Shark-Boy! part 1

I started this post a few weeks ago but wanted to tell you about the Flax study group first. so while the Flax is off at the spa having hydrotherapy treatments lets look back a bit.

I hope you haven’t become bored in my fishy endeavors this summer. (I am looking forward to starting a less wet oriented project once I have this one in hand)

I have decided the Mer’s need a son. However, I want to have him more strongly on the shark side of the family, hammerhead shark to be specific. So back to my notes to adjust the armature sizes from the original measurements suggested by Sarra in her you tube felt along Mermaid.  I reduced the proportions for the body and then considered the extended length of the hammerhead shark body.

 1   14 gauge aluminum wire armature.

   2 Using a second piece of wire to Stabilizing the arms and third for the body.

For this Mer I went with a much more fishy lower body, basing it on the hammerhead shark.  I again did a thorough search of images to find reference shots. Referring back to the diagrams,  photos, and a bit of research I found out there is a difference in fin alinement between adolescent and adult hammerhead sharks.  I extended the body armature, adding fins in appropriate places for a youthful shark.

  3-4 adding a fishy long shark body

I have tried various starting points while felting the Mer’s, this time I started with the head and worked down.

  5-9 Starting at the top and working down

I added wool, by rapping and adding layers of wool, continuing down the body to the first pair of (Pectoral) fins. I secured fiber to the lower back then worked out and back building up the fins and upper part of the shark body.

 10-11 Pectoral fins

Now on to the first Dorsal fin. I created a flat rectangle and felted the center line which will become the front edge of large fin.

 12-13 Dorsal Fin.

The fin armature was rapped with the white wool then the fin cover was added and felted in.

  14 -19 the Dorsal fin and blocking out the shark body

When working It is good to take pictures, not just to have a record of what you have done but also to get a different perspective on your work.  (It’s like holding a painting up to a mirror to help your brain see it more clearly) He is still looking a bit too skinny, he needs a bit of weight training. I am sure I can do something about that.

Yes it rained again. another extra rinse for the fleece. I am still dry under here, so let’s keep having fun!

   20 more rain, shark-boy starts weight training

I started to play around with the transition section and adding a bit more width to the body of the shark parts.

  21-23 transition between Boy and Fish ( i have to make the transition look integrated not like a shark is eating someone feet first)

  24 checking both photos and diagrams

Now to add the Caudal fin, which has a subterminal notch! And yes it rained again.

25 this is a cool tool, it unscrews by turning the nob. be careful not to get one that requires a screwdriver  to undo it from below (it can be painful if you slip)

Pause in the rain, time for a Tomato brake!

   26-28  Haratige, Low acid yellow pair, Sweet i millions

Yes I am still trying to wash and dry fleece so yes it rained again. I guess it needs more rinsing? OK, back to work!

 29-31

Time to add the two Pelvic fins,

  32-33 shape both fins at the same time before adding them

It was still raining but not leaking in the covered dog area which is now my studio, Shark boy is keeping an eye on the weather while I make his fins.

34 will it ever stop with the intermittent rain?

  35 before adding the pelvic fins I need to add the Anal fin, but first checking the location on the diagrams and photos.

    36-37 make 2 so they will be balanced

Adding the pelvic fins between the pectoral and anal fin. As you can see, shark boy did not inherit the vestigial knees found in the rest of the Mer family.

 38-39

Its time to pack up for the day. Tomorrow is the day to restock on Ann’s Tarts and get her impute in how this project is  going.

40 OK more rain.. time to pack up. tomorrow is Butter tart day!! (Saturday)

  41-43 Ann had her New poncho to show me! It looks grate!

The decision on shark boy was to keep working on the intersection between shark and boy. That will be next week but for now its time for butter tarts!!

Posted in 3D, Needle Felting, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Where has all the time gone?

I do not know where time has gone. I remember having time but it seems very elusive at the moment. Most of my time is taken up with preparing things for our farmer’s market. Thursday is cookies and Friday with my husband doing as much as me, are all the fresh baked goods like butter tarts and buttermilk tarts. lemon curd for tarts too and bread. all this is fine but now I am spending the rest of the week making meat pies. Tourtiere and Chicken. selling out as fast as I can make them. Don’t get me wrong, this is all good it just doesn’t leave much time for felting.

