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Author: Jan

Realy im not 12, i am just sivearly dislexic. i can spin, weave, felt, garden, Draw, Paint, and do layout but i realy cant spell. if you read out louwd i do make more sence.
Hair shopping at Twist Fiber festival with Mr. Mer

Hair shopping at Twist Fiber festival with Mr. Mer

Finally, the big day was here! It is time to take Mr. Mer shopping for Hair! I had persuaded him to wait to broaden his choices by looking at the Fiber Festival Twist in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec. That would be a bit over an hour’s dive east of home. I had a few bags to put purchases in (optimism!), the camera, something to drink, Mr. Mer in his project bag and a good audiobook to start the trip off (today’s driving was accompanied by “A Lady’s Guide to Fortune hunting” by Sophie Irwin).

1) Mr. Mer is napping in his project bag before the big drive. I promise I will get him a bigger project bag!

Ah, summer, the other season of road maintenance in Canada. Oh well, at least the scenery is lovely, driving through the rock cuttings along highway 50. To see all the geology from the comfort of your car, (ok there were a few potholes and truck ruts to distract from the view). You get glimpses of the Ottawa River as it heads south then into the hills and more rock trees and farmland. Turn at the town that makes me think of pineapples (it’s a French word that has nothing to do with pineapples) and go north over a stream, past the cows and eventually into the town of Saint-André-Avellin. A couple more turns and you are at the arena complex wondering where they put the handicapped parking (no I do not actually have the special parking for my e-“specially” great spelling ability). I stopped to ask a man in a sheep hat with horns, I bet he will know! Oh, it’s right here? And don’t run over the line of people waiting to get in. What a close parking spot to the line, amazing! I got out, organized and was already in line, we were ready to go.

2) in line at Twist, handicapped parking is adjacent to the line, now that is close parking!

There are a few changes since the last Twist festival (2 years ago), there has been construction on the building and a covid clinic has taken over what used to be the classrooms. There were, as in previous years, tents outside for Emerging Artists and the Food court.

3) the first outside tent

Inside there are two halls, the arena and the gym and locker room spaces which they are using for classrooms this year. My plan of attack was to cruise through the larger hall first, looking for long locks (the Olive sparrow and a couple more booths might have some) but taking a quick photo of the Black Lamb’s mill ends on the way by. Continuing on to the small hall where the booth for Fibercraft might also have long locks. We were in agreement and had a plan of attack!!
With Mr. Mer leaning over the back support of my walker, the line started to move and we were off! We breezed through the emerging artist’s tent (I will look more carefully later) and took a fast sweep through the main hall looking for the elusive long fibre locks.

4) Inside the Arena (lots of knitting yarn but looking for those elusive locks)
5) Half of the Black Lamb’s booth. They have mill-end fibre.

Pausing briefly, I took a quick shot of the pile of mill ends at the black lamb’s booth. I am fascinated by the hugeness of the pile as the weekend starts and the speed it dwindles as the weekend progresses. I will be back shortly and do a bit of shopping there myself. I hope that some of the other guild members will post the after pictures from Sunday! Finding only a few booths with any fibre, none of it as long as I was hoping, we turned our vehicle to the small arena to do a quick fly-through there.

6) AH ha! We found some locks, not as long as he wanted but a good colour.

We headed past booths with knitting yarn towards the Fibercarft booth, which was looking like our last hope for anyone with long 12-inch or longer locks for Mr. Mer’s hair. I hope he will not be too unhappy if he winds up with a military haircut if long wavy locks are unattainable.

7) Success!! We bought a bundle of green and a bundle of orange-red for his daughter or wife’s hair.

These were the only extra-long locks we were able to find this year at Twist. There may have been some in the back of a booth I did not see, but we were pretty thorough in our such (Next year there will be lots I’m sure since a short bald Mer-fish was asking for them!). The green locks look a bit bright but there is the option to over-die or it may be ok as an accent with the locks from Bernadette. He will show you his loot in a bit.
We met a relative of his while we were in the Fibercraft booth. She was also inspired by Sara’s “Mermaid-felt-along” at the beginning of the pandemic. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljS4YRmz9w&t=1992s) this was a great way to keep us sane and busy during our time isolating. I am not sure if Sara realizes what she has inspired!

8) Mr. Mer met another Mer from a different branch of the family. (from the same Sara Felt along!)

We said goodbye to his cousin, I didn’t get her name so we referred to her as Ms. Coral Mer. With his shopping now done, we can relax and see what else is on offer.

Around the next corner, we spotted some familiar looking felt. This is Richard Hanna, he is an excellent sculptural felter and sometimes member of the local guild. It has been inspiring watching him work on some of his large pieces during meetings (the Narnian Lion head and Marilyn Monroe head were both very memorable). He has made some interesting green men and tree people more recently. He was quite busy so we didn’t have much time to chat. It was great to see him again, I hope he will have the time to come back to the guild and attend socials.

9) Richard Hanna’s booth at Twist

We stopped to have a quick chat with another guild member, weaver and basket maker Janet Whittam.

10) Janet Whittam’s booth

I took one of Janet’s basketry workshops years ago. To begin we went for a walk down country lanes near her home, collecting wild grapevines and other interesting vegetation. This salvaged material was used with various cane to make a basket. It was so much fun. Janet mentioned while we were chatting and I was admiring the new baskets, that working with the antler as she wove the basket was quite challenging. The final effect was definitely worth the extra work!

11) needle storage

In one booth I saw this lovely little pottery needle holder. What an elegant way to store needles!

12) These mice were so cute but I have no idea what they cost, I could not find a price and the vendor seemed very busy so I didn’t ask.

13) This is a prin to skene winder.

