Next Steps for My Cowl

With a few weeks until the Christmas markets, I finally got back to my cowl.

This is as far as I had gotten before I had to put it aside. It took me forever to get the silk wrapped around the template properly and as you can see I had to use painters tape to do it.

The first job today was to sew the center together. I used some nylon thread and large basting stitches so I can pull it out at the end.

I put some tape on the one end of the thread so it should be easy to find when it is finished.

Time to add the wool, 3 shades of purple.

The next thing should have been cutting up the yellow/orange/red prefelt into some leave and put them on the cowl. But that would too easy. I decided I wanted to put some silk on top of everything. I thought about some silk hankies but remembered I had a big bag of silk lap. Silk lap is similar to silk hankies but much bigger and many layers.

As you can see the silk is bright white. I will have to dye it. I am not sure what would be the best colour so I cut several strips of the lap to dye.  I was thinking different shades of green but maybe copper or gold would be better. Maybe a combination s of all 3. What do you think?

First I had to find the end, easier said than done.

Even with many layers, it is still see-through.

Silk takes more preparation to dye than wool and other fibres. Silk is hard to get wet. I added a little dish soap to help the silk get wet. It will have to sit at least overnight to be properly wet so I can dye it. I will show you next week when it’s my turn to post again.

And a reminder about the holiday card exchange. You have until tomorrow night (Oct 24th at midnight) to sign up on the forum. holiday-card-exchange-2020 link  If You have signed up chec the forum on the evening of the 25 to find out who your partner is.

Posted in Design, Dyeing, Experiments, Holiday exchange, Nuno Felting, Silk, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Past Holiday Efforts – Fourth Quarter Challenge

Annie and Lyn recently posted the Fourth Quarter Challenge. I thought I would take a look at what holiday decorations and cards I had created in the past. It’s always easy for me to forget about pieces I have created so it’s nice to walk down memory lane and I thought I would share what I found.

Here’s a set of cards that I made in 2017 for the Holiday Card exchange that we have on the forum. I used some samples that I had made for the Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination online class.

This is the card that I made last year.

And another card made in 2018.

 

 

Here’s the 2016 cards that I created.

And these are a few different ornaments that I created over the years.

In 2013, I stitched a bunch of these bowls to give to people filled with candy.

I just found another card from 2016. I’m not sure why I made so many different cards that year.

And just for fun, here I am with Deb and Nanci at Christmas Stroll at The Purple Pomegranate.

We did make some Ukraninan eggs one year (not exactly fiber but still holiday!)

And another just for fun photo of me as a baby by the tree.

Here’s a basket I made as a Christmas gift. I’m not much of a weaver but it turned out OK.

And I thought you might like to see a bit of winter decoration from Mother Nature.

That was a fun trip down memory lane. Now I need to get started on this year’s holiday card. If you would like to join in the forum’s Holiday Card Exchange, sign up here.

Or, if you have some holiday creations that you’d like to share, you can post them here.

 

Posted in Challenges, Holiday exchange | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Felting Sea Patterns

I made my first felted picture maybe 8 years ago. It’s a seascape with a curlew based on a scene I’d photographed. I realise now I haven’t ever completely moved away from the sea and the birds in my felt making.  The picture is still hanging on my living room wall, though it’s not really my favourite.  I can see too much that I’d want to change.

Looking at the dark water I see I included strips of ribbon as well as nepps, locks and some non-wool fibres – probably bamboo. A little while later I made a second curlew which I much preferred. In this one the sea is slightly more abstract with silk hankies representing sea foam.

Second Curlew

I live by the coast and seem always to return to the theme of water – specifically the sea and even more specifically the water near where I live, some of which is technically an estuary: the mouth of the river Thames.  I’ve been looking recently at how I’ve tried to represent the sea in felt, then trying out some new water experiments.

In my last guest blog I showed how I made the watery background to my dark-bellied Brent goose. Here’s a reminder

Dark-Bellied Brent Goose

Brent goose: making a felt picture

This technique of laying cobweb pre-felt on top of base layers was something I worked out for myself and often use as I really like the effect

The first picture, ‘Winter Sea’ I made entirely using this technique. For the second picture ‘Big Wave 3’ I used straightforward tufts of different coloured wool for the darker water but a cobweb strip in front of the wave to suggest water from a previous wave.

