Niki Sawyer: A Celebration of the Life of an Extraordinary Woman

Country Crafts

Niki engaged in a wide range of country craft activities, including handspinning, making soap, natural dyes and others. This area is devoted to sharing some of her vast wealth of knowledge.

Niki's Country Kitchen

The kitchen was Niki's central meeting place, comfort zone, and productivity center rolled into one. Niki equipped her kitchen "just so" and always had the means at hand to deal with whatever was on. Here, soap was made, lambs were medicated, wool was hand-picked and washed, roving was dyed, and an endless parade of wonderful food and special goodies were prepared — and countless cups of Niki's special coffee were served during animated conversations at the round table next to the wood stove, while Niki made handspun yarn on "Beulah," her spinning wheel and constant companion.

Niki and Scarlet in 2004 during a break from scissor-shearing

Niki and her beloved Scarlett, taking a break from a micro-shearing session in May, 2004. It took Niki many hours to shear each ewe or ram, using 2-1/2" scissors. She meticulously cleaned, sorted, and bagged every snip of wool, in preparation for producing her special roving.
Niki and BJ Steinman prepare dinner during a kitchen handspinning session

Niki and BJ Steinman prepare dinner during a kitchen handspinning session. Note the two grey/moorit garments in the background; Niki made these using rare Shakerdale wool which she first handspun and then knitted into a long sweater, then into a floor-length, wrap-around cape. She wore these to the barn in winter, even during blizzards — and stayed warm!

Niki Spray

Niki believed most commercially-available cleaners were not well suited to country living. They often contained harmful chemicals and the few decent cleaners tended to be expensive, didn't always work, were hard on hands, or had some other drawback.

So, Niki came up with her own solution, one that got the job done nicely. "Niki Spray" can be used on nearly anything, either full-strength for tough jobs or diluted with water for more moderate tasks. It works on metal, glass, plastic, wood (if diluted). She used it on floors, countertops, vehicles, windows, painted doors, grills, my boat — just about everywhere. It cleans and sterilizes, it's antiseptic, inexpensive, easy to make, and just works great. Here's the formula:

How to Make Niki Spray (1 Quart)

1. 2 cups Ammonia
2. 2 cups Alcohol
3. Large squirt of liquid dish soap

(Note: use gentle dish soap for general cleaning or Murphy's Oil Soap for cleaning wood)

Mix at room temperature in a plastic container. Do not shake; stir slowly and continuously until the liquid soap is completely dissolved. Wash out a "409" spray bottle and fill. Use a permanent black marker and write NS or NIKI SPRAY on the front and sides (so you'll know what it is).

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