Wonderful Woolly Holidays – US Wool Giveaway!

We here at The Felting and Fiber Studio would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season. In celebration, we will be hosting several giveaways for your woolly pleasure! To make this a little easier and less expensive on postage, we are doing more than one give away by country. Please make sure and sign up for the correct one depending on where you live.

My friend Paula is the one to thank for all the woolly goodness. She has decided to give away her wool supply as she is no longer doing any felting. She has moved on to other art forms.

So I have piles of mainly wool, mainly merino. Some of it is marked as to what it is and some isn’t. Some has been in plastic bags for a while and may be a bit matted down. But that shouldn’t bother any of you since if you win, it’s free!

Here’s a photo that shows just a very small sample of the wool that we have to give away. I have sent a box to Canada for Ann and Jan to give away and a box to the UK for Lyn and Annie of Rosiepink to give away. We will have three separate giveaways, a US giveaway, a Canada giveaway and a UK giveaway. Please only comment and sign up for the give away if you are in the corresponding country. If your name is drawn and you aren’t in the appropriate country, another name will be drawn.

The first giveaway is for readers in the USA. If you would like to win a padded envelope full of wool and a few other embellishments, please comment below. Tell me what colors you would like to receive (I will keep your color choices in mind while preparing your packet of wool) and what you want to create from the wool. Feel free to spread the word through social media. I will announce three winners in my post next week. The Canada and UK drawings will be in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for those posts.

Please only enter the giveaway if you live in the US. 

Giveaway Guidelines:

  1. Leave a comment on the comment form below. Your comment must be left on today’s post to be eligible to win.
  2. Be sure that your comment has your name on it so there won’t be any misunderstandings of who won.
  3. Make sure that there is an email address associated with your comment. If I can not contact you, it isn’t possible for the prize to be sent to you.
  4. Leave your comment before 4:00 pm mountain standard time on Friday, December 13, 2019. The winners will be announced in my post on Saturday, December 14th.
  5. In your comment, tell us what you would like to create from the wool and what are your favorite colors.
  6. Only residents of the US are eligible for this drawing.
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Autumn is my favourite colour

I know I have said this before, but it is worth saying again :). Every year I am left in awe of the beautiful colours that mother nature brings us each October / November.

While the British deciduous woodlands make my heart sing with their beautiful yellows, oranges and chestnut browns, this year I was lucky enough to visit Japan for the first time and was blown away by the intensity of the golden yellows and crimson maples against the dark green conifers.

The FFS fourth quarter challenge is all about creating a colourscape (which I interpret as creating pleasing combinations of colours). It seemed an obvious step to use some of the photos from this trip as my inspiration, but what to make? Felt can be notoriously difficult to work with when you want to place complementary colours next to each other, by its very nature the fibres (and therefore colours) want to mix and mingle and of course that will lead to muddy browns and greys where the two colours meet.

A few months ago, Fiona Duthie posted a video on how to make a double-walled vessel on her course FB page (it is only open to former students of her online classes). I have been having lots of fun with this technique as it provides an excellent solution to the colour mixing problem.

This is one of the first vases I made following her video, the double-walled technique lends itself very well to placing complementary colours adjacent to each other.

Feeling inspired by the crimson and orange acers (Japanese maples), I set about planning my vessel…

First to choose the colours…. for the inner wall:

And the outer wall:

Laying out the silk and wools:

Silk hankies that will be seen on the inner layer
Wool layout for the inner layers
Wool layout for the outer layers

While felting I couldn’t help but adore the colour transitions from the inside to the outside wall:

I could have cut the leaf shapes from the outer wall free-hand but given how fiddly they are I decided to play it safe and made myself a stencil.

I used water soluble crayons to mark where I wanted to cut the felt (these are really convenient way to mark up damp felt and they wash out easily).

Once the leaf patterns had been cut away I continued to shape the vessel and heal the cut edges, et voila! It’s not quite dry yet but I think you can still get a feel for the colour combinations even though the sheen on the silk can’t be seen yet. What do you think?

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Flax Study Group Part 2

Flax Study Group Part 2

In my Last post, we got up to the pulling of the flax plants, tying them in small bundles and laying them against the fence to dry. But this was not the worst fate for these unsuspecting plants. I was unable to attend this section of the processing but the rest of the group worked hard to Ripple and Winnow the flax.