The Prin to Skene winder was incredibly cool and I would love to have bought it, I don’t know where I would put it but it turned easily and was just so cool! That is a giant bag of superwash merino mill ends, it’s sitting beside ($10.00 per LB). This means we’re back in the arena at the Black Lamb’s booth. Here are a few more shots to drool at. I got the last of the BFL (Blue Faced Lester)/silk which is fun to spin and it will also felt!

14) A few of the specialty blends at the Black Lamb booth

15) Mostly superwash merino but other blends of fibre too

16) a few of the Felting supply’s at the Olive Sparrow

We wandered back to the Olive Sparrow and perused silk in fish-appropriate colours then l checked out pieces of felt backing for pictures in so many colours. I spotted the painting in Wool book and one of the two recent Landscape paintings in wool books was also there. I found some extra-large leather finger cots by the cash so added that to my order too. (It’s hard to find thumbs that fit unless you sew your own.)

17) A Majacraft dealer booth

There was a booth selling Majacraft products, (they make spinning wheels that are very posh). I did not realize they also made fibre prep tools. I spotted blending Hackles, mini-combs, a tiny blending board and regular-sized drum carders.

18) A booth of mixed weaving equipment and weaving yarn

Mr. Mer was particularly excited about this Jane loom by Louet, I think the lack of treadles was appealing since Mer-persons would have a challenge to operate them with their tail fins. I did not point out that looms are usually made of wood so tend to float and would be hard to operate in an aquatic environment. In addition, getting wet would not be good for the loom.

19) This booth is Fibres of life

Fibres of life had cat caves, mice, balls in felt as well as felt backgrounds, really nice backpacks and bags as well as examples of the heavy commercial felt used in storage baskets (you can see them under the cat caves and holding the mice and balls). There were also mysterious giant balls of felted roving that looked like balls of snakes.

20) It was good to see such interest in spinning from a range of ages

21) this year the majority of the booths did seem to be more knitting oriented.

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22-23) One of the outside tents was filled by the rare breeds conservancy group.

Rare Breeds Conservancy group brought four sheep, a mother and son and two twins, I think the twins were Shropshires. There was interest in the mom’s pretty fleece too!

24) Sheep dog demonstrations

We stopped to watch the sheepdog demo. One of the sheep had figured out it was bigger than the dog and was being stubborn.

With all the fibre I had purchased (as well as Mr. Mer’s shopping), it was time to drop things off in the car. We headed back through the food tent, I was very tempted by the “Hamburger de Bison 1/4lb”, available “avec Sanglier Effiloche” if you wanted for a bit more money. (I had it without the extras last time and it was delicious!)

25) Exotic lunch options

We stopped to have a chat with a lovely lady who had driven up from the states with some friends to attend. She had enjoyed the scenery of the drive from the 1000 island bridge through the southeast of Ontario and then into Quebec. She mentioned she enjoyed our weather (the heat wave the states and parts of Canada were having, had broken in eastern Ontario after a heavy rain storm last week. It was either that or the weather feels cooler when posted in Celsius?) She is presently a knitter but said she is a future felter who is just waiting until she retires to start felting. I hope she will be inspired to jump in and try both wet and dry felting sooner.

The ladies at the ticket table were very helpful in making sure I got safely back to the car (which was much appreciated). Mr. Mer and I must have been looking very tired and I was going quite a bit slower than when I arrived. We got the shopping in, but I said I just wanted to rest for a few minutes, in hopes that I was up to another trip around the venue and take a few more photos to let the guild know what was there. Mr. Mer seemed very pleased with his shopping so he got comfy in the passenger seat as I had a short rest. We had another Guild member stop by, say hi and linger for a chat. It was a very restful chat and I was ready to take one more round of the shopping options.

26) Having a chat with Mr. Mer, who has retired to the car to recover from his shopping trip.

27) He checked out Mr. Mer. (Safety first- always wear your seat belt), Fish fatigue from shopping!!

I left Mr. Mer to nap in the car with the shopping and headed back in for one last lap around the booths. The crowds had thinned and I was able to get into most of the booths with the walker. I found a bit of fibre but was wanting to save a bit of money for a treat after the shopping. There was a booth “the Campaign for Wool, Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales” which seemed to have literature but it was still too busy to ask questions.

28) I admired the Baskets from Big Blue Moma’s booth but didn’t get one.

The baskets were in the first booth just inside the first tent. It was a great strategy. You could buy your basket then fill it with purchases or after buying everything inside you were wanting, buy a big enough basket to hide it in for taking your new hoard into the house! Many would make excellent presents for a family cat but only if you didn’t fill it all the way up with fibre.

29) I stopped to admire the Kromski wheel

I did finally get into the booth with a Kromski spinning wheel, I cannot afford one of their ornate wheels but I now have a Kromski drop spindle! I took it for a spin when I got home with a bit of the BFL/Silk blend I had also purchased.

30) Kromski makes a drops spindle, which is more in my price range!

The tag says it’s an 85gr spindle, so reasonably heavy but It still spun quite fine yarn. At 32.00+ Tax, it was also the least expensive spindle I saw and now I can say I have a Kromski brand yarn maker! (Ok, technically it’s not a spinning wheel just a drop spindle but it is wheel-shaped and it does spin!)

Some of us have a post Twist tradition of heading to a small restaurant at the far end of town. We discovered it was there quite a few years ago. I had checked online, to make sure it was still there and that the comfy-duck-club-sandwich was still on the menu. (YES!) Therefore, I had carefully saved enough money to get 2 orders of the drool-worthy sandwich. Unfortunately, I arrived to an empty parking lot and new hours, I found out that the restaurant is having trouble getting servers for the evening. We will have to make another trip of just over an hour or wait until next year to get the comfy duck!!

