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How one woman's hobby became her life's work.

You've heard the adage, "Do what you love and the money will follow. Well, that is the story of the last three years in my world. I did leave it all behind--I was able to because I have some financial resources that came from investing. I spent way too many years being first an accountant then an educator. I always thought of hobbies as something you did if you had any energy left after working 10 hours, fighting traffic, getting the kids to lessons and clubs, getting the shopping and cooking done, well, you get the picture.

Then something happened that put my head on straight. My 15-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. With a knock in the head like that you start listening to your soul. She is now nearly 20 and (knock on wood) cancer free. To keep myself sane through that experience I found that my hobby took on more and more importance. It was what I did to ease my heartbreak and escape from the pain.

My hobby is weaving. As my daughter slept I would spin. When she just needed me to be there but stay out of her space, I would weave in the next room. I got pretty good at making time for my "hobby" and getting projects done. I started selling what I made and just kept improving my skills. Classes and guilds are great for finding kindred souls. I got lots of support at work, but I also got lots of support from my guild friends. I became the workshop chair for the guild. Weaving and all its support activities were helping me to be able to be strong for myself and both of my children. So when first one, then the other left the nest, I was already at that turning point. I knew what I needed to do.

I bought three acres in Edgewood, New Mexico. Of course it was 1,000 miles from Houston, but I had lived in various parts of New Mexico for most of the past 20 years and I loved it, so that is where I chose to settle. Not quite homesteading, I acquired and bred Angora goats, a French Angora rabbit, then finally a few Lincoln and Corriedale sheep. I spun and wove my heart out, but it got lonely. I joined guilds and had made lots of wonderful friends, but most days were about getting myself motivated. I was weaving in a house out in the country on a dirt road, where the only interruption was going out to get the mail. I needed something more. Don't get me wrong, I taught weaving to some of my friends, I sold more of my stuff, I entered competitions and did shows. I had weaving friends and fiber animal friends--great friends.

So (I don't carry a lot of debt, but I am still supporting one college student) I refinanced my house, cashed in some (by now most) of my stock and got down to making my hobby a passionate pursuit that met all my needs. Edgewood is a quiet but growing little town, 25 miles east of Albuquerque. Because it has a grocery store, it serves all the communities for miles around that are ranch towns, train station towns, and very small towns that people love to live in. I rented 800. square feet on old Route 66, and opened my "who would've thunk it" yarn store. Right off the bat the store flourished and was nearly at a break even point financially after only seven months. I knew it had to be a knit shop with weaving and spinning and dyeing, etc. And I certainly knew enough about knitting and crocheting.

What is great is that I have been able to augment the income of several good fiber folks with opportunities for teaching, consignment, etc. I see people every day who are passionate about their hobbies, and they do whatever they can to make sure I succeed. "Good Fibrations!" has now graduated over 30 new knitters, and several new weavers, spinners, crocheters, tatters, and rug hookers. Other classes past the beginning level are helping East Mountain folk improve their skills.

The auto-glass place next door, the beauty shop behind me, the antique shop across the way, and other business owners are amazed at how many cars are always in front of my shop. It is a lot of work but now when I weave (which I can do at the store) it is called "marketing," and only helps the business grow. Don't get me wrong, there are long hours, but all of my other skills (accounting and teaching) get utilized, and it is a constant juggling of personal and business resources. But I get to do my hobby, be around others that do my hobby, promote my hobby, and grow my hobby.

I sell all kinds of yarns and tools, books and equipment. But I am most proud of the fact that we have wooden tools from a master woodworker from Magdlena, New Mexico, knitting bags and needle holders from a local EMT who is also a fabulous seamstress, glass buttons from my neighbor's kiln, and yam and roving from my own and others fiber flocks. And now we have started a program that will get knitters, crocheters, and weavers to make items from recycled yarn stashes that will be donated to the local domestic abuse center.

So hobby? Business? Community service? Whatever you want to call it, I love it and have made it my passionate life's work.


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Title Annotation:Country neighbors
Author:Orrell, Bethe
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Previous Article:Goats and sustainable farming give this homesteader purpose.
Next Article:It wasn't in the book.

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