A competition win, Downton Abbey, the Sewing Bee and a super cool party

A competition win, Downton Abbey, the Sewing Bee and a super cool party

I recently won something!  As a person who hasn’t won a raffle since I was 6 years of age this was an exciting development and might finally encourage me to buy a lottery ticket.  My prize was two tickets to a birthday party.  Fatale Events, a super cool Irish events company were celebrating their 10th birthday with a big party.  The first part was a screening of the 1970’s film Cabaret which was followed by dancing until the wee hours of the morning.  The dress code was in the period of the film (early 1930s).

Like Cinderella, I had nothing to wear and, as the Fairy Godmother is away on extended holidays, it was time to don the thinking cap and start creating.  To be perfectly honest I have been going through a really dry period creatively so I was glad of the challenge.

So it was time to head online to check out the fashions of the time.  The brief stipulated “flapper”.  Now, I will readily admit that I am no spring chicken so the gorgeous pieces I saw online would have to be toned down a bit.  Think Downton Abbey, now visualise somewhere between Cora and Violet Crawley (though to be fair,  maybe closer to Cora!).  Anyway the fashions of the time were a bit ‘matchy matchy’ which made the job a lot easier.  Flapper dresses were unstructured, sometimes with a fuller skirt.  I visualised a longer style, a bit above the ankle.

Next, a pattern.  There was no time to source a vintage one (which would have needed adjusting anyway).  I found an unstructured dress in one of my books from an early series of The Great British Sewing Bee.

Recommended fabric for this dress was silk but since this was a ‘costume’ I was ready to break rules.  As an aside, I sometimes design and make for the stage.   I felt that I could do a hacking job on this pattern so the first step was to trace it.  A bit of a challenge as, while the book offers lots of great patterns, they are all drawn on a few pages rather than individually.

I measured to just the top of my legs and made this the cut off point on the pattern as I was going to add a full skirt.  Once I traced the pattern from the book, I adjusted the front to form a deep V shape and drew a corresponding V pattern piece.  I also made the corresponding adjustments to the neck facings.

Then, having calculated my fabric requirements I headed off to make the purchase.  I chose a stretch velour because it was cheap and this dress was a one-wear costume.  The colours were chosen to tie in with a gorgeous jewelled appliqué that I bought a number of years ago.  They were also colours which fitted in with the period represented by the dress.

Then it was time to get cutting, making sure that all pieces were laid in the same direction. (The velour is like velvet in that it is different shades depending on the direction it is viewed from).

Once the bodice was cut out I sewed the two fronts together and then top stitched the seam.  I used a zigzag stitch on the seams throughout.  Then I got to work on the V front.  I was a bit nervous as this was my first godet but it worked, even though I was working with stretch material!

I then sewed the back together and also topstitched it.  The pattern top had a yoke and, as I don’t believe in making life easy for myself, I decided to insert a co-ordinating piping in the front and back shoulder seams using the gold fabric.   I felt that this would add stability to a stretchy fabric.   I cut the strips on the grain where there was no stretch and prepared the piping by sewing cord into the strips.  Then I attached to the yoke.

I then sewed the yoke to the main bodice.  Next, I added a light interlining to the neck facing and attached it to the bodice. I then cut two strips of the gold material and added it to the sleeve area to give some colour balance to the bodice.  At this point I sewed the front to the back and hemmed the sleeves.

Once this was done I was able to decide on the length I wanted the dress to be.  So, having measured this and allowing for seam and hem, I cut two widths of the green fabric which I sewed together.  I then decided to hem it before sewing it on to the bodice as I reckoned that there was enough fabric to negate any slight deviation that might occur in the hem length (plus the dress was going to be worn in a dark club).  I then gathered it having divided the skirt into four sections so that I could control the gathers a bit better when attaching the skirt to the bodice.

Once that was completed, I sewed the appliqué onto the front.  This was a bit of a challenge to get straight but I got there in the end.


And here it is!

The dress felt great on but I was missing accessories.  So I felted a hat.  I called upon my youngest son, Cian to pick out merino wool fibre colours which would blend with the dress.  He did not disappoint.  I made a cloche hat, then added two bands of the green and gold velour to pull the outfit together.

I had made a bag some time ago in a mustard colour Corriedale fibre which finished off this ‘matchy  matchy’ theme.


