Electric felting tool from Ukraine (Orange Fly felting machine)
1) Ann found it on Etsy.
We knew Glenn had found it on Etsy and had a long chat with the inventor. He said that there had been illegal copies of his design, but they had not worked well having descriptions of falling apart and breaking quickly. His original design has been well-tested and had good reviews online. Ann and I wanted to try it out and compare it to the Chinese design.
2) The orange Fly from Ukraine.
3) came with Instructions.
Like the Chinese machine, the price is fluctuating due to the changing value of the Canadian Dollar.
There are a couple of safety instructions with this machine which should be noted.
Do not run without a needle in the machine
Oil the bushing and inspect to make sure the needle is not heating (you need to add another drop of oil) also running at high speed will wear out the bushing and it will require replacement when the needle feels loose when sitting in it.
I would add keeping hair away from moving parts of the machine (I was one of the first 3 girls in shop class in my high school, and I remember long hair and power tools don’t mix well. It was one of the reasons the shop teacher would not let the girls use power tools in shop class.)
Material that makes up the machine
The first thing you will notice is that The Ukrainian machine is made of a plastic for the majority of its body, unlike the Chinese one whose body is made of metal. I am not sure about the type or projected longevity of this plastic but as with most plastics it should last longer if a few precautions are taken:
Kept out of direct sunlight (can degrade some plastics)
Keep it at room temperature, and do not let it freeze or leave it in places of high heat (the dashboard of a car or in a sunny window.) being an electronic device it likely will not appreciate being left or used in high humidity. If in doubt it would be best to contact the manufacturer.
4) Hand grips for both machines
Ergonomics/ comfortable grip:
The handle shapes and thus how you grip them are also different. You may find one more comfortable than the other. I found the grip on the Orange one comfortable and it was easy to see where I was pointing the needle.
Switch and switch placement: the switch or small on-off button are both located in the area where the hand will be near. (i did not test the orange fly with the left hand but may add that to the final tests). For the Ukrainian machine, I found the switch to be well located for the Right hand and easy to turn on and off. The tiny black button on the Chinese machine was very sensitive and I inadvertently kept turning it back on as I tried to turn it off. This may just be me being too aggressive with my button-pushing. Ann seemed to be able to turn it off and on with less fumbling. You can see the Ukrainian switch in picture 2 of this post and in picture 7 from the last post, you can see the little black button from the Chinese machine. (https://i0.wp.com/feltingandfiberstudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/7.jpg?w=600&ssl=1)
Noise: the Orange Fly is slightly quieter than the Silver Chinese machine.
Needle penetration /Vibration/kickback; very little resistance to any of the surfaces or work pads with this one needle machine. (the exception was a fulled bulky knit sweater which gave a bit of kickback but this was fixed by increasing the speed.) This could be partly due to the decrease in resistance when working with one needle when compared to more needles working in close proximity. We were also not sure of the exact gauge the silver machine was using. Ann has some of the Crown 40-111 needles I sent over to her. These may improve the operation of the Chinese Silver machine and make the test more even. We will report back after her husband has a chance to de-crank the needles so they will work in the machine.
The second thing to mention about vibration is to further Ann’s finding or more correctly losing of a small screw from the Chinese machine. I found that one of mine (not one holding a needle) had loosened off when I was running a test comparing it with the Orange one. I spotted the black screw on the silver machine before it had a chance to fall out.
5) working on wool felt pad and wool felting base /Needle penetration from the back
6) pre-felt on medium felt pad
7) pre-felt on a bristle brush
While using the tiny allen key with the Chinese machine was fiddly but reasonably easy, getting the needle into the Orange machine was a bit more complicated. The instructions definitely had English words but seeing a video of putting the needle in fixed the confusion. Not having to have the pre-step of cutting off the crank (which is required for the silver machine) is an added incentive to look favourably on this one.
Overall, I liked this machine even more than I expected and Ann liked it too. Next Ann and I will expand our investigation just a bit more and look at 3 thicknesses of wet felt bases. We will look at both the Ukrainian and Chinese machines. Ann may have a third machine, this one is coming from Georgia, and has multiple needles. if it arrives soon enough we will add it to the wet felt base info and let you know what it is like to work with too. I will try to give a synopsis of the machines.
We will also see if our suspicion that the crown needles with their shallow working depth will improve the interaction between the felting surface/wool, brush or foam pad and the Chines machine.
PS: I have spent the last 2 days at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show, demoing felting with Mr. and Mrs. Mer as well as doing a bit of spinning on one of my travel wheels. I do want to show you some of the fun we got up to but wanted to tell you about the second felting machine before getting distracted again. I am hoping the spelling is ok and I haven’t forgotten anything! I am about to face-plant the keyboard so I think it’s time for bed!
This past Christmas I received an electric needle-felting tool. This one was made in Ukraine using 3D printing. It had a small motor driving a single needle. Glenn found it on Etsy after he notice I had been having long online chats with a representative, (Amy), of the brand XianDafu, sold by William Wool Felting Supplies Store. Who manufactures a different style of hand-held electric Felting machine from China.
Poor Amy, I spent a long time asking questions, mostly about their needles, what gauge, shape, and how many barbs per side. They are using needles with the crank and part of the shaft cut off (there are a couple of hand-held needle holders that require that the crank be removed too, but they’re not common). Ann’s very kind husband has cut needles for her before but I thought it sounded a bit intimidating so had been hesitant to buy one. Amy was excellent to chat with, being quite familiar with the machine but didn’t have as much background with commercial felting needles. So I went into teaching mode and likely overwhelmed her with details and info on needle shapes, gauges, barb placement…… and finally manufacturers I suggested checking out both the Chinese manufacturer Doer and the German Gross-Brecket. I passed on her information to Ann who decided it sounded interesting and placed an order.
By the time Ann’s order arrived and I got the chance to check it out, I decided it might be useful to have a second style of machine) the price had gone up! (Stupid fluctuating dollar value). The positive was that now there were a few options for accessories; I could order extra needles and/or extra screws. (They are tiny screws, so I thought it might be a good idea to get extras)
1) Ann’s Unboxing 1
2) Ann’s unboxing 2 retractable guard
You can see my unboxing here https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2023/02/04/felting-machines-from-ukraine-and-china/ The synopsis, in case you don’t want to go back and read the post, for the packaging from China it was amazing in its use of extreme layers of skid wrap, over Bubble wrap, over shrink wrap and inside the box, lots of good foam. I suspect the Ukrainian machine was also well packed for shipping, but it was not wrapped for shipping when I was given it, in Christmas wrapping. (I am pretty sure it did not arrive through the mail covered only in Christmas wrapping paper)
The concepts of having an electric needle-felting machine are:
reduce strain on your body (reduce repetitive strain injuries or tendinitis irritation)
increase the speed you felt at (the machine can poke holes into wool far faster than I can.) you can also adjust the speed of the needle in both the Ukrainian and Chinese machines that we looked at)
other things to think of, Mechanical considerations:
Ergonomics: Is it comfortable to hold and use?
How difficult is it to change the needles?
Both have a limited run time for the motor then it will have to rest and cool down. We seemed to work for up to 5 minutes then pause to adjust or add wool. The suggested run time is 10 minutes for the Chinese version, so well over what we had been doing. It would be important to adhere to the run times so you don’t burn out the motor which would not let you enjoy the benefits of the machine
Vibration, noise and Kick back should be considered.
How many needles can the machine hold and effectively work?
Ann and I have been trying to meet on a Monday before a social at the local guild to try out your new felting tool. We had a few things we wanted to test with both machines. My pre-test suspicion was that the Chinese machine would be best for pictures and the single-needle Ukrainian machine best for sculpture. Let us see if I am correct and what you think from our initial test runs.
Let’s start by looking at the Silver Metal Electric Needle felting tool from China first. (The script on the box seems to say “Zendaifuku fibre moulding machine”)
Let’s start with how to add needles, since if it is not reasonably easy to change needles then you will be less likely to use the machine.
3) Ann adding needles to her China-made machine
This machine requires that the top of the needle (the crank and part of the upper shaft) needs to be removed. This can be done with needles you already have or you can purchase precut needles from the manufacturer of this machine. This is an extra step that the Ukrainian machine does not have. On the other hand, being able to use up to 4 needles gives you more options than a single-needle machine.
We both found that adding or changing needles to this machine was not difficult. Because the screws are tiny, those with reduced eye acuity or essential tremors in their hands may find this a bit more challenging but it should still be achievable. Caution: if you want to run this one with less than 4 needles, I would suggest taking out the empty place screws and storing them in the little screw topped vile holding your needles. I would also suggest ordering extra screws they are so tiny and likely to disappear if you don’t keep your eye on them while changing needles. (Sneaky screws!!)
