Community is the New Deal


Spare Shelf is about building a business model that will give others a place to build a business.

Relief, Recovery, and Reform…

The New Deal was a series of economic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1936…

…The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

Aside from the politics surrounding creating a national or even global economy, what we will need to meet the needs of our own little community is something for a different discussion.

Many businesses today rely on a discount model, thinking rather falsely that the only thing that matters is low, low prices. True, we all look for value. And it is true, too, that many big businesses owe their success to structuring their merchandise offerings to the lowest price in town.

It is also true that they have convinced us all to believe that we are the beneficiaries of this continued lowering of quality and price.

The real truth is that a lot of the costs of there business operations are externalized in that they pass the bill for their growth on to government, ultimately we, the taxpayers. When big box stores continue to hire part-time, minimum wage workers, there are very few benefits to the employees aside from what they can qualify for in the form of a subsidy provided for by our government (us), not the business itself funding these programs; food stamps and Medicaid. We pay in many other ways as well. Far too many ways we pay and don’t see than there is room for or interest to discuss here.

The most important thing is that we can all have a way to make a living wage, that we can have good quality products that are a true value, products that are useful for years, that aren’t ruining our children’s future to have, and that we can continue to see hope that what we build today will provide for more, rather than less of the needs of our own community going forward.

Most of the original New Deal reforms of the 30’s have been chipped away at through agendas to return capitalism to an unregulated free market. Many people believe that pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is the only help that should be offered by the world, to the world. In other words, us helping us. About the only thing left is Social Security, and if big business (i.e. Wall Street) had their way, that would be turned over to them to gamble away as well.

It does seem, in this climate of deregulation and the stripping away of our social safety nets, that it might be a good idea to find a way to invest our own personal labor in a way that it is not constantly being stripped away from us with lower wages, fewer or more expensive benefits and no hope for upward mobility or even finding a job that can sustain us.

In this author’s opinion, the best hope for doing that is creating businesses for ourselves.

So, the new, New Deal is that we are in this together. We need to find ways to benefit each other while meeting our own needs.

Spare Shelf is about building a business model that will give others a place to build a business.

It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without synergy.

Spare Shelf needs your help.

Please comment as to what your needs are for building the business of your dreams. Let’s start a discussion and lets get building.

For a start, Spare Shelf is offering to provide a place to show off what you create. It will be a place to show it, sell it, and eventually teach it and find the resources for it.

Can’t you always use a Spare Shelf?
It might be better than advertising! For the most part, advertising dollars go out and it is hard to track their benefit.
Having a Spare Shelf will be like having a 3D advertisement and the results will be realized in the form of actual sales.

Contact us now to find out more or to offer your suggestions for a better way to build it. We aren’t trying to invent the wheel. We know there is nothing new under the sun, but we know that if we want to build it, we need your help.

Spare Shelf … An alternative storefront reality


Busy As The Bees

Product development is ongoing at Ms. SpoolTeacher’s house every day.

These yo-yo’s someday want to be a quilt like the one below this image. Someday to be a Yo-Yo Quilt


Image: NewVintageOldSkins on Etsy

These twills and corduroys someday want to be a patchwork purse with fringe…

twills and corduroys

seams as fringe

…with these as inspiration:

image from Barbara Vaughn’s Etsy shop:bvaughanhandbags

image from Barbara Vaughn’s Etsy shop:

View on: honeybeepollen on Etsy

View on: honeybeepollen on Etsy

Lately she got hooked on T-shirt yarn and got carried away making things…

how to make t-shirt yarn graphic

Where did she get this image?  She’s like to give credit where credit is due.

The first step is to cut off the hems and the top, under the sleeves. Save those though. The tops can be cut for strips and the hems used for other projects.

product development, making t-shirt yarn, tarn

The collection of hems from the rolls below

There is one step missing in the graphic above…stretching it after it is cut. It curls in on itself and gets much longer. There are lots of things to do with just the un-pulled fabric as well; but for yarn, seems best to stretch.