 

1 aug.7 The flax bundles were moved into the barn out of the rain Aug. 7th

August 10 Most of the flax group got together for a rippling and winnowing party. To Ripple the flax will separate the seed heads from the stocks. The flax from the first part of the harvest should provide the best fibre but the seed will not be as mature. The two sections we left till later should have coarser fibre but better seed viability.

We had a couple suggestions of how to get the seeds separated from the stocks. The use of two rakes did not work out well but Bernadetts’ description of pillow cases and rolling pins had a much better result.

 

Now that the flax stocks have been decapitated it’s time for winnowing. This will remove the chaff from the seeds. The instructions suggested a breeze was required.  After a bit of experimentation it was determined a strong breeze or wind worked well.

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7 winnowing flax sead after winnowing

Success, the seeds remain but almost all the chaff is gone.

There is worse in store for this poor unfortunate plant.  At the end of the day it is thrown into a trough and weighted down with cinder blocks. This will not be a spa treatment or a mob execution.  It will be a retting.

8 Retting

Day 1 Aug 10 the water is the colour of apple juice,

9 retting day 2day 2 Aug 11 the colour of tea, then the retting really starts on Aug 13th.

10 Retting fermentation has started

Tuesday August 13 2019, 10:30 am

11 Retting Aug 13 later afternoon fermentation has startedAugust 13 2019 5 PM

12 Retting Aug 14 Aug 14 th

13 AUg 14 the testing a stockOn Aug. 13 Cathy Louise tested a stock of the retting flax  for separation of the boon from the stock. Some is still sticking to the fiber. so it needs a bit more cooking.

14 Flax layed out to dry after rettingAug 17 All the first batch was removed from the trough and moved to the field to dry.

15 Pulling strands of fiber from the flaxAug 17 the fibre is separating from the flax stalk.

On the Same day the second harvested batch went into the trough in the same water that had been used to rett batch one. There was hope that this would speed up the retting process. It seemed to have changed the colour (the second batch was darker than batch 1)  but I’m not sure if it went faster. The final batch went into fresh water to rett after this batch was out.

16 retting batch 2 aug 17

18 another batch drying aug 21another batch drying in the field

17 finished drying batch 1 and back in the barn Aug 21Batch 1 is now dry and is sent to the barn to await an even more terrible fate but first we had the guild Sale and exhibition in early November. So we took a brief paws.

A quick review: We tore the heads of the flax by stuffing them head-first in pillow cases and crushing them with rolling pins. Then took their severed heads and threw them skyward; letting the chaff separate from the seeds. Then off to a spa experience you would never want to experience. Submersion under cinder blocks until rotting starts. Next they were pulled out and left to dry over uncomfortable sticks in a field. Lastly bundled into the barn where they may be safe.

But wait!  There is more indignity to come for the poor flax plant!  it only gets more violent,  We still have the breaks, skutching and hackles to deal with!!  But I think I better make that part 3, I promise to have videos in the next installment. (And of course lots more violent fun fiber torture! I am sure it will all be worth it in the end!)

Posted in Fiber Preparation, fibre, Other Fibers, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A very small amount of progress.

I am afraid it has been a busy week and I have mostly been working on getting my Christmas card done for the exchange. I will do a nice post about that after my partner has received it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

So really the only thing I have done is finish making the background for my 4th quarter piece.

Next, I downloaded some outline drawings of leaves and copied them randomly onto a piece of wash-away stabilizer. they are are all close-ups. The leaves didn’t show on the overall shot.

I wasn’t sure what sort of thread I would use to stitch these, but the other day I stopped into a craft store and they had what I hope will be just the right thread. Of course, it has gone missing so I can’t take a picture of it. Here’s a picture from the web. It’s the one in the front, red and orange and a bit of green. Surprise…. its called autumn.

Next time I hope to show you some stitching done.

Posted in Challenges, color, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Three Goals in One Project

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from the states. I hope you are enjoying a wonderful day with friends and family.

Last week, my friend Deb told you about her experience with nuno felting. This is the piece that I made during that nuno party.

The plan was to get a nuno felt piece completed at the party. This piece is only about 5″ x 5″ and I planned to get at least one more done but somehow I didn’t manage that. The other two goals were to create a colorscape for the 4th quarter challenge and to use the end result as one of my Level 3 color studies.