31) La Toquade restaurant, with Club Sandwich au confit de canard (comfy duck served on apricot Raisin and sunflower bread, garnished with bacon, onions, green apples celery and mayonnaise, with a side of your choice of French fries or salad.)(this explains why the duck is so comfy)

I was too tired to go back to Twist and shop till my pockets were empty but my car was full. Instead, I put on my audiobook and headed home. It was a bit slower traffic due to the roadwork, but the book makes the time pass quickly. Now all that is left is to show you the results of our hunting expedition.

Mr. Mer seemed quite pleased with himself. He had a lovely time, enjoying women (and some men) admiring his 12-pack abs and his fine butt. He had acquired the only long locks we could find, for both himself and ether Mrs. Mer or Teen Mer, as well as picking up a little friend.

32) Mr. Mer shows off his shopping

33) My loot!

I was looking for felt bases for pictures but got distracted by the soft fluffy BFL/silk blend (the large bag of white) and the blue batt looked so oceanic (yet dry) I could not talk myself out of buying it too. I was pleased by the leather thumb covers (finger cots), they are good for protecting fingers if you get momentarily distracted while felting.

I hope you also have access to a local Fiberfest with shopping, workshops and fabulous food. It was a fun day and productive hunting. I hope all the attention Mr. Mer got doesn’t go to his head or I will have to find more hair!

Plain Air wool painting at a the Pinhey’s Point demo

Plain Air wool painting at a the Pinhey’s Point demo

One of our local guilds mandates is education and we fulfill part of that by doing demos for the city of Ottawa at their local Museums. This weekend we were requested by the Pinhey’s Point Historic Site to provide a demo focusing on weaving but including other fibre arts.

Sign for Pinhey's Point

1) Sign for Pinhey’s Point

Pinhey’s Point features a nearly 200-year-old manor house (Horaceville) and surrounding ruins on 88 acres. There is a fabulous view of the Ottawa River overlooking sailboats at anchor in the bay in front of the house.  There are remains of the original old kitchens and a couple of outbuildings visible from where we were located.

2)  Views from Pinhey’s Point

We had been having high temperatures during the week, not as bad as parts of the States, but still hot for what is normal for us. On Saturday morning I checked the weather and was happy to see a lovely (cool) high of 26c but under the tent, on the top of the hill with the breeze, it felt more like 20c and I should have brought a sweater or jacket! (Never complain, because it could always decide to snow!!!)

The staff had set up a number of 10×10′ tents with tables and chairs. It was overcast most of the day but a lovely spot to chat with visitors, some of whom had come up from the sailboats to see what was happening under the tents.

  3) Part of the Demo team showing, Weaving (2 harness, 4 harness, 8 harness looms), Spinning (2 different wheels) and Felting (Just 2-D today)

I was running late and selected a spot for my table overlooking the front lawn and down into the bay with the sailboats. It would be a lovely spot to work.

3) Morning view of the front lawn

I originally had intended to work on the sheep horns that you might have seen me working on at other demos. I may have been watching too many episodes of Landscape artist of the year, since I was inspired by the vista, even in its overcast colours, before me.

4) the not quite 8″x10″ felt base for my picture

I had a piece of felt with me that I could use as a backing, about 8×10 inches so started laying on a white wool base. (the base layer was a bit uneven and seemed a bit kempy.) It was also not quite 8×10 so I had to spend a bit more time adding more width and a bit more height.

5) the not quite 8″x10″ felt base for my picture

 Next, it’s time to draw in the basic shapes using a bit from a micro-batt Bernadette was not pleased with (thank you, Bernadette! It worked perfectly for my use!)

I started to add the murky skies and reflected water.

6) Beginning to add sky and water

There is a small airfield nearby but I am not sure if that was the origin of the float plain we saw circle, then land and take off a number of times over the morning.

7) float plane practice landings on the Ottawa River

As the day progressed, more groups of people arrived with picnic paraphernalia and headed down the path toward the shoreline. More of the sailboat people came up the hill to check out the tents, their occupants and visit the museum. I have worked at this demo 3 or 4 times, this is the busiest I have seen it.

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   8-12) More of the Demo Team

As the afternoon went on I spotted the first bit of Blue sky!

13) the first bit of blue sky (still almost all grey)

Drat, do I have to add that in? I still haven’t got the foreground done!! Sneaky Weather!!

14) I didn’t get as far as I had hoped but I had a lot of fun

It was getting close to 4:30. Where did the time go? I will not win landscape artist of the year if I am this slow!! I will just have to practice more!!

Since it was getting late, I went in to take a peek at the ground-floor exhibits. It’s a fabulous 200-year-old stone house that is very grand for its time.  It has a central grand staircase and a fabulous main door.  The Dining room is at the top of the stairs and very posh when built.

I toured the ground level displays but did not feel inspired to try the stairs (it had been a long day by then).

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 15-21) inside the ground floor at Pinheys Point

By the time I was heading down the hall towards the kitchen, I was behind a woman telling a younger woman about living in the house when she was age 13 to 21 when her grandmother still lived there. It turns out she is one of the Pinhey descendants visiting from BC and had brought some artifacts for the museum from her part of the Pinhey family. She was telling her niece stories about living in the house in winter, flooding, and taking over from her aunt living with her grandmother in the old stone house. (Her parents lived nearby in another house on the property). I asked her about the spinning wheel in the kitchen room but didn’t want to interrupt her touring her old home. She said she remembered a different wheel when she was there.  She explained about the setup of the house when she lived there with her grandmother, who in the winter slept in the room that had been behind the stove in the kitchen (the warmest part of the old stone house). It was fascinating and I felt extremely lucky to hear some of her stories.

