Sunday, October 29, 2017

Something Fun and just in Time for Halloween

After a little trial and error, well actually a lot of trail and error -- I'll do better next time -- I came up with this nice warm and wooly sheep hood/hat.

Made of Teeswater locks with a Bluefaced Leicester base, wet felted and needle felted. I still need to add a few finishing touches and a closure under the chin, but I like it so far.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Shetland, Shepherd's Harvest and New Sheep!

It's already mid-July and I am so behind! The garden didn't even get planted until July 1st. I hope we have a late frost again this year.
I had a wonderful 11 days in Scotland in May, including 9 days in Shetland at a felting retreat with Fiona Duthie! It was an amazing trip -- such a beautiful, peaceful place.

Fiona had our days all planned out and we had plenty of time for felting in some fabulous places.
We ate so well, learned about the history of Shetland, the land, the art, the sheep, and the people. Each day was better than the one before. I would love to go back!
Colorful door at the Voxner Outdoor Center opens to the beautiful scene above.

Scalloway castle

A Shetland ewe and lamb on the island of Mousa.

Heading back to the ferry after visiting the broche on Mousa. This place felt like heaven to me.

Finishing up our felt sculptures at the Sumburgh Head lighthouse.

Some of the sculptures.

I managed to photograph these two puffins before they flew off. The cliffs at Sumburgh Head are home to thousands of birds.

Uradale farm Shetlands

I was able to purchase four natural colored Shetland fleeces from Uradale Farm. I shipped them home and I've finished one so far. The color is stunning on it. I will felt them all this summer.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my booth at Shepherd's Harvest and/or took my Cobweb Felt Floor lamp class. It's always so much fun reconnecting with people at Shepherd's Harvest!

As you may know, I didn't breed any of my ewes last fall since I was going to Shetland. Instead, I picked out the sweetest little 87.5% Gotland ram lamb from Heidi Quist, of Prairie Willows Farm. He was such a stunner, I couldn't resist. But when Heidi mentioned how great his fleece is turning out I decided I should let her keep him so he could be registered and used to his full potential. I will lease him or his dad this fall. That way I won't have a ram pen to deal with all winter.

So, to get my Gotland lamb fix I picked out Anna, a Gotland/Shetland ewe and her wethered twin brother.  They are both so friendly and well traveled already. They made the trip to Grand Marais and North House Folk School along with their mother during June.

Sid had his knee replaced June 5th. He's doing very well. He still has pain, but he's done with physical therapy and he's getting around better than he has in the past two years.

Oh,and I can't forget to mention the ducklings and turkeys. Our old Kahki Campbell duck hatched out a clutch of 10 ducklings in June. They have grown so fast. Then the Saxony duck hatched out a single duckling two weeks ago. It's so cute to see the little one trekking around with its older brothers and sisters. Thankfully their father is fine with them (some drakes will kill ducklings) and the whole family can be seen strolling about the yard.

Sid ordered 18 heritage breed turkey poults last winter. They arrived the first week of May. We sold 8 of them and kept ten -- five Naragansett and five Bourbon Reds. But when the weather got hot, we lost 4 of them within about 10 days. The surviving six are free ranging with the rest of the poultry now. I love their voices and their cautious ways. 

Next time, more about the felted fleece classes I taught in Grand Marais and here at my studio in July. I'll leave you with this selfie of Sid and I camping in Lake Superior National Forest.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Getting ready for Shepherd's Harvest!

Wow, it's May already and that means Shepherd's Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival is right around the corner!

I will have a booth in Building D again this year -- right next to my neighbor and friend, Denise Morris, of Morris Pottery.  I will be selling my homegrown TeeswaterX raw and washed locks, BFL and Shetland combed top and roving, and maybe a few skirted fleeces.  I will have plenty of felt pelts, a couple felted vests, some ecoprinted nunofelt cowls/scarves, handcrafted soap and lip balm, and a few washable tanned hides.
Sid and I will also have some fiber equipment for sale. Including this nice Swedish 28" four harness Lillstina loom. And it's already warped! SOLD

We also have this single treadle Louet S10 with a jumbo flyer and 5 bobbins (2 jumbo, 3 regular) and built-in Lazy Kate for sale.  SOLD
We've updated it with a new drive band, brake band set, footman connector, and footman to treadle connector. Come and give it a spin! SOLD

The bobbins included are the older style with two ratios, but newer bobbins with three ratios are compatible with this wheel.

On Sunday, May 14th I will be teaching a Cobweb Felt Floor Lampshade class from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We will be using fiber from my ewe, Wanda. She's a Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester cross with lustrous locks. I think there are still a few spaces left in the class. You can find more details and register here.
If you're closer to eastern Wisconsin, I will also be teaching this class at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival on Sunday, September 10th.