T-shirt yarn, tarn, pulled to stretch and elongate

The turquoise failed to turn in on itself and was used for a project you will see below.

Here is the pile she started with. All from shirts she had on hand and planned not to wear any longer.

collection of t-shirt yarn, tarn, rolls

This was her first project using the “Tarn”. You can see the details here:“Throwing a Tarn Bowl”, (though it is more of a basket).

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple


Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Bottom up!

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple

Strings have since been woven in.

And then she started braiding….
Braided rug fom t-shirt yarn.

…and braiding,

T-shirt yarn, tarn, braided for a rug

  and braiding…

T-shirt yarn, tarn, braided for a rug

She will try to post a tutorial of sorts to describe how efficient she got at braiding with rolls. The best rugs are made with “continuous-cut” tarn/yarn that is then rolled into balls, but the braid gets tangled if you don’t have a technique. And then when you do run out of the longest strips, there is a great way to splice a new run in.

There are several ways she has seen others splice pieces; but by far, the best way she has seen is to do it like it is done with bias tape. Click this picture to go to a how-to if you like. It’s for bias tape, but use the same method for the tarn.

Be sure to put the right sides (the original right side of the t-shirt) of “tarn” together when doing this as you want the seam to be inside the curling of the t-shirt yarn.

She did this herself and it worked like a charm; no lumps, bumps or knots (though that could be a design decision and even desirable, you be the judge).

As for how she braids…she can’t figure out how to tell you so that it will make sense, so maybe someday a video. Don’t hold your breath.

The main gist is to pick one ball to be the one to pull through the other two strands every two laps. Otherwise, you get a second braid forming below and it’s a tangled mess. If you get in a rhythm, it goes like the wind.

Lots of sellers on Etsy are stitching the braids together with zig-zag stitches on their machines. Ms. SpoolTeacher thinks they look nice this way. She hasn’t mastered (let alone even tried) this technique yet. She keeps hoping the braid will sew itself together.

Meanwhile she surfed the internet looking for that tutorial for joining the ends, didn’t find it, but found this Adirondack lady, Helen Condon, who makes some awesome rag rugs the old fashioned way. You can view a video of her working here. There is nothing like authentic craft, but Ms. SpoolTeacher likes modern adaptations as well… as seen here in a rug that inspires her:

For the old fashioned, lacing way of doing it, here is a great tutorial video, (Poor quality video, but useful for the information).

So as for that darned piece of t-shirt yarn that would not curl….she just used it as it was and imbedded it within this cotton macrame cord and made a few rows in single crochet with it as well as she went along. Pretty pretty, eh?

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

There just aren’t enough hours in a day to do all the wonderful things she wants to do. She doesn’t understand how anyone gets bored.

She stays as busy as the bees…

busy as the bees

they say bees like green water…check out this blog:


Gingerbread House

(/\ photo belongs to

Gingerbread-aholic, that’s what she is. She has a hard time editing. She likes to put lots of detail in anything she does. Especially sewing as it is an opportunity to “apply” (i.e., applique) more of her acquired repertoire of skills, techniques, and abilities.

It shows up in everything she does.


Hand-painted Checkered Floor treatment

Not Your Mothers Smock

Not Your Mothers Smock

Egyptian Cotton Pillowcase Curtain

Egyptian Cotton Pillowcase Curtain

So it’s very hard to believe that she is all about minimalism, scaling down, doing with the least of things, doing with what she already has. The problem there is that she has a lot. A lot, lot, lot. Big Lots! Of course she is “still not 60” and has had a hoarding ability handed down by her mother who threw away/parted with not very much, so she has had lots of time to “collect”.

She thinks that the reason why her house always ends up congested is because that is the comfort she brought from childhood.

When she was little, as has been told here before, she lived in a very small 30 x 30 “cracker-box” (her mother called it) house. As the years progressed and the three little girls grew up, the more they accumulated the more furniture went into a room. She lived there until she was 13 with wall to wall, floor to ceiling stacked furniture, every drawer or cubby filled to the max.

So now as she edits things out and starts to believe she is on her way to minimalism, she realizes she is bored with nothing to look at.

