Thursday, March 19, 2020

DIY Face Mask - Life in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Well life has changed a LOT since my last post! Schools, restaurants, bars, salons, gyms, churches are closed. We are now staying home and practicing social distancing. Such a difference in the past week when Sid and I celebrated our birthdays by going out to dinner and I did a luncheon presentation for the Sons of Norway. Now people can only get together in groups of 10 or less here in Minnesota. We did attend a St. Patrick's Day party of nine people, but now we are definitely hunkering down at home.

We're lucky to have freezers full of lamb, pork, chicken, duck and quail. And even a little venison thanks to the deer Matt hit last May. We're not so lucky in the toilet paper department though. I don't know why everyone decided to hoard toilet paper. We do have plenty of handmade goat milk soap too. And spring in on the way so we can start some vegetable seeds. I have enough hay to last until July -- I think.

I recently discovered LoveNotions downloadable patterns and started sewing clothes again. I love the fit and the ease of sewing using their patterns. Anyway, I stocked up on knit fabric and made some tops earlier this year. So I was all set when I saw a post on FaceBook this morning for making face masks. Here's the link to the pattern:

I haven't felt the need for using a face mask yet, but if we get sick, we'll definitely need to wear them and they're very scarce, even for the hospitals and medical establishments. Someone on the FaceBook post suggested making a little pocket and sliding in a coffee filter to make them more effective at filtering the air.

Here are some more links for information about the effectiveness of DIY facemasks and what materials work best. We all need to do our part in this pandemic, and hopefully more of us will make it through.

I've got about 30 pounds of washed wool to ship out to Zeilinger's by the end of the month. And I plan to do my taxes.  And hopefully we can get a nice garden in this year. Shearing is scheduled in two days, too.  I will definitely be busy here at home!
Take care everyone and stay home if you can.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Thinking Spring! 2020 Class schedule

The trumpeter swans are back which means spring is right around the corner. And my flowers are blooming -- including my Lady Slipper Orchid!
 Since our master bedroom is like a greenhouse, we've had grape tomatoes all winter.
And I planted some zucchini and cucumbers. They are blooming like crazy up there already.
And with the time change this weekend, the clock in my studio is back to the correct time again. Yay!

I've got a date set with the shearer in less than two weeks. It won't be a minute too soon. The sheep are getting their fleeces dirtier everyday.

I got a new-to-me 2008 EL King Ranch Ford Expedition a couple weeks ago. I just love driving it! We will have no problem pulling our travel trailer with it this summer and it's a very comfortable ride. Not to mention with the extra length it can haul all my stuff when I do a vendor booth or teach a felted fleece class. My Envoy couldn't quite hold it all. And it's got tons of bells and whistles, even the running boards are automatic!

The contacted printed nuno felt tunic class at North House Folk School went well. Each one was unique with the students bringing in a favorite top to use as the basis for their resist pattern. And the colors they chose were fun to see.

And Grand Marais is always so beautiful in the winter. I love the Blue Water Cafe for breakfast and the Voyager Brewing Co. We lucked out with our hotel too. We got 20% off the room for being North House participants PLUS two nights FREE after Sid repaired the toilet in our room. It pays to travel with a handy man!

I've got some new dates set for classes this summer and fall. I will be teaching a smaller version of the felted fleece class. It's easier to do a smaller version because most places don't have the proper facilities for doing the full fleece class. That class requires LOTS and LOTS of hot water, a floor with drainage or an outdoor covered space, a MINIMUM 4 x 4 foot workspace for each student, and temps above 50 degrees. At this point, I'm only teaching the full felted fleece class at North House Folk School (July 23-24, this class is full, but you can join a waiting list) and in my home studio by appointment (see contact info tab).

Thankfully I got a teaching grant from the American Swedish Institute last summer which makes it possible for me to teach the felted fleece technique on a smaller scale to a lot more people. We can work in trays so that means we can work indoors with no worries about the weather being too cold or too windy.  I will be teaching this class at the American Swedish Institute, Mpls, MN on Saturday, July 11 and at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista, MN on Saturday, Oct. 3.

I'm also developing instruction for new, more artistic applications of the process so that people can use it for wall hangings as well as rugs, pillow tops, and chair pads. I will be teaching this version of the class at the Midwest Felting Symposium in DeForest, WI, Aug. 3-5. Be sure to check out link to see all the cool classes that will be offered that week.