‘Wide Sea Pattern’

For ‘Wide Sea Pattern’ I’ve added some silk fibres to enhance the foamy effect.

I’ve also tried nuno felted seas using large pieces of fabric. I’ve made two pictures of a lovely little ringed plover I watched a short distance from my house.

In the left picture I used a UK charity shop wool scarf that already had a crimp. I ran pewter-coloured merino wool on the back in only one direction to enhance the crimp, which I hope gives a distant wave-like pattern. In the one on the right I used some very dense silk (from a US thrift store sarong) which I only partially felted in as I wanted to keep as much as possible of the sarong’s watery pattern (also, the silk was VERY dense!). 

Thinking about how to represent sea patterns, I have spent a little time recently looking at photos and videos of how people do this when drawing or painting the sea, and wondering if I could use some of these ways of looking at and representing sea water in wet felt making.

Experiment one: I laid out two pewter merino layers then a fine horizontal layer of blues, which I pushed apart with 2 pencils hoping to evoke a choppy sea.  Then, I suppose because I thought the darker tones may get lost, I added some more dark wool into the gaps.

I ended up with something that looked very flat – perhaps like dappled water but not what I had in mind.  I wish I was more strict in sticking to my original intentions: I think it would have been better without the dark wool I added at the end. Maybe I’ll come back to that in the future and do the experiment properly.

Experiment two: Estuary Water. Next I wanted to experiment with the dark colour of the water.  Out came the trusty drum carder and I blended pewter, beige and green wools which I laid horizontally on a vertical layer of mixed pewter and beige.  I made a single layer of mixed blue prefelt that I pulled apart and laid on the top.

I call the result ‘Estuary Water’ as there’s often a lot of muddy sediment in the estuary which gives it an opaque, brown look.  I like it but haven’t decided what to do with it yet – its dimensions don’t fit any standard canvases or frames. Maybe I’ll use it as the background to something else.

Experiment three: I decided to made some smaller felt pictures that were just sewn onto stretched painters’ canvases rather than being framed behind glass. Focussing on the sea water: this time I snipped into the prefelt blue layer with scissors after I’d laid it on the background.

I like this effect and could maybe take it a bit further in the future: make some bigger cuts or more of them.  I stitched these onto pre-stretched canvases that are slightly smaller than the felt so the canvases aren’t visible when looking head on.

Experiment four:  Harbour Water. I took a photo of the water in the harbour a few months ago that I found interesting and wanted to investigate in felt. 

‘Harbour Water’ Photograph

I’ve thought for a while I’d like to blend just two colours with each other and black and white and this seemed like a good opportunity.  I used the drum carder to blend duck egg and teal merino wool with charcoal grey and natural white in various proportions.

I then made prefelts which I cut up and placed on a background of teal (1st, vertical layer) and duck egg (2nd, horizontal layer)

Quite interesting but I liked it a lot better before I’d felted it. I had a second go, using a piece of the duck egg prefelt as the base, which I like slightly better.

I like the shimmery water better than the round sections, which are a bit too round. Again, I’ve stitched the pieces of felt onto smaller canvases so they can hang but appear to be floating. I will look at them for a while until I decide how and if to develop the ideas further.

Experiment five: Choppy Whitstable Waves.  In July a customer asked me to make her a picture similar to one I had but in a smaller size.  I tried to use some of the things I’d seen in videos of how to paint water using acrylics and adapt them to my local sea colours and patterns and the medium of wet felting.  I laid out darker ‘windows’ at the front of the waves with some water being pulled upwards by the wave (with the top fibre running upwards) then blue sky reflections made from cobweb prefelt sitting behind the wave foam.

I feel this has some potential.  I particularly like the wave second from bottom and am tempted next to make a single long wave using this technique.

At this point I had to break off to set up my harbour hut exhibition for a week.  Interestingly, the customer didn’t like the smaller picture I’d made as much as the original and decided to buy the bigger original instead.

I still find sea patterns endlessly fascinating. Each experiment seems to ask more questions than it answers and produce new avenues to investigate.  I have no doubt I’ll keep on coming back to sea patterns (and birds) again and again.