22) The Great Wheel in the kitchen

She told me about her Grandmother getting unexpected, uninvited visitors one winter while she had lived there. The hill path down to the side door by the kitchen, which was the house access commonly used, was particularly icy and treacherous that day. Some very well-dressed men arrived to see the house, it was the Governor General of Canada and his entourage. When they entered the house she was sent out to put ash on the ice so they would be able to leave, after her grandmother reluctantly gave them a tour of the historical house.

I returned to my spot but it was time to pack up, the weather was showing signs of improving further. I took a couple of quick reference shots as we packed up.

23-24) A couple of quick shots as the sky started to show more blue areas

It was time to pack up, Bernadette had been combing as well as carding and spinning so there were lovely tufts of fluff floating around the landscape. The staff was sure that there would be some stylish squirrel nest this winter!

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25-26 Bernadette droppings left to improve the homes of the locals

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27-33 a few more shots of the area as we were packing up and heading to the car

We had packed up and were on our way out when we met this guy coming in. He was a bit late for the demo. I don’t know if it was the weaving, spinning, felting or the loose fibre he was looking for.

34- the last visitor was just a bit late for the demo

I love to see auto-mobile-lawn decor. Maybe he/she, or some of the landscapes will inspire a bit of picture felting? Have fun and keep felting!

 

If you are in the Ottawa Ontario Canada area and you would like more info on Pinhey’s Point you can check here;  https://pinheyspoint.ca/

There is more info on the house here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horaceville,_Ottawa

 

PS Today is Mom’s 91st birthday, don’t tell, but there may be some of Ann’s amazing chocolate chip cookies involved in the celebration!

A SHORT UPDATE ON MR. MER

A SHORT UPDATE ON MR. MER

I was surprised (and pleased) at the interest in the crown needle post I just did. It is a cool little needle unequally suited to shallow detail work. Its low barb number, having only 3 in total all by the tip, does make it a slower needle but it’s not always a good idea to be in a rush.

The “not in a rush” has been impressed upon me again this past week as I shifted from needle review to a photo re-cataloging project for my husband. Nothing big, or heavy like arranging just the correct angle to capture in photographs his collection of Anvils (he is down to 3) or forges (he has 2, both on the back patio)!

What I was working with were Many, Many, Many tiny light objects. Unfortunately, I needed to sort through all of them, then spread pre-specified groups of them out to photograph.  The best spot to work for light was on the bed by the window. This put me in a working position of standing and bending forward. That is precisely the same position that I used to work in, which did not go as well as I had hoped. (Neuropathy is a neve yelling at you. It can scream –searing pain, it can lie to you –give false information, or it can refuse to talk to you –numbness or lack of proper function) the type of nerve and the location of its irritation give the location of where their displeasure is felt.  A nerve once annoyed can hold a grudge =this means if you irritate it then re-irritate it, it usually will take longer to forgive you and heal after each re-irritation.

I got help yesterday and am well over halfway on the first part of the photography project. Unfortunately, my leg is still intermittently lying to me even this morning, so no standing photography or poor ergonomic felting until that stops.

SO my plans for today’s blog are a bit on hold. I can bring you up to date with the project I had started with Mr. Mer. “The Quest for Hair”!  I have reminded Mr. Mer that Twist Fiber Festival in Quebec is only a few weeks away (Aug. 12th to 14th) https://festivaltwist.org/en/twist-fibre-festival/ .  If he would like to accompany me, he would have an even bigger selection of long locks to choose from. (I hope I can find vendors with 9 to 12-inch die or undyed locks that would be fashionable for a modern Mer person.) He seems very smitten with some of the locks from Bernadette’s stash but I think I can persuade him to wait till just after Twist.

Mr. Mer would like to send his thanks to Bernadette who raided her stash to help alieve his follicular challenges.  This is some of the fibre he has sorted through;

long fibers greens yelows long fibers Greens Purples long fibers with ruler1-3 sorting through the fibres from Bernadette

He has collected a small bag of fibre that he hopes goes well with his Northern pike lower half.

Mr. Mer (Merman) holds bag of long fibers in shades of green4 Mr. Mer’s Selection

Once he has a bit more he will have to decide on the hairstyle he wants. I am suggesting long since It would flow wonderfully as he swims. (vary Fabio if you are old enough – think historically inaccurate romance novel covers with beefy guys with long hair).  If he spends a bit of time online, he may find the Drummer Toll Yagami, from the Japanese band called Buck-Tick. He has an extra-long Mohawk hairstyle, it’s terribly impressive! I am not sure the ingredients to keep a Mohawk up would work in water. I may have to investigate if Mr. Mer seems interested. (There may be some Magic Mer hair gel I don’t know about.)

I got up extra early to work on my blog post and look who I found doing research on my computer! (Why does my computer freeze when I use it but he can spend all night browsing?)  I will show you what he was up to.

5 Compilation of research by Mr. Mer

Mr Mer thinks he should keep researching. It is a big decision and he is a bit overwhelmed with all the options! For now, he is on his way back to sitting in his project bag, clutching his bag of fibre, in deep contemplation.

Mr Mer with his bag of fiber ready to go back to his project bag and think

6 Ready to go to his project bag and have a think.

After all his research and contemplation he will likely want eyebrows and ears too! I will keep you updated on his progress.

 

Have fun with fibre and keep felting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Question about Crown felting needles

A Question about Crown felting needles

A couple of days ago I was watching an online demo of Needle Felting Faces done by Marie from living felt out of Texas. She was using one of the new firmer wool felting mats (it looks similar to the ironing felt mats). She was using a 42Triangle (42T) needle. She said she chose this needle because she wanted to “have the fiber sit on top of the picture and not underneath”. I am not sure if she is using a triangle needle with 3 barbs per side (a 42T 333) or only 2 barbs per side (a 42T 222). A T42-333 would be more aggressive at moving fiber than a T42-222.