I popped on my brown buckled shoes, feeling very pleased that, despite not wearing them too often, I had decided to keep them rather than send them to a charity shop.

The night was tremendous and great fun.  Happy birthday Film Fatale!  I wish you many more years of cool events and spreading happiness.  Thanks for a great evening!

Felted rug

Felted rug

This is a wet felted rug with archaic motif from Turkmenistan. It was a long process, about 1 weeks work. First I started on bubble wrap with design (wet pencil roving), then I filled with coloured wool and then on the top I put it 3 layers of wool. With rolling technique I finished the rug.

More signs of getting back to normal; in-person socials week 1 and 2

More signs of getting back to normal; in-person socials week 1 and 2

As you saw last post, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild is starting to do some of our per-pandemic activities. We have had our first Demo since 2019, we are starting to organize in person workshops, the guilds library is back to having members borrowing in-person and we have had our first two socials in-person at the guild studio. This last is the topic i would like to chat about with you today.

Before the pandemic struck, we use to meet on Mondays (once a month for the guild meeting and we had socials in the studio on the rest). When the plague struck it took us a bit of a learning curve to transition to using Zoom for both meetings and then socials. The library was unable to Zoom. So, when there was no shutdown, we collected requests, pulled, bagged and had books ready for picked up and dropped off at an external door near the studio. (A bit more work for the librarians but it kept the books circulating.)

We tried a number of things to keep the guild active and connected during the pandemic. I started weekly posting of old photos going back to 2002, we most recently were checking the files from the early part of 2018 (so i hope the pandemic dosnt go on too much longer i am running out of photos!! Good thing we are starting to make new photos!). The Guild had Zoom based study groups on various topic to try to make up for the lack of in person workshops. Our Program team found cross Canada and international speakers for us that were a fabulous addition and would not have been an option in-person (so the effects of the social distancing were not all bad).

We have struggled with technological options as we change from zoom to the long-waited-for in-person or ideally, a combination of in-person and Zoom. Ideally we would like to have some way for those members who live farther away or can not travel at night to participate in both meetings and socials. We also want to take this opportunity to investigate what works and may be applicable for the first in-person/zoom guild meetings coming up in September. This gives us the summer to run through options and try problem solving so the on-line participants can feel included. With the meeting program it will be more watching and less input from the audience ether by zoom or those present. So, not quite the same as a social but it should give some feed back for those organizing the meeting.

Two weeks ago we had our first in-person social. It was a good turn out, we had 9 in person guild members, with a mix of masked and unmasked participants as well as 10 on line members. For technology we tried Ann’s laptop with its build in mike and camera.

1 Ann’s laptop running Zoom

Pros; One person could talk to the zoom group
Cons; the mike did not pick up other conversations away from the lap top. Only one person in front of the lap top could hear or communicate with the zoom group.

A few more shots of what we were up to in-person. I had brought my in progress needle felted Iris (its in photo one), there was a lot of spinning happening, as well as some innovative options for plying. The bulldog clips and basket were ingenious. We could not find a lazy kate in the studio so we improvised with two magazine holders and a chopstick for another spinner.

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2-8 a few shots from the fist social since we shut down at the beginning of covid

After chatting with the zoom participants it was decided that we needed to up grade the audio. I volunteered my x mass present of a video recorder with external mike for next week.

Week 2, we had Ann’s Lap top but now added my video recorder with external mike and my tripod.

Week two had a reasonable turn out, a bit less than week one with 8 in-person and 5 zoom participants (ginnypigs). this week we had spinning, fiber prep(Hackles) and felting, Ann this time since i was playing with the camera and Vid recorder. First we tried the external Video recorder/mike with Ann’s lap top then with the guild’s old lap top. (option 2 did not work since the Venerable old laptop did not recognize the vid recorder/mike it was too new)

The vid recorder has a zoom feature! which i discovered was vary slow and disturbingly jerky DRAT! I could zoom in but getting there was not fun to watch. So the concept is correct with a vid recorder and external mike but this particular one may not be the best choice (if i need to zoom in on anything).

