Looking Ahead to Organizing a Felt Study Group for 2021

Looking Ahead to Organizing a Felt Study Group for 2021

2020 has been odd, scary, frustrating and somewhat productive.  Besides felting and fleece washing, I have spent time working on the guild library, once we were allowed back in the building. We finally got to run the Library survey I have wanted to run since the early 2000’s. After the huge library restructuring of the collection this was an excellent time to run it. the survey had 19 questions divided into sections. The data analysis has be keeping me vary busy and away from doing as much felting as I had wanted.

To keep us together wile we are apart, The Ottawa guild is trying to find ways to connect with its members through zoom meetings, on Face book and is looking for ways to do on line participation starting with study groups. The Meetings have been fun, especially to see everyone, but the learning curve seems a bit steep for those of us who had not zoomed before. But its not all bad really! We have the opportunity to have presentations from people who don’t live near us. We have also had some creative programing with an online bingo game at the last meeting. I was one of the winners and got a lovely little baggy of blue fibers and a button (May the Fleece be with you).  There was some blue/green firestar that is very sparkly which I have segregated to its own baggie.  I may use in one of my Mer’s if I do a colourful tropical fish part.

We have already had a Facebook based Tapestry study group this past summer that was quite active. The socially distanced, masked Flax study group met in small groups all summer and fall. (You heard about that already). We also had interest expressed in a weaving for clothing and a rug weaving study groups. Both of those were put aside to start in the fall or winter.

The next idea for 2021 was to have group studies that would cover weaving, spinning and felting starting possibly in February over Zoom. There were a couple options suggested for topics for spinning and weaving but I was asked if I wanted to lead something on felting. (Ann may get a request for wet felting since I tend to like to stay dry if possible)

So I need to come up with a few options to offer the Guild executive and membership. Since we are all in the same predicament of exploring new ways to connect i thought you may be interested in this. You may have even tried something along this line already with your online friends or local guilds. i hope you may even have better idea than what i have been investing. There are two topics I have started studying on my own and collecting info on which might work as a study topic.  Armatures and armature wire options and sheep breeds focusing on the felt-ability of each breads wool.

Armature wire with samples of gauges and types of wire. (Not all 14 gauge wire has the same flexibility)  I have been acquiring wire for each of the sculptural projects I have been working on.  I also have been keeping samples of each  wire type I have been able to get. I want to sculpt a leg or leg like shape on a piece of each gauge to see the flexibility and structural support each size will provide.  This should suggest what size each gauge will be suited to.  I also have found a lot of wire is not labeled by gauge so having a comparison file would be helpful both for future purchasing and for deciding on which gauge for what size of sculpture.

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 1   14 gauge Steel

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2   14 Gauge aluminum.

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3  Jute Covered wire

The second is a fleece study (Ruth Lane’s Binder is fantastically inspirational!!!) investigating the felt-ability of various breads. I was more interested in the dry felting properties but Ruth has inspired me to possibly include wet felted samples if I have enough fiber for a breed.

4-5   Shropshire I think

6   Shetland

7-8   Scottish Mule and Velusila cross

There are some very good books on different breeds of sheep and the properties of there fleeces. Unfortunately they focus on spinning knitting or weaving properties rather than felting.

  1. The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson.
  2. The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson.
  3. The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose by Beth Smith

Another option, which would be very easy to do, is a cookie cutter needle felting base and then explore embellishments on a small scale. Cookie cutters are not too expensive, come in lots of shapes, and don’t take up too much wool.  There are lots of embellishments that could be investigated; beads, embroidery or as Moi MaCay referred to it as stitch marks, ribbons, wire work, and inclusion of silk or other fibers.

9  Embellishments

How it would Work

The concept for all the options would be to do a shared knowledge study with everyone doing sample homework and reporting back to the group each zoom meeting. Participants would have to acquire the supplies or do a group acquisition of materials. Instead of a teacher student relationship, it would be fellow students moving towards a common goal and greater understanding.

From my (guild) librarian perspective, I would hope that study groups that are working towards a binder of information could make a copy for the guild library too. It can’t hurt to ask!

How are your guilds and groups keeping their educational components going while we are waiting for our Covid shots? Have you been part of any study group or felt along online, to keep yourself inspired while we wait until we can get out and see each other again in person? is there one of the ideas that looks appealing or do you have an even better suggestion?

Unless the calendar is incorrect (this year has felt unusually long) this is the last post from me this year. I am hoping the last few days of 2020 will be the best part of this year, and that we all will have a much better 2021! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!

7 thoughts on “Looking Ahead to Organizing a Felt Study Group for 2021

  1. HI! Jo Ellen, i was hopeing since we are all stuck at home or only limited contact with others we should see if anyone else has had a briliant idea, or any ideas on how to do some of what we are missing. the vacciens are comeing but it will still take a while to get here for all of us. this blog help keep me inspiered, you tube felt-alongs too, so lets see if we can do more fun things while we wate.

    Stay helthy and have fun felting!

  2. I don;t have a guild in my area and would love to join in on your study group. I look forward to an update on how it will work. Thanks for all you do, Patsy

  3. The breed study sounds wonderful. After I posted about my notebook, I thought it was something we could possibly do through the group here too. People could do samples of whatever breeds that they had available following the same guidelines. We could then post photos and information on one page here on the website and continue to add on as more people do samples. It could be both wet and needle felted. Then it would be a resource that anyone in the world could access.

    1. That is a great idea! what a good resorce for all felters. it the Ottawa Guild picks the Breed study i will definatly add each breed here too!

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