Friday, July 30, 2010

Micron Test Results

While I was gone at the Midwest Felting Symposium the micron test results for my flock arrived.
They contained some surprises and I am actually a little skeptical about some of them.
My finest fleece is from Camille, (F2 Minder with Holly and Roban Dillon in her pedigree), she's my favorite yearling ewe whose staple is 6" long and wavy, it stretches to 7" if pulled taut.  Her results were 20.6 AFD, 6.3 SD, 30.4CV, 88.9 CF.  I am retaining her.

Next finest in my flock was Camille's twin brother, Greyson, last fall his fleece sample microned at 22.6 AFD, but this sample came back at 21.9 AFD, 5.6 SD, 25.6 CV, 91.6 CF.  Greyson sired our 2010 Shetland lamb crop and was put in the freezer this spring along with his shaela half brother, Sebastian, who was my third finest fleece at 23.1 AFD, 4.9 SD, 21.1 CV and 91.1 CF.  
In fourth place was Freya, our solid-sided gulmoget yearling, 23.2 AFD, 6.2 SD, 26.6 CV, 86.0 CF. Freya has good length to her fleece which is why I'm retaining her also.  She's not real tame, but one of these days I'm sure she'll come around.

Her twin Frieda has a shorter staple and came in at 24.2 AFD, 5.7 SD, 23.5  CV and 86.9 CF. I sold Frieda without papers the other night.  

Eleven year old Bramble Cordelia (F1 Minder and dam of Camille and Greyson) came in at 25.8 AFD, 6.0 SD, 23.4 CV and 78.1 CF.  She will be put down this summer and Camille will take her place in our flock.
Cleo was next at 26.6 AFD, and 7.0 SD, 26.1 CV and 71.2 CF. She carries moorit and has side dusting, but I like her longer staple.

Surprisingly our 4 year old twins, microned higher than usual with Hattie at 28.1 AFD and Hannah 29.4 AFD. Hannah had a single last year, so that might have something to do with her uncharacteristcally high numbers.

Leonie had the highest numbers of the Shetlands with an AFD of 29.6, she is double coated and was sold unregistered the other night along with Frieda.

The BFLs have a higher micron count, but their comfort factor is usually higher than the Shetlands. 
Our finest fleeced BFL was our yearling ram, Ward Harwell, 24.6 AFD, 4.2 SD, 17.2 CV and 92.1 CF.
Two year old Leora, out of Beechtree Lanora and Beechtree Granite, was next with 25.1 AFD, 3.7 SD, 14.7 CV and 93.9 CF, then came her mother, Lanora, with 28.5 AFD, 5.1 SD, 17.8 CV and 71.6 CF (this AFD is higher than previous years also).

The natural colored BFL ewes, Rhyn and Rhaya came in at 29.6 and 29.2 AFD, 5.4 and 5.0 SD, and 18.2 and 17.1 CV respectively.

So the flock average continues to improve a little each year, this year it was 26.3 AFD, 5.9 SD, 22.5 CV.  This is in contrast to 2006, the first year I did micron testing, when the average was 27.8 AFD, 7.1 SD, and 25.2 CV.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photos from the Midwest Felting Symposium

I had a great time again this year at the Midwest Felting Symposium in Madison, WI.  The symposium is put on by Susan McFarland of Susan's Fiber Shop.  She had a great line up of instructors form around the world again this year.  The things made in class were wonderful.

I didn't take a class this year which made me a little sad, but at least I was able to go and get inspired by seeing what others are doing by checking out the gallery and the style show on Saturday evening.

Here are some photos from the gallery:
Vilte Kazlauskaite's piece made with raw wool locks.




Here's a fabulous felted fish by Pam McGregor.
I loved this purse by Paige Garber, there was a bird on the other side.
And this wonderful jacket, I can't remember if it was done by Lizzy Houghton or Char Sehmisch from Germany.




And here are photos from the fashion show:
This lady made the top, the bag and the hat in classes she took. I'm pretty sure she dyed the silk scarf also. Nice work!

And check out this dress made and modeled by Vilte Kazlauskaite.  Leslie Sampson was co-emcee of the style show and you can see her in the background on the left wearing a felt coat with a very stunning embellished collar. 
And here is Vilte in another gorgeous dress (above).
A swing coat and hat by Lizzy Houghton (below).
and here's the back view of that coat.  Sorry the photos are so blurry, I couldn't use a flash due to the distance and the models were in constant motion.
And here's a beautiful top on Marlene Gruetner.