So the color scheme is red orange, green and blue. I originally thought I would lay green threads on top and then couch them down. Then I would add some french knots as poppies? But here I go being too literal again. It was just supposed to be a “colorscape”. I needed to keep it simple.

So I found some thin, hand dyed green thread and added it in with running stitch, also called Kantha stitch.

Then I added the red orange thread in Kantha as well. I like how the Kantha mimics the same texture as the nuno felted silk. So here is my colorscape for the 4th quarter challenge which is also going to be part of my homework for class and it was completed at our group meeting. So I managed to get three things off my list in one piece. Yay!

 

Posted in color, hand stitching, Nuno Felting, Stitching | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Colourscape & inspiration from sampling

colourscape

above: Colourscape in felt

I was fascinated by this colourful photo of Chilhuly Glass.  I love the transparency of the glass and the way the overlap gives a secondary, and sometimes tertiary, colour.

Chihuly glass installation at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

But how to achieve that effect with fibres?

My first idea was to try delicate nuno felt so I cut three circles of fabric (2 are silk and 1 is unknown but it’s open weave) and some lengths of 100% wool yarns that I reduced to one ply.

fabrics and wool yarn

I arranged wool on each piece of fabric then overlapped the circles. I was hoping that gentle agitation would make the wool fibres migrate into all the fabrics and hold them together.

fabric and yarn wetted down

Long story short – it wasn’t successful and it would have been a waste of a photo to have shown the resulting mess.  The thin strands of wool were not ‘loose’ enough to work through the silk but the wool on the open weave unknown fabric was ok.  Also there wasn’t enough transparency with the silk.

My second idea was to try cobweb felt.  I fluffed up a small amount of wool fibres …..

puff of fibres

…  wet it down, then added a spiral using just one strand of wool.

fibres and wool yarn

I made two more puffs of fibres in a similar way then placed them down as shown in the photo.  I felted them very gently.

fibres and wool yarns put together pre-felting

When the felt was dry I picked it up and I liked the effect but I wasn’t sure where I was going with it – should I make a see through piece that needed light behind it or a piece to be mounted onto a stretched canvas?

dry cobweb felt

Eventually I decided to make my colourscape using puffs of fibres and one-ply yarn on a thin base of bright white merino fibres so that I could mount the finished piece onto a stretched canvas.

Sampling may look like a lot of effort, but it actually saves time, frustration and materials!

Sampling also inspires new ideas.

I made circular puffs of fibres in different sizes and decided to just use one line of yarn on some, but not all, of the circles.

My colourscape developed during the laying the down of fibres to become the almost finished piece, shown below, that I trimmed with a rotary cutter when dry.

The trimmed felt is 43x28cm (17″ x 11″) … and yes … it really is that bright!

I have a lovely assortment of commercially dyed wools: vivid fuschia, vibrant lilac, canary yellow, bright orange,  spring green, fluorescent pink etc…

…and the puffs of fibres were see-through enough to imitate the effect of layers of glass.

circles laid down and felted

Then it was time for a bit of pencil-end chewing as I still wasn’t sure of where I was going with it.

I knew I had to keep the circles theme so I sketched out several ideas but none really felt right.

So I put the felt to one side and carried on with other things. The next day an idea formed.  I  picked up some cookie cutters, an air erasable pen then I drew circles of two different sizes on the cobweb felt using the cookie cutters as guides. I cut them out, shuffled them about, put them back, and I liked the result!

I secured the circles in place with a single-sided fusible fabric, ironed onto the back, then,  as this piece so lightweight, I simply applied a thin layer of fabric glue to the fabric backing to attach the felt to a stretched canvas.

Below are some close-ups:

circles 1

circles 2

circles 3

circles 4

Anyone else taking up the fourth quarter challenge?  A colourscape really can be anything at all: wall art, clothing, vessels or perhaps a small piece to put on a greetings card.

 

 

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Flax Study Group Part 1

Flax Study Group Part 1

(Sorry. I got to the first part of the harvest and realized this could grow into a book! So i will tell you about the violence and weapons like swords, brakes, hackles and skutching later.)

