Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Job, New Shop!

I'm taking a moment from working feverishly on the Shepherd's Harvest booklet and getting all my new hire information submitted (I got new job last week!), to share a photo of the half-space I rented in the newly formed "Anoka Fiber Arts Co-Op", located at 210 2nd Ave. N., Anoka, MN, 55303.  We're in the upper level of the Shepherd's Choice shop.  There are 9 vendors offering lots of luscious fibers, yarn, spinning and weaving equipment, shabby chic, rug hooking, and of course felting. Stop in and see us!

You can see I'm selling my full body mannequin (on a wheeled base), a  60" x 90" 2 pound Ile de France quilt batt, the raw felted Lincoln fleece (3' x 5'), along with roving, top, felting sheets, matted photos, felted scarves, and more.

So I am SUPER busy right now, with the booklet, the shop, and the new job. I'll be glad when things get back to normal. I worked with the Census Bureau in temporary positions in 2009 and 2010 and I'm thrilled to be going back on a permanent part-time basis. :-)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Getting ready for the Vasaloppet Art Show this weekend

A lot has been happening here in my little corner of the world, but I don't seem to have time to blog about much these days.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my pieces for the Vasaloppet Art Show this weekend.  Due to the fabulously warm and snow-deficient winter we've enjoyed, there will be NO VASALOPPET SKI RACE this year.  But the art show goes on regardless.   We have invited Jan Wise to come and speak about the work on display at the show.  All of my entries are pretty autobiographical, but abstract. I hope people will enjoy them.

Here is one I call "Handle with Care".   It's made of hand-felted, hand-dyed wool from my Shetland Mule sheep and a goose egg from the Shetland geese. (I applied a stiffener to make a funnel of felt that stands up on its own.)  The other three pieces I'm showing are a series of framed hanging pieces which incorporate hand felted natural colored wool and paper transfer resist dyed felt with twigs, eggshells, stones and feathers attached.  I will try to photograph them before sealing them up in their frames.  I also hope to donate a felted birdhouse to the Silent Auction which benefits the art organization's scholarship fund.

I know I'm late to the game, but I made yogurt for the first time yesterday! Who knew it was so easy.  It tastes great too.  No more buying little plastic containers of yogurt for me.   I'm straining some of it now to see if I can make it into greek yogurt.  Sorry to see how rusty my strainer is in this photo.
Anyway, it all started the other day when I bought some greek yogurt and wondered why it was so expensive.  My neighbor was over and before you knew it, we were looking up how to make yogurt in Carla Emery's book, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", it seems like no matter what you want to do, she's got the directions in that book.  I bought some whole milk and a small container of plain yogurt to sue as my starter.  I thought incubating in my over-the-range microwave with the light on would keep it close to 110 degrees while the bacteria got started. It was taking a long time, I let it go for 7 hours before I realized the temp was under 100 degrees.  Darn, by then it was almost bedtime.  I got out our old electric heating pad (as mentioned in the book), wrapped it around my quart and pint of yogurt-to-be, and turned it up to high.  Within an hour it was thickened, yeah! I had no idea how thick to let it get, so I put the heating pad on medium and went to bed.  I wanted to be sure to get up in the night and check on it because I didn't want it to get too thick and tart tasting. I managed to drag myself out of bed at 1 A.M. and decided it was thick enough.  So I put it in the fridge and tried to get some decent sleep.

Next time I'll make sure the temp is maintained at 110 degrees, so it should thicken up much faster.  I see by Googling that some people make it in the crock pot too. That sounds easy. Anyway, I put some jam in with it this morning and yummm!

I taught felting to a group of five ladies in late January.  We met at Woodland Cottage in Elk River, MN.  It was a fun but exhausting day.  The all wanted to make something different! I had practiced up by making these felted mittens with Shetland Mule fiber, Finn fiber, and the undercoat from my old livestock guard dog, Schachah (who is now on duty at Sabrina's north of Bemidji, MN).  You can see that Great Pyrenees fiber sheds quite a bit when felted.  But dog fur is supposed to be so much warmer than wool, so I wanted to give it a try.

That same day I whipped up these slippers from black karakul lamb's wool and my white Shetland Mule wool. It was good to get in the studio and work.
Next time I will use black Shetland instead of the black Karakul.  It's a little too hairy for slippers IMO, but it works wonderfully in other projects that need to retain their shape, like birdhouses.

Okay, back to the five ladies, they were all very talented and stuck to their projects. Here is what they made (click to enlarge): a birdhouse, slippers, a wallhanging, and two pieces of decorated flat felt.
And of course there was food and drink after the work was done. :-)

I hope to organize more felting classes here at my studio and at Winnie's Woodland Cottage and perhaps at a log cabin retreat center in Pine City, MN.  I have also lined several up at the Pine Center for the Arts this spring. And I will be teaching lotion making at Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in May too.  It's going to busy that weekend because I'll be judging the felting competition and having a booth too.  I'm not sure how I will get it all done.