Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Spring Lambs, Classes and Fleeces!

It's been a busy spring. There have been so many things going on that it's been hard to keep up with blog posts.
I'm happy and relieved to report that all my Bluefaced Leicester lambs have arrived safe and sound.  My three ewes (born in 2011 out of Beechtree and Ward lines) are excellent mothers and their fleeces are what makes it all worthwhile. I bred them to Red Oak Mason, who has very fine fleece and has proven his hardiness by making it through one of the worst winters in memory here in Minnesota. He did his job as soon as he got in the breeding pen.

To start things off, Luna had a nice set of twins around 10:30 a.m. on April 5th, a natural colored ewe and a white ram.

Then it was Rita's turn, she was an overachiever again this year, producing another set of triplets very late at night on April 6th. All the triplets are natural colored, two ewes and a ram lamb. I didn't think she looked very big and she maintained very good body condition with this pregnancy, so triplets were a surprise.
They were all good size newborns but the ram lamb is the biggest. He was the first to figure out the nursing thing so he's  really thriving.

Then Leta produced her first set of twins on April 7 around 5 p.m. She has always given me the growthiest single lambs and these two were especially vigorous and anxious to get up and nursing. They are both white, a ram and a ewe. I may have to keep that ewe lamb and name her Lena.

So out of the three 3-yr-old ewes, I've got seven beautiful lambs. No problems with lambing or with mothering. The two triplet ewes are a little slower at latching onto the teat unassisted, so I've supplemented them with a little milk replacer the first day and a half.

Next up is Camille, my Shetland ewe, who is due on April 20th.  And looking suspiciously round in the tummy, but lacking a bag, is little Wanda.  I only know that if Wanda is pregnant, her lamb would be due by April 28th at the latest. It would be a BFL/Wensleydale cross - ooh, just think of the fleece!
Camille on left and Wanda on right.
The shearer was here a week before lambing started.  It was too cold to shear earlier, we still have a lot of snow, but the temps have been mild and it's melting fast. I just hope I can get the sheep out on pasture in May this year. Last year spring was so late!

I took a 5-day felting class with Marjolien Dallinga at the Textile Center in Minneapolis the week prior to shearing. What fun! But I did get pretty stiff and sore from all the layout and the felting and driving 3 hours each day to commute. What a fun group of ladies and what a wonderful teacher! 

Don't ask me what I made, because I couldn't tell you - they're indescribable really.  (You can click on the photo for a larger image.)
My pieces from the workshop. They are works in progress.
Check out Marjolien's website and see her wonderful creations. I'm anxious to incorporate her techniques in my work.

So now I've got to get back down to work. Shepherd's Harvest Festival and the Felted Teapot class with Pam MacGregor  will be coming up all too soon.

I'm also very excited to be attending Fiddle Camp this June. I bought myself a fiddle in August of 2012 and have been working on learning to play it. I find it relaxing, but I'm not sure my dog and cats agree.  There is SO much to learn in playing a fiddle! I took at Bluegrass fiddle workshop with Brian Wicklund on April 5th (right after shearing) and got enough info to keep me busy for months.  I also got to see April Verch in concert the other night in St. Paul. She is an amazing fiddler and dancer!

Oh and I'm really looking forward to teaching Raw Felted Fleeces at the Midwest Felting Symposium in Madison, WI, this summer and Felted Birdhouses at North Country Fiber Fair in Watertwon, SD this September.  My good friend Heather of Woollove Functional Fiber Art will be coming to visit that week too. I'm going to try to schedule a felted bag class with her here in Minnesota that same week.

Lots to do, I'm afraid my day job is getting in the way of my wooly vocation!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dyed Braids, Slipper Class, and Raw Felted Fleeces

Yesterday I dyed 15  braids of my Bluefaced Leicester/Tencel blend roving. I love that blend, it's so soft and makes a very nice lustrous felt. The braids sell well at the Anoka Fiber Works shop too. I will bring all the braids down there tomorrow when I teach my felted slippers class. The class is full, I will post photos of the finished slippers as soon as I can. This should be an interesting class because several of the participants are bringing their own wool.  Should be lots of variety!