I asked in the chat; “Since you are focusing on adding the wool mainly to the surface have you tried a 40 or 42 Crown needle? A crown needle has the barbs very close to the tip of the needle so works with little (depth of) poking.” I did not get an answer from Marie but it started a side conversation about Crown needles with a European felter in the chat.

I was surprised that Crown needles were not well known. They have been available for a few years; at fiber festivals, online and if you are lucky at the local fiber arts stores.  I am sure most of you have bumped into them but may not have had the opportunity to try them out.

Let’s look at where they come from, the working parts of the needle, why would you want one and what is it good for?

Where the Crown needle comes from;

One of the manufacturers of felting needles is Groz-Beckert, who classifies crown and fork needles as “Structuring” needles.  A Structuring needle works on “structuring previously bonded nonwoven fabric” in a machine to produce a Velvety or grainy surface texture. They are designed originally to plunge through the felt pulling fibers to the opposite side as can be seen in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWE4tvHF0xU

As felters we tend to look at items not originally intended or designed for felting and turn them into felting tools. Bubble wrap, lids of Tupper wear jugs, pool noodles, garden kneeling pads and we look at the industrial felting needles and go “AH!! I could do this with them instead!”  In this case, instead of pushing fiber to the far side of the felt and through creating a surface texture, we can reduce the depth we work at and secure fibers close to the surface of your work.

Crown Needle diagram1) a close up of the end of a Crown needle.  https://www.groz-beckert.com/mm/media/web/3_felting_1/bilder_14/composings_3/FN_Composing_23.jpg

Parts of a felting needle 2) Parts of a felting needle

How the needle works and the structure of the needle

Let’s review how a felting needle works. As the needle enters the fibers/felt, its barbs (notches in the needle which can vary in number and placement along the working part of the needle) grab some of the fiber and as it is inserted drags the fiber with it into the felt.  Since the barbs are one directional the fiber carried by the barb stays at the depth it was pushed as the needle is removed. This repeated entanglement creates felt. The felt can be a 2D picture, a 3D sculpture or industrially the needles can create the non-woven fabric used to line the trunk or cover the door panels of your car.

With the Crown needle, the bards are located very close to the tip of the needle and are arranged one per each working side (3 working sides in a triangular needle). This means the working depth is the distance from the tip to where the barbs engage and entangle fiber into the web (felt ground). So on my crown needles, it’s about 1/4th of an inch. There are different styles of tips and different lengths of barbs so there can be a bit of variation if you look at the industrial options. But overall, the distance from the first barb to the tip is very close compared to other types of needles.

Where did I find mine?

Ann and I were both curious a few years ago and I bought a box of the Crown 40-111 from Doer out of china. The price for the needles (500 in a box) was good but the shipping cost was a bit painful (but still cheaper than a flight to China and buying them there!). At present, there are listings for 40, 42,43, and 46 gauge Crown needles from Doer. Groz-Beckert’s PDF lists Crown needles in gauges from 25 to 46. Some of the Groz-Beckerts range would likely not be useful to us but is an impressive amount of options!  With both companies, the working part is triangular as you can see in the last picture from the group below.

box of 500 Crown needles3) box of 500 Crown needles

the designations for the 40gauge crown needles I purchased4) the designations for the 40gauge crown needles I purchased

needle are wrapped in bundles within the box5) needle are wrapped in bundles within the box

close up of one of the needles6) close up of one of the needles

For part of the surface decoration on the iris flower, I used crown needles individually and in groups of 2 or 3 held together with a small rubber hair elastic.

using crown needles to add detail to the Iris petals, note the shallow angle I was working at7) using crown needles to add detail to the Iris petals, note the shallow angle I was working at

Why would I want a crown needle and what do they do?

When you want to affect the surface of your felting, you can try the crown needles and/or you can change the angle that you are inserting the needles. A very shallow angle, (almost parallel with the felt surface) will keep the barbs from going through a thin petal or 2d picture.

With a crown needle, there is a reduced distance the needle needs to travel to engage the fiber and secure it into the web.  This reduction in range of movement may reduce some of the strain on the body during the movement of felting, especially if the movement is slower and involved a more careful insertion of the needle. That said you will further reduce your likelihood of muscle fatigue or injury if you also remember to take (Stretch) breaks or let your bladder help remind you to take breaks by drinking liquids like ice tea or water. It’s not a good idea to ignore your bladder when it asks you to stop felting!

Gauge vs fiber size

As the gauge of the needle gets bigger, say a 40 crown vs a 46 crown the fiber diameter/fineness that will be most effective with the needle will change. A 46 crown needle will work better with finer fibers. Conversely, a larger courser fiber may not engage or be grabbed effectively by the finer needles and barbs. Fine needles will also leave less surface distortion than a larger needle. Sometimes if you are getting large dents when using fine needles, it may be more a matter that you just need to keep felting until the entire surface is evenly compacted, all at the level of the original dents. That said a finer needle and/or a shallow angle of insertion will also reduce the dented texture on a surface.

Conclusion

Depending on the project, you will likely have a couple of favourite needles you keep picking up. It may even be the same needles you gravitate to over many projects. So why, if you don’t already have crown needles, mite you want to consider adding another needle type to your collection? Their ability to work at a shallow depth gives them an advantage over other needles whose first barb placement is farther away from the needle tip. Crown needles can be very useful in portraiture, very thin structures like petals or butterfly’s or adding detail to your wet felted vessels, hats or garments. Basically any time you don’t want fiber added to one side to show on the other. (This may also require a very shallow angle of insertion.)

A Crown needle may not be the needle you reach for the most in your needle felting but when you want to work superficially, it is an excellent option to consider adding to your choices of tools.