9 Vid Recorder/ mike and Ann’s Laptop

10 the old laptop could get on zoom but the video equipment was to new for it to recognize

Pros; improved sound, more flexibility as to what the zoom members can see. smooth rotation from one spot to the next with the tripod having vertical as well as horizontal adjustments.
Cons; The mike works well so can pick up conversations that you may have thought you were having only with the person sitting beside you.

We wanted to try another experiment to see if we could get the zoom participants more than one view of the studio. To do this we signed into zoom from both the old guild lap top that runs the library programs (its ancient and i was not sure it could run zoom) and Ann’s computer. Unfortunately we quickly discovered that our internet bandwidth is vary low….. there was a lot of temporary freezing, but using two cameras gave the zoom group more options to see what was happening and from 2 perspectives. We may be able to do something about the bandwidth, we will investigate that further later.

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11-16 shots from the week 2 social

We had a bit of show and tell, Ann got a new aperen!

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17-20 Ann’s post appocolips apron. there were a few of us who want to look this up!

This configuration of hardware seem to be a big improvement from last week. The zoom members could see better what was happening and chat amongst themselves as well as have limited chatting with those at the social. I think our next option to try is to add the speakers the library purchased for use with viewing the guild videos. (The library also got headphones for when someone wanted to watch videos in the studio while someone else was weaving. The headphones would not be helpful in this instance.)

21 this is a big improvement over week one

Just when you thought i had forgotten about felting except for that brief glimpse of my iris in-progress, i have a few shots to update you but its Ann’s felting this time not mine. i had taken a couple shots of her background when i was at the farmers market buying her wonderful tasty chocklet chip cookies.Because i was curious i thought you mite be too, so i took a peek at the back of her back ground too. i had some quite fabulous video shots of Ann working on adding the moon to her background, unfortunately the Video was live feeding to zoom so i could not take a screen shot for you. i hope the shots i got with the camera will give you a sense of the intensely deep dark colours she is using.

22-24 Ann’s background for her little night landscape (front and back)

i hope if the groups you belong to are also struggling to figure out a blended in-person and zoom experience for  member we can share our attempts and figure this out. Please share suggestions of things you have tried. What worked what didnt?  in the meantime have fun and keep felting!


PS my computer had blue screened after a couple updates to software so its out to the computer doctor and looks like she will live with a minor surgery  (bigger C drive) and a good internal cleaning. maybe i should not felt on the desk right above the computer? in the mean time i am using Glenn’s computer which lacked programs i usually use and I lost half my pre-typed blog since he only has open office not word and if froze in stead of saving. i expect to have this up and ready to go hopefully before 2am (i did rewrite the second half twice and had to do some sneaky work arounds to get the photos! ooh i am looking foreword to my computer back! i hope she will let me felt in the office still!


A small night picture.

A small night picture.


I told you there would be another small picture. I wanted to do a night scene with water and a moon reflection.

I searched up lots of moon on water pictures. I won’t share them because even though I put public domain pictures in the search,  I am sure they are not all in the public domain. Once I had done that, Pinterest sent me some more, some in weaving and other textiles.

I had this small offcut. I put my fingers in the shot so you can see the size.


I knew I had a nice really dark purple merino to make the sky but I had to ask Jan for some navy blue. She had some nice dark BFL, so it had a nice shine, perfect for water. This is the best picture I got of it. I had to fiddle with it because my camera on my phone wants the purple to be red and it’s more blue. Jan got some pictures for me too but her computer has died so I am afraid you’re stuck with my pictures.

I divided the picture into 1/3 sky and 2/3 water. I tried to keep the navy fibre running across the picture to give it a better water feel, like tiny ripples on the water. the hardest part was making the horizon straight and level.

For the moon, I made a disk separately and then added it. I think it makes it seem separate from the sky and closer than the sky. I then added the thin glow around it.  the glow looks more transparent in person. I thought I had a picture of just the moon but I accidentally took a movie of it and I can’t figure out how to save one frame.

For the reflection in the water, I used silk. I tried throwster’s waste, some fluffy silk ( I think from silk hankies) and some top, it was a little yellow.

The throwster’s waste was too stringy

The fluffy stuff was too hard to work with. It wouldn’t stay put.

The top worked wet. and even though looked yellow as a blog of silk once it was spread out a bit it was good.

I laid it all across then needled the pattern I wanted and trimmed it then needled some more.