Sharrie asked for a photo of the piece I entered in the Textile Center member show.  Here it is - sorry it's not the best photo, took it quickly before sending it off with my son to be delivered to the Textile Center.  It's a shaela gulmoget lamb fleece from River Oaks Mystery.

I took a photo of a raw felted Bluefaced Leicester fleece I made almost three years ago. It's from Ward Harwell. He was a beautiful ram that I had to sell in 2011, but I kept his purebred Bluefaced Leicester daughters and they are the heart of my flock now. They are all excellent, attentive mothers.
I don't use this felted fleece as a rug, it's much too precious to walk on! It's actually a couch throw that I can snuggle up under when I get a bit chilly. I'm so glad to still have this fleece, Harwell was a beautiful ram.  I will be teaching a raw felted fleece class at the Midwest Felting Symposium this year. I'm pretty sure the dates will be Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 & 2. Students can bring their favorite sheep's fleece or purchase a fleece to felt. I hope some of my Shetland breeder friends will have some clean raw fleeces that the students could purchase. Shetland fleeces are great for this project because they are small enough to be manageable when wet and they come in such a wonderful variety of colors and patterns.
One last shot of the sunrise this morning - it was below zero when I did my chores. I'm so glad the sheep don't mind the cold a bit.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Textile Center Members Show

I got brave and entered a piece in this show. It's a raw felted Shetland fleece. I hope I can get down there to see the show.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy holidays

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays with family and friends and staying warm. The weather here in December has been a challenge for me.  I'm sure tempted to become a snowbird next year. 
The other morning I was trudging out to the pole barn to feed the sheep, the temp was in the double digits below zero.  I was thinking how hard this weather is, the constant shoveling, the vehicles that won't start, the tires that go flat, the latches that won't open, etc., etc.  And I looked up to see my sheep leaping like lambs in the sparking white snow with the sun rising in the background. How could I be unhappy after seeing that?

I'm glad the sheep can handle the cold weather so easily. I am down to just 12 sheep now. I have plenty of shelter for them and I should have enough hay to last me until May, so I can breathe a sigh of relief. 

My Bluefaced Leicester ram lamb, Red Oak Mason, has been staying with my neighbor, but I expect he'll be returning soon and then I'll have two pens of sheep again.
The feral barn cat formerly known as Buddy (my barn Buddy), has been staying in my house and is now named Richard Parker after the tiger in The Life of Pi. He's way too uncivilized to stay in the house, but he's very loving and cute, that's him in the photo at the top of this post. Two days ago I called and made an appointment to have him neutered. I knew he knew I was talking about him.  That night he went outside and hasn't come back since. I can only hope that he doesn't come back and I can save some $. 
I gave these felted slippers to my mom for Christmas but they didn't fit her so my sister-in-law was the lucky recipient. They have rabbit fur cuffs and I coated the bottoms with Plasti-Dip so they won't be as slippery to walk in. 
And this little girl finally has a name, she's Wanda, the Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester ewe lamb. She's so small and her wool is so long, I just love her. Of course I love them all, but she's such a cute little thing. She seems to like to stick close to Luna, one of my Bluefaced Leicester ewes. 

One last thing, there are only two spaces left to fill in the teapot class with Pam MacGregor. If you've been considering attending, now is the time to get your deposit in and reserve your spot.  I'm so excited about the felting classes I will be taking and teaching in 2014. Let's hope it's a good year for everyone.

Monday, December 02, 2013


Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone already! I am thankful for my family and my good friends and neighbors. I'm thankful that I have been able to stay in my house and keep my animals so far. I'm not sure how long I will be able to continue this lifestyle.  The high cost of hay and feed makes keeping the animals a lot more challenging. Life goes on and new doors are waiting to be opened.
I am thankful for my healthy sheep flock and for the people who purchased sheep and lambs from me this year. I'm happy to find good homes for them.  I am grateful for my beautiful quartet of Saxony ducks (and all the delicious ducks in the freezer). 
My exhibit at the Cambridge Center for the Arts ended on Nov. 23rd. Thanks everyone who took the time to go and see it. And special thanks to the ladies at CCFA, they were a joy to work with.