4) Needle-holding vile with a screw top (these are Ann’s, mine has extra screws in the vile)
Ann lost one of her screws while running the tests for this machine. She took out two of the four needles to see if fewer needles would create less resistance and less kickback. She had left the two screws in the machine without the needles. She noticed one of the screws without a needle was missing and we used a tool I have shown you before to look for it. (Princess Auto has these, extendible-handled-magnet-with-light. Very handy for picking up needles, screws or pins from your weaving)
5) Extendable magnetic with light
We started with the different felting surfaces we had with us; Firm foam pad (yellow), pool-noodle-type garden kneeling foam pad (green), and medium firmness wool pad (charcoal).
pool-noodle-type garden kneeling foam pad (green)
6)My accessories and felting machine on the green foam with extra needle cases, Allen keys and tiny screws. Back of 100% wool felt base with Ann’s machine with only 2 needles.
The green kneeling pad produced some kickback, but the Chinese machine did embed the fibre into the green wool felt base. Though it did work better with Ann’s machine with 2 needles rather than mine with 4 needles.
Firm foam base (a piece of the kneeling pad) yellow
7) Firm foam base (a piece of the kneeling pad) yellow
The yellow firm foam had the most resistance to the needles and had the most kickback. Holding the machine on an angle helped the needle barbs engage the fibre.
Wool mat (medium softness) (I have one that is thinner and firmer and one that is thicker and softer)
8) 2D and 3D on a wool mat with the Chinese machine
On first impressions with this tool and this wool mat, Ann liked the 3d more than the 2d felting.
9) Increasing Speed
Increasing the speed improved felting in both 2 and 3 D but she is still having some kickback with 4 needles. She also found that working on an angle worked better than vertically. We again suspected that the lower angle might be engaging more of the barbs with the fibre, than when held vertically. With the amount of resistance felt with this surface, we may not have the speed, gauge and number of needles set up to optimize for this machine. We will investigate further.
Ann held the tool at an angle and found it worked better. We think that the surface may be too resistant to the needles in use. We suspected finer gauge needles or fewer needles might improve the felting. For a second try, Ann switched to two needles instead of four this reduced the kickback but didn’t remove it.
10) Ann reduced to two needles and tried the wool mat again. it was more effective.
11) We also tried a 3-D object, using 2 needles and without an armature.
This caught and entangled fibres into the felt successfully. As you can see, Ann was running it with the guard locked in the retracted position.
After checking the mats we had with us, we came to the conclusion that there may be too much resistance and maybe we needed something more like the clover brush pad to allow the machine to work to its best potential. Neither Ann nor I have one and they are so small a work surface. We needed to come up with an alternative. I found my red kitchen scrub brush and Ann went to a hardware store and found a bristle scrub brush and a driveway brush. So we now had 3 brushes of different stiffness, height of bristles and bristle density to try next.
12) 3 brushes to try
13) Princess Auto red scrub brush; tightly packed, stiff plastic bristles.
14) Whisk brush with handle from Home Hardware, longer and softer bristles that are tightly packed.
15) Driveway brush without its pole handle also from the hardware store; firm bristles more dispersed than the other two brushes.
16) Prefelt over the driveway brush
Using the driveway brush as you would a clover brush seemed to be the most effective of the options we have tried. The other two brushes were found to be too stiff (Red) and on the other, the bristles seemed too close (Black). The driveway brush created less resistance than even the pool noodle-type garden kneeling pad foam, which was better than the wool or hard foam with this machine.
I suspect that if changed to finer needles, with the barbs located closer to the tip we would again see an improvement in fibre engagement.
If this company makes a new version I would suggest it would be nice to have the guard able to lock at a couple of spots so you could set the depth the needles would penetrate. Secondly add “Extra Fine” needles to their options, with barb placement close to the tip. (a shallow working depth but maybe not as shallow as the crown needles)
The machine itself felt comfortable in the hand, it felt safe and solid to work with. The adjustable speed worked well and we remembered not to get too excited and overwork the machine, so no more than 10 minutes on. We probably were working more in the 5-minute run times, then letting it rest as we set up the next bit of wool to work on.
Next, we will look at the “orange Fly” electric needle felting machine from Ukraine. We can then compare the two.
Ann and I would be interested to hear if you have tried the metal electric needle-felting machine from China. How did you find it?
Saturday, Feb 11th, 2023, was the date scheduled for the next 2D felted landscape workshop at the local guild. Before Xmas we had a lot of workshops have to reschedule. Either the weather was against us, or the instructor or the students had caught the flu going through town. (Technically that is better than covid but it still sounded awful.)
In the aftermath of the sudden arrival of winter the weekend before, I had been left fighting Glenn’s generosity (he gave me his cold). I had noticed I was feeling better each day from about Wednesday so by Saturday I was pretty optimistic that I had defeated most of it and would be able to teach. (I had been avoiding Glenn but it is a small house.) I had spent the week slowly gathering supplies, sorting out all the things the students would need and had Glenn do a run to Dollerama for the missing items.
Saturday morning started very early, Glenn loaded the supplies, samples and many bags of different fibre. When everything was in the car, there was still room in the front seats for both of us. Seeing out the back is not that important, I have side mirrors! So, off we went to the studio to set up before the workshop.
1) small grey 4-door Kea Soul with Glenn bringing in as much as he could carry each trip. The parking space is still covered in snow and the Dairy Queen on the other side of the street is not yet open.
2) clustered around or on the table outside the studio; 12 giant zip lock bags, 4 large bags, one file-holding plastic box, and Glenn placing the last 2 mid-size clear ruff totes on a round plastic-topped table. There are “caution wet floor” signs in the foreground and off to one side.
Glenn unloaded the car and set up the extra tables in the studio so I could set out the student’s supplies and set up the examples.
3) Classroom set up with each student’s notes, foam pad, frame, and needles set out at their place. To the right are examples of my work (including the Mr. and Mrs. Mer to show 3D Dry Felting). In the background, Glenn is reading and you can see a smaller table full of other supplies we will need as well as a 5-foot table overflowing with bags of wool. (There are a couple of bags sitting on my walker).
4) Close up of examples of 2D and 3D needle felting and 3 books (Art in Felt and Stitch, Jaana Mattson’s Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting and Painting With Wool Landscapes) I had brought for the students to look at.
In the student’s notes, I gave them a list of books that may be of interest if they enjoyed 2D picture felting.
Jaana Mattson’s Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting by Jaana Mattson
The Art of Felt Felting Book by Loumange Francoise Tellier (inspirational)
5) Three bins and a bag of other things the students might need or could try. Fake clover tools, bags of scissors, extra needles, pins, small pet brushes that work like mini carders, and a bag of permanent markers are arrayed on the table. There are also a couple more small samples of felting and using different types of backing or ground felt.
6) 13? Bags of wool on a five-foot table overflowing with one on the floor and two bags on my walker.
7) Well-padded rolling desk chair with a green and black pillow sits behind a folding table with all the students’ supplies.
I found out that one of my students had hurt her back and was not sure if she could make it or how long she would be able to felt, so had one of the comfy chairs and pillow ready for her arrival.
8) A close-up of one of the student’s workshop supplies, with various candies and chocolates for stamina (keep watching the pictures and you will see more of the candy selection).
Most of the students had chosen an image from a selection I had sent earlier in the week. We wound up with two students working on the tree in winter with a fence and two on an ocean image. Since I had not heard from all the students I thought I better bring all the colour options so I would be ready for whatever they wanted to try. We had two missing students, one was a booking error that had been corrected but was not on my list, and the other was actually missing. ( I found out when I got home that she had not felt well and had tested positive for covid that morning!)
I had set out the student’s supplies; Name tag (rectangle thick wool felt): (safety pin & sew-on pin, sock yarn, piece of scrap paper and Marker). Foam Kneeling pad, 1 sheet of 100% wool felt (enough for two 5×7 pictures), 1 sheet of acrylic craft felt, I sheet of card stock (to make a window mat), a Plastic ruler, a Wooden Frame with a mat from Dollarama, XXL Project bag, bag for the needle, 21 pages notes and Felting needles.
2x T36-333 needles (Blue)
2x T38-333 needles (PINK)
2x T42-222 needles (Turquoise)
1x Crown 40-111 needles (Orange)
1x Reverse 40-222 needles (Green)
We started with a name tag; making your name in yarn to practice eye-hand coordination and get used to the needles. I usually review what’s in the notes, the basics of history of landscape, mentioning the golden mean and the rule of 3’s for photography, a review of perspective, some of the techniques that apply to pastels, acrylics and watercolours that can be used with wool. As well as blending fibres by hand or by hand cards to get the colours you want. I also chatted briefly about ways to transfer images to the felt.