I like it, it’s ok but not great.

I tried adding some grey for clouds and some silk at the edge for reflection. I just tacked them down, I am not sure. It may be the silk reflections on the clouds that I don’t like. Maybe white wool would be better.

so I asked my son. He is more artistic than me but also observant. He said well the moons to big. So I showed him my examples and with the slightest glance says well they’re all photoshopped, to make the moon more magical.  So much for that. I guess once I did it, my brain knew it was wrong. I will try thinning the glow and shrinking the moon and the reflectins and see how I like it. the trying may mess it up beyond repair and it will have to become dryer ball innards. I will let you know how it goes.

Post Script

I managed to fiddle with the picture last night. First I pulled up the edges of the reflection and tried it back then I pulled the moon haze off and made it smaller and more transparent. I think it is better. not great but it will do.

A while ago I bought some fine mica. the kind they use in cosmetics. I got this set and a blue set. I wanted to try adding a little blue to water in a picture just to see what it looks like. This water was far darker than the blues I bought but I thought the moon could use a little shine. You can see how fine it is. I left my fingerprint in it, from just a light touch.

I took a close-up of the moon. I think the camera picked up some of the sparkle.











Another Historical Sample

Another Historical Sample

I showed you a historical felt pattern sample recently where I used a water soluble stabilizer to create the pattern. Obviously, in ancient times, this product would not have been available. So I needed to try a more traditional method.

I decided to try a different design based on wings. The pattern was printed twice and put one over top of the other in a mirrored pattern. The paper design was covered with plastic so I could lay wet wool down on top of the pattern. This is the method that Ildi uses, thanks again Ildi!

Next, wool yarn was wet down and applied over the pattern. Pre yarn would work better, but this is what I have in my stash.

The colors chosen were two shades of blue, one leaning towards blue green and the other leaning towards the violet side of blue. The fiber was wet down and laid in place. Layout definitely takes time with this method.

Then another layer of the dark blue was laid out on top of the wet wool pattern. I didn’t need to add any water to this wool as there was plenty already available. Next on to felting. The piece was kept in between plastic for the entire felting process but then with fulling, the piece was rolled against itself. Big mistake as this caused the yarn to fragment and pull free in some areas. Sigh.

Here’s the piece after felting and the black was not a clean line. Again, this is partly from using a twisted yarn instead of a pre yarn but also due to the fulling method.

I shaved the black but it is still not as clear as I would like. The design also had very sharp points where I cut the yarn and the ends didn’t felt in as well.

This is the sharpness that I would prefer. These two pieces were made quite a while ago. I made all the felt, then cut out the shapes and appliqued (hand stitched) them down. I then couched a green yarn around the shapes. This is a traditional ram’s horn design that is seen frequently in the Central Asian areas.

Have you tried any traditional felt patterns? I would love to see your results. You can upload photos here.  Or you can show us over on the forum.

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”.  I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work.  I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”).   This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.

I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.

In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed.  Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!

The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”.  The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.

“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.

“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”

Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet.
The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.

Sea Shell collection with Sea Urchin “

The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)

The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me.
Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.

She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.

One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images.  This did produce some interesting results.

We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.

Showing the progress from picture strip to felted swatch

Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).

As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.

Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.

Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.

which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design

This is the design I finally ended up with.

There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour.  And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.

The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine

And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work.  Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.

The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”. 

We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world.  (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.)  A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.

I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.

I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 2

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 2

Part 2

Last post I had shown you Watson’s Grist Mill Museum and showed you some of the activities and a few of the sales booths. I told you which groups were doing demos for the mill, but have not shown what we were up to.

Under our 10X10 tent, we had space for 1 table of display and had set up a folding Ikea towel holder to drape handwoven textiles over. The wind had other ideas and threw it off the table shortly into the demo. Ok, it sat in front of the table on the floor. I had brought a small metal folding table to work on and Bernadette had a small table for the drum carder and a wicker tray on a stand.  We had samples of weaving, spun yarn, felted pictures, the peg doll loom, drop spindles, and pine needle basketry on the table.