 

If you are still curious and want to know more about other needles that are available in the industry you may enjoy looking through this PDF from Groz-Beckert.

https://www.groz-beckert.com/mm/media/en/web/pdf/Felting_and_structuring_needles.pdf

 

possibly for my next post; Mr. Mer has been digging through the fiber Bernadette brought in to a library day to see if I could find some acceptable (to Mr. Mer), Mer hair.

Felted Iris Flowers Part 3

Felted Iris Flowers Part 3

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2.1

Preamble:

When last we chatted about the needle felted Iris flower that I am working on, I had just dodged most of the destruction from the May 21st huge storm that swept across most of Ontario. I had no power for just under a week. So had discovered you can felt in the driver’s seat of the car if you are desperate to hear the news and charge your audiobook.

Even over a month later some of the destruction is still weighting to be cleaned up, with broken limbs and broken trees still occasionally spotted. One of the smaller (yes this is considered small and low on the city’s priority) hanging limbs is on my neighbour’s tree. It is hanging dangerously close to where my front yard garden benches are and where I have planting to do in the garden.

1 – the Linden tree that is threatening the hedge and my benches in the front garden. (It can take out the hedge if it likes! It would give me a couple more feet of garden!)

Good News! the freeze/ thaw/ freeze again spring followed by killer storm seems to have decimated the caterpillar problem that kept me out of my front garden last year. Who wants to sit and have caterpillars fall on you or worse caterpillar droppings fall on you (YUK!) I have spotted two tiny tent caterpillars so far who did not survive the spotting! (I am not prejudiced against all caterpillars, just the ones trying to eat my tree. I don’t like the ones eating my gooseberry bush either.)

I finally have the side yard set up mostly to my liking. I am having ongoing “conversations” with the local bunny, squirrels and those evil chipmunks! Someone dug into the planters of carrots and maybe the same or a different someone has been eating the big yellow flowers carefully off each of my 3 zucchini plants. We have continued to try to explain the term “Share the garden” does not mean eat or destroy all of it. (I did not get any of the strawberries again this year!)

2  – Who keeps eating my zucchini plant flowers? They’re in a 24-inch diameter pot, that puts the plants about 2 feet above the driveway!!!

By now it is time to set up the skirting table, and organized the fleece washing buckets……hum. I have to move stuff first. Ok, better pot the pulled raspberry canes soaking in a smaller bucket where the skirting table gets set up, then plant out the end-of-season half-of-half-price garden plants sitting on the table in my outside studio… there are more on the back patio too it was an excellent price!

3 – side yard studio still full of plants (I will explain the white bag on the bench in another post)

let’s just leave that for a bit longer and get back to telling you about flower felting (I Am Even On theme for the CHALLENGE!!)

 

ON to the Felting part:

As you saw, I had been working on the leaves and got them to the basic shape I wanted and am pleased with their thickness (thinness). I still want to adjust the colour a bit but that will be thin wisps of fibre laid over to modify the under colour, a bit like the layers of washes in a watercolour painting. There was a stretch of gray days, followed by library work and then all the impending gardening that I should be doing too.  So, I put the leaves aside to fix before I add them to the final assembly of the flower.

I had finished the basic petal shapes at the chilly Demo in Manotick. I did a bit more finishing touches on the colour blending at my desk while listening to audiobooks ( I think it was more ware-wolf or vampire romance novels that don’t need a lot of attention).

4 – I am working the wool at a very shallow needle angle and making sure there is a bit of the blue working up from the tip along the center of the petal.

5 – I again pulled on the edge of the petal to give them the ripples.

Next was to add the beard to the lower petals. It is time to take a wander through my stash of fibres. Originally I had thought to make the beard yellow. Looking at the yellow colour beside the white and blue petals, I found it too contrasting and distracted from the subtle colour changes in the petals. Ok, it’s defiantly a white fibre I will need.

As you know, fibre comes in lots of different types, long or short staple length, softer or stiffer, lustrous or dull also crimpy or more hair-like. A sheep fleece that is fabulous for doing one job may be inappropriate if used in a different job. Who wants to mend the holes in the heels of 100% merino socks or make a high-traffic carpet out of it? Choosing the right fleece for the right job can make felting, spinning or weaving a joy instead of a fight to get it to do what it is not suited to due.

As much as I make snide comments about it, Merino is wonderfully soft. It’s fun to spin. It absorbs light rather than reflecting it when used in a picture (so it can make deep shadows) and can look flat. It comes in fabulous colours and blends easily with itself or other fibres, but it is much too soft to work as an iris beard.

Bluefaced Leicester was fabulous for my polar bear picture and sculpture, it has a bit of stiffness to the fibre but is still soft, it is smooth and lustrous, and it also has a good light reflection. But, it’s not quite the right stiffness. I am getting closer.

Don’t I have a clear plastic XL shoe box labelled “Mohair/Angora” in the basement? Yes! The fibre is stiff, has a bit of wave, but not really any crimp to it, is very light reflective (lustrous) and it’s filthy with bits of VM (Veggie-matter). I selected a small handful of the least dirty and brought it upstairs to the bathroom sink to wash.

6-7 – I used a little plastic storage basket with holes as the washing container and drying rack. It’s not perfectly clean, but it’s a lot better than the before picture I forgot to take.

8 – Photo Reference OH No what is that center part?!!

While that was drying at the edge of the sink I went back to look at the Iris reference pictures. Petals; three upper (check), Three lower (check), what are those things in the center sticking up between the upright petals? They are not in the paper iris pattern pieces!! They’re right behind the beards, I looked at more reference photos and found some were very prominent indeed! https://www.walking-p-bar.com/shopsite/media/graphicp/Stitch-Witch.jpg & https://www.americanmeadows.com/media/catalog/product/i/r/irishemstitched_2.jpg?quality=80&bg-color=255,255,255&fit=bounds&height=&width=

So while I wait for the mohair to dry,  I start making the shape I think I am seeing.

