Blue Boxer Arts: Knit Away Holiday Stress

When Jamie Kyser and Erin Klaus, business partners and friends, moved Tangled Up In Hue from 416 Barstow (the current Blue Boxer Arts location) to 505 Barstow, they had an empty store space that was still under a lease. While considering their options, it occurred to Kyser that she and Klaus had always talked about opening a bead store in Eau Claire. Ever since the one on Water Street closed, they had felt that Eau Claire needed one. And in addition, Yellow Dog Knitting used to be located a couple of doors down, and when that closed, lots of people came into Tangled Up in Hue’s former location asking what happened to the yarn shop, so they knew there was a market for it. And if that wasn’t enough, they had an immense amount of beads from jewelry making, so it seemed like an opportunity to give the idea a shot. So, they opened a bead and yarn shop—Blue Boxer Arts!

 

Blue Boxer Arts follows the same format as Tangled in that they support and offer local products. They have a whole section of the store devoted to local fibers, hand-spun and dyed yarn from local farms where the sheep are raised and sheered, and the wool is processed and spun into yarn. They also have roving, locks, and loose fibers. (Roving is a long narrow bundle of fiber that is mainly used for spinning fibers into yarn. It’s been processed and dyed or can be natural colored.  It can also be used in weaving or needle felting. Locks are actual hair locks from, say, an angora goat or llama, and loose fibers are just that—they have been processed from the animal and can be found in a bag or ball.) In addition, the store carries Plymouth-brand yarns and various others, and they currently offer a large selection of “natural” beads: wood, clay, porcelain, bone, nut, etc., but are expanding to also incorporate stone, glass, crystal, pearl, and more. The store also operates as a collective, meaning they have items on consignment as well.

 

A wide range of classes are available, about two a week. All of them are currently focused on the fiber and jewelry arts, as that is the type of product currently offered in the store. All classes can be found on the website (http://blueboxerarts.com/events.html) or the Facebook page, which has the most up-to-date info. The instructors range from store staff to outside experts and hobbyists, but anyone can come in and apply to teach a class here. If someone has a special skill they would like to share in a class, email blueboxerarts@gmail.com for more info.

 

With the holidays coming up, we all tend to brace ourselves for the accompanying stresses. Knitting or crocheting, however, can be a stress-relieving activity. Kyser believes all forms of creativity can be calming experiences: “I personally crochet (I have knit but am not an avid knitter) and participate in many forms of fiber arts and other crafty avenues. Each of these activities helps to sooth my soul and bring me balance and peace. It’s a way for many to reset from the day or take out frustrations. It makes me feel fulfilled and whole.” If you’re new to knitting and crocheting, don’t fret! As a beginner, and as with learning any new skill, knitting/crocheting can be a chore and may even be frustrating at first. But once the basics are learned and the rhythm is found, the fun starts, and it becomes a new way to cope with stress.

 

According to Kyser, knitting and crocheting can be more than just stress relieving: “I believe, too, that knitting/crocheting can lead to a meditative state. In meditation, the goal is to clear your head of all thoughts and brain chatter. In the act of knitting, and the repetitive nature of it, it can certainly lead to this. In some cases, when following a pattern for instance, you need to count your stitches, switch colors, or change stitches (knit, pearl, etc), and this can require more concentration and thought, and it can also be good to concentrate on something other than work and other stresses of life.”

 

She advises: “The concentration involved with these art forms as well as just keeping your hands busy and the satisfaction of completing a project can all be so good for the soul and help with stress during the holidays and year-round. This time of year it can help you check the gift-giving portion of stress off your list, knowing that you are making something for someone that took time and love and effort.”

 

The benefit of shopping locally is important to both Kyser and Klaus. Kyser notes: “With each step, knitting and crocheting with our products can give you the satisfaction and joy of shopping locally, which is so important in our current climate. The community thrives when local businesses do well.  Because we offer products and services that are locally made/produced, a portion of the money spent in our store goes back into the community, which fuels the local economy, and it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Deep Winter Greenhouse: Extending the Growing Season for Northern Climates

By Nyssa Langlois, Writer & Copy Editor for Farm Table Foundation

As we enter the beginning of fall, many of our regional farmers begin to prepare for a slow, if not nonexistent, growing period. Winters in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota are frequently met with shudders in response to the bitter, dark transition that takes over the landscape. Winter in the north is rarely thought of to be an agriculturally productive time of the year–rural farms become barren, and hearty, local crop supplies become incredibly slim.

Yet there has been a recent introduction to these northern agricultural communities that would allow local farmers to grow a variety of greens and root vegetables year-round. The University of Minnesota has spent the last few years researching the sustainability and productivity of deep winter greenhouses, structures specifically geared toward the northern, blistery winter climates of Minnesota and Wisconsin, to provide produce throughout this harsh time of the year.

