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!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lambs on the Way! And chicks, poults and ducklings.

Well, we will have some lambs after all. And they're due right when I'll be out of town teaching up at North House.
It was a cold and blustery day at the end of February when I was busy preparing for my dad's funeral service, the boys' hay net was empty and frozen to the ground. I thought I could combine the boys with the ewes since it was almost March. I hoped the ewes weren't cycling anymore and I was pretty sure the boys weren't fertile since we had crimped the last of them in October. But after three days of them being together, it was clear that Smokey was cycling and the boys were VERY interested. Sid and I did the rodeo on March 1 getting the boys separated from the girls again and crossed our fingers hoping for the best. But it was pretty clear by mid-May that Smokey was starting to bag up.

Smokey and her 2018 Gotland-cross daughter, Blueberry, on July 7, 2019
I'll be down to 23 sheep tomorrow after bringing four wethers and two non-wethers to the processor. Slowly but surely I'm whittling down the flock to a more manageable size for our limited pasture. It looks like Smokey will have twins, so that is going in the wrong direction. But at least no one else is pregnant.
Llama felt pelt and chair pad.

I was given a llama fleece a couple weeks ago. And I decided to try a felt pelt with it since it was holding together pretty well. I have to say, it felted pretty fast, but there is some shedding of the long fibers. There was a lot of fiber that I skirted away due to VM, but I saved it to comb out. It's very soft llama fiber.

I taught a couple felted fleece classes in the last few weeks. One for Sherry Tenney in Winchester, Maryland and one here at my studio in Ogilvie. It's always fun playing with wool and sudsy water outside on sunny day!

I was able to get four yearling Lincoln Longwool fleeces from Robin of Pirate Sheep Co. I got one done so far. Those locks are so long and lustrous!
And we've had chicks, turkey poults and ducklings hatching like crazy lately. Lots of Crested Cream Legbar chicks which are fun because you can tell males from females at the hatch. And the turkey poults are just so sweet and fun to watch.
Broody Crested Cream Legbar with eggs and chicks.She has 14.

Incubator Cream Legbar chicks and a few turkey poults.
Not to be outdone, the Orpington hen went broody and has 12 barnyard mix chicks too.

The worst part is that we are having a fox problem (we lost 6 hens, four turkey poults, a nest of duck eggs with two broody ducks mauled, all in one day).  So now all the poultry have to be penned up 24/7. I'm trying to keep the two broodies and their babies in the barn during the day, but the Buff Orpington has a habit of flying over fences and going out in the sheep pen. Hopefully she'll stay close to the sheep and the fox won't get her.
Three Pekin ducklings and a Narragansett turkey poult are the latest to hatch.
There's only one egg left in the incubator now. It's a peafowl egg from our friend who raises them. He brought over 13 eggs that weren't being sat on. Seven started to develop, but only one has made it to the end. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will hatch. We'll put it with the littlest turkey poult, who did not like being with those messy ducklings.

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 mad...