9 – (Those of you with delicate sensibilities may want to avert your eyes to the next couple of pictures, which show the knotty bits of the iris flower!)

10-11 – Can you see the sneaky way I held together the three parts as I assembles this delicate bit?

12-13 Adding wire to the central part of the flower

I started to adhere the sections together, then added a wire with a short turn back in the center of the core and finished felting the center.

By now, the Mohair was close to dry and it was time to affix it to the lower petals. I checked the reference photos and promised no ZZ Top Beards this time.

The goal is to have that bristle brush look at the end that I wanted. I considered pile weaving, loops of weft area fixed to the ground fabric then cut to produce a pile or velvet-like surface. I bet I can do that with wool! (ok, goat)

 14 – adding the beard

I started with a thin strand of mohair fibres. I started at one end of the lock and focused on tacking down loops of the mohair. I worked with the needle at an almost horizontal angle and from various directions, to keep the Beard fibres from showing on the other side. (the needle in the picture is just holding the fibre in place for the photo) if you find that the mohair is resisting entanglement in the felt try adding a bit of the base petal wool between the loops like a staple to help tack it down. It will only take a little wool to do the tacking and you may not need it. Most of my needle insertion is working across the mohair, and the petal, first from one direction, then from the opposite. Once secure I would create a loop in which I used the same technique to tack down.  I made all the loops a bit taller than what I thought I would like so I could trim them to the height I wanted.

15 – I checked the photos online to get the average positioning of the beard.

I worked from near the throat of the petal (the narrow end with the wire) to the point just after where the upper and lower petals separate in the flower.

16 –  what a messy-looking beard!

When I had the Mohair loops to the height and density I thought I wanted, it was time to find one of the fine pairs of scissors. I wound up using both the strait and curved scissors to open the loops, then trim them to the shape and height I required.

17-18 – Beard added to lower petals and trimmed

Now I have three upper petals, three lower petals with beards and the core sexy bits. Shall we put them together?

19 – Again, using photo reference I checked the positioning between the petals, as I positioned the upper petals to the core

20-21 – Adding the next petal I blended the base into the center core. One more top petal to go then recheck the poisoning.

22- The first lower petal is attached and about to add the second

The lower petal falls between the two upper petals and the beard is center to the innermost bit. Above, I am about to position the second lower peddle the first lower petal is to the right and can be seen just above the blue fake clover tool.

23 – Positioning the final lower petal

I started to add the wool over the under flower and stem getting the base layer and some of the colour on in time to take it with me to the market to show Ann and get feedback on how it was coming.

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24-27 – Ann checking out the flower

The next step will be adding the final colour layer to the stem and finishing the colour layer on the leaves. But first, the Blackberries are almost ready and the Raspberries need picking! So we will finish off the Iris in another post. Have fun Keep Felting and Don’t forget to check your raspberries!!!

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28-30 Red Raspberry and Black Berries (and under-ripe blackberries with clematis flowers)

 

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!

 

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

Spinning

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.)

Felting

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

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2.1

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2.1

(Felting in adversity)

My plans for this post were to tell you about making the leaves, touching up the upper petals and adding the beard to the lower ones then maybe even showing you the final assembly of the iris flower.

Well, that plan went out the window with the arrival of the GIANT storm that hit Ottawa. We had the sky turn black, high winds and hail followed by a sudden lack of power. The storm was not too long in duration but the aftermath was impressive. We were fine but around us there were trees down and one even smote a bus!! (What rude thing did the bus say to the storm?  Only the driver was on the bus and was not hurt.)

1-2 Three houses away is the transit-way where the bus and tree had an altercation.

3

This was the cherry tree across the street and 3 house down. A lot of its small branches were in my driveway.

4 (5 houses away) two houses down the side street from the cherry tree this huge tree twisted and dropped on the house.

After the storm we had no power for 6 days. The house seemed quite dark even in daylight. I tried to work at my computer desk for the few hours in the afternoon that it had direct sunlight. This did not give a long window for felting so I focused on garden spring cleanup and setting up the outside studio!

5-6  Afternoon felting at the woefully dead computer(no power is no fun for electronics)

I lay down the base and added the wire and highlight greens for the Iris leaves.

I had two ways to check for thin spots, the first was by feel (Palpation) and the second was by looking through the leaf toward the window. Both worked well to give a more consistent thickness to the leaf.

7 Looking for thin spots by using the window light

After a couple of days of no power, I had finished 3 audio books and my iPod was almost out of power!  There was an electronic charging station not too far away but parts of the roads were still closed some from fallen trees and some from construction. So plan B was lets listen to the news in the car and charge the iPod and my (again dead) phone at the same time. Humm…. I wonder if I can felt in the car….

8 My KIA Soul survived the storm with only a few new decorative leaves stuck to it. (We were very lucky!)

9-11 that would be a yes to felting on the steering wheel (No I was not driving! Just sitting in the driveway).

I don’t think this will catch on as a great felting location, at least not on the driver’s side of the car. I also learned, from the radio, that the power company expected to have most of the houses without power back on within 2 to 4 days and a few more days for difficult locations (with fingers crossed I whispered “please don’t be a difficult house!!”).

I quickly discovered another problem in this lack of power. All my reference photos were on the computer!! No problem, go check the peach iris in the backyard……oh there is bud damage and there still in bud! (no flowers to look at as reference!) OK, no problem keep working on the leaves!

12 Iris with dub damage.

On the positive side the lilac are in full bloom and smell heavenly!

13 pink Japanese lilac

The next day is gray, overcast and Rain, lots of rain (no! I do not want to do wet felting!) so I have to wet-poof my outside studio. 3 clear plastic table cloths, 1 pack of blue plastic close pegs, a pair of scissors and the broken umbrella I hoped we mite be able to fix and I had a reasonably drip poof work area! (no wet felting for me today),not that there is anything wrong with wet felting I just was enjoying dry felting and was trying to prolong the enjoyment.