I'll be doing some more classes at Anoka Fiber Works, a hat class in December and felted house slippers/boots in January. See their website for specifics and to sign up.

I still have 5 spaces left in the Teapot Class with Pam MacGregor, if you're interested in attending, let me know and I will send you all the details. I've created a page for the class here on the blog so it will be easy to find.

Red Oak Mason, my Bluefaced Leicester ram, came out of the breeding pen yesterday. Lambing will be in April 2014 if all goes as planned. There should be several purebred Bluefaced Leicester lambs, some Shetland Mule lambs (1/2 BFL and 1/2 Shetland), and some 3/4 BFL lambs. 

My sweet little Finn/Shetland lambs got their coats on this weekend. I can't wait to work with their fleeces. But most exciting will be the fleece from this sweet little girl, she's 67% Wensleydale and 33% BFL.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pam MacGregor Teapot Masterclass in Minnesota June, 2014

I am very excited to announce that Pam MacGregor will be coming to Minnesota in June 2014 and she has agreed to teach a 3 day Masterclass focusing on her wonderful teapots.  I've studied with Pam and I know that she is a gifted artist and generous teacher.  You can see from the photos that her work speaks for itself.

Felted Teapot 3 -day Masterclass with none other than Pam MacGregor, 
check out her work at www.tarveycottage.com

Details:  Friday through Sunday, June 6, 7, 8, 2014
Anoka Fiber Works, 4153 Coon Rapids Blvd.,
Coon Rapids, MN 55433  

This special Felted Teapot 3 day masterclass will focus on creating a beautiful, although non-functional, felted tea pot. You will learn how to make a well fitted stopper/top, a sturdy handle and discuss additional elements including how to make and add feet. Each teapot will be unique. There will be time for discussion on the many possibilities and combinations for creating any teapot or vessel.
The rating for this class is intermediate to advanced. Skill in wool layout and working with a resist is mandatory.

About the instructor: Pamela is a retired art teacher, living on a small farm just outside of scenic Grand Rapids, Ohio.  Since her retirement, she has become impassioned with traditional wet felting. She finds traditional felting energizing in it's versatility and the medium pushes her into constant and exciting engineering challenges. Pamela has been teaching felting classes in her studio as well as classes nationally and internationally.  Her work has  been exhibited in international, national, invitational art shows and is in private collections.
Tuition: $275 plus materials,  Class is limited to 12 students.
To register or for further information: contact Becky Utecht at 320-679-4117 or beckyutecht@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Felting classes coming up.

In my last post I forgot to mention that I will be teaching a nunofelt scarf class at Pine Center for the Arts.
If you're in the area and would like to make a scarf for yourself or as a gift, please consider signing up!
For those of you closer to the Twin Cities, I'll also be teaching this class on November 17th at the Anoka Fiber Works, in Coon Rapids MN.

Hmmm, I can't seem to update my 2013 schedule box, so I deleted it and I am posting my fall schedule  here for now.

Ongoing: Anoka Fiber Works Vendor Booth
 4153 Coon Rapids Blvd. , Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Tues. 10-4, Wed. 12-8, Thurs 10-8, Fri, 10-6, Sat. 10-5 and Sun. 12-4
Phone: 763-479-9626

Oct. 19 - Vendor Booth
Cambridge Fiber Fair,
Isanti Co. Fairgrounds, Cambridge, MN

Oct. 24 - Nunofelt Scarf Class

 Pine Center for the Arts, 6-9 p.m.

Oct. 24 - Nov 23 - Glass & Fiber Exhibit with Tony Michaud Scorza

Cambridge Center for the ArtsArtists' reception, Oct. 25, 4-8 p.m.

Oct 27 - Felted Birdhouse (or Pumpkin!) Class

Anoka Fiber Works
Nov. 16 - Introduction to Felting

Art Saturdays, 2 hour afternoon class at the Kanabec History Center, Mora, MN. Pre-register with Lauri at 76three-22four-23one nine
Nov. 17 - Nunofelt Scarf Class
Anoka Fiber Works