Are there any effects here that you particularly like or don’t think worked so well?

Do you have a theme, subject or colour-way you keep going back to in your work?

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A Small Infestation on the Back Patio

I have been very busy with the Guild Library Survey this week. (19 fantastic questions covering 5 topics!) I hope that I will have the first draft of the data done in the next few days so I can get back to felting. (Not that I am not having excessive fun with data analysis!!) Who knew this could be such a blast!! (Bernadette, you should have told me how fun this is! you have one of the best jobs ever!!).  So while I am wrapped up in thoughts of trends and preferences and comparing sub-groups, I wanted to tell you about the Blue tarp you saw last week in the background of this shot. So now it is later and I should get to explaining about it!

1 from last week

In 2020, most people don’t get to see a blacksmith or smell that distinctive aroma of a forge starting up. It is a smell that clings to clothing, hair and especially damp wool. Like the sudden mysterious appearance of Fairy rings of mushrooms in your lawn, you too may wake up one morning go out to check your…. Well, attempting to dry fleece and find you have an infestation of a blacksmith on your patio! But take heart!! It’s not all bad. They are often photogenic, their pounding tends to remove chipmunks from the area at least for a short time and they can be persuaded to make useful things for spinners, basket makers or for my felting friends; self-nailing hooks!!

Quick note: it is important to keep your fleece-drying upwind from the forge if possible.

A few fleece piles of washing back Glenn removed one of the two blue tarps. Underneath was the smaller forge that one of the chipmunks had thought was a good overwinter nest last spring. I had been requesting a few more hooks for the fleece straining buckets and he had another project he wanted to work on too.

  2-4 The Infestation (not necessarily a bad thing)

So he dug around in the garage, pulling out tools and the ¼ inch stock for the hooks. He also pulled out a railroad tie for his other project. He actually has 2 forges on the back patio. This one is the Sears light-duty farm forge. (check out the Sears Robuck catalogues for the end of the 1800s/ beginning of the 1900s.)  if only we had bought it then, it would have been $18.00 and came with an anvil and a foot vice. let’s just refer to it as the over-enthusiastic barbeque but it would be better not to cook steaks on it since it can melt metal and that is coal, not charcoal he is using.  His other forge is bigger and maybe a homemade arrangement with wheels. It is under the black covers on the other side of the blue bins full of coal (when we could have put them to better used holding fleeces!)

Now I may have already confused you, why would we want to have this odd self-nailing hooks?  And what would a hook self-nail? This is something you may have seen at a homestead museum or an old barn.

5 hooks and guillotine

These are self-nailing hooks, beside them is a Guillotine tool. you can change the parts inside it to make different effects on the stock. The hooks are freshly out of the forge and have yet to be lacquered so they won’t rust.

The trellis along the side yard is made of 4×4 lumber which is perfect for putting hooks into.

6 These are over 2 years old and I need to use a wire brush and a bit of spray lacquer. After a couple of winters, they have picked up a bit of rust. I use them to hang and drain the strainer baskets between the washing and rinsing soaks of the fleeces.

7 blacksmiths are also handy for lifting strainer baskets out of the soaking buckets.

  8 At his point I have a backlog of fleeces sorted and waiting to be washed.

  9-10 My present 2 hooks and the sorting table.

 11 I hang the baskets on an angle so the water drains from one corner removes more of the water than when it hangs straight.

12 He has also made me a couple of hooks designed to hang over 2×4’s both horizontal and vertical orientation. I have been using this for the 3rd strainer basket but it drips right in the carrots and I don’t like to think of the soap and other material the carrots are getting from the drippings.

I was checking the unwashed side of the covered side yard and found another fleece! It is a small Romney lamb  (1lb 1oz.) that said it was washed but didn’t look like it. So into a couple of bins for washing it goes.

 13 Oops, found one more this was hiding!

Now back to that little blacksmith infestation on the patio…

 14 Once the fire is made and the coal had burnt off the green smoke (don’t breathe that part!) it’s time to start heating up the bar stock to make hooks.

   15-17 Blacksmith at work, don’t startle him.

He is putting a twist in the hook. This is similar to spinners putting twist in yarn. For spinners a successful twist is produced with even drafting, allowing the same amount of twist into the same amount of drafted fibre each time. Since twist is lazy it will leap to any thin sections and build up more twist there. For blacksmiths, if the heat is not even across the section you want to twist it will not spread the twist evenly, going instead to the hotter spots producing an uneven twist. Think of the bar stock as just very stiff spinning roving or maybe since the fibres are so well aligned we should consider it top rather than roving.

Here is a little taste of blacksmithing but without that distinctive aroma.

18 (the loud sounds that are not blacksmithing is the medivac orange helicopter heading north up the Ottawa Valley) please note his forge squeaks worse than any of my wheels, even the Hatbox on her grumpiest day before she got her new tension band.

 19 This is his bigger anvil hidden partly amongst this year’s very good growth of catnip. The tool in the hardy is for cutting metal.

 20 These are the hooks he made while I was wrangling dirty fleeces.

If you awake one morning with an odd smell coming from your yard and find your back patio has had a sudden infestation of blacksmith do not fret. Find some bar stock and whatever you think will appease the blacksmith (chocolate, coke zero and raspberries works for mine). Luckily some will work for treats, so they are sort of like brownies which you appease with milk (but not as clean).  If you are very lucky and don’t scare them away, you too may get self-nailing hooks, drop spindles, manual double-ended ball winders, and other fibres related delights!

 

 

Posted in tools, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Soon to be leaves; purpose made prefelt

If you remember I started to work on a new cowl design for maybe teaching or maybe selling but at least one for myself. here the blog if you missed it or want to remind yourself. https://wp.me/p1WEqk-9Ha

Sorry to disappoint but it still isn’t finished. I did decide I wanted to put some autumn leaves on it so I made some prefelt to cut them out of. I started with green, I want it to be in the middle. I was thinking of having a little green showing at the edges might look nice.

then I added some reds orange and golden yellow. I did it in an odd pattern so I could cut out leaves that were not all one colour. The pictures are not great. No matter what I did they looked blurry. I think it’s too much light bouncing off the fibres it just can’t focus.

I flipped it over and laid out to “match” the other side. The green is thin so it wasn’t hard to see the colours through it.

Next, I got out my silk top and my silk hankies and put some on both sides to give it some shine. I tried to get pictures of it but it doesn’t show at all.

This is the finished piece. You can see the silk now.

There is only one more regular market day, this Saturday and then I get a break until the Christmas markets on Nov. 21 and 28. I plan to get the cowl done and to make some baskets to sell. So, fingers crossed, more to come.

 

Posted in color, Design, Prefelt, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Getting scissor happy with your felt

Hi all!  Firstly, let me introduce myself.  My name is Helene Dooley and I would describe myself as a textile adventurer.  I am largely self taught but I have been fortunate enough to be in a position to undertake workshops with some very prominent felting tutors and masters.  I work under the name Feltzen.

This summer, the family took a cottage in the south west of Ireland – on the beautiful Valentia Island.  Kerry is famous for its scenery and we made the most of every precious day there.  One day involved a trip to Killarney’s National Park and I took this photo at the Torc Waterfall.  It became the main source of inspiration for this piece.

 

I also managed a trip to the Kerry Woollen Mills as I wanted to experiment with some of their fibres.  My main focus was on the Galway/New Zealand blend. They stock a vast array of colours and the best news is that they ship worldwide.

So, with inspiration and raw materials with a firm Kerry provenance I decided that I wanted to make a piece that would show off the fabulous colours of the wool.  As this is an experiment with the wool, I thought I would go into a little detail on what it feels like to work with along with the various steps I took to make the piece.  The joy of this technique is that each piece will be original as the end result is very much dependent on the colours used, where/how much you decide to sew into it and where you make the final cuts.  Also, of course, the type of wool you use.  I would tend towards a shorter fibre to minimise colour transmission between the layers but this is something you may be happy with.  The technique was taught to me by the very brilliant Marjolein Dallinga, a Dutch Fibre Artist now living in Canada.

For this experiment I worked on a flat surface but the technique could easily be used on a 3D surface.  Just be sure to make your resist big enough to accommodate your sewing as you will lose a fair bit of surface during the gathering and felting process.  To familiarise myself with the fibre, I made up my sample which comprised of two layers (10 grams each) on a 25cm square.  Shrinkage was around 30%.

I will briefly go through the making up of the prefelt.  I made a rectangle (43cm X 28cm)which comprised of 4 layers using 20 grams per layer.

Each layer was a different colour and I very roughly laid down three different tones of wine/pink on one of the layers.

Top layer which is a dark green was embellished with a viscose – just for the fun of it.

I wet this down.  The fibre was a bit of a sponge when it came to this stage – it took a lot of soapy water (nearly a litre).  Because it was a bit of a challenge to permeate the layers, I ended up focussing the water on the centre of the piece and then I popped the bubble wrap on top and pressed the water to the outermost area of the rectangle.    The prefelt formed quickly.  I then rolled it very lightly.  My aim was to end up with a fabric that was stable enough to hold together but would not withstand any rough treatment.  I then left it to drip dry (over the clothes horse) overnight.  Then came the fun!

It’s worth having a few things to hand before you start this technique:

  • Strong thread – preferably nylon – this is for a couple of reasons. You want something that will withstand a bit of rough treatment (when it comes to gathering the fabric).  Also you want to be able to remove the thread at the end of the process so you don’t want it to felt into the piece.
  • A long sharp needle – you are going to be working through layers of thick prefelt (example: if you lay down 4 layers you will be stitching through 8 layers with this technique.
  • Long pins – make sure that there is a large visible pin head on these as you won’t want to lose the pins in the work (hidden pins + felting by hand = agony).

Now it’s time to play.  Using the pins, start by creating folds in your prefelt and work on this until you create folds.  My inspiration was the exposed tree roots (first photo) so I opted to have my folds radiating from the centre of the prefelt.

 

 

I then took each fold and tacked a running stitch through it.  To do this I started by knotting the thread unto itself (leave a tail and take your needle through the prefelt then back to the side facing you, tie the tail to the main body of the thread three or four times).  Doing this will secure your thread so that it stays put when you pull to create the gathers.  Then I ran a stitch through to the end of my fold, I gathered it up and tied it off (knotting the thread into the last stitch in the gather three or four times.  It needs to be robust and not fall out when you start the felting process.  Be sure to take out the pins as you go along.  Continue gathering until you are happy that you have the basic shape you want to achieve.

 

Now it’s time to start felting.  I used a pair of poly gloves for this part of the process.  I wet the piece in the usual manner (warm soapy water).  At this point I needed to be methodical in how I felted the folds so I marked my starting point with a peg and started working my way around the folds (rubbing each one a hundred times).  I did two rounds.  The folds felted to each other really fast.  I was able to turn the piece over and see that the underside of the piece had melded together so I was pretty confident that my cutting into the piece would not cause disintegration.  I finished felting and fulling the piece and left it to dry.

 

 

Then I cut into the folds.  I used a very sharp scissors and cut through the folds just a little at a time.  By doing this I controlled the colour that was visible.  First skim revealed the third colour, second skim brought up the second layer colour etc.

 

Other possibilities are to cut into the sides of the folds. Or perhaps change the shape of the flat sections.  In my case I reshaped the centre of the piece to make it stand above the rest of the cuts.  A bit like a tree trunk.

 

 

I decided against felting the cut edges as I didn’t want to disturb the cut lines.

Here is a close up of the effect.

The Galway/New Zealand mix was an interesting experiment.  I reckon I will use it again.  The sample felted into a sturdy fabric. I think it would work well for structural pieces slippers, bags, sculptures etc but not for clothing.  There’s quite an array of colours at the mill so I think I will soon be placing an order.  After all, you can never have enough fibre.

Happy felting!

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The Eyes Have It – Part 2

A couple of months ago I did a blog about drawing eyes. I mentioned that someday I would like to rework  the eyes on a quilt I had made of my rescue dog, Koko. A Zoom class became available in September  from Lorraine Turner (https://calicohorses.com/) called “All About Eyes”. Lorraine sometimes uses Derwent Inktense pencil to make eyes for her animal quilts. I haven’t played much with my Inktense pencils so thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about them and maybe find a fix for Koko’s eyes on her quilt.

Here is a close up photo of the quilt I call Saint Koko. The original eyes were plain fabric with a small bead sewn on.

 

Using an actual photo of Koko’s eyes, I tried to enlarge it enough to match the exact placement of her eyes on the quilt. Lorraine suggested making numerous sets of eyes to practice using the Inktense pencils on. I used a light box to trace the basic shapes of her eyes from the photo onto some plain white fabric.

What a FUN exercise! I went with the last set of eyes I had made. I then fused some Wonder Under to them and cut them out and lightly fused them to the quilt.

Right now, I am trying to decide if I like them or not. They almost look too real for my whimsical little quilt, don’t they? They definitely change things up, I think! They give her a totally different expression. I think more work will need to be done before I am satisfied. Perhaps more Inktense pencil work or thread painting. And I still may do some additional work on her face and body to lighten it up. Progress is being made though! Lorraine will be teaching more about Inktense pencils in November. I’m looking forward to playing with them and learning more about them.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been doing some dyeing with Procion Dyes. Jane Dunnewold (https://janedunnewold.com/ ) has had some great Zoom lectures lately. She is an awesome instructor and person! I mixed up 12 of the pure colors to play with, scrunched up fat quarters and then rubber banded them before dropping them into the dye bath for 24 hours.

I have been wanting to play with dyeing my own silk/cotton fabric (Robert Kaufman PFD Radiance) that I use as the background for my tile quilts. Robert Kaufman quit manufacturing Radiance for a time and I was so sad as I love it’s sheen.  When I discovered he had the PFD available, I bought a whole bolt of it!

Aren’t these such beautiful colors!

Next I will cut each fat quarter into 4 equal pieces. One will be left alone, the other three will be overdyed using a complimentary color, an analogous color to the right, and then an analogous color to the left. I may use a different fabric manipulation prior to their second dye bath or I may just scrunch them up the same way. They almost look oversaturated to me already, so I’m really curious how the second batch will look. Dyeing is a lot of work!  But what fun!

Thanks for reading! Happy creating!

Tesi Vaara

 

 

 

 

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2020 Weather is suspicious! I have a Hypothesis!! lets test it!!!

In the summer of 2020, I went into full fleece washing mode. I set up a skirting table, got the RV hand washing machine ready to spin out most of the water and set up the fleece drying racks in front of the garage. You have already seen some of the results. Over the next couple of months, I began to notice an unsettling trend of wetness occurring speciously in conjunction with putting washed fleece on the drying racks. Very Suspicious!!! how can this be a coincidence having happened so many times this summer? I think the weather may be out to wet me! (or maybe it’s just after my fleece)

My hypothesis: 2020 weather is sentient. (And is offended by drying fleece)

Equipment necessary for this experiment:

  • One Icelandic fleece,
  • Many strainer buckets,
  • Three soaking big buckets,
  • A small amount of soap (sunlight dish soap – not detergent),
  • One RV hand spin washer (like a very big salad spinner)
  • Three umbrellas on standby

Test of the hypothesis: Take exquisite Icelandic fleeces that had been put aside to wash later and wash now. (Also this first fleece may be perfect for Mrs. Mer’s Hair.) Watch for a reaction from local weather.

1 Part of Icelandic fleece waiting in the strainer bucket

I divided the first fleece into six small amounts in the fleece washing strainer baskets. Washed out and filled the three fleece washing buckets. Started the soap soak on the first three fleece strainer baskets and got them to the rinse stage. No sign of rain.

 

Today, a bit overcast with tiny patches of sun, I went out to check on the rinsing. Looked clean, felt clean, OK on to draining, spin-drying then laying the wool out on the drying racks to finish drying.

2-3  Fleece placed on the dryer rack

And it started to drizzle, so I pulled out the umbrella and continued spin-drying as well starting the next three into their soap soak.

 4 next half of fleece in soap and soak stages of washing

Drizzle stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Filled one drying rack and pulled out the second.

And it started to drizzle again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulled out the second umbrella, looked at the overhanging and which way the rain would fall. Drat. Need a bigger umbrella, well if I move the spinner over to the skirting table and put the bucket over it

6 two umbrellas up and… it has stopped raining again.

Got all of the first fleece washed and onto two of my three drying racks, and pulled out the third rack (all from Ikea). I did a quick division of the second darker fleece and got the first part of it soaking in soapy water. With a bit of wrangling, I got the three drying rack set up and under the umbrella. As I went to check the soaking fleece and give it a sloosh and it started to Rain! Heavily raining….. I quickly through the fleeces into the strainer buckets and got everything under the tarp end of the dog yard. well now the weather is just laughing at me and I am soaked too.

7-8 wet, very wet

I came in to complain about the unfair and possible vindictiveness of weather to Ann. (Ann is very patent with me.)  I sat down at the computer, ready to type and the sun came out…..

 9 Sun coming out on my Tie basil plants in a broken pot, I will be trying to overwinter.

I waited a bit then went and laid out the fleeces again to dry…..maybe dry.

.

 

 

   10-13 all the wetness was worth it, look at that fleece!!

14 The first part of the second Icelandic fleece is trying to dry.

Any bets on where it will rain today? Don’t take that bet…..

 

 

 

15 it rains again

 

 

 

Conclusion; 2020 Weather is sentient and it is offended by fleece drying.

 

 

 

 

Post Scrips:

The Icelandic fleeces are now well washed, extra rinsed and finally dry. I have washed two more fine fleeces, which I got last year from the Wool Growers Co-op originally from Alberta, again with many extra rinses in the “Drying” stage. They were a lovely dark chocolate colour until I washed them and discovered they were a nice shade of grey (the wash water did remain a very dark brown).

    16 the drying racks

Unfortunately, I have two more large fleeces to wash before the snow arrives!!!! One is the large ram I got at the same time I got the Shropshire and the second is a fleece I just bought from Beth. It is a long black Shetland who was ether hiding from the shearer in the straw or was rolling in it. I have never seen so much vegi-matter embedded in a fleece! As bad as it looks there was only one sheep self-felted section. the rest, if I can get the straw out, will be fabulous. After pulling burrs, straw does not look as daunting!

17-20 Beth’s Black fleece of straw, the top section of the strainer bucket is self felted.

I still need a solution to the continual extra rinse step I don’t think the fleeces really require.  I have bought strapping and ½ inch welded wire fencing to make drying racks I can hang under the tarped area of the side yard. I will get over to Dollerama (what a great source of fibre and felting related equipment) and buy a couple of clear table cloth covers and some extra strong laundry clips to block the wind and rain along the dog fence. Maybe I had better not tempt the weather too much or it may escalate its intensity, we did have a tornado go through Ottawa two years ago! But that may have been to thwart someone else’s fleece drying endeavours.

 

 

 

 

Posted in fibre, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged | 8 Comments

A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

In early September I came across the website John Galon Designs. I think I found the link in a spindle group on Facebook but I don’t remember. https://johngalen.com/  He makes beautiful spindles, many from old, timepieces. I didn’t get a timepiece one but I did get one.

Here is the reveal

Are you ready? here it is:

It is a very pretty and cool spindle. The acrylic in the middle is actually clear but the purple of the spindle radiates out through it. There are about a dozen colours to choose from. I am really pleased with it. Now I need to spin properly with it. I am not used to a spindle with such a small whorl.

The other thing I wanted today is to announce the 2020 holiday card exchange on the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum.  We have been doing a card exchange for several years now. Its a fun and easy way for us to share a little cheer at this time of year.

You can sign up on the forum, here: Holiday Exchange link

the deadline to sign up is Oct 24th, Partners will be assigned ( by random generator) on Oct 25th

You have to make a felt card and send mail it to your partner by Nov 14th

Once you receive your card you post a picture of it on the forum

The cards do not have to be Christmas cards they can be anything. There is a lot going on in late December and there is New Year too.   We are starting a little early this year and on a tighter timeline, having you ship earlier so the cards have a good chance to get there for the holiday season.

Here are a few I have made over the years

 

 

 

Posted in Challenges, Holiday exchange, Spinning, spinning | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Mystery Fiber – Identify It, Felt It, Take it Further

Hello all.  My name is Arlene Toth and I am a Fiber Artist.  It sounds like I am owning up to an addiction, and I am.  I am addicted to working with wool.  If you don’t know me already, I have a blog called Adventures in Felt.  I took up needle felting in March 2019 where they were giving a demonstration at my local haberdashers.  The first thing I ever made was a bumble bee from a kit.  From then on I was hooked and it just snowballed from there.  As with any addiction, I eventually got hooked on the hard stuff, wet felting.  The first thing I ever wet felted was a very tiny vessel.  I used to paint for 10 years, but painting hasn’t had a look in for over a year.  I wonder at times how I have lived so long and didn’t know about felting until now.  I feel I have a lot of lost time to make up for.  Starting any new hobby is an adventure and I am always up for one of those.  I love this so much that I have immersed myself in it completely.  I have amassed a library of felting books, watched tons of videos (good and bad), and taken online classes.  I am so grateful to those out there that share their knowledge.  So I blog about what I learned.  As far as I’m concerned, it is all an experiment, and like painting, not everything is going to be a masterpiece.

One of the things I have learned is that making samples is important.  Most of the time I just jump right in, but there is value when making small samples especially if you are unfamiliar with the product you are using or the method you will be felting.  For instance, I bought some Botany Lap Waste from World of Wool.  I ended up with a lot of fiber that I thought was merino as it was so soft and felt like superfine merino, but turned out to be alpaca.  How do I know that?  Well, I initially felted with some of it, but it didn’t felt like the merino.  Fortunately, the item I was making was mostly merino, so this mystery fiber did ultimately felt.  I then decided to make some samples as I had a lot of mystery fiber.

Firstly, you need to identify your fiber if it isn’t labelled.  The first way to check if it is animal hair is to burn it.  Yes, burn it.  I used a fire lighter and took a piece of the fiber and it singed and smelled like burnt hair.  If it does that, it comes from an animal.  It doesn’t matter at this point which animal, but an educated guess reckoned that it was alpaca.  Alpaca is a lovely fiber, but some types will felt and some won’t. I have a lovely knitted alpaca hat I bought in Peru which is so soft and warm.  So either way I am going to be a winner here.

Now that you have determined that your fiber comes from an animal and it isn’t synthetic, you will then need to felt a sample, step two.

I had three mystery fibers in grey and the black is merino that I used for my control.  I laid them out with two layers.  I wet them out with tepid soapy water and started the felting process by sanding on boths sides, rubbing and rolling.  This is what they looked like.

B was looking as it should for merino, but neither A, C or D passed the pinch test.  I kept working at the samples and I finally got them to do a little something.

I can honestly say that if you want to become a good felter, you need tenacity as this is not a quick craft!  Not only was this fiber slippery and hairy, it was also squeaky!  You can see my lovely control Fiber B doing what merino is supposed to do.  Neither A, C or D is suitable to felt on its own.  D looked like a complete disaster!  Now, some people might think D was superwash, but superwash will not felt, at all, with anything.

So, I completely wasted my money right?  No!  You can stop right here, but if you know how to spin, you can spin with alpaca to make a lovely yarn.  I don’t know how to do that yet!  I was going to give some to a friend, but then we had lockdown, so I just labelled the bags as alpaca and put them away.  However, if you are like me, you will take it further, step 3.

How do you take it further?  You add wool to it.  Something you actually know is wool that will felt. People in the feltosphere suggested that.  So I did.  I got out the blending board and blended the alpaca with merino.  I used the black merino for the dark alpaca and natural grey merino for the other two.  Here they are all laid out as before.

I then wet everything out and felted as before.  As you can see below, adding the wool made a huge difference and made for a better felting experience.

Here we are above drying out in the sun.  They felted better than expected, especially D.  Here is the final outcome below.

Sample A) From 9 squares to 6 squares square, took the longest to felt, hairy, and has some fine holes in it.

Sample B) From 9 squares to 6 squares square, was the quickest to felt.  Sturdiest and best felted of the three.

Sample D) From 9 squares to 7 x 6.5 squares.  I couldn’t get it down any more than that, but considering it was falling apart on its own, this is a good result.  Has some holes, but more like superfine cobweb.

This is the condensed version of 3 blog posts regarding this mystery fiber.  My conclusion is that I shall only keep sample C as it felted the best with the merino.  The other two will be used for spinning, once I learn how to do it!  So, if you get given some fiber that you are unfamiliar with, make a sample and see what happens!

Posted in fibre, Wet Felting, Wool | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments