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DIY: Not just for yarn!

Whenever I am hiring at the shop, I have a pretty specific set of questions that I ask candidates to answer for me in their cover letter, to even be considered for an interview.  My favorite of these is, “What does DIY mean to you?”  This question beckons a wide variety of answers — some have never heard of the phrase; some can tell me what it means; some put an emphasis on making things.  But the candidates who own and use this term to describe themselves already are the ones who I often connect with — the ones who think of DIY as a lifestyle choice.

For me, DIY runs through my veins — whether it’s doing my own bookkeeping, taxes, and accounting; planting my own garden; dreaming up wild wedding gifts and seeing them through, visiting the Portland Homestead Supply Co. on my day off to buy a gallon of coconut oil so I can make my own salves and lotions, using only homemade counter spritzer and foamy hand soap in my kitchen, or, of course, designing my own yarn and building a dress from scratch.  It’s the idea that, while mass production of consumer goods certainly does have its perks (hey, I’ve got an Amazon Prime account, I won’t lie!), the majority of things we buy, order, or pay someone to do for us are all things that are totally do-able ourselves.

Of course, but who has time to grow their own food, sew their own clothes, change their own oil, AND work 50 hours a week?!  Not I.  For me, DIY is phasic.  I baked my own bread every week for five years, and then stopped.  I used to buy milk by the gallon and culture my own yogurt…but now I am perfectly happy to buy big tubs of Greek yogurt at Grocery Outlet on the cheap.  And who knows?  Maybe someday I will outsource my tax preparation and free up weeks of my life in March to do other things (but who am I kidding…probably not).  Even though I may not have time in my life to learn each of these new skills and practice them consistently, the point is that I can still look at an injera roll when I’m out for Ethiopian food and think, I know how they did that.  For me, it’s about having a connection to the things you’re using or consuming, knowing how to break them down into their core components, and appreciate them.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of DIY for me revolves around the kitchen.  I’m trying out the gluten-free thing for awhile, so my bread-baking days are on hiatus.  But, of course, this has ushered in a whole new slew of DIY food projects to try.

Like chickpea-flour flatbread.


Why yes, that is a grocery-store-size shelf display quantity of garbanzo bean flour.

And caraway sauerkraut.


Ha! Note the unintentional cones in the background of my kitchen.

And pineapple-pepper shrubs.


And smoked salmon salad with greens from my garden.


That’s also the reason why, when I’m thinking about what to make one of my best friends for a baby present, I want to go further than just finding a cute pattern and buying the yarn to match (not knocking good old traditional yarns here — still totally DIY!!).  I want to think about all the different properties I want in this theoretical yarn — thickness, drape, softness, washability, color — and design it myself.  Figure out all the math and determine how many ounces I’ll need to have 375 yards of it.  Wind it up on my one-of-a-kind machine and end up with a cute little cone.  And then cast on and see what happens.

What about you?  How does DIY play into your life?

One Response to DIY: Not just for yarn!

  1. To me diy is freedom. You can have exactly what you want and not be at the whim of overpriced stores where you can’t control the quality,size,material etc. it’s also sharing yourself with your friends. Alll my friends get diy gifts on every occasion and I love thinking about each person when I am working on the gift.

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