I didn’t go into as much detail as I usually do since I was starting to feel a bit more brain-stuffed up than I had been when I arrived and started to set up. I was sure I was feeling better, but this cold seems to keep trying to sneak back and hit you again. Even so, the students did very well. Maybe not overloading them with info helped.
This time everyone wanted to use the “lightbox” (or window) method so I reminded them that the template version, which is good for thicker felt bases or dark-coloured base felt, was in their note if they needed to use it in the future.
9) Student with ocean view with lots of blues teals light teals, grey and white wool strewn around. There are is also a package of rockets candy rolls in the foreground
For each image I had two copies of the original image (in case they chose the template method), a colour blocked version and a colour saturation image to show hidden colours they may want to consider. I can do this with Microsoft Word 2010. (Sometimes things work and upgrade then lose the effects you want.)
10) The second Ocean image again has fibre strewn around it. In the foreground, my male cardinal on a branch, using the template method for transfer. Like Watercolour painting, layers of thin colour for the background and a thicker more like acrylic approach to the bird.
Normally each student has chosen a different image, this time one of the ocean images was popular and the tree in winter with a fence and hill had found favour with the other 2 students.
11) Student working on their background behind the tree first. This time the fibre is a mix of white, grey, green-grey, light blue and brown with gray. In the foreground there is the green handle of the clover tool rake (originally designed to clean a clover brush) but works very well to hold down the wool as you felt, it keeps your fingers away from the pointy end and less bloodshed.
12) The second tree image is having its fence added. in the foreground are works in progress of a night winter tree and on the cheap Dollar Tree craft felt a pair of sheep (you can just see the eye) and a pair of hand carders sitting on a copy of the student’s 21 pages of notes. Next to that is a brass nautical calliper, a wooden frame with an XXL project bag and a box of mini boxes of smarties (candy-coated chocolates).
Winter trees were also popular. I reminded the class that they could play God and move, remove or change trees, clouds or anything else that offended them. It was their landscape and they could adjust it so it would suit their liking.
I talked about how to think like a watercolour painting with washes and layers of thin wisps of fibre building up to a final image (not the fastest way to work but it can be very effective as in the fox who still needs to have whiskers added and I’m at about 30 hours). I also mentioned that after laying in the trunk and main branches, wisps of fibre worked well to create a hallow of tiny branches for the winter tree.
13) The first tree picture, Using a 5×7 opening to check the framing of the image. Behind the image and card stock mat is the foam kneeling pad that we were using as a felting surface.
Using a mat or just a card stock stand-in for a mat will give your eye and brain another view of the image you have been working on.
14) The second tree picture, held up to get a quick check for position in the mat.
Both trees look great and are their own tree, even having used the same inspiration to start with. The same individual personality happened with the stormy sky ocean picture.
15) a very active roiling sky with sea and beach underneath, there is a seagull added to the right side.
16) a turbulent sky and sea with a beach in the foreground.
Both have great movement in their pictures, again when using the same image each saw and focused on different aspects of the image.
I have found sometimes after working on an image for a while I need to take a break. I will put it aside and come back to consider it again later. I may decide “yes I am happy” and the picture is done or I may decide it needs a bit of fibre added here or there to complete it. Sometimes using a card stalk mat will help me consider the image, looking at the picture in a mirror or turning the image and the felt picture upside down will help you see what you are looking at, rather than what your brain says it thinks it is looking at. (It makes it easier to see the negative space and compare the image with the picture you are making).
I hope they had fun and I hope that this opened up a new expression of creativity with wool.
The class finished up early but they also took a much shorter lunch than the last class. I had given each student a project bag (giant XXL zip lock bag) to store their extra wool, felt samples and needles in. They had the leftover fibre from their first picture and a couple selected a second image to try. A different water picture and a sheep in a field of snow. it was impressive how far along they got in an hour on their second images.
17) An hour in on a second image of a sheep in a snowfield and snowy sky, sitting in a card stalk mat
I seem to have missed getting a shot of the other ocean image! I was really only working at about 90% efficiency. It took me about an hour to pack up the workshop supplies and Glenn loaded them back into the car. Then put away the extra tables (I think tomorrow is a spinning workshop and they will need the space).
There is a very good restaurant across the street from the building the guild is in, I think I get a happy Sherpa by making sure I linger in the parking lot while he runs over and orders dinner. It was very good, the car smelt like hot pizza all the way home.
February 04, 2023, around 6:30am-ish, it was -33c this morning and the car was not inclined to leave the driveway. It probably was afraid I would want to drive further north! It took a while to get Glenn’s car started but with a boost, she was persuaded that it would be good to go to the Chesterville Spin-in today, (not tomorrow). Chesterville is a small town almost an hour south of Ottawa and might be warmer! We should not complain, this is the first cold snap we have had and it is February.
Glenn still has his cold so he was not up to going. (It was just a really bad cold, the un-rapid test confirmed it is not covid). Ann McElroy volunteered to be Glenn who was going to do the adding up of prices and figuring out change. I always avoid self-checkouts. Since I was not deemed worthy (OK I also have dyscalculia) to be a cashier when I was young, so why would I want to be one without getting paid now that I am old? Ann offered to do the math parts, which I appreciated immensely. With the car delaying me, she got there well before I did and had explained to the organizers and other vendors she would be playing the part of “Glenn” today. She said she was asked if this meant she would be sitting in the corner reading a book and then falling asleep possibly snoring. She just laughed. (This is a common event at fibre activities, Glenn is very supportive of my interests, but tends to nap at most of them, I do have many pictures to prove it.)
1) 2018 Wheels on Fire Spin-in
2) 2018 Peterborough Fiber festival
3) Handmade Sign for the Chesterville spin-in with a drawing of fiber bearing animals.
A few of the vendors and some of the participants could not make it this year. There were lots of non-starting cars, and frozen pipes due to the sudden cold snap. Considering this is February, it is a bit of a late start to winter cold so we should not complain too much! By the time I arrived, there was a bit of reorganizing the vender spots and we had been upgraded to a prime location! We were the first booth you saw as you walked past the organizer’s table.
4) looking from the back of the table towards the front door.
This is the first time I have been a vendor. We got the table set up (it’s sort of like doing a demo set up but Ann has more experience at selling setups.) there were a few things I either forgot (business cards) or could not find (my sharpie for last-minute price signs).
5-8) my first felting supply table with blacksmith-made hooks.
I had examples of 2D felting (the ram with a friend), sheep broaches, felting needles and holders, a spot to try out the needles and Glenn’s blacksmith-made orifice (for spinning) and Slaying (for weaving) Hooks.
9-11) Mr. and Mrs. Mer were there as examples of 3D needle felting.
I was pretty sure there would only be a limited number of people interested in felting supplies at a spin-in but it would be fun and there was more interest than I had expected. I sold some needles, a couple of holders, a sheep magnet broach and an orifice hook.
We were beside Wendo Van Essen, a local felter with a hilarious sense of humour.
Ann spent a lot of the time chatting with her.
12-13) Wendo and her pincushions and Ann and Wendo having a good chat.
14) Chesterville Legion Hall overview shot of the event (composite of 3 photos)
The event was held at the local legion hall. The space was divided into about 2/3 vendors and 1/3 spinners this year. The weather defiantly put a damper on some of the spinners travelling but it was still a busy event. The organizers had arranged for Coffee, tea and a selection of homemade cakes and cookies! The Cranberry cake was particularly good and I was sorely tempted to go back for a second piece. I did find the last molasses cookie too.
15) the legion bar had 2 bunt cakes and a few plates of cookies on it.
16) This is a Lendrum folding wheel, made by Gord Lendum, in Odesa Ont. Canadian 17-18) There were even a couple of wheels for sale, as well as Angora.
There was a good selection of yarn and fibre to add to our fibre hordes. Let me show you some of the other shopping opportunities.
19 -34) Slide show of Various booths at the spin-in selling yarn, baskets, fibre, weaving and spinning tools, felting, needles, and blacksmith-made tools.
At the end of the day, Ann helped me pack up and get everything back into the car. It had warmed up to a balmy -19c, I had the heat blasting in the car but just could not get warmed through. I went to bed early and woke up with Glenn’s cold! (There are better things to share, I was glad I had worn a mask all day at the spin-in I don’t want to share this stupid cold with anyone.)
I hope you have enjoyed a trip to the Chesterville spin-in. it’s a wonderful opportunity to expand your fibre hoard, as well as chat with lots of fibre friends. Visiting vicariously is also cheaper than attending in person!
I hope you will have the opportunity to attend a fibre festival or local Spin-In or Felt-In soon, both are wonderful ways to have something to look forward to, and then enjoy, which will hopefully make winter feel a little shorter.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s day I hope it brings chocolate and time to felt, spin, weave or enjoy some fibre prep!
PS. The computer ate my homework and I had to re-rite my post so I hope I didn’t forget anything the second time! (stupid computer)
I was surprised at Christmas with a single needle hand-held felting machine from Ukraine. (Glenn said he had been told by the seller on Etsy that there is a Russian rip-off, which had horrible reviews. It either seized or flings parts of itself off as you try to use it.) The Ukrainian one he gave me, seems to want to keep all its parts together.
1) Ukrainian-made single needle felting machine. Speed control is on the power supply.
2) Ann liked it and suspects it will work with sculptural projects.
3) It came with a thank you card from the maker
4-5) and instructions.
Glenn had seen me waffling about a 4-needle hand-held felting machine out of china. That one required the needles to have the crank end cut off. I was not too excited by the idea of cutting needles, so was waffling. I spent a long time chatting with different customer representatives asking lots of questions about needle gauges and shapes. They listed 3 unspecified sizes. I put on my teacher hat and went into education mode and explanations of needles (you may remember my meandering through the topic of needles in a previous blog.) I passed all the info I had gleaned from them to Ann, who did order one which arrived in early January. She will, I am sure, tell you more about how she is finding it. We will also likely do a comparison of the two types we have acquired. After seeing Ann’s I decided it looked like it will probably work well for Picture Felting.
Today a mysterious package arrived from China, well a few little parcels also arrived including the metal thimbles I was waiting for. It was covered in a layer of clear tape with layers of skid rap under that! (Skid wrap is like cling wrap but extra clingy!! It holds boxes or other things on a shipping skid.)
6) tape over skid wrapped cardboard box sitting on a clear box of tiny colourful elastics.
7) protective waterproofing covering removed from a small cardboard box
I carefully extracted the box from the wrapping with the help of some scissors. There were multiple layers of Skid wrap so the scissors were the best solution.
Now to get into the box without damaging the contents….
8) Bring on the Norway pewter Heilag Olav letter opener!! (small cardboard box balancing on a small clear plastic box of tiny elastics balancing on a mettle box that use to hold quality street candy
Hum what is this? Wow, this is well-wrapped!! There is something loose underneath it!
9) Surprise! A bubble-wrapped object, 3 small canisters and a cloth rose.
9-10) Surprise! OH MY!!! That was unexpected! A rose as well as 3 tubes of extra needles!
11) Opening the end of the bubble wrap bag I found More sealed plastic in the next layer!!!
I am starting to wonder if they were expecting horrific weather in Canada or if there will actually be an end to the protective wrapping!! (it may be all packaging and nothing inside?)
12) Aha!! A fancy white box with writing I can’t read and a sticker with some sort of cool pattern on it.
It may be one of those boxes other people’s phones can read. (I did mention my phone only claims to be smarty….but it is mostly out of power and is just a phone. It doesn’t even text. Which is good since it’s a phone so friends should just call me.)
13) Gold text on the white box, any idea what it says?
Removing the outer layer and lifting the lid I found helpful instructions, including some English!!
14) the instructions in multiple languages
Oh no more packing, this is very well-packed!
15) Now we are getting to the heart of the matter! lifting the thin foam layer I can see a silver solid mettle with a plastic sliding needle guard and the nob for the speed control and another bottle of needles all nestled securely in more packing foam.
16) Digging a bit further I found the power cords with speed control and a white plug adapter that I would need on this side of the ocean.
17) all the parts extracted from the packing, plus the 3 viles of needles and the cloth rose.
The needle canister with the machine has three sets of four needles, I did not ever get any of the otherwise very helpful company reps to tell me what gauges these are. It may be 32, 36 and 40 gauge but I’m not sure. I may investigate more Sunday.
18) Allen Key inserted to add the first needle.
Referring back to the instructions, yes it is best to actually read them and not just guess. I loosened the needle-holding screw with the Allen key provided. (I got extra screws and Allen keys since I don’t want tiny parts to go missing.)
Each of the four needles has a tiny screw that needs to be backed off to insert the cut needle and then tighten. You can run it with one needle or up to all four.
19-20) When the needle(s) have been added you can twist the guard and release it. showing the guard retracted and extended.
This is what it looks like with the guard extended. It slides up and down like the Clover and fake clover tools do.
I have to get back to getting ready for tomorrow, which will be the Spin in, in Chesterville, a small town south of Ottawa. I hopefully will have photos for you of the fun and shopping, in an upcoming post.
there are a number of other hand-held felting machines (tools) have you tried either of these or one of the other ones? once I have given these a good test run we can evaluate the ergonomics and get a better idea of their effectiveness.
January 2023 still is having its way with changing my plans so I will just have to acquiesce and make new plans more in line with the year’s decrees. I am still working on my vocabulary note, I can’t show you too much about my big Christmas present yet, since my desk is trashed as I try to move furniture and upgrade my office to better function. I am also debating which of my flock of wheels (is it a flock? or should it be a whirl or maybe a herd of spinning wheels? Maybe it’s a flurry, let me check with google, silly distractible brain!! Worse google doesn’t know!!! Let’s say it’s a whirl or a flurry, since when you get one, usually more follow.)
The plan, (barring more changes) for next Monday’s guild social, is a “meet the wheels” afternoon and early evening. We have a good number of new-ish spinners who began their journey just before or during the plague. Those of us with wheels who are willing to let others try them will bring one (or maybe two) to the social and introduce them to the curious spinners. I wish I could take all of mine outside and get a group photo, but it’s snowing and there are stairs to navigate. So that may be a photo shoot to do in the spring or summer possibly with a bit of carrying help.
My first wheel was found in an antique store on Bank Street. It was under $150.00 Ashford traditional wheel with 1 bobbin and a 1 or 2-speed flyer. I think I upgraded to the 2-speed. It was a bit overpriced, but it hooked me on spinning and started the collection. I have had a number of Traditionals over the years. The oddest was from the Stittsville flee market. I was cruising the outside parking lot stalls and spotted the wheel so stopped to check it out. The wheel was very wobbly and may be warped, and the maidens (the part that holds up the flyer and bobbin at the front of the wheel) had been painted to the point they didn’t turn to get the bobbin out. Hummmm. The frame seemed loose too, that will just need an allen key to fix. Worse still someone had taken city of Ottawa fence paint, brown, to the whole wheel!! Poor thing. (It looks like the brown colour that taking lots of leftover paint and mixing it together makes.)
The vendor rushed over excited by the prospect of a sale. “Oh do you like my antique wheel?”
Poor vendor, he really doesn’t know what is about to hit him. I replied going into educational demo mode, “Well, it’s an Ashford traditional wheel. It is sold out of New Zealand, as a kit spinning wheel. They were making them to help home production of yarn during world war II. I was on their website last night, you can still order one today and they make replacement parts!” I took a breath and his face looked a bit deflated. “The wheel may be warped,” I spun the wheel showing the large wobble, “the Maidens are stuck and won’t rotate to remove the single bobbin, it should have 3 bobbins and a lazy kate when it was shipped.” He looked a little more deflated when I looked up.
“So, you know what it is?” he said.
“Oh yes!” I stated with enthusiasm, “They still sell parts! If the wheel is warped I can order a new one, I may be able to get the maidens loose if not I can order a new mother of all,” pointing out the parts which would include the base where the maidens sit as well as the maidens. “So, how much are you asking for her?”
“Would $50.00 be too much?”
“No, that seems fair, I should be able to replace anything that isn’t working.” He looked relieved and took my money. As I put the wheel on my shoulder and turned to go. There were two glaring women standing behind me…. I am not sure if they wanted a wheel to put as a decoration on their porch, or were actually spinners who just missed out on a good deal.
I wandered around the market with my wheel looking for an allen key. Then remembered I had one in my change pouch…. I found a quiet spot put the wheel down dug out the key and tightened all the frame joints, then gave the wheel a spin….. Oooh, it spins true!!! No more wobble! Now if only I can get the paint loose from the maidens and around the bobbin. I spent some time when I got her home working to loosen the maidens with success. She spun like a dream but was the ugliest wheel I have ever owned. I think I traded her to Elizabeth for the same make of wheel but one without paint (it looked better with the looms).
