line drying

REFLECTIONS ON A YEAR OF MAKING

 

A colossal year. January came in quietly and exited to the sound of newborn cries and, if there can be a sound attributed to new parent delirium . . . that sound, too. On this, the last day of 2018, we are flooded with gratitude / surprise (that we survived) / calmness for a year that was hardly easy, but so deeply important. It was the year our lives changed forever, whereby now we wear the indelible mark of parenthood. Being lost for words on the subject, we have thusly decided to share the tangible markers of our year: the things we made with our hands. May this final post of the calendar year offer a dash of encouragement, as well. And, let us just say: If you’re reading this, you made it to see another year. Whatever storms you weathered, rainbows you rested under, or multitudes of circumstances you were brave enough to see through, here you are. Well done! Truly. Here’s to another.


There was beer brewed.

Nine of them, to be exact. It was a year about harping on familiar styles, while tweaking the ingredients so that the same beer was never brewed twice. There were four pale ales—each of which were dry-hopped with a novel combination of hop varieties; two saisons—one brewed with dandelions, and the other with cranberries; and two farmhouse ales—one a “base beer” for future experimentation, manifest in a second iteration featuring rhubarb from our neighbor’s garden. And then there was the proverbial black sheep, a lager made with hops from the experimental hop yard at work, which (tragically) became my first batch to be dumped after becoming contaminated with wild yeast. All in all, roughly 50 gallons of beer made its way out of the fermenter and into our bellies over the course of the year—not bad at all.

rhubarb farmhouse ale homebrewing beer by samantha spigos
homebrewing pale ale beer by samantha spigos
pale ale homebrewing by samantha spigos
homebrewing beer farmhouse ale by samantha spigos
homebrewing cranberry saison by samantha spigos

There were garments and woolens made and mended.

This was the year knitting took on real importance. I knitted fewer things, but each one served a purpose and filled a gap. At the beginning of 2018 I vowed to not buy any new yarn, instead focusing on making do with what I had. (Which, by the way, was in no way a measly stash. My coffers are blessed with wool.) This was in an effort to curb my own consumerism and truly contribute to my family’s needs in a cost effective way. I ended up purchasing three skeins of wool to make two hats with, and I bartered for a reduced cost of the yarn for Rosemary’s Christmas stocking. You can peek the whole of my knitting pursuits over on Ravelry. Upon realizing Mark and I were wearing through all of our best (and expensive!) socks, I took up darning. For a week in the summer I did nothing but darn socks in my spare time, managing to teach my sister along the way. One summer afternoon, we darned socks at the library for a few hours. A real small town, simple pleasure sort of day if there ever was one. Our pile of to-be-darned socks continues to grow, but I know I will get to them, slowly. Mending and making do. Finally, I sewed two dresses for my daughter: Easter and Christmas. This is a tradition I hope to continue throughout her young life.

+ Learn how to darn a sock — it’s easy!
+ A big book devoted to mending.

knitting fringe field bag camel wool by samantha spigos
wool diaper cover soaker yarn scraps by samantha spigos
wool baby blanket knitting handmade by samantha spigos
handmade wardrobe peppermint geranium dress by samantha spigos
handmade wardrobe knitting hand knits by samantha spigos

There were fermentation experiments, vegetables grown, and sourdough loaves.

Mark’s farm job meant our kitchen table was always graced with tomatoes in the summer. We canned dozens and dozens of pounds of tomatoes, which we are delighting in now. One day he came home with thirty pounds of carrots. It seemed… a lot of carrots. We promptly put the lot of them into our three gallon crock under brine. Fermented carrots were easily my favorite experiment this year, though it turns out thirty pounds was not enough! To borrow one of my dad’s favorite turns of phrase, by autumn’s end they were “all et up.” Together with my sister and her kids, we managed to ferment around fifty pounds of cabbage into sauerkraut — just in time for New Year’s day. The lacto-fermentation projects were great, but 2018 was the year of sourdough. Baking weekly loaves of bread to slice and to share was the best practice I took up this year. Grounding, familiar, good.

+ Fermenting crocks to get you thinking of putting food by next season.
+ Sourdough wisdom shared here.

sourdough country aurora bread loaves by samantha spigos
tomatoes organic sourdough bread loaves by samantha spigos
fermented carrots fermentation by samantha spigos
buttered bread tomato sandwich by samantha spigos
rye challah loaf baking bread handmade by samantha spigos

There was a laundry line built.

I wrote about laundry and air drying on the line back in July, but it bears repeating. We love our basic pulley line, and if you fancy yourself interested in line drying, that summer post is merely one among many that can help get you started. I have not taken the plunge into winter air drying outdoors. I tried it once and the clothes never did dry, but all of our Amish neighbors do it, so there must be a way! (If anyone has helpful information to share, please do!)

clothesline laundry air drying by samantha spigos

And that’s sort of, we suppose, a wrap! Our hats off to you, 2018.


—M+S (and Rosemary, underfoot during the writing of this post)

WORKS OF THE HOME: LINE DRYING

 
windowsill
hanging laundry

When I think about clothes drying on the line, two particular memories come to the forefront of my mind. The first, when as a small girl I would look out our kitchen door and see soaking wet pool towels strewn every whichaway on the line. The towels took days to dry because my siblings and I would drag them into the water with us, the reason unknowable. Bless our mom for schlepping our ten pound towels from the pool to the clothesline, summer after summer. (And while we're at it, bless every mom, everywhere.) My second memory is the first time I smelled the garments that had baked on a line under the hot Greek sun. Mark and I spent the summer after college living in Porto Rafti, Greece with his dad and Greek side of the family, and it was there that I fell in love with the art of line drying. And it is an art—just look at the socks on an Amish clothesline, or the number of garments deftly hanging from apartment windows in Europe.

When works of the home feel artful, they are less Chore and more Cheer. I might go so far as to claim line drying as my most restorative choice of summer, though it must contend against bread baking, ocean swimming, and peach eating. Instead of feeling worn down by the fast pace of the season, or melancholy knowing it will soon be time to make way for a new one, might we all sink a little deeper into restorative acts, however small. You know what your mind, body, and soul needs. If you need a bit of guidance, might I suggest line drying? Below are a handful of ways to do so (even if you inhabit a 100 square foot third floor apartment). Happy dog days, friends.


a handful of ways to go about line drying:

for indoor use —
+ This small floor rack is an economical option for drying just a few things.
+ Erin shared a great post about wall-mounted drying racks for tiny spaces.
+ We use one similar to this for kitchen towels, woolens, undergarments, and airing out denim.

for outdoor use —
+ This entire page is chock full of outdoor solutions to fit your situation. Most are USA made.
+ We installed this kit and dug a post to mount it onto, though it could easily go between two existing structures. (See ours in action with cloth diapers, with sheets, and with a smelly raincoat.)
+ You can tie a thin rope from one tree to another. Voila, a clothesline. We did this very thing outside Pink Cameron.

for if you are loyally devoted to your electric dryer* —
+ Ditch the dryer sheet.
+ The prettiest wool dryer balls I've laid my eyes on.
+ The uses for clothespins are truly endless. In a pinch I used one as a hair clip.

*It never helps to be a zealot, and I want to be transparent about our practices. We use our electric dryer roughly half the time in the summer, and 100% of the time in the winter, though I intend to change that this winter. We are actively working towards drying the majority of our things outside, but all in good time. And we have yet to figure out how to line dry Rosemary's prefold diapers without them feeling too stiff. If anyone has suggestions, please do share.

laundry line 2
sedum
back garden 2

—S