Also, I am planning to have a fiber booth and teach something (maybe Tomte, nisse, or gnome and/or Knitting with Longwool Locks) at the newly created Minnesota Fiber Festival in Cambridge, MN on Saturday, Oct. 17. And I plan to teach Knitting with Longwool Locks at the American Swedish Institute in the fall also.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Making Contact Printed Nuno Felt Tunics!

I've been getting ready to teach a Nuno Felt Tunic class this weekend at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN.
I've made some nuno felted medium printed projects in the past in workshops with Olga Kazanskaya. The process was so much fun. I enjoy unrolling the bundles to see how the prints come out. So in this class, students will design their own tunic and then have the option of kettle dyeing it, contact printing it, or medium printing it. Stay tuned for photos of how it all turns out. :-)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Felt Pelts (a.k.a. Humane and Vegetarian Sheepskins)

I had a great time at the American Swedish Institute's annual Christmas Market, Julmarknad, last weekend. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth, the staff at the Swedish Institute for all their help, and all the other vendors who were so kind and supportive. It's a really nice family event complete with photos taken with the coolest Santa ever.
I hope to return again next year with Sue Flanders of Kilns of Flanders. She is the best booth partner!

I sold quite a few of my Felt Pelts, thanks so much to all who purchased one (or two!).  I've posted the ones I have left on a new tab on this blog, Pelts for Sale. I accept PayPal or credit card payments and can ship them out in time for gift giving. The sheep are busily growing more wool and I'm looking forward to doing their fleeces again next spring/summer.

We've had a lot of snow which the sheep don't mind at all. But it's kept Sid and I busy shoveling and plowing. And the cover on the turkey pen is sagging dangerously. I was so involved in Julmarknad, I forgot all about my T-Post/Tarp hoop house since the sheep aren't using this winter and it caved in.

We adopted a kitty that came around in heat. All of our male cats are neutered, but we were surprised that they accepted her. They usually run off any intruders. She was shy and wouldn't let us get near the first time. Then a couple weeks later she was back. This time she ate the food we put out for and even came in the house. When she stayed in the house overnight we figured we had a new cat. So I made her an appointment to be spayed before she came back into heat.
She had her surgery on the 10th and it was then that we found out she had punctures in her spleen. Some of which were still bleeding, so they sutured them up. The poor thing must have had some blunt force trauma to cause those internal injuries and the scratched cornea in her right eye. Now we have to give her eye medication which she hates.
Thanks to our friend Bonnie in California, we have lots of Meyers lemons to enjoy. Yumm!

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Julmarknad! at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis

We got over a foot of snow this weekend, there was a lot of shoveling to do, but it looks like a winter wonderland out there.

The snow comes just in time for the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis' annual Christmas Market (Julmarknad) this weekend. I will be there, sharing a booth with my friend, Sue Flanders (Kilns of Flanders pottery). We had a great time last year and are excited to do it again this year. The weather forecast is good, no snow until late on Sunday. Yes!

I've got over twenty felt pelts to sell. This includes several of my Gotland cross lambs' fleeces and some large Icelandic fleeces, imported Spelsau fleeces with LONG locks, and a huge white Dalesbred fleece.

I've also been making tomtes, goat milk soap, hair conditioner bars, lip balms, and other woolly goodies. Still lots to do to finish up.

If you're in the area, Sue and I would love to see you at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis this weekend, Dec. 7-8. There will be lots of activities and vendors, a bake sale, and of course, the beautiful Turnblad Mansion exhibits to explore.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Classes! Taking and teaching them.

I spent two days this past week at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts attending training for teaching artists through the Minnesota State Arts Board presented by Aroha Philanthropies. The theme was creative aging and how sequential arts programming can be a catalyst for mature (55+) students to re-engage in life and develop social networks. Such an important thing for continued health and living life to the fullest. I learned a lot about incorporating social interaction as an integral part of teaching. I feel lucky to have been able to attend, although driving in rush hour traffic in Minneapolis is not my cup of tea. I love living (and driving) in the country!

This is my new tractor. It was my dad's tractor for many years and now I will have it. I always wanted it. It runs like a top from what I hear. 