30 part of our demo team

31-32 shot of our display (we moved the stand down due to the wind) you can see my Peg Doll Loom (Sleeve loom) and Sheep picture at one end of the table

As well as the static display we showed Spinning (on a Ragnvald castle wheel, an electric wheel and drop spindles) Fiber prep (drum carder, hand carders and Combs), Pine Needle Basket weaving, Rigid Heddle weaving and Needle Felting.

Fibre prep;

Bernadette had her Drum carder, hand carders and combs. She tried demonstrating with a pink fibre that had a lot of VM (Vegetable matter), in it. She tried it first on the drum carder and found there was too much VM left in it. So she continued on to the combs which are usually great for getting rid of VM.  The choice of which fibre prep you use is determined by what you want to do with the fibre. For spinning woollen yarns, pick the drum carder or hand cards. If you want a more organized smooth yarn, pick combs for a worsted or semi-worsted result.

33 trying the pink fibre in the drum carder. Note Bernadette’s jacket and the kid’s attire, someone is optimistic about today’s weather forecast.

34 Demonstrating Hand Carders (this got her covered in VM! what a messy fiber!)

35  loading combs to get rid of VM still left after drum carding

We don’t usually have a basket maker with us demoing so this was extra special.  This is pine needle basket making which uses a sewing technique to build the structure.

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36-41 Pine Needle Basket

42 other than dirty fleeces we are not usually an aromatic demo. It was interesting to watch, we had a smell component to our demo. (in a good way)

Ridged heddle Weaving

This is a small, portable, usually, 2 harness loom. It can weave very simple cloth or if you add more heddles for a more complex patterns.

43-44 Ridged heddle Weaving


We had a couple of examples of spinning equipment, the more traditional looking Ragnvald castle wheel, an electric wheel and drop spindles. A few of the public tried the spindles I will show you that at the end of the post.

45-47 Ragnvald Wheel

48-49 Electric spinning wheel running on a battery pack.

We now have quite a few members of the guild with various electric wheels. There portability is quite appealing. if your curious there is a cart with links to a lot of the manufacturers here; http://www.dreamingrobots.com/electric-spinning-wheel-comparison-chart/  (Just in case you start to feel your felting fiber horde is getting too big and needs a bit of taming.)


We had examples of needle felting, the Sheep picture you have seen me work on before, the basket weasel dragon and I am still working on petals for the iris flower. (I decided I wanted to make the upper petal a bit bigger as I added the surface details).  I am quite enjoying the wool pad (its the medium firm 1 inch thick pad not the thinner half inch thick ironing pad). I have been seeing more people using the firmer ironing pads for felting. if you have the opportunity, you may want to try both types and see which you prefer.

50-51 adding details to the upper petals

It was a busy demo, i didn’t talk to quite as may people as i would usually but i was at the back of the tent instead of the front this year.  We had two particularly memorable chats i wanted to mention to you.  We had 2 women stop with their families a different times during the demo. They were both recent emigrants to Canada, and both were extremely good spinners on a drop spindle. Both gave us a demonstration. We were extremely impressed with their skill.

52-53 We are Impressed with Spontaneous Drop Spindle Demos

The first lady was from Turkmenistan, and the second I think was from Iran.  Their families looked impressed with their spinning and seemed please we were impressed with and valued their skill. The Lady in pink had a bit of trouble with my Lego spindle and then realized I had been spinning in the opposite direction, she stopped, changed direction and made the most lovely fine, even yarn. I think she was amused by my odd spindle but she made it work!

Demos are a great way to find people with fibre art interests. They remind the public that Fiber arts are not an old dyeing art no one does anymore.  It may even inspire others to try something they see at the demo. We hear about old wheels or looms from childhood memories.  We do occasionally hear “Look she is making wool!” we laugh and say no the sheep grew the wool, it was cut off and washed now we are spinning it into yarn. Sitting at a demo Is a lovely way to spend the day (but next time I will not believe 20c with a light gusty breeze and bring a jacket!)

Have fun and keep felting! (even in public)

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 1

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 1

Good morning Fiber Friends! (it’s finally a sunny day ) even with a lot of grey days, I have had a week busy with felting. I watched an online felting workshop with Ana-Maria Istrate on making realistic needle felted newborn kittens. As I had hoped she has some interesting surface treatments. While I watched, I took notes and worked on my Iris inspired by techniques from Tjarda van der Dussen’s workshop on Roses and butterflies.

