Alaskans are known as do-it-yourselfers and recently a few new skills were mastered, or at least attempted. Workshops in quilting, making twig furniture and cooking cat and dog food, kept folks busy. Here is a look at two of the workshops held on Oct. 29 and 30.

Two day-long classes were held in twig-furniture making taught by Harvey Van Patten.

The workshop attracted an eclectic mix of craftsmen. Annemarie Hasskamp built a table that she will later add a glass top. Vanessa Sinclair built a child’s chair, so did Cindy Godbey. Jason Tessler built a rocking chair, and Juliene Miles created a bench for her entryway. Each rustic piece is as unique as its builder.

This is the third time Van Patten has come to Skagway to hold weekend workshops.

“Everyone has been working very hard and having fun, and [experiencing] frustration. But mostly having fun,” Van Patten said.

“People take one workshop, and then another about something else, and the winter just breezes by,” he added, as the background was filled with the clambering of hammers and air smelling of sawdust.

At the end of the day, Van Patten quieted the class down for a show and tell. Each attendee told the rest of the class what they had made and why. Some will continue creating more pieces on their own; others were just satisfied with the one they had completed during the course of the workshop.

During another workshop, budding pet-food makers had ground raw meat up to their elbows as they churned healthy ingredients, such as cooked sweet potato and pumpkin, in their mixing bowls.

Carrie Kinnison of Haines taught a dog-food making workshop on a Saturday, and a cat-food making workshop on Sunday at the Presbyterian church. Attendees learned which foods are harmful to pets, which are nutritious and which foods provide natural cures to common ailments.

Both days had five attendees who learned about the importance of a raw food diet for pets.

Kinnison said many pets can’t break down all of the different types of proteins in commercially processed pet food. She said that necessary amino acids get cooked out of the meat.

“People should make their own pet food,” she said. “Veterinarians mean well when they tell people not to feed their pets ‘people food,’ but they don’t explain how important amino acids are. That would take all day.”

Kinnison’s recipes aren’t just raw meat. They contain plenty of vegetables, herbs, teas, seeds, and other ingredients that are easily available.

A few days after the class, Kinnison received some good feedback from those who had attended her workshops. “It’s good that people are doing the right thing for their little carnivores,” she said.

Kinnison runs Klehini Carnivore, a local fresh, pet food delivery service in Haines. For more information go to: