Three sisters joined Betty Dowe for a special rosemaling workshop last week. From left are Marsha Hasseler, Yvonne Wolsmann, Betty Dowe and Jan Jefferson as they take a break from their intensive rosemaling retreat.
Three sisters joined Betty Dowe for a special rosemaling workshop last week. From left are Marsha Hasseler, Yvonne Wolsmann, Betty Dowe and Jan Jefferson as they take a break from their intensive rosemaling retreat.
Last week, Harmony hosted an unusual family gathering when the Gaarder sisters came to town to celebrate their annual special sister time, a time they call "Princess Week."

Each year, for the past 10 years, the four Gaarder sisters have gathered for a number of days to reconnect and to explore shared interests.

This year found three of the four sisters traveling to Harmony to expand the exploration of their Norwegian Heritage through learning more about rosemaling during an intensive two-day class taught by Harmony's own expert rosemaling instructor, Betty Dowe.

Sisters Marsha Hasseler, Jan Jefferson and Yvonne Wolsmann sat down at Betty Dowe's kitchen table for a very personal learning opportunity. Sporting "Uff Da" pins, with no tiaras in sight, the women worked together to master the basic stroke work concepts unique to the art of rosemaling through completion of projects on wood, fabric and glass.

Dowe was thrilled with the unique teaching prospect but also challenged to arrange an experience which would best cover the art of rosemaling in such a intensive time frame.

The Garrder's tradition of holding a "Princess Week" was the brainchild of the youngest sister, Yvonne, and was openly accepted by her sisters. While they have scattered far and wide from their farm roots after graduating from Northwood-Kensett High School in Iowa, they've enjoyed making time for just their sisters each year.

Reminiscent of their 4-H experiences, these sisters gather with open minds, hearts and hands to work together in fun and engaging projects with their times together. Laughter and conversation flows over their busy, creative hands.

Marsha Hasseler, who traveled from upstate New York, said, "Every time we get together I learn new things about our family. Little tidbits...It is so nice to get together."

The other three sisters now live within the Midwest. They like to gather in the region as they can also visit their father, Don Gaarder, who is still living in Northwood.

To continue their week together, the sisters journeyed to Spring Grove to learn more about their Norwegian heritage with a visit with John Storlie at the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center.

To complete their week the sisters visited their fourth sister, Sue Mechem at Clarion, Iowa, as she could not join them earlier.

Before leaving, the sisters stated that they found this area very beautiful and they intended to return.