Sunday, December 06, 2020

Pandemic Holiday Hygge

No in-person Christmas market this year due to the pandemic. The Covid-19 cases in our county have been skyrocketing. Sid and I try to stick close to home with only trips into town for groceries, feed, and shipping at the post office. 

I've been busy getting ready for the outdoor Julmarknad at the American Swedish Institute. I set up a square shop and have been getting orders. Yesterday morning I was part of a virtual studio tour on Zoom with six other participating artists. 

The fun thing about being part of Julmarknad is thinking of different Christmas items to sell. 

This year I did more of my snowball candles (in soy wax and locally sourced beeswax).

And I used small pieces of imported Gotland skins in my Skinnfell stash to make the cute tomte at the top of this post. They have sold well so far. 


I also made some felted tomte from pieces of my felt pelts. I love the pure white one with the red bell nose.

I put a triplet Icelandic ram lamb in with my ewes this fall. He's been a busy boy. Looking forward to April lambs!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Stress relief Knitting


Thankfully the election is over and we can breathe a little easier now. The stress of the pandemic and the battle for the presidency of the United States left me with a lot of nervous energy and the inability to really concentrate on my creative processes. 

So-o-o-o, I've been knitting these wonderfully easy, but still creative, seed-stitch scarves. 

A couple years ago, I started one based on directions found in the 2002 Winter edition of Spin Off magazine. I finally finished it off in early September this year. But I didn't like the tightness of the cast on edge and the cast off edge. So I ripped them both out and tried several other options. I finally settled on a nice, stretchy bind off and wrote up my own directions. I'm trying to figure out a venue to share them now. 

This is a great project for using up those small skeins of handspun yarn and leftover yarn from other knitting projects. I haven't fulled these scarves, but I might give that a try on one of the longest ones. I will have all my scarves listed in my online shop

Monday, October 26, 2020

Fall 2020 -where did it go?

The summer went by so fast even though we've been staying close to home because of the pandemic. And fall went even faster. We're in the midst of a winter wonderland in October here in Minnesota.

I taught one in-person class up at North House Folk School over the summer, but all the others were cancelled

Sid and I planted a bigger garden and hatched out lots of chicks, turkey poults, quail, and ducklings. We also participated one local art festival at a friend's winery.


And we did the weekly Isle Farmer's Market selling Sid's sourdough, our eggs, my goatmilk soaps, lip balms, and yarns. 

We've had a killing frost, so that's the end of the garden. The tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, birdhouse gourds and squash did fantastic in the old sheep pen. Lots of good fertilizer in there!

I finally got back in my outdoor studio space getting some felted fleeces done in September. We had a bee's nest out there and bumblebees took up residence in Spooky's fleece. I let them have it until after the frost. They didn't do much damage. I love bumble bees.

I was accepted for the American Swedish Institute's Julmarknad again this year. It will be online (people will be directed to my online shop) and I will be sharing an outdoor booth with my friend Sue Flanders the weekend of Dec 13-14 in the courtyard at the Institute. Should be a fun weekend if the weather is nice. 

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. :-)

Pandemic Holiday Hygge

No in-person Christmas market this year due to the pandemic. The Covid-19 cases in our county have been skyrocketing. Sid and I try to stick...