To that end, I have only a couple of pictures of my current felt cowl project I was telling you about here: felted cowl part 1

This is making the template. I drew around the finished paper one and then sized it up.

And this is the silk wrapped around it. Is anyone surprised I picked purple?  You can see the line across on the other side. I forgot to take a picture of the other side. I took me forever and many tried to get the silk around it. I was just not wrapping my head around how to do it. Looking at it here I would make the template larger top to bottom and tape it across the middle, around, then around back and across the middle again. I think I was trying to do it like the paper one which has the joined area on the diagonal and the back part strait. This is much easier. I will put in some basting stitches to replace the tape and I can move onto the laying out of fibres. At this rate, it will be a Christmas present to myself.

By the time I got to this point, I was ready to say this will be a one-off experiment because I am not struggling like this for everyone I make. But now seeing it in a picture after several days of throwing evil looks at it on the other table I think it won’t be so hard the second time.

How would you set up for this type of scarf?

 

 

Posted in Design, Experiments, Nuno Felting, Scarves, Uncategorized | Tagged | 13 Comments

Third Quarter Challenge Entry

I have been quandering what to make for the third quarter challenge for some time now. I had thought about making a coat for our new dog Edgar but he is so rough and loves to chew everything, so I wasn’t sure it would last long. I don’t wear wraps, scarves, hats or mittens much so I kept putting it off. But it’s getting down to the wire so I decided I would use my layout and differential shrinkage methods on making a hat. I’m not a hat wearer. I always think that hats make me look silly plus I have a really big head. But up in my closet, I have several hat blocks (from Hat Shapers and Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply – I have no affiliation with either of these companies). I thought I should try using things I have learned in my prior experiments to see if I would enjoy the process of hat making more than I have in the past. Plus I had a suggestion for using my leftover prefelt in a way to look like a brain. Doesn’t this sound like a recipe for disaster?

I started out by laying out two layers of red wool. I did the same layout that created a nice bowl shape here. The inner part of the circle is laid radially and the outer edge is laid around the circumference. Normally when I make a hat, I use a resist. But here I just started with a flat circle of laid out wool. I then added the cut prefelt for the “brain” idea. I covered the prefelt with another two layers of red wool. I then started felting and made sure it was all holding together.

Once the piece was at prefelt stage, I got out the Hat Shapers Shaping Dome. I worked the felt around the circle to get it to shrink and fit the dome shape. Once it was fitting that shape a bit better, I switched to the final Hat Shaper.

This one is called Flanged Brim Cloche. I soon realized that my circle wasn’t big enough and also that my ring of circumferential fiber/wool should have been larger. I worked and worked on getting it to shrink down, but it was done shrinking and very stiff. Perhaps I should have just turned it upside down and called it a dish at that point!

So what to do? I put it on the Frank’s Rush and Cane Supply high dome hat block. I just started playing around with different ways to decrease the circumference where the hat sits on your head. So I ended up with the back looking like a bonnet from Little House on the Prairie (a television show in the 1970’s for those of you who aren’t in the US). But I took a problem and made it into a design feature. I did stitch the back together after the hat was dry to keep the folds in place.

And here it is after I dressed it up with a felt flower that was hanging around the studio. And remember the yellow prefelt? It hardly made much difference in the shape at all. I didn’t double it up like I had in my previous experiments, nor did I stitch it down. So it gave just a small bit of shape and color to the end result. You can see the yellow best in the hat photo from above. And guess what? The hat doesn’t fit me, it’s too small and very shallow so it sits on the top of my head and looks ridiculous. It was so bad, I didn’t even take a photo. You’ll just have to imagine it.  Anybody need a hat?

At least I have an entry for the third quarter challenge and now I remember why I don’t make hats.

 

Posted in 3D, Felted Hats, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Danish Style Shawl

This post is written by Teri Berry, just a little confusion on the publishing so it shows up under my  name. Ruth

Every few months (before Coronavirus blighted our lives) I used to meet with a couple of friends for felting play dates, where we share what we have been working on, discuss ideas for future projects and teach each other new skills. Last month we had our first felting play date for more than 6 months. It was just so lovely to chat woolly gossip while working on our own projects, Janine all but had to throw Nancy and me out of her gorgeous studio at the end of the day!