The guild has a couple of Ashford Traditional wheels. They have been good teaching wheels. I have found that mine always reminds me of a golden retriever of wheels. “Is that fibre? Can we spin it? Aww, Please?” They are fabulous sit-by-the-window-and-spin wheels, but with their Saxony-style shape (Flyer beside the drive wheel) they don’t fit quite as easily into and out of cars, so I probably will not bring mine next week.
1) 2003 one of my Ashford Traditional wheels (on loan to another guild member) and my Lendrum folding upright wheel (it has a broken peg underneath that I can’t fix so wobbles from side to side as she spins. The wheel still spins well even with her drinking problem.)
Wheels come in many shapes and sizes. You can divide them into spindle wheels (they have a spike to spin off like the sleeping beauty wheel) and flyer wheels (that’s the Rumpelstiltskin straw into gold wheel). We can then further divide the flyer wheels into the upright-shaped “Castle” wheels or the more horizontal-shaped “Saxony” wheels. There is a third group of flyer wheels called “Direct drive” wheels. They don’t have a drive band but they are usually small and portable. I have a few wheels in each category.
Thinking upon my, flutter or flurry or whirl of wheels, I should select a couple that would be available but also they may not have seen. I think the ones that would be most beneficial for other spinners to try would be; the Louet S40 “Hatbox” (Louet made a commemorative edition a few years ago so you can again get parts for the old ones!). The Road Bug wheel by Murlen tree and probably my Alvin Ramer Kick spindle (it’s like a tiny grate wheel but a lot slower but also more portable).
The Louet S40 “Hatbox” arrived one day at the guild while we were still at the old location on Chapple Street in Ottawa. There were 3 of us drooling at the cute little wheel that fits in its own box. That is why it’s called the hat box and not by its actual name S40. One could not get it to spin, (there is a trick to that) which left two of us in serious want of a hat box. The other contender was finding spinning more difficult from health problems so we decided that if she didn’t want it anymore she would sell it to me at the same price as was being asked. Which eventually happened and the wheel came home to meet its new wheel friends.
Being a direct drive wheel the flyer drive ring must sit against the drive wheel or the flyer doesn’t turn. If you spin and pull the yarn to the side away from the wheel, you also pull on the flyer and lift the drive ring off the drive wheel. Lifting the flyer Stops all rotation of the flyer and thus the spinning. So spin directly in front of the orifice or towards the side with the drive wheel. It comes with three small bobbins. Along with the flyer, they are stored in the lid of the wooden top of the hat box. It is a single treadle with a nice heal-tow action.
2) 2010 Spencerville Demo Ann has an Ashford Traveler. We are separated by one of my floor inkle looms. I am spinning on my hatbox wheel. (We were in an unheated, dirt-floor, arena. Not the heated building we were expecting.)
This was one of my main demo wheels for years. Before the introduction of the commemorative reissue a few years ago, it was very hard to get replacement parts. The tensioner, to keep the flyer leaning into the drive wheel, had long ago been replaced by an old shoelace. It worked but, occasionally at a demo, she would randomly and holey unpredictably go from silently happily spinning and being ignored by passersby to suddenly screaming at the top of her lungs (yes I am sure this wheel at least has lungs). This tended to gather a large crowd to see what I was killing in the corner. She would again shift back to a mild happy spinning wheel persona and happily demonstrate spinning fine lovely yarn. (I think she just didn’t like being ignored by possible admirers.) I did eventually get a replacement for the old shoelace and she has not screamed at anyone in ages. (I rather miss her occasional screams).
The road bug wheel is made by Murlen Tree, in Vermont, USA. Mine arrived many X-mass mornings ago and was quickly put together. There was a bit of a wobble in the wheel but it spun beautifully. I borrowed my father-in-law’s computer and sent an email to the company asking how best to adjust it to reduce the wobble. (This was early X-mass morning so I did not anticipate a response until at least after Boxing Day.) The return email was back within about an hour with apologies and suggestions for fine-tuning. He suggested I get back to him if I had any further problems. WOW. What a company! I sent back an apology for interrupting his X-mass morning and thanked him for his suggestions. It has also been a fabulous demo wheel.
3) Road bug at the Richmond Fair, the wheel is sitting on a rubber-backed mat on top of a tarp on wet grass, covered by a tent.
4) Road Bug spinning wheel in an under bed box at a rainy demo in Manotick.
5) Another rainy demo, this time at the Richmond Fair. Spinning with the road bug in an Ikea under bed storage box to keep it off the wet ground. (trundle box is visible behind the chair under the table.)
I have trundle boxes for each of my travel wheels. It’s a folding plastic box with 2 wheels and an extendible handle. There is room to put the little wheel, hand cards, and fibre (or a bit more fibre if I’m spinning and shopping at a fibre festival!). If you are considering spinning in public or are demoing, a trundle box can make transporting your wheel and spinning equipment much easier. If you have a larger wheel, one of the folding camping wagons is a good acquisition to move your wheel, small loom or felting supplies.
6) My spinning spot with the trundle box up on the window ledge, the Road Bug on a small rubber backed mat and a green uncomfortable hospital chair.
7) Chesterville Spin in, 2013 Kick spindle in front of Road Bug
The last spindle wheel I was considering is called a kick spindle. Mechanically, it works like a Great wheel since it uses a spindle. Unlike my diminutive great wheel which has a ratio of 80 to 1 (that means one rotation of the big drive wheel turns the spindle 80 times) its ratio is much slower. There are quite a few makers of Kick spindles, but they are not common. You can occasionally see them on Etsy or Kijiji. I found mine for sale on Kijiji and rushed out just at the end of a very large snow dump, before the roads were completely cleared. I only had to get to a town just south of Ottawa but saw many cars in odd parking spots off the sides of the highway as I slowly got there. The poor driving was worth it to bring home an Alvin Ramer made kick spindle.
8) Farm show demo 2013m sitting with my Right foot turning the large drum, which runs the spindle.
9) Jan is sitting in the corner of the hospital room, listening to audiobooks, while spinning on the road bug wheel.
10) This is the Kick spindle I switched to partway through Glenn multiple times in the hospital.
I had been taking in the Road bug and was sitting with him while he slept. He said he would start to wake up, hear the wheel making its whirring sound, know I was there and go back to sleep. One very early morning at shift change a new nurse rushed in to check the machines, muttering “it doesn’t usually make that sound!!” I stopped spinning and she seemed to notice the wheel and me, sitting in the corner of the room, she had run past me so I don’t know why she didn’t notice a spinning wheel. While Glenn found the quiet sound of the wheel soothing, it seemed to have distressed her. Therefore, I switched to my kick spindle, which is, basically, silent.
11) Road bug in one of Glenn‘s hospital rooms, sitting on the window sill out of the way.
12) A different hospital room, with the same wheel and trundle box sitting on the window ledge.
13) During the various hospital trips and stays I also found out you can spin fully gloved and gowned with a drop spindle.
I spun in the coffee shop in the hospital while Glenn was in surgery and had patients, nurses and a couple of doctors come over while I was stress-spinning, and tell me how relaxing it was to watch me sitting by the window spinning. This may be a good spot for spontaneous spinning, it helped me calm down while waiting and it also calmed those around me. It has been quite a few years since I have been spending time at the hospital but I still have my emergency spinning bag hanging on the back of the door. It has a couple of spindles, in case anyone wants to join me spinning, and some good fibre. Glenn has not been hanging around at the hospital since these trips quite a few years ago, but it’s good to have a spindle ready just in case his body changes its mind. (I have also taken felting for hospital appointments but I can’t find a photo of them.)
Looking through the photos I found another “meet the wheels” guild day in 2014 shortly after we moved to the new location. I seem to have brought the Road bug, Hatbox, Kick spindle and the Cowichan wheel (Indian head spinner) from B.C. I tried out a Majacraft Aura and enjoyed its smooth spinning. I hope to find an affordable, lonely, second-hand Majacraft Aura or Suzi at some point.
14) My Cowichan and Road bug wheels with a spinner trying the latter.
15) I am trying out a Majacraft wheel. the wheels moving from left to right is Majacraft Aura, Ashford Joy, Louet S40 Hatbox, Cowichan or Indian Head Spinner from B.C. and Merlin tree’s Roadbug. Behind the wheels is the Alvin Ramer Kick spindle, sitting on the chair beside me.
Learning to spin has taught me how to draft fibre, how to comb and card fibre into various fibre preparations and has given me the opportunity to spin different types of fibre and blends of those fibres. Coming from a spinning (and weaving) background I think this has helped me in my felting endeavours. Spinning also keeps your Fiber-hoard in check if you do a bit of Over-shopping. But I will warn you that the acquisition of “A” spinning wheel can lead to the acquisition of More spinning wheels!!