She’s an analyzer. An introvert who likes to think, think, think. She likes to have something to think about and for her eyes to fix on for inspiration of what next to think about.


But she is trying very hard to get to her desired goal of minimalist living. She really wants not to have so much stuff. Indigenous people wonder why industrial societies need so much “cargo”, they call it. And that’s just what it feels like.

But, she still likes gingerbread, the cookies and the look, and little Gingy of course.

“Not the gumdrop buttons!”

So today, she is going to be making some little Christmas Stockings big enough to put just a candy bar in, like what one of her “Room Mothers” made and gave all of the class for a Christmas treat when she was in elementary school. Yes, she still has it. It had a Milky Way bar in it. It made a big, big impression on her little thinking mind. Now all these years later, she will use it as a pattern and try not to Gingerbread-aholic it up too much.

She will be using her stock of fabric sample books for curtain making/upholstery from days gone by when she did that kind of stuff as well as other things from her stash of goodies.

Does she have you waiting With Bated Breath to she what she comes up with?

Check back soon for the results. Or check out her Etsy shop and “Favorite” it to see them as soon as they are posted. (heart)

Update: currently at her shop on Etsy. (get while they are available!)

Christmas,candy bar,stockings,approx 8.5",upcycled,designer, fabric,swatches,trimmed,novelty,glasses case,gift card,candy bar, trinket

click on picture to go to Etsy shop

Okee Dokee, OCDC

OCDC/ Obsessive (Fabric) Collector Designer’s Challenge.

Ms. SpoolTeacher used to be a procrastinator.

“to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

Actually, she now thinks it wasn’t so much procrastination as that she got bored once she had “caught on” to how to do whatever it was she was trying to learn and she wanted to learn everything! So, she would stash one half-finished project and go on to the next learning curve.

On the other hand many regard procrastination as a useful way of identifying what is important to us personally as it is rare to procrastinate when one truly values the task at hand.

Who knows, but some of the psychological implications fit with her memory of her growth experience early on:

procrastination is strongly connected with lack of self-confidence (e.g., low self-efficacy, or learned helplessness) or disliking the task (e.g., boredom and apathy)…

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations.

She had to work very hard to become capable of efficaciousness.

Below are three project that are not so much being procrastinated as are being run interference with by actual paid wages for labor, time stealing activity. Plus the projects are all in design mode. Though some would say the inspiration/perspiration factor is at play and only when Ms. SpoolTeacher realizes that perspiration is 90% of the equation and stops procrastinating will the inspiration see it’s fruition. Money being money and essential to staying in house that allows her to create…well you get the picture. She has to do it. Paid labor.

But still. When there are those slots available for perspiration, what does she do? She fights with The Mouse.

Not all time-wasting activities are created equal.

People who occasionally veer off track with inventive, clearly defined diversions before getting to a necessary chore (like working on a crossword for a half hour before writing a speech) may actually be moving closer to their goal, says Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook (Walker & Company).

So many distractions in a day…focus, focus, focus. Darn those paid wages. They really mess things up. It’s the fun stuff like chasing The Mouse that clear the cobwebs from her mind and help her find the answers floating around her, uncongealed, under-defined.


One of the above projects is (going to be) the prototype for her “instant success” plan. It doesn’t look like much laying there all folded up looking just like fabric, but you just wait.
Haute Handbags

And then there are the Haute Handbags she started as one that became two..Haute Handbags.that are waiting for the right lining fabrics to surface and inspire Ms. ST to fruition.

Haute Handbags

Wackedy Ann and Andy

click to view available ensembles at Spare Shelf on Etsy

Or the Wackedy Ann and Andy ensembles that are many, waiting for something to be done with them…

Or the cut off pants that are becoming a skirt and lace-up leggings…Used to be

What Used To Be

Or the “Scrappy Designer Pillow” that is being made from things that used to be.

That’s the challenge. Which one to complete. Which one to advance. Which new idea to put these all in another pile and start anew.

It’s a challenge alright.

