with Desiree when she was 5 (18 years ago). She graduated a year early with honors. Some of our results haven't been that spectacular (our 1st son graduated a year late by the skin of his teeth, LoL), but it has still been a great experience learning how each of the kids learns, and then helping them learn in a way that sticks with them. Every one is different, each arrow needs to be aimed at its own target, and it is a blessing to see that in action. Not to mention that we have the privilege to take off and travel somewhere if we have the interest and the funds, no matter what time of year my dh's vacation falls, etc. One year we were doing a unit on the Civil war. We did some traveling and woke up one morning to find that the motel we stayed in (having arrived after dark the night before) was right across the street from a Civil war cemetery. Everything has a potential for learning if you allow it. Mostly we unschool, using books and resources as we find them or are interested in a subject, and using everyday activities as a catalyst for learning. Just in case people might think my kids are barefoot and ignorant, we own probably close to 3000 books. LOL

As a retired homeschool mom, I know how much time it takes. Where do you find time for so much crafting?

We incorporate some of it in our homeschool. The kids can get credit for creative arts, domestic arts, etc. Also the kids that are in high school can get economics, accounting, part-time job, small biz admin and other credits for running or helping run an online shop.

I find it so interesting that you are a biker. When and how did biking make an entrance into your life?

I have always said to my husband, that riding the motorcycle is like defrag for my soul. Feeling the air go by, smelling the world (I am an olfactory learner), hearing the gears run through. Like a lullaby to me! So it was interesting and appalling a while back to overhear my mother telling Des, that when I was a baby - we're talking a TINY baby, because I was about 6 months old during riding season in OH - there weren't any child restraint laws. So mom and dad would wedge me between them on the bike, mom trapping me in by putting her arms around dad, and ride... and I would lean my little head on my dad and sleep! Gee no WONDER the sound of the bike is like a lullaby to me!

My dad used to take me to motorcycle races (to watch) on Sundays in season. I got my first little bitty, street-legal bike, a Honda 70 4-speed, when I was 10; bought my own first full-size bike when I was 17: a 1973 Suzuki GT250, which I still own. We didn't ride for 18 years of time we lived in FL... too many retirees with bad eyesight on the road. Now I also own a 1982 GS450T Suzuki and I am keeping my eye peeled for a 650 to 880 if the price is right. My dh also rides - once rode a 350 Honda over 22,000 miles from FL, across the Southwest, up the West coast to Alaska, and back in 9 months. My SonIL also rides, and I have taught my older 2 sons. For a while I was in the choir at church and actually sang in the choir once in my fringed leather chaps! Conversely, it is interesting that my younger sister never liked dad's bikes (noisy) and to this day, loathes motorcycles. hmmm.

Please let me also mention that Diantha just got accepted to a Christian modeling agency (, so for the rest of the year, in all our shops, the portion of our profits that we are not already donating to the youth center (80%) will go for her classes and trip to Orlando for scouting next January. Thanks!

And a BIG CONGRATS to Diantha!!!

Nikki and her family have four shops: - High-end fiber recycled yarns - Hand knit and recycled felted accessories - Diantha's fiber, carded batts & handspuns - Richard's handmade goat or soy milk soaps


  1. Thank you SO much for featuring my shop!

  2. It was delightful to stop by and read Nikki's interview today and read about her life. It is nice to get to know you better. Your home sounds like a wonderful hub of busy activities!

  3. Good to meet you, Nikki! Thanks Dianne for doing these interviews.

  4. I'm late reading this feature - lovely interview!