During our show and tell Janine shared a gorgeous wrap-around shawl she had knitted, it was based on a traditional Danish design that is tied behind your back so you do not need a hand or shawl pin to hold it in place, ingenious!

I took one look at Janine’s shawl and knew I wanted to make a nuno-felt version.

As the pattern of this shawl is symmetrical, it was an ideal candidate for laying out over a resist. Unfortunately I did not have the foresight to measure Janine’s shawl but manage to fudge my calculations based on my own body measurements and created a resist allowing for 50% shrinkage.

I laid out a very pretty piece of blue and pink silk chiffon over both sides of the resist, wetting it so the fabric adhered to the resist and then trimmed the silk to the size of the resist.

Then I laid out 2 layers of merino on each side of the resist, adding a felt rope to each side of the pointed tip before rubbing and rolling until the wool was starting to shrink.

To remove the resist I cut along all of the curved edges, leaving only the straight edge intact.

Some more fulling and trimming later, this is the result:

It is far from perfect, I have a long list of changes to make for the next iteration but this design definitely has possibilities…. coming to an Etsy shop near you before Christmas! (sorry, I know I should not mention the C word this early in the year! 😉 ).

Speaking of shops, another piece of good news is that the Craft Coop in Camberley are hosting a mini exhibition of my work this week (on now until Sunday 20th September), if you are in the area please do pop in, we are in the Square Shopping Centre.

Online Classes

A friendly reminder that registration for the Concertina Hat and Felted Bags classes is now open. This will be your last chance to take these classes this year, please email me ASAP at teri@teriberry.com if you would like to participate.

More information on these classes can be found here:

Happy Felting!

Posted in Wet Felting | 11 Comments

Flax Study Group 2020 –Seed removal PART 2

When we last left off, we had just started rolling the seed heads Cole had removed with his bladed implement and the rakes when Henry returned from his quest. He had gone off to seek grated screens  so we could sieve out the chaff and sand and leave less wast with the seed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

51-53 the sieving begins, There were a lot of screen options and it took a moment to work out the right order.

 

 

 

54-55 The seed fell further than the chaff, the sand fell further than the seed. It was a brilliant idea!

 

 

56-58 Cole tried the rolling method without the pillowcase and then added the squished bits to the sieves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

59-60 The fine sieve got  rid of a lot of the sand

 

61-67 The sieves removed a lot of chaff and sand! What a brilliant idea!

 

 

 

68 Some of the chaff had tiny stones that would not fit through the sieve.

 

 

 

 

  69 We labeled the bags as sieved and unsaved.

70-71 we had a couple of cow supervisors checking our work. We continued to keep an eye on the cleaners in case they went for the bags with chaff and seeds (with a team effort I am sure they would have carried the bags away!!)

 

72-75 Henry moved the flax back to the wagon, we pulled a few bundles for Bernadette to try field retting.  The rest of the flax will be off to the trough to rett. We made sure to take all the bags of seed and chaff with us. (Those cleaners look vary through)

We called it a day and headed home via a couple more stops.

One was at Ann’s to pick up butter tarts and cookies we had pre ordered and see the bulging box of wool bomb from World of Wool!!

 76 best not to open it we will never get it back in the box.

77 Surprise!! You have lambs!! In August!

 

 

 

78 Turkeys!!(Ann’s lawn ornaments stair at you then all talk at once!)

 

 

79 some of her Boys, look at those lovely colour coats!!!! (i hope they get a trim before there off to where ever boy lambs go so you don’t have august lambs.)

 

A last word on the flax

While I get back to felting, Henry and Cathy Louise will give the flax a spa day, two or three submerged in the trough. I am unsure of the name of this particular spa treatment. It dose not seem to be covered in my hydrotherapy notes from school, since we never submerged patents in hydrotherapy using a layer of cinder-blocks to keep them under. Where would you get therapeutic cinder-blocks?

Have fun and happy felting, i will let you know when the flax has emerged from the “spa” and is ready for some heavy tapotement!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The wool arrives , part 2 , the delivery

The wool had to be delivered. I didn’t take my things out first because I thought everyone would want to see mine too. We met at Jans as she is in the middle. See its not that much wool. There is room for lots more in my car.

Before we started Judy brought some interesting wool for Jan to use as witch hair. It is  Scottish Mule. It is a cross between a Sottish Black Face and a Bluefaced Leicester.

The first box had my Finish batts

Jans core wool, shetland prefelt and Fawn Corriedale roving. Can you believe it? Jan took so many pictures and non of her own pile. Here’s a shot of the prefelt.

and then unexpectedly my sample packs were at the very bottom.

They are Bambino and Glitzy sample packs. I will keep one of each and sell the rest.

Then it was time for box 2 We got a few things out of the top

But then it was time to up-end it.

It was fun sorting who had what.

I got some wool called tweed it is South American wool and viscose. I got pink and grey I liked the look of it. I think it would make a nice hat. It was compressed down so I opened it to have a better look. Oh look, there is Jans core wool behind.

Isn’t it cool looking?

Then it started to get windy so we had to get the tent down.

And then it was time for me to head home before it decided to start Raining too.

You can see Jan added a trumpet Vine to my box. It is continuing to add roots in a bucket under the apple tree.

That was our adventure in wool buying, I hope you enjoyed it.

 

 

Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged | 19 Comments

Autumn Online Classes Coming Soon!

Teri and I decided to do another round of online classes this fall. So if you want to learn some new techniques in an easy format, take a look at the choices below. Registration for Teri’s classes opens on September 15 and for my surface design classes, registration will open on September 25. If you want to put your name on the list for any of the classes, just fill out our contact us form with your class preference. We’ll add you to our email list so you will be notified when registration opens with further details.

Felted Concertina Hat with Teri Berry

This four-week, hat making course will initially guide you through the different options for hat blocks (from DIY to the extravagant!) and choosing one to fit. Although this module is technically week 1, Teri will send it out on receipt of payment so you have as much time as possible to make or buy a hat block if you don’t already have one.

Week 2 will focus on making a stylish or quirky concertina hat and will include guidance on how to create a resist for your head size, how to add a felted “pig tail”, creating a brim and forming sharp folds that remain in place. Teri will also describe how she blends colours and make the “silk stripes” used on some of her hats.

In week 3 we will make a super-cute snail hat. This tutorial is a must for anyone who hates rolling! Teri will provide her template for you to enlarge to your hat size.  She will then go on to explain how to make the eyes on stalks and securely attach them to the hat as well as how to create the shell and shape snail’s foot to form a brim for your hat.

Week 4 will be an opportunity to catch up or make another hat, Teri will provide examples of other hats and their template designs that used the concertina method which you are welcome to copy or, if you prefer, she will be very happy to help you design your own hat using this method. The possibilities are almost endless!

Felted Bags with Teri Berry

During this 5 week course you will have the opportunity to make at least 3 bags / purses. In week 1, we will make an animal themed spectacles/phone/pencil case, this could be in the image of your favourite pet or a friend’s pet (they make very thoughtful gifts) or a mythical beast of your own imagination! We will use multiple resists, introduce some nuno felting and make a closure entirely from wool.

In week 2 we will make a small to medium shoulder / hand bag (purse to our US friends), this tutorial will demonstrate how to add internal pockets, a magnetic clasp, adjustable shoulder straps and take shaping the felt to the next level so the bag has a flat bottom and stands up on its own.

The week 3 tutorial is a little more ambitious, we will be making a backpack with adjustable straps, multiple internal compartments and internal pockets.

Weeks 4 and 5 will be for catch up / further development, you might like to apply your own design to a bag, Teri will be on hand to answer any questions and talk through any challenges your design might create.

Embellishing Felt with Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach

Module 1 – Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination

Paper fabric lamination is a technique of essentially gluing paper to sheer fabric in a specific design. It is not a new technique and has been used by fiber artists for a long time. When  I first learned the technique, I wondered how I would use the result. Many artists use paper fabric lamination and layer the results together with stitching and other methods. When I looked at my samples, I saw sheer fabric with a design and thought “Why not try nuno felting with it?” I tried it, it worked, and I loved the results. It was a way to use my own designs and create a piece of nuno felt that was completely different and in my own style.

What you will learn:

What types of sheer fabric work best for paper fabric lamination
What types of paper work best for paper fabric lamination
How to add color to the paper
How to make a print board
All the steps of paper fabric lamination including using a silk screen or a stencil to create your design
How to embellish your felt with small pieces of paper fabric lamination
How to use laminated paper fabric for the base of a larger piece of nuno felt
How to make a laminated paper fabric silk screen (Can be used in Module 2 or for silk screening on your own.)

Module 2 – Experimental Screen Printing on Felt

Have you put off trying to screen print because you thought it was too complicated? This is the course for you then. This course will teach you about a variety of methods of screen printing that are fun and easy although sometimes a bit messy!

 

In week one of the course, you will learn how to make your own silk screen and print board. You will also learn how to thicken acid dyes to use in the screen printing process and how to steam your felt after screen printing. All of these technique mentioned can also be used to screen print fabric such as silk for nuno felting.

In week two, we will be concentrating on the deconstructed screen printing technique. This is a very serendipitous process that yields some exciting results.

In week three, you will learn about a variety of different ways to mask a silk screen to achieve different printing effects. You will be using a variety of temporary masks to create as many unique designs as you can create.

In the final week of the class, you will learn how to use a variety of items from around the house to create one of a kind silk screen patterns on felt.

Module 3 – Printing, Stenciling, and Playing with Thickened Dye on Felt

Learn to make thickened dye and then use it to make designs on felt or silk. Create your own unique designs with stamps, stencils and stuff found around your house. This course will teach you to experiment and play with thickened dye.

What you will learn:

How to make a print board
How to make thickened dye
How to transfer your designs
Choosing what designs are appropriate for stencils and stamps
Creating stencils from a variety of supplies
Cutting and burning stencils
Creating stamps from a variety of supplies
Cutting a linoleum type stamp
Burning a stamp from insulation foam
Looking at items around the house with a new eye for use in creating patterned felt
How to play with thickened dye
How to stamp and stencil with thickened dye on to felt

Module 4 – Machine Stitching on Felt

Machine stitching on felt adds wonderful details and is a simple process. It does take a bit of practice but I can show you ways that make it much simpler.

In week one of the course, you will learn the basics of free motion stitching. I will show you the basic techniques and equipment needed as well as give you lots of practice ideas to improve your skills.

During week two, we will concentrate on machine lace techniques and how to incorporate them into felt making. You will learn to use a hoop in the machine with water soluble fabric.

Week three is all about thread sketching. We’ll start out with easy designs and then progress to how to use water soluble fabric to transfer a design and free hand thread sketching.

The final week is all about experimentation and moving forward with your newly found free motion machine skills. I will show you how to add stitch to a felt painting as well as other ideas in how to use your sewing machine to enhance felt.

If you’ve made it this far, we always have the beginners course available so you can start that at any time.

Wet Felting for Beginners Online Course

Wet Felting – A Step By Step Introduction is an online 3 part beginner’s guide to Wet Felting. This class is for total beginners who have not done any wet felting before. All coursework is online and is not “live” so can be accessed at any time. You can access the class information at any time and the class is open continuously so that you can return at any time to review the information and videos. You will have unlimited access to course information after registering and completing payment so there is no pressure to complete the class on a certain schedule. There are no specific start dates for this class as it can be taken at any time during the year.

Part 1
Learn the basics of wet felting, with step by step instructions for laying out wool tops neatly and evenly; positioning embellishments; wetting, rubbing, rolling and fulling the felt; and how to get neat edges, so that even an absolute beginner should feel confident trying it for the first time. The piece of felt being demonstrated in the instructions is a large piece of felt. It will make a firm, durable piece big enough to make an A5 book cover, or any number of alternative projects. There’s no pressure to make a piece as large though. If you think you will feel comfortable making a smaller piece to start, please do 🙂

Part 2
Learn how to work out shrinkage rates and calculate measurements to account for the shrinkage. There will be a series of exercises to try which demonstrate the kinds of things which affect the way felt shrinks, information which will take some of the mystery out of felting and equip you with important knowledge for success in your future felting endeavors.

Part 3
Learn about the way wool is processed to produce a variety of felting fibres; look at some different felting methods, tools and techniques; and learn some tips for blending wool by hand. There will also be a gallery of felt pieces made from different wool and animal fibres.

Posted in Online Classes | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

What goes into hand dyed yarn?

A few days ago, Ruth had the courtesy of sending me an email reminder about my upcoming blog post (this one). I mentioned I was sparse on ideas, so she suggested I talk about my dyeing process.

This ended up being serendipitous, as yesterday I received a custom order request for a new colourway I launched as part of my new collection. Voilá, I’ve got a blog post!

Now, this isn’t meant as a How To on yarn dyeing, so I shan’t go into too much detail (although, if you’re interested, I’d be happy to write a more in-depth post in the future – let me know in the comments). I will, however, mention a few basic things you definitely need to dye yarn/fibre safely if, like me, you’re using acid dyes:

  • The hardware you use shall be for dyeing only. So don’t use that fancy pot if you’re even thinking of making Sunday roast in it ever again.
  • Always, always wear a respirator mask when handling dyes, especially when in powder form. Dye particles travel far – I’m all for fluorescent green wool but not in one’s lungs.
  • Gloves are a must. You don’t want bright pink fingers for a week (ask me how I know), and you also want to avoid absorbing pigment through your skin.
  • No food or drink near the dyeing station, and you’ll need to clean everything before and after if dyeing in the kitchen.

Ok, so let’s get to the good stuff.

This is the yarn I need to reproduce. It’s called Mossy Moggy (moggies being what we call non-breed specific cats in the UK, do you call them the same in the US?). I needed 3 skeins.

If you want to be able to reproduce colourways in the future, you need good note taking habits. I have a dedicated folder where I keep all my cauldron inventions. If you think you’ll remember how you created something months later, trust me, you won’t.

This is my dye sheet. I leave the space on the upper left corner blank so I can attach a photo of the finished item to jog my memory.

Now on to the dyeing itself. Since I mentioned how important it is to wear a mask, allow me to show you myself in my best Breaking Bad impersonation.

You’ve no idea how hard it was to procure this mask and filters. I needed a new one during the pandemic and everything was sold out. For the life of me, I never thought particulates masks would sell out, but I guess some people want to be extra careful.

There’s plenty of ways to hand dye fibre, and endless techniques. Each will yield different results, and it’s a lot of fun to play around. In this particular case, I’m doing low immersion dyeing: this means I’ll be using just enough water to cover the fibre, on a stovetop.

I’m using a Gastronorm pan, which might look familiar to you if you’ve ever been to a buffet in a restaurant. These are super handy, large enough for up to 6 skeins, sturdy, and fit my electric stove perfectly (over two hobs). There’s several standardised sizes to choose from, this being the largest one.

Mossy Moggy is created by dyeing part of the yarn first, without pre-soaking it first. As it sinks, the first colour gets absorbed gradually and allows for differences in depth. Then I add another colour to the top that has remained undyed, and after it’s all exhausted (meaning all the dye has been taken in by the fibre), it’s time to add sprinkles.

Sprinkling yarn is a favourite activity of mine. Wearing gloves (and donning my respirator), I scatter some dye powder over the yarn here and there. Less is more. The water here is fairly acidic (I use citric acid, you can also use vinegar to get the dye molecules to bind with the fibre) so the sprinkles stay relatively put. I love seeing those little dots of colour.

As I write this, the yarn is cooling down in the pan. I always let the water get cool before I remove the fibre, it allows for more vibrant colours. If I manage to remember to come back to this post before it’s scheduled to publish, I’ll add a photo of the drying skeins.

One interesting thing to remember if you’ve never dyed: colours always look one to two shades deeper whilst wet. If you’re trying to reproduce a certain colour and think it’s spot on in the pot, it’s probably too light.

Once these beauties are done they’ll be heading over to California. I’ll be very excited to see them reach their destination and even more if my client tags me on social media once she starts knitting with them!

Let me know if you have any questions, and if you’d like a more in-depth post on dyeing in the future (and what you’d like to read about the subject). Have a great week.

 

 

Posted in color, fibre, Guest Writer, Knitting, natural wools | 26 Comments

Flax Study Group 2020 –Seed removal Part 1 (from the stocks)

This is the part I missed last year, so was particularly interested in photographing and participating this year.

When we last left off we had had a very hot dry summer, the flax had matured more quickly than anticipated and we harvested early. We considered a second planting but there were a number of health issues in the group this summer so we decided against it. The flax was picked, bundled and stacked along the fence. Once dry, it would be moved inside to await the decapitation. We decided on a date Aug 29th when most of us could attend.

Well, that was the plan, between harvest and getting dry enough to put in the barn there was a distinct change in the weather. All the rain we would have liked earlier arrived now that we had harvested. Thus, the flax took longer to dry than expected and it looks to have started to do a bit of field retting.

1-2 the dried flax

3 3 Aug 29th, 2020 everything is wet but it’s not raining at the moment.

The day arrived for our torture of the Flax and it was overcast and looked like rain. We gathered in the coverall barn while the cows nibbled the stocks of the picked cornfield.

4 4 the cows were only mildly interested at this point

While I waited for the flax to be moved from one barn to the coverall, I admired the corn protection devices. There were a number of beech balls with eyes bobbing away and a cool black kite that went up and down in the breeze. It was fascinating, I think I need one for my garden if it works on chipmunks I might get a few strawberries!!

 

5-6 garden guards

Gord used his pickup to transport the harvest. Even with the stocks being shorter this year, there is a lot of flax! I had nice white new tarps in the car and we spread them out to place the flax on as we slowly worked our way through the pile.

7 7 flax arrival

There was a bucket of seed heads that had fallen off in the other barn which were also collected and brought to the coverall.

88 floor sweepings from storage

We had a number of experiments with seed extraction devices this year.  Last year the pillowcase and rolling pin method was most effective. This year we had that, a fish thwapper and a blank for a baseball bat to crush the seed pods releasing the seeds. We had a funnel to try a different form of winnowing and  Cole had brought a nasty implement with blades. He also re-tried the double rack used also like a hackle that had been suggested but had not been effective last year. This year the rakes were secured together with elastic and Velcro.

The funnel was interesting, it was used to swirl the crushed seed pods and chaff. We expected the seed to fall to the bottom and the chaff to migrate towards the top. While we could see a bit of this happening, we suspected that the seed this year is not as heavy or large as last year’s, so it is not as effective as we had hoped. This may work out very well next year so we will try it again.

9-12 the funnel separator

1313 this years seed are small and light (not just in colour)

The next implement was the fish thwapper.  Its basically like a rolling pin without the handles for hitting fish with. The unsuspecting flax was stuffed headfirst into the pillowcase (a small amount worked better than a large amount). When the flax was well incased in the pillowcase we brought out our weapons of choice, with either the thwapper, bat blank or rolling pins we rolled or beat the now blinded and unsuspecting flax till it was decapitated.

 14-19 rolling and hitting method

All this violence left us with the decapitated stocks, crushed seed heads and a few very tiny light cloured seeds. Most of us were using this method. You can check out Gord’s roller, which is a blank to make a baseball bat!

 20 21 more rolling

2222 Gord was flax-covid-coordinated with his mask matching his pillowcase!

The tarp at the back of the picture has the flax that has not been decapitated yet. The near tarp with the pile closest to the front of the picture is the fibre we had worked on.

2323 making progress

We are still under halfway there but already had a large number of flax stocks, chaff and hopefully some tiny seeds in amongst the chaff.

24 24 Chaff and seed collection

As I said earlier Cole brought a homemade implement to torture the flax with, it had blades set at an angle and he was drawing the flax through. It was working to separate the seed heads but it was taking some of the stock ends with it. It was also vary sharp and a bit scary (even for me).

25-28 blade implement

Next, he tried the two mettle tine racks Velcroed and elasticed together. This had not been effective last year but I had not been there with my handy elastic and Velcro tie downs!

29 29 This method seemed to be less harmful to both the flax and Cole.

30-32 the two rake method

Seedhead removal was very quick compared to the pillowcase method. There was still some stalk damage but not as much as the blades.  if you had to do a full field of flax this would be appealing.

Partway through the morning, I noticed the clean-up crew that Cathy Louise had on call.  One was working the aria under the wheelbarrow and another pair were covering the area where Gord had backed up to unload his pick-up.

 

 33-36 Barn cleaners

We continued working while keeping an eye on the clean-up crew in case they got over-enthusiastic and went for the flax.

37-38 chaff and seed

You can see bits of seeds in with the chaff. There will be a lot of work for the winnowing basket but with the seed so light and small, it too may disappear in the breeze

39 39 We have about 1/3 -ish left to decapitate.

40 40 The finished pile is growing too!

41-44 rolling thwapping and raking continued

4545 We can see a bit of seed

4646 artsy shot

Through the day, we had herd intermittent rain on the roof but this was getting to be waves of heavy downpours. Looking out the cow end of the coverall we could see the rain pelting down.

4747 More Rain!!!

4848 We finally reached the end of the pile!!

All that was left to do was crush the seed heads Cole had been separating. For that, we used the shovel to add the seed head to the pillowcases. Now back to rolling and thumping

4950 49-50

Just as we started the rolling  Henry returned from his quest. I think we should leave that for next week! you will have to wait to see what a brilliant idea he had!

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The Wool is Here!

I needed to order some wool and Jan need some wool, in the hopes of being able to teach again. And… Well….who doesn’t need more wool.  I order a large amount when I order. I was aiming for 20 kg. The shipping gets cheaper if you order more. I picked out what I wanted and Jan picked out what she wanted. We took several days to do this. And then having reached 20kg I realized I had not added in the 5 kg of Corriedale I wanted. Well, that means I need to get 40kg as I am in the next shipping bracket. Add some wool I had only been thinking about and some more dyed fibre and then ask a few others I know with week will power, that might want several kgs of wool, not little retail amounts, I made it up to 40kg.  Hit the order button and hear my bank account shriek. LOL, my spell checker wants to change shriek to shrink. Now we wait. a few days later it was in Indianapolis Indiana in the USA, then Montreal Quebec, then Ottawa Ontario.  whoops, then Indianapolis again.   That does seem right… It’s not, here it is on my doorstep. Yay, wait a min there is only one box.

Her it is Jan took these on Saturday when she dropped by to pick you her goodie order. She was busy doing flax and wouldn’t make it to the market. You can see it is not a square box.

I kept checking but the FedEx site just kept saying it was in transit in Indianapolis. Then the site tried to tell me I had no packages so I called them and after a bit convinced the automated system that I was stupid and needed to speak to a human. He had a hard time finding it but said it was waiting for customs clearance. Hmm, I wonder if they will open it or x-ray it. It was there for several days. And then, at last, it arrived

Well, that’s odd that isn’t a white World of Wool box. I bet they opened it and couldn’t get it back in the box. LOL on them. I have had this happen before but it came with the top open and lots of customs tape over the top to keep everything from falling out. It was quite funny.

The first to open was the white box.

 

I dug down in the white box and it seems to be the batts and prefelt.

 

 

I dug down into the second box about halfway. I put it all back in. I don’t have room to let it expand right now. I have to keep my table clear for baking tomorrow. My table does double duty. It has to be cleaned to do felt and then cleaned to do tarts. I have a rolling stone but I need the room for the tart trays.

As you can see it is not packed to the top so I do think it was repacked into a larger box at customs.

I am pretty sure the white you can see inside is the Corriedale. and partway down I found the packing slip and the nice thankyou postcard you always get in these orders. They are usually on the top.

It all went back in the FedEx box but not into the WOW box

The FedEx still shows the parcel as pending with no delivery estimate. I think their site is broken but if they want to deliver more wool I will be happy to take it.

Monday is a holiday and we will don our masks and meet on Jan’s lawn to sort out all the wool parcels. She is in about the middle of where we all live.  I am sure Jan will take lots of pictures of the happy wool gathering.

 

 

 

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