Research done by the Department of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Minnesota has indicated there are specific methods to maximizing the productivity of these deep winter greenhouses. By using unique methods to retain and transfer solar energy, the design for these greenhouses allows for optimal growing even during the darkest winter months. These deep winter greenhouses are an ideal way for small farms to continue producing a good share of their root vegetables and greens varieties year-round, as this style of greenhouse is oriented toward plants that don’t require copious exposure to direct sunlight. Turnips, radishes, baby kale, sprouts, Asian greens, and herbs do exceptionally well in this particular environment.

In order to sustain and further research in this endeavor, the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships office has worked with the construction of five deep winter greenhouses at different locations throughout Minnesota: the Organic Consumers Association in Finland, the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Alternative Roots Farm in Madelia, and the Lake City Catholic Worker Farm. The greenhouse in Finland opened in February of this year, and the second installment of the project, located in Bemidji, opened at the end of September.

The Farm Table Foundation is excited for the opportunity to expand its knowledge base on deep winter greenhouses, as finding more economic and sustainable ways to continually produce local, organic food is a top priority of the organization. To keep the community up to date on this new greenhouse practice, the foundation has invited Greg Schweser, the director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Minnesota, to conduct a discussion about deep winter greenhouses at the Farm Table Foundation. Schweser will be addressing the specific design techniques used to create a deep winter greenhouse, as well as the thoughts and energy that go into creating this kind of structure. This discussion will take place on Tuesday, November 14, at 6:00 p.m., and it will be open to the public. Tickets can be procured for $15 at the Farm Table Foundation website under Classes and Events.

Nyssa Langlois studied at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and worked as a program advisor for World Endeavors. Her current positions are copy editor, writer & server extraordinaire for Farm Table Foundation in Amery, Wisconsin.

Intelligent Nutrients: Beauty and Skin Care that Cares about the Planet Too

by Nicole Rechelbacher, co-owner, Intelligent Nutrients 

Learning from Mother Nature is the foundation of the Intelligent Nutrients brand, and our mission is to maintain safety and nutrition within every ingredient we select. Choosing plant-based retinols, AHAs, enzymes, and other sustainably sourced actives with proven results in place of the chemically based norm is in our DNA. The bedrock of our products is active, high performing nontoxic ingredients that support healthy cell development.

Plant-based science is how I was raised. My father (Horst Rechelbacher) instilled a deep appreciation for nature and beauty without sacrificing wellness. He created Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients–his mission was to educate that beauty does not have to come at the cost of your health or the health of our delicate environment.

Kiran Stordalen (co-owner and lifelong partner of Horst) and I are honored to carry his vision and mission forward and excitedly evolve it. New technologies are making it possible to incorporate ingredients that achieve even higher standards of safety for us and for the planet.

Are our products certified organic? Absolutely, we have a wonderful team member whose entire role is to ensure and vet every ingredient to be non-toxic, certified organic, and safe. We work directly with our suppliers and the third-party auditors that confirm our formulas, ingredients, and processes to maintain those standards. More specifically we hold certifications from COSMOS, the international standard for organic and natural cosmetics. We also hold certifications from the Organic Soil Association and are stamped USDA Organic, showing which products are 95 percent or more organic content.

Our formulas are plant based, not petroleum based, and we believe every beauty company should use sustainable ingredients and new science to help take care of our bodies. As a planet, we are clearly depleting our resources. The environment is unstable, and petroleum is not a part of nature’s DNA. So why should you put this on and in your body? The beauty industry, especially in the United States, needs to wake up and shake up how we create sustainable skin and beauty.

Three of Our Best-Selling Products
Our Harmonic® Shampoo and Conditioner has fans worldwide, thanks to its nontoxic, antioxidant-rich formula that removes buildup for a weightless clean. The Minty Destress Express aroma tingles and leaves the scalp balanced and hair clean and light.

For skin care, our Renewal Complex Skin Serum uses 11 percent pure active plant stem cell ingredients for the most potent and active performance. This plant stem cell bioactive science reduces water usage by tons, preserves land for food, is up to 1,000 times more antioxidant potent than conventionally harvested raw materials, and is non-GMO.  We use six types throughout many skin and hair products. Each has specific function to revitalize skin cells, rejuvenate aging skin, restore elasticity, brighten skin, and fuel a healthy hair cycle.

Destress Express™ Hair & Body Oil nourishes hair, scalp, and body while relieving mental and physical stress. Formulated with a therapeutic blend of certified organic essential oils and flavors to soothe, purify, deodorize, condition, and refresh.

We encourage everyone to respect yourself, body and mind, and respect the world around us. Pause, appreciate, meditate, do whatever it takes to preserve our planet.