She thinks she’ll watch this video again while she decides. And then she’ll go to bed because ” I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow”, Scarlett O’Hara.

Make yourself smile. Watch this ↓

And then this one below to see how the above video was accomplished:
Very cool.

Do you procrastinate/play/put off till you get inspired?

Well Okee Dokee then.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow…

Rag Doll2The Sun will come out tomorrow, but there will be nothing new under it.

Ms. Jackie of all Trades SpoolTeacher says this all the time. Every time she thinks she has a novel idea, not so much. < Click the image left to see what she means (maybe after you have read the rest of this story).

When she had her Lollipops & Polka Dots Variety Store, she would always be working on a project of some kind while waiting for clients.

She had managed to get her hands on all kinds of fabric remnants that a local Thrift owner was selling from her collected personal stock.

Many moons ago, she had made a 25″ Raggedy Ann doll and “accidentally” gave it as a Christmas gift. She never could figure out what possessed her to do that. She’s wondering now if it was a girl and boy. Time diminishes the pain, but not so much. So she, all these years later, finally got out her pattern and decided to make herself one to keep. After doing so, she remembered why she had waited 30 years to do it again. It is a tremendous labor of love.

Purple-Haired AnniePurple-Haired Annie became the mascot of the store.

Then people started asking “How much are you selling her for?”

Not happening. But she tried to concoct an amount in her head of if she would what would the price be. She didn’t count the time it took her, but she is sure it was over 40 hours. At $10 an hour, $400. She imagined she might get away with $150, but that would mean $3.75/hr not including fabric, stuffing, embroidery floss, love.

So, she got the bright idea to cut “ensembles” out and offer classes or just sell the sets. She cut out body parts as well and marked them separately. Differing colors of skin, so customers could invent their own identity. Build-A-Bear, nothing new under the sun!


The kit she liked the most The kit she liked the most One young high school girl came in to take sewing lessons. It was about her third project that she decided she wanted to tackle an Ann Doll. So, she picked out the kit she liked the most and she and Ms. SpoolTeacher sat side by side for hour upon hour, making their dolls.

The young high school girl was so enamoured with the project, that she took it home to work on her own.

That same young girl took a few sewing lessons and is now making Haute Couture quality items. Totally amazing work she does and is still excited to show Ms. SpoolTeacher her masterpieces. She’s a genius.

IMG_8630High School Student

Ms. SpoolTeacher’s  project was a labor of love for a friend who had a granddaughter going off to College and she wanted to give her something special. How could she refuse. The granddaughter was mixed race Hispanic/Anglo, (is that PC?) So, Ms. ST tried to oblige the theme. BFFsMachita Ann being discovered

Machita Ann's EnsemblePurple-Haired Ann could hardly wait for Machita to become real. Their story of becoming BFFs is told in the “The Spooling of Two Hearts”.

Machita Ann  Machita was adopted. But they remain friends at heart.Dressed and Ready In the Spool Bus going to new home

So, Ms. SpoolTeacher thought she had a novel idea. Not so much. She did end up bringing her operation to her Home Studio and closing that real(ity) shop. She now offers the ensembles (some of them) for sale on Etsy.

Today she was updating a “Treasury List” from which several items had dropped out from/of?. She started searching Etsy for “rag dolls” when she stumbled upon another verification that there is NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN,

    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

    Ecclesiastes 1:9

and that inventing a novel idea is near impossible; but that sounds glass half empty and she is not of that persuasion, so she just tries to tweak the idea to it’s novel-ist best. The doll at the beginning of this post is made one-of-a-kind by this wonderful lady, Shae Bailey who sells them on Etsy. Check her out.

The Spooling of Two Hearts

Spooling Around

In the mean time, Ms. JoaT SpoolTeacher thinks she might win the lotto. That’s a novel idea. Say.

Her mission for Food Security made baby steps, like “the dent that a baby spider makes on the surface of water”, in progress this summer. She thinks she will start taking the advice of Markam Farm’s, Brett L Markham, from his post Planting Nature’s Way where he says, “Nature is pretty savvy. Plants and seeds in the wild just seem to know what to do and when to do it.”