I wanted to see the rug stomp as I intend to do something similar at Sticks and Stones Art and Cultural event this fall, but there weren't enough children on hand to make it happen.  Susan graciously gave me instructions on how to do it.  Now I'm just hoping for warm weather that last weekend in September so I can have a successful rug stomp of my own.
One last piece by Vilte Kazlauskaite that was in the gallery.

Friday, July 23, 2010

From Heat, Hay and Humidity to Brunch and the Midwest Felting Symposium

I bought 20 small squares of alfalfa at the auction on Wednesday for the lambs.  We started weaning them on Sunday.  I really didn't want to have to stack hay in the heat, but thankfully a nice young man hopped into the bed of my pickup and helped me load them up. Once at home our hay guy called to say that he was baling the rest of our field. So that meant we'd have to go stack it after Stan got off work since rain was in the that night.
When we got out to the land this is what we found.The baler was really buried, but Randy had gotten every bale off the hayfield.
It was so humid I was sweating like crazy just from walking back to check on the field and the pond. We had 2 1/2 inches of rain over the weekend and the pond keeps getting fuller.













As the guys worked on getting unstuck, I stayed in the shade of the pickup and played around with self portraits in the rear view mirror..














I kind of like the serious look of this one...

After the bigger tractor arrived and pulled the baler out, it was just a matter of time until it pulled the hay rack up to the pole barn and we had to get started unloading the 220 bales. We paced ourselves and drank plenty of water.  We managed to finish up before dark, which was a good thing because there is no electricity over there. This was our view as we left the farm to head for home and a nice cold shower...
I love the big sky views over there. So with the 180 bales from last week, we've now got 400 bales of hay in the barn, I just hope my girls won't be too fussy to eat it this winter.

Yesterday I ran down to St. Paul to pick up my felt rolling machine (more on that in a later post!) and had brunch with my friend Bro (pronounced Brew).  She brought lots of stuff to show me including her sock knitting and she wound up buying the nuno scarf that I had brought to show her. The color looks so good on her.


Now I'm off to the Midwest Felting Symposium in Madison WI this weekend with my friend Nancy Hoerner.  We're not taking any classes this year, just going to see everyone and take in the felt gallery, the fashion show tomorrow night and the shopping. It will be so much fun!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's all in the Presentation



Remember that resist-dyed scarf I wasn't real happy with in my last post? Well, as I looked at the edges I saw some wonderful things going on. I decided to fold it and press it and what difference that made!

I loved it and I wasn't real surprised that it sold today.  I am going to explore that technique some more. 

There was a lot of interest in the nuno felted (laminated) scarves, and I've made plans to teach a nuno felt scarf class on Monday, August 16, from 2-6 p.m. here in Mora.  There is room for 4 more students.  If you're interested in attending, let me know. 





We will be making a scarf like this aqua one... your choice of aqua-green as shown, blue-purple, or red-orange colorway. We'll be using silk gauze and either merino or a blend of my Bluefaced Leicester wool. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I've been Dyeing


I have been have so much fun with my crock pot dyeing and some new (to me) dyes the last couple days. It's a good thing I've got lots of white BFL/Shetland combed top on hand!

Last week I used my old pre-mixed Lanaset dyes for some resist dyeing and I wasn't happy with the lack of intensity of some colors.  Those dyes have been premixed in the cupboard for months, actually probably a over a year.  I will cut up the scarf above and make some smaller embellished pieces with the felt.  That's the cool thing about felt, you can always figure out something to do with it. 


This is a little neck warmer I made in Chad Alice Hagen's class at the Midwest Felting Sympoisum last year.  I think it looks good on my new head.  I'm going to have to set up a background someday.



Anyway, I was thinking it was time to order more dyes.  Especially blue and green.  Then over the weekend I touched base again with a gal who is dealing with health issues and can't do her quilting anymore.  She asked if I could use some Procion dyes and I said sure!  Well I didn't know she was going to gift me with her whole dye kitchen! 



There were jars, sponges, gloves, measuring cups and spoons, face masks, wooden stir sticks and even an apron. Oh, I forgot to mention the dyes and the books on dyeing fabric, the salts and water softener.  I've got lots to studying to do when things settle down around here.

Dorothy, if you're reading this, THANK YOU SO MUCH!