If you are curious you can find out more about two of the wheels that are still in production below, you will have to be lucky and catch a Hatbox or a Ramer Kick spindle secondhand. Both are fun and worth trying if you get the chance. Have fun and keep felting and maybe try spinning if you have not yet had the opportunity.
2023 has already sent me a change of plans notice. My last goal for the end of 2022 had been to have the local guild library book check completed. Then I would spend hours grouping, sorting and formatting data into lists so the library would be more accessible for members to use. I was running a bit behind schedule and the new deadline was to have the circulating books counted by 4 pm on Jan. 9th. If I cannot get all the circulating books checked between one meeting and the next it means I have a lot of extra checking to do once the books start moving in or out of the library. Ann had been extra busy this past year and was not as available as she had hoped. This meant that on the day of the meeting, there were four full cabinets of books checked, leaving one last cabinet full of books to check (780.’s Basketry to 900.’s Textiles – Finished cloth).
1) OVWSG Guild Library cabinet full of weaving books, on the door is a list of what is on the bottom shelf. In front of the cabinet is the old guild computer on the library rolling table.
I got into the studio extra early and It all was going quite well until I got to my nemesis, the bottom shelf. The “Problem” shelf. The Shelf placement within the cabinets does not allow binder-height books to sit upright on the bottom shelf, so most books sit with their spine edge facing up. For easier use, I had created a photo and list of what should be on that shelf. Unfortunately, I had to check to make sure that all were present and accounted for. This involved a bend, twist and lean maneuver that I had to repeat as I found each miss placed book or worse lack of book. Missing books kept me searching longer before giving up, and marking them as not there. I finally got to the end of the shelf and thought I had gotten away with this particular acrobatic bending maneuver…. But my back was only considering how best to discuss this grievous insult to its dignity. (It also likely recalled the 4 previous circulating cabinet bottom shelves.) I knew well before the meeting had started I was not going to be able to stay. I had the library set up for the evening, labelled everything I could think of and waited for Ann to arrive after work so she could run the library. (Sorry Ann!!) I got help back to the car and headed home, hoping to watch the meeting on Zoom. (There is still the Reference section, Audio-Visual and Magazines left to check!)
It was a fabulous presentation on a reinterpretation of district checks by Carl Stuart. But by the end, it was a challenge to get from the computer down the short hall to the bedroom and into bed. It’s taken 4 full days to get the grumbles back to a manageable level so I can hope to think and type.
My original plan of having a chat about fibre prep vocabulary has been put on hold (it will let me find better photos for you too) and instead, I wanted to keep with the theme of this post so far and show you the books of X-mass 22.
Glenn has discovered buying Felting Books for me is as much of a challenge as buying Blacksmithing books for him. Even so, he did very well this year.
2) Unwrapped Christmas presents, 3 felting books, candy and a plastic box sitting on a black duvet.
(The Mysterious contents of the plastic box we will chat about in an upcoming post with Ann.)
He also found an IKEA Octopus and an Octopus winter hat!
3) Yellow IKEA Octopus wearing a Red, Black and Purple Octopus winter hat sitting at the pillow end of the bed.
4) Japanese book cover by Sachi with framed needle felted cat on the front
The first book is in Japanese, I think it may be “Portrait of Cat Made of Wool Felting”? It has a lot of detailed pictures about the needle felting of cat faces including how to make eyes, whiskers, patterns, and fur in detail. The text is completely in Japanese but the layout is correct for a European book (spine on the left-hand side) so I hope there will be an English edition soon. Ann said there should be an app on my phone to take a picture and translate it. I don’t think my phone is that smart but it would be helpful while waiting for an English version.
Let me show you a few interior shots so you can get an idea of the content, the pictures are extremely detailed and give lots of information even if you don’t read Japanese (Written English is still challenging enough for me, arigtozimasu).
4.1-4.4) A couple of random pages showing photos and text from the book.
This would likely be a good book for those interested in extreme realism and fur applications. I suspect it will be even more enlightening if you have a friend who reads Japanese! I hope it will be printed in English, I would buy it.
The second book I had seen mixed reviews on. I was hoping to find an inexpensive second-hand copy to check out. The rumours had been quite negative, that the book was basically a coffee table vanity project with lots of pictures of the artist’s work and almost no info about how to needle felt.
5) Cover of “Make Animals felt Arts from Japan” by YoshiNobu
While I would agree the first section (66 pages) of the book is inspirational images of the artist’s work, the second section, (page 67 to 118) are divided into information on tools, types of wool, ways of blending fibre, basic techniques, then on to small projects to teach the basic techniques and expand on them. The projects are finger puppets and broaches. The instructions start out with simple shapes and a bit of colour blending and get more complicated. There are occasional translational word choice problems but overall it has good information. (There is a drum carder labelled as a combing machine! I will return to address that in a later post).
This book may have received better reviews if the inspirational section was after the informational section. But the information included is good and the pictures though small are reasonably clear to follow.
5.1-5.4) A few interior pages from Make Animals felt arts
6) Cover for “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon showing needle-felted penguins.
The last book he found for me was one I already had picked up in 2021. “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon.
6.1-6.4) parts of interior pages of “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon
This book has a different approach to sculpture than I usually take. There are a few projects where the wool is cut and the armature inserted when the sculpture is almost complete. There are a number of projects with partial armatures and some with no armatures. I purchased a copy while I was working on the armature wire project. There is the use of strips of felt to make the core of a sculpture as well as the suggestion of using a ball of wool yarn to start the center of a spherical shape.
There is an interesting suggestion for making felted mushrooms (a currently popular topic) by using cardboard yarn and then adding a cap and stem of needle-felted wool. Most of the projects are simplified shapes which are not too intimidating for a beginner or advanced beginner.
All 3 books are worth looking at and depending on the direction your style of needle felting is taking you may want to get a copy of some of these for your own library.
7-7.1) Ann looking at my Christmas felting books
Ann and I will show you a bit more of our Christmas acquisitions but that will be in a later post. In the meantime have fun and keep felting!!!
The local Ottawa Guild had been optimistic in the latter part of 2022 and started to reschedule workshops, unbeknownst to us the evil covid was friends with 2 influenzas and invited them to drop by too. So we wound up with students and instructors out sick by the end of November into December. This was also the month my new workshop had been booked. I had offered to teach a chickadee or a tiny dragon but had been requested to make a Thing since Elizabeth, the workshop coordinator and I had not been able to decide on a definite thing. This is the description that was listed for the workshop.
“Description: Jan is paralyzed with too many possibilities for an item to use to teach needle felted sculpture, thus we announce a workshop in needle felted THING creation. Jan will probably decide more or less what the THING will be before the workshop but it will be a surprise for students. You will create your THING using three dimensional needle felting. By the end of the workshop, students will have the skills needed to go home and make a THING of their own choosing. Previous felting experience is helpful but not necessary. Good eye hand coordination is very helpful (those needles are sharp).”
As soon as it was scheduled, I started to work on organizing a brand new workshop. I quickly figured out this scope is a bit broad, so making a small basket protecting thing would help. I had admired an amigurumi mix-and-match monster making book. “Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters” by Kerry Lord. Using the simple shapes from crochet to inspire the students, should give absolute beginners an achievable target and those who have felted before the opportunity to try four different wire gauge hands or wings and a tail.
The notes covered wire and needle gauges, fibre, fibre preparations (carded vs Combed it can make a difference), then wrapping. I had gone through and followed a couple of my projects and showed how I had made and built the armature, as well as a few wire augmentations I have had to do over the years. Most of that last section is actually in the blog posts! I finished off the notes with a list of books they may want to investigate and three online sources of videos.
If the various flues and covid were not enough of a challenge we had our first big winter store about to hit. I think most of the worst went south of us. I wonder, what the states could have done to offend the weather? After some debate with Elizabeth it was decided that since the forecast was to have the storm ending by Saturday morning, we would see how the roads looked closer to the workshop. The snow had momentarily stopped and the workshop was declared a go. I had collected the supplies together and then pulled the bags of fibre to go from the basement. Glenn hauled and loaded it all into the car. He and our new neighbour also cleared out the end of the driveway and we made a brake for the Guild Studio on the other side of Ottawa.
1-3 it’s impressive how much wool you can stuff in a Kia Soul!
The side streets were not the greatest, but the highway was fine and the parking lot had been cleared!!!
4-5 Arriving at the Guild and dropping off the stuff
He carried in the bags of wool, the box of armature things and the couple boxes of supplies. Then went and found the missing tables.
6 Tables found and now I can set up!
He set them up in a C or U pattern so I could sit in a rolling chair in the center and help any student without a lot of standing and bending over.
7 18 pages of Notes, Foam kneeling pad, A piece of pool noodle, 2 sizes of dowels, finger cots, wooden single needle holder. Still to add will be the needles.
8 I also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make.
9 the books just past the needles
You may have spotted I brought a few possibly useful Books; Comparative Anatomy (Animals Vs. Human) Cyclopedia Anatomicae: More than 1,500 Illustrations of the Human and Animal Figure for the Artist by Gyorgy Feher. I also had a book on Anagarumi to give the students some ideas. Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters by Kerry Lord. (Kerry Lord also has a book on crocheting sheep! Toft Sheep – 18 Crochet Sheep Patterns (uses UK terms))
10 a couple of my sculptural books.
Armature/Sculpture books I brought to show the students; A Masterclass in Needle Felting Dogs by Cindy-Lou Thompson, Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats from Wool by Hinali.
There are now quite a few good books on sculptural felting with or without an armature. I had a list of 14 that they may want to keep an eye out for.
11 I also brought sustenance and plastic inspiration
The Ottawa guild has always wanted to have small class sizes to insure good student-teacher ratios. Most workshops have a maximum of six students. With the first snow dump of the year and 2 types of flu plus covid, I was a bit worried that it may not run. In the end, we had one student driving over an hour to Ottawa and made it safely but one was sick and another with a sick child. So we ran with four students. Three went for Anagarumi-based Things and one went with a Kraken/Octopus combo. They were a bit bigger than I had envisioned but they all still had their armatures in time to have lunch.
12 Armatures are underway
We had two Things with four arms and a tail, one with two arms a tail and wings, and the octopus creature used pipe cleaners (ok now there called Chanel stems since there are not a lot of pipes to clean anymore) to see how that would help with wrapping later.
After a lunch break, they started to wrap the fibre around their armatures.
13 wool wrapping begins
I brought a couple of types of fibre preparations. This would let them see the difference between carded (which makes a woollen yarn) and combed (which makes a Worsted yarn). I am going to talk about this more in a future post.
14 This thing was being helpful by holding fibre for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.
15 this thing is developing fabulous wings.
16 Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.
A little way into wrapping, the students all realized it takes a bit of time to wrap, so instead of rushing and risking lots of punctured fingers, they decided they would like to add a second half to the workshop and focus on surface work. I did spend part of the time they were wrapping to show them a couple of options for adding fluffy furry surfaces.
17 two of these things arms were added to increase its head.
18 This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.
By 4 pm we had good shapes developed and no major bloodletting due to rushing.
19 the octopus is starting to emerge
20 the thing with 4 arms has now received a head
21 the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.
The class while not quite finished seems to have had fun to this point. We will get a bit of time scheduled for part two to finish the outer layers in the new year. It’s always hard to estimate on time for a new workshop and the pace the students will progress at. Not pushing for speed, I think is the way to go for this one. Needle felting yourself is not conducive to creating more needle felters!
I hope you will get to take some time over the holidays to do a bit of needle felting. If you are at a loss for what to make you may want to peruse the Anagarumi Monsters for a bit of mix and match inspiration! Happy Hanukkah, Mary Christmas, Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays from the Mer Family, the Scott-Martin Family and the rest of my felted menagerie.
PS is it just my dyslexic brain or is this date really cool 12-22-2022 (if only we had 20 or 22 months it would be perfect! OK, the last few years have felt like years containing more than 12 months) but I hope you can enjoy such a fabulously numbered day! See you Next Year!!
I had told you about my original foray into weaving with Overshot done totally wrong in a previous post. My original goal of learning to weave was to create fragment #10 from the Viking digs at Birka Sweden.
1 This Map helpfully shows where Birka Sweden is.
2 BIrka is on Bjorko, an inland inland past Stockholm.
Birka was a Viking trading town founded in the mid 700’s and was an important trade city for about 200 years. The town was abandoned around 975AD with the speculation, while I was at university, was that the harbor had become unusable (Silted up or glacial rebound) and the town relocated elsewhere. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. There had been a lot of archeological work done at Birka starting in the late 1800’s. The Birka Graves provided important artifacts, of both of domestic and foreign origins. “Grave Bj 582: Female Warrior” in particular has attracted a lot of interest and debate. There have been extensive (4800) textile fragments fines from Birka. Only a small portion of which have been studied. including the broken lozenge twill fragment labeled #10 when I was originally investigating the fragments.
It was particularly fine and in a high thread count. Therefore, there was debate; “was it locally produced”(how could locals produce such fine cloth?), “was it imported, if so who made it” this was the prevailing thought at the time, I felt it was unfair to think local weavers could not possibly have make such fine fabric. I thought it was one of the most fabulous fabrics I had ever seen and was determined to figure out how to make it. At the time I could not find a draft for an obscure historical textiles so would have to figure it out from a photo I had been given of the fragment.
4 Photo and Diagram of Icelandic Variant Warp-weighted Loom from Reykjavik National Museum. Shows shed rod supports, upper beam with laced on warp , loom weights and sword beater.
It was originally woven on a warp-weighted loom. Even this loom is fabulously amazing! Not only is it a vertical loom (there are only a few types of loom that are vertical) but it’s the only one I have found that beats the warp up into the shed. Yes! you wind the finished cloth onto the top beam and the warp hangs beneath and is waited by rocks! Cool! I get to meld my interest in textiles with my interest in geology. Well actually, I measured the inside of my first car, a Pony Hatchback, then scaled the loom to fit the space from the inside of the hatchback to the back of the driver’s seat and wound up with my ¾ size Icelandic warp weighted loom when compared to one of the museum looms. My original loom weights were actually plates from roman lamilar armor. They sounded like wind chimes as I wove, the metal plates tapping agents each other. They “Mysteriously Disappeared”, in the last move. (They were heavy and made a lot of noise when I used the loom.)
I had found a hardwood 4×4 or it might have been a bit bigger as part of a skid (that is also known as a pallet, made of wood that forklifts lift piles of stuff on top of.) I took it over to my parents’ house and explained what I wanted to do trim off some edges, and dill holes down the length of the remaining edge side then lace a starting cord onto it through the holes. Dad looked a bit confused but said he would think about it and come back next weekend and we could finish figuring it out. (I had really been looking forward to getting to use the Drill press, maybe the table saw and of course the power sander!!!)
I arrived and was presented with the completed top beam notched, drilled and sanded ready to measure and make uprights. Oh well, I eventually bot my own drill press and table saw. We discussed the uprights and shed rods supports and got the whole loom done to the 3/4th scale I needed to fit in my little car.
I had been very lucky and purchased the Marta Hoffman book, The Warp-Weighted Loom, in 1990. So had the information she had on the different types of warp-weighted looms. I had chosen the Icelandic variant partly because of the lack of needing a card-woven starting border.
5 the Warp-Weighted Loom by Marta Hoffmann. This is a Fabulous tome of wisdom that I have been looking for a second copy of for decades…literately… decades. The orange cover shows two Greek woman weaving on an upright weighted loom.
Marta wrote the book in 1964, studying the archeological fines and looking for people who ether remembered the looms in use or had used them. The book has a number of examples of weavers preparing the warp, set up and weave on this type of loom. Sadly this book has been out of print for a long time now. I have Very much wanted to get a copy for the guild library since my own copy is in a sad state and some what annotated. (Don’t hate me, the notes are in pencil!!!) but the library budget can not afford it. I keep looking for a light orange book in every thrift store used book section!! I live in hope.
I made a photocopy of the photograph of the fragment and blew it up as large as I could clearly. Next I selected a section that was a twill run and started counting threads, (under, under, over…) to create the draw down and continue to create the rest of the draft. From there I assigned each thread to a harness watching for the tread to repeat later in the pattern. Then worked out the tie up for each line and number the treads to figure out the sheds needed to weave the fragment. It worked out to require 3 shed rods and the natural shed on my Icelandic warp weighted loom, so this could be woven on a 4 harness floor loom. I am not sure where my original draft has disappeared to, but there are now various drafts on line labeled broken lozenge twill.
6 one of my four harness table looms set up to weave at a demo (Carp fair I recognize the tractors) with the broken lozenge twill draft on a paper beside it. The blue and gray blanket in the background is the same pattern.