I was happy to see the sun shine for a couple days in the last few weeks (after the snow fall).  I took advantage of some nice days to make three Icelandic felt pelts and a large Dalesbred fleece I picked out at the class I taught in Maryland last month.



In late September I taught my felt pelt class again for Sherry Tenney in Maryland.

It's always fun to share the magic of felt pelts and traveling is a great way to meet some very interesting people.
Thanks to the students for the lovely gifts. I love the peach soaps from Georgia! Most of the students in the class had never felted before and had no idea what they were in for, but they were anxious to make another rug on the second day of class.Lots of beautiful rugs were made. The students will continue to full their backing until it shows the strong pebbly texture that is the tell tale marker of a well-felted pelt.

After returning home, I did three respite sessions with area seniors and their helpers through an East Central Regional Arts Council grant written by Lakes and Pines Community Action Council.
We did wet felted pumpkins and eye glass cases. The seniors seemed to be delighted with their projects. 

Next are four sessions with Head Start kids, 3-5 years old.I'm adjusting the project after the first session proved to be too much for the kids and the teacher. :-)  Hopefully by starting out with some pre-felts, the project will match their attention spans better.
We'll stick with the pumpkin theme for Halloween this week, but allow for creative use of colors, etc.

Oh, there is still room in the Raw Felted Fleece Chair Pad or Pillow Top class I am teaching at the Textile Center in Minneapolis on November 9th. Here's a link to sign up if you're interested. I have lots of Cheviot fleeces that will make for some nice cushions, but students can bring their own raw fleece too.

Have a great week everyone!


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Twins for Smokey, hay for winter, peafowl, and classes

Sure enough, Smokey had her twins while I was teaching up in Grand Marais. They are already a month old and still very black.

She delivered without any problems, thankfully. My son, Matt, did a great job getting them settled in. Thanks to my neighbor, Denise, who came over and made sure all the lambing protocols were followed: jug the family; clip (the cords), dip (the navels in iodine), and strip (the wax plus from the teats); and some Karo syrup water and good hay for the new mom.

We got 16 big rounds in the barn yesterday. It feels good.  We're hoping to get another ten. Then we will be good for a whole year.

We are looking into Silvopasture. We have woodlands, not pasture. So we need to convert our woods into pasture, which involves clearing and getting some grass to grow, but still leaving trees. Sid and I are signed up to take a workshop in mid-September. But in the meantime, we've started clearing a bit of land east of our barn.

We hatched a peachick in July, it was so cute.
But fox problems necessitated overcrowding in the chick pen and our precious little peachick died.  We were heartbroken. He was such and intrepid little bugger.  That's him in the foreground above with turkey poults and chicks.

We went out and bought four more, because we were bitten by the peafowl bug. They are shown above at about 4 weeks old. Shortly after we bought them, the friend who gave us the original egg we hatched, gave us 5 more eggs. Four of them are good and due to hatch over Labor Day weekend. So we could have lots of peafowl if all goes well. They are so pretty.

I taught a couple more felted fleeces classes. One at North House Folk School in July and one at the American Swedish Institute last weekend. So fun!

Because I was teaching, I wasn't able to take the Skinnfell class taught by Britt Solheim of Norway and her daughter at the Vesterheim Musem in Decorah, Iowa. However, I was able to take their Making Small Sheepskin Items class. It was great! We made lots of things over four days.

These are stitched and wood block printed on beautiful soft sheepskins tanned in Sweden. I bought two large Gotland skins to work on a large skinnfell at home. Sid and I invested in a desktop CNC machine so we can carve custom wood blocks.
What a nice town and what a great class!
Sid and I camped nearby at the Pulpit Rock Campground.  Such a beautiful setting.

Sid fished for trout while I was in class. They were delicious with some locally grown corn on the cob.
We stopped at Seed Savers on the way home. We definitely need to go back and spend more time there. 

I just found out that I've been accepted to the American Swedish Institute's Julmarknad again this year! I'll be sharing a booth with my potter friend, Sue Flanders. It's time get started on my felted Tomtes!

DIY Face Mask - Life in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Well life has changed a LOT since my last post! Schools, restaurants, bars, salons, gyms, churches are closed. We are now staying home an...