I'm loving the three packets of fabric dye for use in the crock pot. Dorothy had three primary colors and with them I can make just about any color. Here you can see a blend of the red and the turquoise (which is really a blue color).

Below is a purse and matching coin purse that I finally got felted today. I plan to add lining and I think I'll snazz up the flap on the little coin purse. Lots to do before this weekend's festival.

Looking forward to cooler weather.  We got 180 bales so far off the hayfield. I hope there's a least another 300 bales left in the rest of the field.

Oh, the pond is getting more water in it and the corn is looking good.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Summertime!

The 4th of July has come and gone already!  We had an old fashioned 4th with fireworks at dusk, grilling with friend's in the afternoon and attending a small town parade.

The parade was complete with the dairy princesses (all of whom whipped out their squirt guns right after this photo was taken)...

The guy with the trained Border Collie...
And shaking hands with the politicians running for office.  A new one for me was to see a Tea Party float, which was curiously being pulled by a van promoting the Public library.
We were seated at the very beginning of the parade route and lots of candy was tossed our way until the little girls with grass skirts stood next to us after their float finished its route. The whole thing only lasted about half an hour, which was fine by me, I was sweltering in the hot sun.

I've been scouting for bargains again and I snared this dress form and a fancy new head.  It's so cool to finally have a dress form to design on! 

Half our hay is being cut today.  I hope it doesn't rain tonight- there's a 60% chance -- tomorrow's supposed to be dry. We will spend Friday stacking hay over in Ogilvie.  Last year it was a pain to unload all the hay racks onto our trailer and truck then haul them back here to be unloaded again and stacked.  It will be much easier to simply bring home 30-50 bales as needed when cooler temps prevail. 
The market lambs are looking good. We got the other three last week.  The youngest are 9-week-old twins with some pretty long docked tails (pictured on the left in the photo below). 
The Shetland Mule/Ile de France lambs look better than the Dorset/Ile de France crosses.  The Dorset crosses are taller and not as filled out as the Shetland Mules' lambs.  I suppose eventually they will fill out, but the Mules' lambs are great! The 9-week-old twins are out of a mule but sired by a Dorset ram.

I'm not sure how long to keep them here, prices are sure to go down as people start unloading lambs this month and next.  The current price is $1.20-$1.30 pound.  I have lamb customers if I keep them until fall, but it just doesn't seem to make economic sense for me to feed them that long.  If we had tons of pasture here it would be a different story.

This is Camille, a yearling Ag Gulmoget ewe.  Her lamb fleece staple length was 6", but if pulled taut, it's 7".  I guess I won't pull it taut. She's one of my favorite lambs from 2009.  She's going to replace her mother, Bramble Cordelia.



Friday, July 02, 2010

It's Official!

The Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant I wrestled with this past spring has been approved and I will be getting a felt rolling machine from Feltcrafts in CO later this month.  I can hardly wait!  The photo above is from the "Big Check" ceremony the other night. Left to right: Senator Tony Lourey; me; Representative Tim Faust; East Central Arts Council Program Director, Mary Minnick Daniels; East Central Arts Council chair, Amanda Thompson Rundahl; someone very important; and East Central Regional Development Commssion Exectuve Director, Bob Voss.

In addition to buying the felt rolling machine, I will demonstrate felting at fairs this summer, and at the Sticks and Stones Art Event this September the public will help to create prefelts which will be incorporated into a rug that will be displayed in an exhibit of my work on Felt United Day, October 2, 2010.  Whew!  It's going to be a busy summer and fall!  And I'm anxious to get started.

The funding for this grant program comes directly from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. The people of Minnesota voted on November 4, 2008 to approve this amendment which will provide dedicated funding for arts and cultural heritage for 25 years in Minnesota through a small increase the state sales tax.

There were four other individual artist grant recipients in this round, with projects ranging from glass blowing, photography, painting and metal sculpture.  All these projects will infuse life and creativity to the region.  I feel very fortunate to live in an area where funds are available for individual artists' projects as well as organizational arts projects.

Now the big check sits in my kitchen reminding me of the excitement to come this summer.  It's right next to the cool teapot I got yesterday from our good friends, Denise and Paul Morris.  This pot is from 1996 and I can't believe I hadn't snatched it up already.  I love the black and white - and yes, that's a chicken on it!

This activity is funded in part, by a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council with funds provided by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.