14 Outside studio partly wet proof, I found another drip and added the third sheet of plastic.

15 third piece of plastic did the trick and the drip is averted!

16 Yes, it’s still raining but I am working on Iris leaves in drip-proof happiness.

17 making thin firm felt by needle felting in not fast but I am vary happy with the Thin aspect of the leaves!

I got this far and it was time to go pull books for the guilds next library day (which will be the day this is posted.)

18 the OVWSG studio where the guilds library is. (Ruth’s Book is one of the ones that will be going out this month! It’s a fabulous resource thanks Ruth!!!) all the requested books have been pulled and the library is ready for Sunday.

I am just back and have been busy at our first Guild demo since covid hit. But I will tell you about that and hopefully finishing this Iris project next week. Have fun and keep felting.

 

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2

Last week we got the petals to the point they were firm and reasonably thin. As I promised let’s look at the new equipment I am about to use.

I ordered a felting pad for ironing. it is a little firmer than the white felting mat I was just trying out. I also ordered the clover craft iron II (with accessories). I spotted it on at a lower price than I had seen it in previous weeks so ordered it. Checking on the day it arrived it was up in price over 10.00, while today the price is back down to 2.00 more than I got it for! Prices are acting very strangely lately.

Let’s look at the Felt Ironing Mat first.

23 Wool ironing mat “14″x14″ Wool Pressing Mat for Quilting”

Yesterday I found out some felters are using these ironing pads as felting mats. Ironing mats, (about .5 inch thick) are thinner than the 1 to 1.2 inch felting mats. The ironing pad is a bit firmer than the white felting mat. It arrived folded, with instructions that include “do not fold”. If I use it as a chair pad I will likely flatten it quickly, but I tried it in its present state. It is about half an inch thick. I measured the white wool mat at about an inch thick. The grey wool mat was about an inch and a quarter. (See Photo below)

24 comparing thicknesses

25 (Ironing mat, White wool mat, Grey wool mat)

I did a brief test with the bad sheep picture. This would let me check the end feel of the needle entering the ironing pad, which is quite resistant but does work.

26 needle test of the ironing felt mat

I suspect using the ironing mat may increase the strain on the arm/wrist/finger muscles with prolonged enthusiastic (stabbing) use for felting. I do not like ironing except for before sewing projects, so I am unlikely to injure myself using this as an ironing pad. This thought may come back to haunt me……

The Clover mini iron II and accessories came with a lot of instructions and diagrams. i read them over when they arrived then put everything away in a nice little box.

27  Clover Mini Iron II

28  I found a plastic box at Dollerama to keep the Iron and its attachment options in.

The iron is usually used with appliqué by quilters. The various attachments will get into small corners and the ball attachment will accentuate dishing shapes. The Iron is designed to flatten and smooth the surface of the felt, more like the commercial hot press felts.  It may be interesting to try starches or misting with this too. (oh no a distracting thought escaped!)

There are other similar-looking devices which are used for Auto body repair and another for taking wrinkles out of leather goods (shoes, bags etc.). Check the temperature range on each type, you don’t want to scorch your felt.

One last thing to remember about the mini iron, from what I have read online, it is very important to keep the iron rest, (the plastic and wire thing that supports the iron tip), somewhere you will not lose it. I read many warnings that this part can mysterious disappearance and happens frequently.

Tiny Craft iron time!

Ok, now I am ready for the next step that I skipped with the prototype.

 29 I plugged in the iron and waited for the iron to heat up

After a couple of minutes, I tried it on the prototype. Hum it doesn’t seem to be hot yet. The wool is not warm? I wonder if it’s working? Did I get a broken one? Let me check…Ooops! OWW! No, it’s hot now.

30  I guess this means the Iron is not broken. Owwww.

I carefully ironed each petal, first the prototype then the new petals I had made. There was a bit of thinning visible. I will have to try pressing a bit harder but i didn’t want to scorch the wool. Next flower I will try to get a wire that is closer to the petal colour since the black and green floral wires are still slightly visible, at least in the photos.

31 Carefully ironing the petals

I took them in to show Ann on Library day. It was not as busy as we had hoped so Ann got her dry felting experiment done and I showed her skinny petals.

32-33 Ann inspects the thinness. She said she had not anticipated them to be so firm.

There was one more step I had skipped in the instructions for making a rose from Tjarda’s Workshop.  She had very carefully trimmed any fluffy, flyaway edgings on her petals. I recently purchased a few more variations on curved bladed scissors. I selected one with a short curve to the blade that seemed to fit the petal and started trimming. I think I was a bit more enthusiastic than Tjarda but did get all the fluff removed and smoothed the curves.

34 trimming the edge fluff

35 close up of scissor blade curvature

36 Here is a before (R) and after (L) petal.

After trimming, I tugged gently on the edge of the petal to give a bit of the frill. The tugging is along the length of the edge.

The next step will be adding the last details to the iris petals and then assembly! But that will be another time, I have a bit more library work to do. So, while I am off doing that I hope you are enjoying spring and getting a chance to have fun felting.

Update; we seem to have had a week of mid-summer weather (not so good for the spring flowers). This weekend we made a trip to the first biggish Fiber Festival which was only a 3-hour drive away in Peterborough Ont!  It was so good to be able to feel fibre in person! if you are interested I took a few pictures (121 actually) but promise I won’t inflict them all on you! I am sorry I did not get a picture of the beaver we saw sitting in the grass beside the highway (i was driving) I thought it was only a groundhog as we approached but saw the distinctive tail as we passed. What a fun Saturday! I hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

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