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;  (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)

6 thoughts on “First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 2

  1. At least it didn’t rain Jan!
    There was a lot of interest in the demo tent and how lovely to have members of the public joining in with the spinning.
    The pine needle basket must have smelt lovely and what patience to bind all those needles together with stitching.
    As always, such a lovely post to share with those who couldn’t be there.

  2. My favourite part was definitely the ladies from the public knowing their stuff! I’ve done a few demos in the past and never found anyone who knew how to spin – they did have ancestors who did, though! I feel we’re guardians of this precious art, and we need to get more and more people interested in it so it doesn’t get lost in time…

    “They’re making wool” – haha, if I had a penny for every time I heard that 😀

  3. What a wonderful way to educate people. I did this kind of thing with my yurt. Talk about weird comments. One lady wanted to know how much dryer lint it took to make the yurt! 🤪

    It is amazing that you found someone who knew how to spin. Turkmenistan is one of the areas that I am researching about felt patterns. I wish I could have spoken to her.

  4. Just wonderful to read these reports of your demo. I feel, like others, that I was there too! An amazing skill sharing day, and how wonderful of the 2 visitors showing you their skills.

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