Before I show you how that is coming along, I want to go back a week and show you what was happening at the first demo done by our local fibre arts guild, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild, since 2019.

The demo takes place in a small town that is just south of the main city of Ottawa. (The City annexed a large amount of the surrounding land, swallowing small towns there were nearby, including the town of Manotick.)

Manotick is on the Rideau River, which was part of the navigable waterway between Kingston and Ottawa. If you have a boat I hear that travelling through the locks (boat lifts not Scottish lakes) and the interconnecting lakes, finally reaching the canal in Ottawa, is relaxing and has good scenery. (Dow’s Lake, originally known as Dow’s swamp before the canal was added, has particularly nice views of the arboretum and Carlton University.)

The Rideau River was also used to create power to drive working mills, many are long gone with only photogenic remains. There are some surviving, including Watson’s Mill in Manotick, (a gristmill which is a mill that grinds grain).

1 Watson’s Grist Mill, Manotick, Ontario, Canada.

There is now a working museum housed at the mill I can show you the ground floor, I should have asked one of the other demo people to get pictures of the lower level with the water wheel (the stairs looked a bit too challenging). There are rumors of a ghost, occasionally spotted upstairs. Those stairs also looked a bit beyond me so I didn’t get any of the second-floor either. Luckily the displays on the ground floor cot my eye and were quite photogenic. They have a working millstone plus other displays. The flour shoot was interesting and the view out the window and side door patio were very nice. The river was a bit wet looking but seemed to stay in its banks.

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2-9 Watson’s Mill

The mill organized the groups demoing in front of the mill building and ran flower-making demos on Saturday afternoon. (Ground flour for baking, not the flowers like in the pretty flower beds along the river)

10 Sign; Grind today 1-3pm

Throughout the day they had interpreters, in costume, organizing kids’ activities. There was a fishing tournament, they had historical games (stilts and sticks and rings) there was a table with some kind of craft for kids too.

11-12  More Activities In and around the Mill at Manotick

Now back to the demos, we are in with several groups under 10X10 tents in the parking area in front of the mill. This year there were not as many demo groups as usual. There was our guild, the lace makers, the wood carvers and the public library (I am not sure why they were with us but I am very enthusiastic about books).

13 The mill with demo tents in front

I had checked earlier that it wasn’t going to rain. If it rains I bring anti-wetness-bins (plastic under bed boxes) to keep the wheels out of puddles and the runoff from the road. It defiantly said no rain, good, high of 20c with gusty breeze…. That sounds good. OVER OPTIMISTIC FALSE ADVERTISING BY THE WEATHER!!!  It was more than just chilly, one of our neighbors checked her phone in the late morning and said it was up to 15c. oh and the gusty breeze tried to take out the tents randomly a few times. (extra exciting demoing!!) I was sure 15c was unusually warm only a couple of months ago but that was before the August-like heat wave we had a couple of weeks ago before the big storm.

Let’s not think about the fickleness of the weather and take a peek at the groups that attended the Dickinson day demo this year.

14 OVWSG guild demo in tent number one

15  Lace makers’ guild demo in tent number 2

The library was in tent 3 but I don’t seem to have a shot of them. They were running late and didn’t arrive till just before 9:30 am

16  the Wood Carvers group display was in tents 4 and 5

There are usually more tents with wood turners, small engine displays and sometimes a blacksmith, past where the cars were abandoned in the photo of the Wood Carvers.

Besides the demo groups, the Historic 1860’s Mill and Dickinson House Museum (belonging to the founder of the mill and sitting across the green from the mill) there were also commercial and craft vendors on the side streets on either side of the mill.

17 Map of Manotick

18 A Few of the Booths Along the Road Near the Mill

Just past the green in front of Dickinson House sits the mill barn. A large tent was in front of the barn that hosts a pancake breakfast then later, a couple of local dance companies have demonstrations of dance routines by little kids up to teenagers. There is often a brass band and sometimes a highland pipe and drum group (I didn’t see them this year).

19 Tent with a Pancake Breakfast the used for the Kids Dance Ruteans

There are many kids and lots of dogs attending as well. (a few of the dogs looked like their coats would be spinnable! They wisely did not get too close to the spinners or felter. I am thinking of the overly fluffy Samoyed and the Keeshond that got away!! We will get you next year and liberate you of your under-fluff!!![ Maniacal chuckling herd off-camera ] )

20 The firemen were there with an old hand pumper. They were letting kids try on a fireman’s attire. It was a little big but the hat was cute!