Gigantic CantaloupeAfter all her massive efforts to grow seedlings, transplant, compost, weed……and on and on and on and on…tomatoes failed to set, though the plants thrived, squash got aphids this year, cucks were new but did fair well, pumpkin about six, cantaloupe one giant that she plucked a little too soon…beets nil, pepper, one teeny tiny still struggling to grow up, beans, ( supposed to be easy) all died…clearly not enough to feed herself. But she learned a lot. After all that, when the season started coming to a close, massive amounts of cantaloupe volunteered, a few tomatoes too. What up? Nature. It does it’s best if left to do what it does. We are just stewards and lovers of it.

Yummy Cucumber

…Master of Baby Spooled Shoes 028

Ms. Jackie of all Trades SpoolTeacher (JoaT ST) finished up these little Baby Spooled Shoes by request. She had shown them unfinished on her SpoolTeacher website in the images showing how she makes them. A friend saw them there and wanted them.

spoolteacher.babyshoe factory 109 spoolteacher.babyshoe factory 111

So she set about to complete them. 003 006 010 015 014 016 017

Whenever she puts this many hours into inventing something, she can hardly stand to part with the results. So she takes lots of pictures and studies them for awhile before finally letting them “be adopted”.

They are very tiny and require a great deal of patience and stick-to-i-tive-ness.
She’s not saying that they are:

Too long, slow, or dull: tiresome or monotonous: “a tedious journey”.
tiresome – wearisome – dull – prosy – irksome – weary

She’s just say’n!
(she might be able to make a better living pulling weeds or helping clients pick paint)

gardeninghoer 207

Jackie of all Trades, Master of Baby Spooled Shoes, SpoolTeacher/

a “Diamond-in-the-Rough” Benson, USA

Lauren Hutton built two of these SteelMaster Quonset huts somewhere “West of Texas”. One as her main “get-away” house, the other for guests.
lauren-huttons-kitchen    lauren-huttons-quonset hut
(all images courtesy of SteelMaster steel buildings)
Nice! Clearly, they aren’t your average Quonset Huts. Benson has lots of them around, but this is more like what you will see here.
Benson is a diamond-in-the-rough.

Someone (or something) that has hidden exceptional characteristics and/or future potential, but currently lacks the final touches that would make them (or it) truly stand out from the crowd.The phrase is metaphorical and relates to the fact that naturally occurring diamonds are quite ordinary at first glance, and that their true beauty as jewels is only realized through the cutting and polishing process.
We think of ourselves as a “hub”. Benson is located in close proximity to many other cities in the area, so we know that our visitors will enjoy staying and venturing out from here. There are “101 day-trips” at least.
Spare Shelf knows that there are lots of “diamonds-in-the-rough’s” just waiting to be polished up and displayed for all to see; because the last event, “Christmas on Main” brought out all kinds of artisans and crafters who displayed the fact that there is no end of talent just waiting to be discovered here.
Lots of ideas float around and Benson is always looking to improve. We like the fact that we are a small town where “everybody knows your name”. We know each other.
We have a quaint appeal and just about everywhere you might want to go, if you live here, is within walking distance (at least for those who live in “Benson proper”).
The weather is great and we have lots and lots of people who come from colder climates to spend the winter months.
We did have lots of activity for plumbers this winter, though, with our weather having a couple of hard freezes. Should help some of the plants that need it for fruiting…
Spring is just around the corner and blossoms are showing their efforts to hurry it along.
We’d say that Benson is “SLO City” ‘cept that San Luis Obisbo already claims that moniker. We could say we are “SLOB” city, (Slow Benson), but that might give an entirely wrong impression, (unless you like being a slob, we can accept that =0).
We’re a clean, handy, slow-paced, quaint little town that is just waiting to show off all of it’s facets and the polishing we are doing to make it a Jewel in the Desert.
Spare Shelf intends to be the showcase of all things Hand-Made in Benson. Stay tuned to this channel and Y’all come back now, hear!