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Snowshoe lacing workshop conducted at Fort Stevenson State Park

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Steve Ilse, Bismarck, was among those learning the correct weave necessary to create a quality snowshoe. Looking on is Lynda Knutsen, a workshop instructor from Middle River, Minnesota.

FORT STEVENSON STATE PARK – It was a hands-on event for feet. An Ojibway Snowshoe Lacing workshop was held here Feb. 1.

“These folks are interested in learning how to lace their own pair of traditional snowshoes,” said Jackie Jacobsen, Coleharbor, one of two instructors for the 12-person workshop.

Indeed, workshop attendees were diligently concentrating on using what they were learning and using that knowledge to properly add lacing to snowshoe frames. The lacing is what supports the snowshoe so that it remains on top of the snow. Lacing must be tight, much like on a good tennis racket.

“It’s a complicated pattern to start but people take off with it once they get going,” said Jacobson.

The lacing was a necessarily slow process and had to be done correctly to produce a good working snowshoe. Most attendees were expected to finish only a single showshoe during the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. event. For many, the complete lacing of the second shoe would have to be finished without benefit of the watchful eye of the instructors.

Lynda Knutsen made the trip from Middle River, Minn., to assist in the class. She was carefully observing those who were lacing snowshoes and offered her assistance when needed.

“I just enjoy meeting people and hanging out,” remarked Knutsen while conversing with a class attendee. “This snowshoe is traditional-style Ojibway. It’s pointed with an upturn curve to the toe. That’s what makes it, not just a big oval or a bear paw. This is definitely for parting the brush.”

One of those lacing up a snowshoe was Steve Ilse of Bismarck. He was concentrating on mastering the lacing technique. Once his snowshoes were completed he intended to put them to good use.

“I’m looking at doing some snowshoeing in the park in Bismarck,” said Ilse. “And I just wanted to make my own.”

While watching several attendees gain confidence in their ability to properly lace up the ash-frames that formed the snowshoes, Jacobsen added, “We have an excellent group. They are very focused.”

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