7 working out from the draw down to find the threading and the treadling. (Weaving draft in black and white, the gray boxes indicate the treadle with the second number being the other harness the treadle engages)
When I compare it to the ones I see on line, I suspect I had a photo of what has now been decided as the back of the fabric. Since I seem to have subtle changed in the treadling and threading part of the draft but still have the same draw-down.
8 on line example of broken lozenge twill
I have use this draft many times with both cotton and wool. I think the first time i time I wove the pattern was on my rather ancient Clement loom. It is a jack style loom (the harness move up as you push on a treadle (peddle)) and is a direct tie-up style, so there is one treadle per harness. This is a great way to learn how the threads are exchanged to create the structure of a weave. I wove it using grey wool with an accent of blue hand died South American wool (maybe coriadale?) I discovered it was less tightly spun than I would have liked, but it was the exact colour I wanted, unfortunately it broke frequently, so I got lots of practice fixing warp threads.
9 the grey blanket with the weakly spun blue warp stripe sitting on a chair with my apron in front of the display tables and behind the tip of my road bug spinning wheel. At the Richmond Fair.
10 the carp fair display the gray blanket with blue stripe in the center with other weaving around it. We have used emergency painters drop cloth plastic to make walls for the tent since it was raining.
11 A different Richmond Fair demo, the gray and blue blanket draped over my folding chair; you can now see the rest of my small travel wheel. Yes, that is a woolly winder on a road bug!
I wove another piece at a demo with Philosopher’s wool. It is an Ontario cooperative of wool producers who spun and died there wool without the use of harsh chemicals. While weaving it I got lots of complements on the pattern, “it was so novel and original!” I did explain that it was the height of fashion for a 10c Viking woman. What is old is new again.
12 Philosophers Wool in blue and grey, in broken Lozenge Twill, the basket has its overshot in slub-cotton and a needle felted basket dragon with hand died silk wings.
I have taken these to various demos over the years. You may remember seeing them in displays at various demos I have shown you. We have used the larger shawl size to demonstrate the thermal value of wool. It has warmed myself and various others of the demo team as well as the general public who were wondering by the demo and looked particularly chilly.
13 Fellow weaver and guild member, trying to warm up (Carp fair)
14 Another Weaver/ Spinner guild member demonstrating the thermal value of wool (trying to keep warm) (Carp fair)
I have set up the table looms I use for demos with a long cotton warp of lozenge twill and sometime Broken lozenge twill and let the public try out ether following the pattern or making up their own. It has been fun to see what had developed.
15 feels like miles of demo weaving, this warp took a few years of demoing to finish. You can see the various changes in patterns and changes in enthusiasm of beat.
If you too are having trouble finding a copy of the Marta Hoffman book you may want to look for the more recent book on warp weighted looms. ( I know you are all going to put down your felting needles, just for a moment, and rush out to the workshop to make your own Icelandic variant warp weighted looms!! But, maybe only half size so it’s more transportable)
16 a new book on warp-weighted looms by Kljasteinavefstadurinn Oppstadveven ( i have found a copy of this for the local guild library but they haven’t had the budget to pay me for it yet.)
I want to leave you with one more reason to consider weaving. This is one of my two harness table looms, its warped with worsted wool. I am doing test weaving for an Icelandic bed covering that has inserted locks of Icelandic tog (the course outer layer of the dual coated Icelandic sheep). It is said to trap the warm air from your body and keep you toasty while you sleep.
17-18 sample of Icelandic blanket, on a two harness table loom with wooden shuttle. The cloth looks furry. This was at the makers fair Demo at the Aberdeen pavilion in Ottawa
I am trying multiple ways of laying in the staples of wool (Tog). From the archeology, there are multiple ways to add the fiber. The warp is white with two blue stripes. The weft is white wool in the shuttle and white grey and charcoal tog inserted every few rows woven.
I hope you have enjoyed the wonder into weaving and I promise I will get back to felting tomorrow. I have to finish my notes for the “Needle Felted Thing” Workshop this coming Saturday! I will tell you more about that another time.
Let me know if you bump into a milk crate of lamilar armor that was just perfect as loom weights!
Many years ago, I finally got to try weaving. I took the Beginning to Weave workshop through the Ottawa guild. At that time, 1989, the OVWSG did not have a studio space to house what guild equipment we had acquired. (The Guild had an old second-hand 100 inch loom and 6 or 7 table looms. There may have been a floor loom too but I was distracted by the 100 inches of loom, so do not remember). All the looms lived in one of our guild members’ very big basements. On weekends, she either taught weaving workshops or hosted weavers working on the 100 inch loom. It sounded like a busy basement! I remember 4 weekends of driving to a little town just east of Ottawa. I took the table loom home each week to do homework. I still remember the sound of the mettle heddles rattling as I drove down the highway, back and forth to the classes. Then I think there were two more weekends of Intermediate weaving and Dona sent me off and I was weaving!
It all starts with yarn, wind it carefully, attach it to the back beam, wind on, thread the heddles, slay the reed, tie on to the front beam, check the tension and then start to weave. It sounds like a lot of work but it is all worth it as you start to pass the shuttle through the shed and the cloth begins to appear. Weaving was like Magic! From a pile of string to POOF, actual cloth!!!
During the workshop, I found pickup seemed strangely familiar as my brain watched my fingers happily lifting and twisting threads for the various lace and decorative weave patterns. The other thing that my brain went “ooh this is cool!” was Overshot. It is a weave structure that requires a ground and a pattern thread, (two shuttles). One is fine like the warp and the pattern thread is thicker and usually wool. I was still reacting to wool so I used cotton for both. My original goal was to draft and weave a Viking textile for myself but I put that aside for a moment, I will get back to that later.
The first thing I wove after my instruction was a present for my Mom. she had requested fabric to make a vest. I looked through A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison and found an overshot pattern that I thought we both would like. I wove it in two shades of blue (Mom’s favourite colour), at a looser thread count than usual. (Originally the overshot weave structure was used to make coverlets, so were tightly woven and a bit stiff, while I liked the pattern I wanted the fabric to be much more drapey.) Even worse, I did not want it to be as hard-edged in the pattern as it was originally intended so I tried a slub cotton as a test and loved it.
1-3 Cover of Marguerite Davison’s Book, an interior page showing overshot patterns, and a close-up of “Weaver Rose’s Coverlet no.28”
So, for any sane weaver, it was all wrong! Wrong set, wrong fibre, wrong colour choices! It was fabulous and perfect. I kept the sample as a basket cover and at either the end of 1989 or the beginning of 1990, I gave Mom the yardage for her vest. “Oh this is too nice to cut” Mom Said, so it lived on the back of her favourite reading chair as a headrest until her most recent move (2015?) it never did get to be a vest but it has been well enjoyed.
I don’t have a picture of her yardage but I do have pictures of the sample I kept.
4-7 My demo basket with cover at Plowing match demo, Algonquin demo, Richmond fair, Carp fair and Farm show.
My sample piece, which became my main demo basket cover, has been in the background of many demo photos. This year it was used as an Old example in part of the guild Exhibition. You can see the subtle distortion of the pattern when a slub yarn is used.
8 Exhibit from the 2022 guild Exhibition and Sale
In the Exhibition The Inkle band, hanging beside the overshot, I wove much more recently. I used an Inkle loom and a supplemental warp thread. This means weaving with an extra separate thread that was not part of the main warp on the loom. I used a yarn with a fuzzy caterpillar-like slub.
9-10 close up of Inkle woven band with inserted slubs from the supplemental warp, Inkle loom set up with the supplemental warp slubs.
You may be able to see how I wove the weird slubby supplemental warp. The yarn is weighted and left hanging over the back peg of the Inkle loom. It comes over the top peg (usually labelled B in diagrams) and floats above the weaving. In the areas where the Caterpillar (Slub) is not present I catch the yarn with the shuttle and weave it into the band. In the area the caterpillar appears I would leave the yarn above the warp and then start weaving it in again as I reached the end of the caterpillar. I hope that explanation doesn’t sound like mud and makes a bit of sense. Using a supplemental warp on an Inkle loom is not quite normal but it is a lot of fun.
Over the years I tried out other two harness techniques that you normally don’t see with an Inkle loom. It turned into an entire 2 day, with a week in between days, workshop (with a homework assignment) and lots of samples!! I think it’s the fault of my dyslexic brain wandering off into odd thoughts again.
I was going to tell you about my original goal in learning to weave, the mysterious Fragment #10 from a Viking excavation from around the year 1000, but I have likely confused you with weaving enough for one day. So I will save that for another chat. (don’t forget the Inkle loom I would like to tell you a bit more about that in another post too. I promise I will get back to felting in the not-too-distant future)