I've been experimenting with eco-printing  and nunofelting the lampshades. They can also be gradient dyed, embroidered or beaded as desired. I just love them -- they impart a warm glow to any room.

Yesterday I decided to try making a raw locks collar from one of Wanda's lamb's fleece. It is a Teeswater/Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester. I cringed at the dirty greasy tips, but went ahead and gave it a try.
Thankfully those locks washed up sparkling white and almost all of the VM shook out after it was finished! The little that remained was easily picked out.

Now I feel more comfortable offering it for sale. I have six bags of it on hand and more growing on the hoof!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What's Up for 2017

Well, it's been quite a while since my last post! Things are busy as usual with the sheep, chickens, ducks, quail, cats, and the never-ending task of remodeling the house.

We're making progress on the spiral staircase, flooring, and the kitchen.

I made some Roman shades for the living room and for my studio.
Last week I finally sewed up some cushions for the rattan set I bought at a garage sale in the fall of 2011.
Next, I want to felt and eco-print a covering for another rattan chair and make some Roman shades for our upstairs bedroom solarium windows. That will be a challenge! If anyone has ideas for solarium window shades, please let me know.

My schedule for 2017 is shaping up with felting workshops I am taking and classes I'll be teaching.

I am teaching a new class at Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival on May, 14th and at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival on September 10th. It's a Cobweb Felt Floor Lamp class.

I love these floor lamps! They warm up the atmosphere of any room and they emphasize the beautiful lock structure of long wool fibers. I use my Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester ewe's roving for these lamp coverings. We will be making them in white, but they can be dyed or eco-printed or embellished for more texture and color.

I'm teaching the Raw Felted Fleece class again this year at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN July 8-9th. North House is a beautiful location, right on Lake Superior in an artsy town with lots of fine dining, camping, shopping and fishing opportunities. Sid loves to fish for trout while I'm teaching, so it's a win-win for both of us. The weekend I teach is also the weekend of the Grand Marais Art Colony Art Show, so there will be lots of people in town for that too.

I also teach the Raw Felted Fleece class here in Ogilvie, MN in my outdoor studio. I've got people coming in from various states this spring and summer. If you're interested in this class, drop me an email. I can do individual sessions or groups of 2-6. Four is a good number to have adequate space and time for everyone. There are lakeside cabins available to rent just down the road from our house. They are very affordable if you schedule a session during the week. If you fly into Minneapolis or Duluth, there is a shuttle bus from the airport to Hinckley, MN where I can pick you up. Sid loves to cook, so we have snacks and a nice lunch for students as well as plenty of after class homemade wine or mead to share.

I decided not to breed my ewes last fall because I am taking a trip to Shetland, UK in May this spring. I am studying felting with Fiona Duthie in a 9-day retreat. I am super excited! Ever since I started raising Shetland sheep in 2001, I've wanted to visit Shetland.

Sid will be taking care of the sheep while I'm away. This is the first time in 15 years I haven't had lambing looming over my head in the spring. I feel like I'm playing hooky from school. It's so liberating not to worry about procuring good hay, vaccinating and shearing prior to lambing, keeping watch as the ewes lamb, docking tails and vaccinating the lambs, weaning lambs, and marketing sheep. Whew, there are a lot of things that come with lambing! Also, it's nice to just have one pen of sheep to care for rather than a ram pen, a ewe pen, lambing jugs, etc. So happy I can just relax and enjoy my flock and their wonderful wool!

We had a bit of a scare when I put the wethered ram lambs back in with the ewes. The shearer had used the burdizzo on Wilbur in mid-September, so I waited until January to make sure he was no longer fertile before letting him in with the ewes.

I wasn't too worried about Wilbur's keen interest in the ewes until I noticed they were standing for him. That's when I decided to check his testicles and to my horror, instead of two small shrunken ones, I could only feel one and it was the size of a lemon!

My thoughts were that the crimping hadn't fully crushed the cord and I could have 17 ewes to lamb out in June. Yikes!!! Fortunately, my vet can do ultrasounds on the ewes. So I scheduled a farm visit for 45-60 days after exposure (which was just a few days ago). Thankfully, the sampling of ewes that were ultrasounded appear to be open (not bred). The vet also did an ultrasound of Wilbur's testicle and it appears there is enough scarring to prevent him from being fertile. Yeah!!! 

We can't be 100% sure until June, but if anyone needs a good teaser ram, I will probably have one available. He's a Teeswater, Wensleydale and Bluefaced Leicester with excellent long lustrous locks and a nice personality. And his name is Wilbur.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall and the Midwest Farm and Fiber Festival

The class at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival went well. The fleeces look beautiful!
Sorry I didn't get all the class participants in this photo, some had to leave before it was taken, but I love all the colors and textures represented. Thanks so much to all the ladies for helping out with the tables and clean up.