21 a very elderly dog and a couple of the many kids.

22 everyone stopped to check out the Danes as they went by.

23 Ok this one did not bark at least while I was there!

24 one of the vendors had these lovely baskets.

25 another booth had this on a table.

We even spotted another guild member in one of the booths with her sock knitting machine. Her husband had made her the fabulous flat folding table to hold her circular knitting machine.

26-27 We found another Guild Member!

Now I will paws for a moment since you are probably as tired by this point as I was and I will give you a moment to rest and warm up. I will show you the demo team on Friday.

To wet your apatite I will show you a couple shots of Bernadette’s combs sitting on her drum carder and its cute little table.

28-29 Drum carder, Combs and tray table

Doing a little spinning.

Doing a little spinning.

I’ve been doing a little spinning. Spinning on a drop spindle is a wonderful thing to do. It fits in a basket or bag or even your purse and you can do it anywhere and anytime you have a few min.

I got 3 lovely little batts of mixed colours from Bernadette. I don’t think they were any particular breed of sheep, just sheep. I thought they were pretty. I thought I had pictures of all 3 but I don’t. I do still have one left, I took a picture of it for you.

I am quite please with how it turned out. There are about 42 yards(38.4 meters) in the skein. I guess it’s not too bad because someone wanted to buy it. I didn’t really want to sell it so I put I high price on it. Someone recommended once that when you are not sure you want to sell something, price it so that you won’t wish you hadn’t sold it.

Not long ago when I was at a new little fibre sale I bought some Blue Faced Leicester top. I wanted to try something different, I spin mostly Merino or Corriedale. I am always using BFL locks so I thought it would be fun to spin some too. I found this lovely lustrous BFL/silk mix.

Here I am pre-drafting it a bit. I had compacted a bit in my basket. it wasn’t felted and would probably have been fine but I loosened it up anyway. Thanks to Jan for this picture and the last one.

I spun up so easily. I use a sort of long draw, most of the time. Isn’t it pretty?



I made a center-pull ball. I use my deligan spindle as a nostepinne to make the ball, a dual purpose tool.


Now, onto the plying, always so much faster. It only took 15 min I would think.



and finally in a skein. It is very shiny. I am sure the silk is helping there but is well blended so you can’t pick it out. I am guessing there are about 40 yards(36.5 metres)  as it is about the same site as the other skein. I have 2 more slivers of it about the same size. I am not sure what I will do with them.



It was a nice change from little pictures. But I will probably do another one next week. I am enjoying them.




Framed Artwork and New Gallery Representation

Framed Artwork and New Gallery Representation

Lots of people asked to see my recent landscapes once they had been framed. I get my work professionally framed with a narrow, black wooden frame. If you’re in Whitefish, MT and need some framing done, I highly recommend my framer, FoR Fine Art. They also have a wonderful art gallery in Whitefish and Bigfork, MT and Tucson, AZ.

Here are the two biggest pieces after framing. They are approximately 20″ x 30-32″.

Here’s a couple more that I completed over the winter.

And the last one with it’s new frame. I have been working on getting new gallery representation and contacted a couple of places. I heard back from Northwest Handmade in Sandpoint, ID. I took 16 pieces over to them and will be taking them some snow dyed silk scarves when we go back by there in July. Yay, happy dance.

I decided to make a few more 5″ x 7″ pieces to take with me but didn’t get a chance to show them here. These are included in the 16 pieces that went to Sandpoint. If you happen to be in the area, please stop by and visit Northwest Handmade!

The five framed pieces shown at the top of the post weren’t ready when I went to Sandpoint. I picked them up from the framers and the next day, I heard back from 4 Ravens Gallery in Missoula, MT. They were interested in carrying my work too! Wow! Those five landscapes will be on display towards the end of June. Again, if you happen to be in Missoula, MT, please stop by and visit 4 Ravens Gallery.

It is great to have two galleries carrying my artwork but now I have to get busy and make some new pieces to replace any that sell. (I’m being hopeful and thinking positively.)

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