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.


  1. Fabulous looking projects, Becky. I did finally manage to get both of your girls into the barn to be with my Fluffer for lambs this spring. It will be nearly summer before Cleo is ready, but I am in no hurry. I have only four girls in with the two rams, and they will be due about a month apart.

  2. Hey, Sharrie, I was just thinking about you and Darla and Cleo the other day as I was figuring the farm income for 2011. It was all such a blur selling so many sheep. I'm glad you got them exposed to a ram, I'll look forward to seeing what you get from them. My three Shetland ewes are due to lamb in late March and then I'll have the four BFL yearlings lambing in late May-early June. I really shouldn't have let the ram in with them and the two Shetland ewe lambs on Christmas Eve day... oh well, here's hoping at least some of them didn't take.

  3. Becky--What great projects this post! You sound SO busy...and happy. I'm glad.
    Are you very far from Minneapolis? I am taking a short trip to see my daughter, and I wanted to make sure that I at least checked whether you were 'right down the road' or not! :)

  4. Oh Heather, you're coming to Minnesota? Cool! I'm about 65 miles north of Minneapolis. When are you coming? I just signed up to rent a space in a shop in Anoka, MN, which is much closer to Minneapolis. I could meet you down there, or anywhere in the Twin Cities if you'd rather not come all the way up to Mora. I would LOVE to meet you!

  5. Becky--YAY!!!
    Please send me your e-mail address when you get a minute, and we'll discuss all of the details.
    I would need you to come to MN, if that's possible, but it would mean SO much to me to get to finally meet you in person!!! woollove-fiberart(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. Awesome as usual Becky! Those slippers rock! :)

  7. Great mittens and slippers! Love, Alexandra.


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