We had a great space in the milking parlor for the class this year. It was complete with plenty of hot water and floor drains.

Sid and I brought a trailer full of sheep with us to Jefferson.
It was sad to see my Bluefaced Leicester ewes River Oaks Leta and Ruby go, but I'm glad they will be in a breeding flock. I'm also happy that Mystery's little Teeswater/Shetland ram lamb found a good home, he's such a sweetheart. I love the fiber of the Teeswater/Shetland crosses. It's not the long Teeswater-type locks, but it's very soft and I'm finding it spins into a beautiful, springy lustrous yarn.
Speaking of yarn, I was happy to get first place on this 8 oz. skein of natural colored Bluefaced Leicester 2 ply that I spun over the summer at the Isle Farmer's Market. I entered it at the last minute, but so glad I did!

There's always so much to do at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival. I took a Batik Silk scarf class on Saturday morning. I hadn't had time to come up with a design before class, so I winged it with this turtle motif inspired by the baby turtle we found in our driveway the day before we left for Jefferson. I'm excited to keep going with the wax resist technique on silk!

Now it's time to get ready for my booth at the Midwest Farm and Fiber Festival coming up on October 22 at the Isanti County Fairgrounds in Cambridge, MN.

I've been going through all my fiber and shipped out 33 pounds of washed fiber for felting batts, combed top, and roving. I still have a bit more to ship out, but I felt pretty good about having the studio almost devoid of fleeces. Then I had 13 of my Teeswater cross sheep sheared the other day.

Fall fleeces are cleaner than spring fleeces and I have several nice lamb fleeces in the group. I still need to skirt them and decide which ones will be for sale. The heaviest ones are the Teeswater/BFL/Wensleydales and the Teeswater/Bluefaced Leicester/Finns. The Teeswater/BFL/Finns are my favorite, they're so long, soft and lustrous.

Yesterday we said goodbye to Jester, my Teeswater ram, Lucky and Gulliver. Kind of an emotional day. But I'm glad to get my numbers down with several shorn ram lambs scheduled to move on after I grain feed them for a few weeks. Two ewes will be heading out early next month.

I have reaffirmed my decision not to breed any ewes this fall after being rammed pretty hard by Jester. It took two weeks to get over that hit and I'm not getting any younger. That hit and my trip Shetland next spring just seemed to say it's time to skip breeding. I'm looking forward to having more time to work with my fleeces and fiber art rather than lambing, weaning, vaccinating, etc. But I will miss having lambs, it will be the first spring since 2001 without any lambs.
On a brighter note, I found this iris blooming the other day. It was quite a surprise, but I see another one is budding too. I'm going to mark them and see if they flower twice next year. I didn't know there are types of iris that are double bloomers.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival 2016

Teeswater/BFL raw felted fleece.
We're getting ready to head over to Jefferson, WI for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend. I'm teaching a raw felted fleece class there on Sunday, Sept. 11. I bought some new equipment so we shouldn't have any issues with lack of hot water and the ability to spin dry the fleeces after they are fulled.
New 10L portable hot water heater - connects to a hose for instant hot water.
I also got a new Mega Spinner from Laundry Alternative. It holds a lot more than the one I've used for several years now.

If anyone is interested in my old Laundry Alternative spin dryer, it works just fine, but the plastic disk that you place on top of the wet items is broken. I'm asking $45 for it and I can deliver it to WSWF this weekend. These units are really great for spinning out felt artwork, yarn, roving, fleece, locks, and yes, even laundry. :-)
Jester the Teeswater ram was the first one checked and his temp was perfectly normal.
I had the vet out yesterday afternoon for health papers on the sheep I am planning to bring to WSWF.  Unfortunately, it was so hot and humid almost all the sheep were running high temps. Their temperatures just got hotter as the afternoon wore on. So the vet will return tomorrow to recheck their temps in the morning. Yikes, these are going to be some expensive health papers!

I am planning to bring 10 sheep -- if they all fit in the horse trailer. As for ewes, I will bring two registered BFLs  (already spoken for), two beautiful Teeswater cross yearling ewes, and a 2016 Teeswater cross ewe lamb. 
Ewe pen. #158 in upper left.
Ruby's ewe lamb, #158. She's 50% BFL and 47% Teeswater
#158's fleece
For rams, I'm planning to bring Jester and four of his 2016 ram lambs.
 The fleeces on all the Teeswater crosses are fabulous! If you're a spinner or felter and looking to add to your fiber flock, be sure to stop by my pens in the Stock Exchange at the festival this weekend.
Close up of Teeswater/BFL locks on a raw felted fleece
Sid is getting the horse trailer roadworthy today and I'm dyeing cotton gauze for the fleece class. Busy, busy, busy!

I hope to see lots of old and new friends at Jefferson this weekend!