There are many reasons you might want to join a local guild. There is the comradery of people who are also interested in what you are interested in. There may be access to shared equipment or resources. There may also be the opportunity to join a study group.  The Guild Ann and I belong to is reasonably old by North American standards and reasonably large for a local guild. We have members with interests from spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing to tatting, lace making and naalbinding . We even have at least one (Icelandic) warp weighted loom represented within the membership.  We have socials every Monday nights if we are not having a meeting which happens once a month.  At socials we spin, weave, knit and chat. One of the chats led to the idea to form a study group to grow and process flax. I think that was about a year ago.

28

Pre planting planning:

Cathy Louise offered planting space at her farm and started to research on seeds appropriate for our climate and length of summer. I tracked down books in the library, looked on line for information, and volunteered to photograph the experiment. We had a number of people that expressed interest but not all made it through to the end. We found a particularly good book on growing flax in Canada.  Cathy Louise bought the seeds (we divided the cost amongst the participants; $7.00 Canadian) and prepared a row in her farm garden for the planting to take place.  I think it was 4 feet wide by 40 feet long.

 

We had to wait till the field was dry enough to work (there was flooding again this year as the snow melted)

11

This is April 4, 2019 at Cathy Louise’s field south of Ottawa while most of my garden was still covered in snow.

 

 

Day 1 planting:

22 Cathy Louise Leads Us to the field

The study group arrived on a bright sunny day (May 5 2019) to rake, stake and plant the 3 bags of seeds to start the beginning of the practical part of the study group.

  • density 4 seeds per inch hand scattered

 

Step 1 measure and mark the planting section for the flax.

3-4 Positioning the Flax Plot

Step 2 weed and rake the area of planting. Put up a line to mark the planting area.

 

5-6 Weeding and raking to prepare for the flax seeds

 

Step 3 we had three seed packages so we cut the section into thirds and marked them by a stake.

We planted each section by scattering the seeds by hand. Then raked and tamped them down.

 

 

 

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7-13

14 14 Afterwords,  relaxing with everyone on the deck (there use to be cake)

The end of planting was celebrated by cake on the deck!

Cathy Louise gave progress reports as the seeds became plants on our study group face book page; OVWSG Flax Project. (There was much rejoicing when we saw the little green bits  and they didn’t seem to be weeds!)

(Skip ahead a little)

Weeding party- June 08 2019

  • Checking the amount of growth of the row. Height just over 4 inches?
  • Instructions- if it’s not flax pull it.
  • A quick touch up along the edges (was that implement called a stirrup hoe?
  • visit the very pretty cows
  • Celebrate with cake and ice tea!!

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15- 21 Some of this green is not like the other green so get rid of it! Glenn’s technique is vary relaxing.

22

22 We Work hard evicting and terrorizing weeds.  So we relaxed with Cake and ice tea! it was vary good!

All this took just over an hour and then we celebrated with cake!

Cathy Louise posted updates at the flax grew

23 23

June 22 Cathy Louise Posts update on flax groth

24 24

June 28 updated on flax from Cathy Louise

 

2525

July 7 update from Cathy Louise

26

26July 11   In early July, Strings were added across the flax to help keep it upright before a large rainstorm was forecast (Cathy Louise, Bernadette and Julie did the stringing)

27 27

July 22 the seed heads suggest we should be harvesting soon updated picture from Cathy Louise

First harvest Saturday July 27, 2019 at 10 am. The harvest took an hour to complete.

2828 Flax flower and seed pods

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29 – 39 the Harvesting Teem.  small bundles were pulled and tied with a flax plant to hold the bundle securly. the bundles were staked along the fence rail to dry.

4040 the first part of the harvest is in . look at the weeds that snuck in  among the flax plants.

You can see that we left about 1/4th of the row to continue ripening so it could be used as seed for next year. We split the remaining flax in two more harvests so we could not only have viable seeds but also see how leaving it to grow longer would change the characteristics of the fibre.

To also give comparison we were going to rett most of the fibre in a trough but wanted to also see what effect dew retting would create. To sate our curiosity Bernadette took a few bundles home to dew rett (spreading and lay it out on the grass, turning it to start the rotting of the outer part of the stalk to allow access to the inner fibre)

I will show you more of what happened to the unsuspecting flax plants after they were pulled up by their roots and left to dry by the fence. That will be for next week, or i am sure you will feel like you are reading a book!

 

Posted in fibre, Other Fibers, Spinning, Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments