Winters can be long and cold here, with the cool to really cold months greatly out numbering the warm to hot ones. To counter the general feeling of bone-chillingly cold and break the misery that winter brings the City of Ottawa organizes Winterlude to embrace winter sports and activities (which doesn’t include spinning, weaving or felting outside – luckily). But the weather often has its own plans for Winterlude, usually being brutally cold or unseasonably mild which closes the canal for skating and melts the snow sculptures.
Denise Knebel and Bernadette Quade, two of our local guild members came to the conclusion we needed a post-Christmas spinning break from winter as a way to bring together spinners from both sides of the Quebec and Ontario border. In 2018 they put together the first Wheels on Fire. They found a really beautiful location in Gatineau just across the Ottawa river at a converted horse farm barn, “la Ferme Moore”. (No really look at the pictures it was a stunning venue!) they had lined up a few local venders from both sides of the river so there were shopping opportunities and they even had Door Prizes!!!! So from 10am to 4pm we blissfully enjoyed the beautiful scenery, while shopping, chatting, spinning, sock knitting, and ceinture fléchée.
2018 Wheels on Fire spin in at la Ferme Moore
Unfortunately the group running the facility folded later that year and we were not able to book the location again.
The event had proved very popular so they began the search for another venue for 2019. They did not disappoint! They found another spectacular log structure called the “Cabane” and described it as;
“The Cabane is a massive round-log construction that backs onto the Gatineau Park. Our room has lots of natural light and views of the park from nearly all the windows”.
The site had even better access for the mobility challenged with long ramps inside installeded along one side of the building. There was the large room we occupied and 2 other rentable rooms available for future expansion (one had a spectacular fire place in it). They scheduled the event for Saturday, January 19, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Shots of venue and park
Ann McIlroy and I both consulted Google maps to get driving instruction and suggested driving times. Google maps lied to one of us. It told Ann it would take her 41 minutes from her home well south of Ottawa and told me I would take 40 minutes from the west end of Ottawa close to the high way. We stopped, picked up breakfast, toasted bagles with butter and cream cheese, resumed our trip heading across the river and into Quebec. We followed googles instructions up and across the snowy beauty of Gatineau park. There was a particularly nice view crossing the river with mist and blowing snow and another view looking up the valley along one side of the park. Unfortunately there was not a good spot to stop and take pictures at either location. I have been known to drive like a plane at as very low altitude ( but I wasn’t that day) and still got there as the venders were setting up. I think Glenn-porter-of-stuff and I were the first participants there and payed our $5.00, getting our door prize tickets. I picked a spot by a window and snagged a second chair to work on. Another lady put a small folding wooden table next to us and I expected to see one of the electric spinning wheels emerge. Instead were the cutest little needle felted sculptures. We had a felting corner at the spin in!!!!
I got Glenn settled in with his book in the corner and I wondered off to do photos of each of the venders and gets some crowd and venue shots. The venders this year were; Elizabeth Watt, Joanne Howard, Isabelle Perdigal, Bernadette Quade, Lee Scott, Wendy Wellbond, Erin Krekowski, Judy Kavanagh, Céline Paquette, Christine Gagné, and Luc and Nathalie and Céline Cléroux.
When I returned I found Glenn had all the pieces I was working on out of my basket and was showing them to the other spin in participants. I hear my fox was well photographed. I better get around to finishing his whiskers’ upgrade soon so he will be ready for his photo session.
shots of more participants
Bernadette had asked a local spinner to give a talk on spinning with local bast fibers, such as the stock of milkweed and the invasive dog strangling vine. Both make a spectacular fiber similar to nettle or linen. The colour variations available from different soil, mould and weather conditions were extremely intriguing. We are hoping to get Cole to submit an article for Ply magazine talking about his practical spinning experience and the equipment he is using to spin.
shots from Cole’s talk
And there were again Fabulous Door Prizes!!! I didn’t get shots of all of the winners but all looked like they were very pleased with their winnings. Ann who was sitting on the other side of me won a batt of mixed fiber and traded it with the vender for a feltable one. The Canadian Co-Operative Wool Growers in Carlton Place generously made a donation of a fleece to the door prizes. I will someday tell you all about this wonderful resource we have close to us but the highlights are that it was established in 1918 to collect, grade and sell members’ wool on a co-operative basis. It grades approximately 3 million pounds of raw wool a year and sells at the best price available. Much of its sales are going to China.
door prizes and one of the winners
After door prizes had been dispersed it was back to the socializing, spinning, felting, ceinture fléchée and of course more shopping.
More shots of the participants
4pm pack up came much too soon and there was defiantly enthusiasm for another Wheels on Fire for 2020! Much thanks to Bernadette and Denise for all their hard work finding and arranging for this really nice venue. It is great to have something to look forward to in the extreme cold of January! Next break will be at the Chesterville Spin-in in February. I will hope to see all of you in Chesterville in February (weather permitting) and book ahead for a visit to Ottawa for next January and join us for Wheels on Fire Spin-in 2020.
(No wheels were actually burned or threaten in any way at the spin in!) But one somnolent blacksmith / Fiber and equipment porter was spotted. Glenn has been seen napping at most of the local fiber events. Watch for him at an event near you but poke him if he is snoring.