Sunday, May 17, 2020

New Orchid blooms, Farmers market, and Felting with Paper

I'm loving this orchid that was given to me a few months ago! Such gorgeous flowers!
I was thrilled with the first blossom.

Mother's Day flowers and four loaves of sourdough bread for the Farmer's Market. Sid also made some whole wheat loaves and whole wheat focaccia. He's all about sourdough these days. Yes, that's a kiddie pool in the background, lots of baby chicks, ducklings, and turkeys hatching around here.
 I've been taking Fiona Duthie's online Felting with Paper class. It's wonderful, she's a great teacher with so much knowledge to share. But the paper I got was different from the usual paper in the brand she recommended. So I fell way behind when it wouldn't perform the same way. Fiona sent me a sheet of her paper and it made all the difference!

The sample on the left was made with the uncooperative paper, the sample on the right is so much nicer made with the correct paper I got from Fiona and black merino wool.
Another sample with white merino wool, permanent ink and cut-out paper shapes.
I experimented felting some spun lace (was a dye blanket in medium printing) and white merino. This combination will make excellent lampshades.

The drake waits while the duck sets on her eggs. He's a lonely guy these days with both the duck hens setting on eggs. 

This little deer was pretty interested in me the other evening when I took a walk.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Still Sheltering in Place and Spring Additions

Sid and I are hanging in there, trying to stay home as much as possible these days. The days are full of all the projects we get ourselves into. Lots to do now that the weather is getting nicer. 

Not sure if I mentioned that I sold my 40" FeltCrafts felt rolling machine in March. I'd had it for 10 years and didn't use it all that much. A friend was in need of a rolling machine for her work with veterans, so I let it go on the spur of the moment.. She loves it and has gotten a lot of use out of it already. But when I decided to make a large project for Fiona Duthie's "Separate Yet Connected" online exhibit, I began to regret that spur-of-the-moment decision. I spent three days in my studio creating a large piece with pre-felt inclusions (photos to come after the exhibit opens). It was then that I really regretted selling my old stand-by.

I saw an ad for the Gentle Roller and a friend's FaceBook post about using hers. And it just so happened that we closed on 20 acres in mid April to settle my dad's estate. So I had the funds and I went for it! I ordered the 48" width with the fulling drum.
It came last week, all the way from China (I ordered it from the designer in Australia).  I've put it together and found a place for it in the front studio. I hope to actually try it out today.

I've done three felt pelts this week for a friend. They were big fleeces. I started off with the 4 pound one above (had to toss half of it out due to excessive VM). Then I did the 6.5 pound one below (I skirted out the entire topline).

And I did the 8 pound monster yesterday. It's still wet in this photo,it will look whiter when dry. Plus I will shake out a lot of the VM. I didn't skirt away the topine after seeing how well the VM shakes out when these fleeces are finished.
I've got one more of my friend's fleeces left; that one will be for me. It's from her ewe named Tina. I did Tina's fleece last year (shown below) and asked if I could have her 2020 fleece.  I'm so excited to make one for myself!

They are wonderfully dense and thick fleeces! Polypay/Clun Forest with a little bit of Icelandic in the mix. I MIGHT breed a few ewes in the fall and I'm thinking I might use an Icelandic ram. But now I am also checking into the Clun Forest breed. 

We've been hatching lots of babies -- quail, turkeys, ducklings, and chicks.
 We have two broody turkeys, two broody chickens, and one broody duck.

And the chickadees have been back checking out the felted birdhouse right outside our upstairs bedroom. Spring is definitely here!

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Staying Home and my First Felt Pelt of 2020

Spring is coming, the crocuses are up and blooming.
The sheep have been shorn.
Roxie getting sheared.
 Thanks to some beautiful weather, the fleeces are all skirted and the first felt pelt of the year has been made.

It's 7 year old Roxie's fleece, she's half BFL and half Finn. I've never been able to do her fleece before because it's always been too dirty or too felted. This was the year and it's so soft and beautiful!

Sid and I have been staying home due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. My youngest son has been staying with us too. He does his work online now that the law school has gone to all online classes.
Shortcakes, sourdough English muffins, and ideas for supper tonight.
Sid has cooked up some fabulous meals and sourdough English muffins and bread, so he's keeping busy with that and with hatching quail. His restaurant customer is closed down now so we have LOTS of coturnix quail eggs on hand. Into the incubator 500 of them went. The babies (and hatching eggs) have been selling like crazy. We meet people on the porch to do the transactions. We've got turkey and duck eggs in the incubator now too. And we have a broody hen out in the barn.

I tried a new-to-me felting technique the other day. I'd had seen Ildi Kolozsi's beautiful pieces on Facebook. She shows photos of the layout of her design in line then how she fills in the elements with colored wool and then adds a backing. So I thought I'd give it try. I made the fatal mistake of using handspun yarn for my outline. It looked great, but it doesn't felt in as quickly as the roving, so next time I will use a thin strip of roving for my outlines.
Here are some photos of my experiment. Lots of changes will be made next time around!
My geometric border mysteriously turned into a goose head, so I went with it.

Filling in the goose with Finn top. Next time use pre-felt shapes?

Adding kettle-dyed batting for the back ground. Then added two layers of grey batting. Nest time 4 layers of backing. Then I wet it down and felted it.

It looked good at the pre-felt stage, but the yarn wasn't adhering. So off it came. Next time thin strips of roving for outlines.

Pre-felt without the yarn border. It looks like a pastel!

Fulled felt, the grey backing came through. Now it needs some detailing and highlights. Maybe I will add the border lines back in now that it's firm. Also, I cut the excess on the right side which caused it to have a thinner, more flared edge. The other side was tucked under. No cutting next time.

Update: I added the outlines back in with needlefelting.

Okay, now I'm off to make some face masks for the family. I have lots of flannel and pretty cotton quilt fabric. The thing that worries me now is Sid says he will have to shave his beard to get a snug fit with the face mask. I'm not sure I want to see him without a beard. I remember the week after Stan and I got married he had to shave off his mustache for meat cutting school down in Pipestone, MN. Holy moly, it was like I was married to a complete stranger! God only knows what Sid will look like without his facial hair. :-)

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!

New Orchid blooms, Farmers market, and Felting with Paper

I'm loving this orchid that was given to me a few months ago! Such gorgeous flowers! I was thrilled with the first blossom. ...