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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.
Rare Earth Magnet on sale! Just add wool for more fun!!

Rare Earth Magnet on sale! Just add wool for more fun!!

A couple of weeks ago the latest princess auto flyer booklet arrived. It is always fun to look through and see what is on sale! Princess Auto is an interesting store that has a vast variety of things, hunting, camping, farm supplies, a bit of blacksmithing, welding, tool boxes, electric bikes, and lots of stuff I am not sure what it’s for but it looks interesting. I sat down to see what exciting things might be included this time. There may be more Bee Decapping combs (which make very cheap emergency wool combs! However, I have a couple of sets so maybe I don’t need to get another pair?) Aha! There is a metal bench on sale, circle that! Is there anything else? YES!! Magnets! (This is the link, they will go back on sale again sometime) https://www.princessauto.com/en/48-pc-rare-earth-magnet-and-dispenser-set/product/PA0008996993 ) 1) 48-piece Rare Earth Magnet and Dispenser Set

Glenn had a couple of things circled in the flyer too so stopped in after work the first day of the sale. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with them but I knew it would be fun and I bet there will be wool involved. These are very strong yet very tiny magnets.

 2) Tiny, tiny Enthusiastic Magnets sticking to a felting needle to show you how tiny they are

I had a question a few weeks ago about making a sheep head, if I make a tiny sheep’s head I bet I can make a broach. Where did I put the wool with the tiny crimp I had purchased from Ginger at Farm Sol at the Wakefield Farmers Market? And more important, can I get more?

The mark 1 prototype I used unlabeled white wool roving, I am hoping it’s Corriedale but I’m not sure. It seemed less enthusiastic to felt than I usually find in Corriedale. So after more stabbing than I would have liked, I did get a basic head/nose shape.

3) This may not be the Corriedale you were looking for (spooky Jedi background music)

4) Eventually there was a head-like shape, sort of

Now that isn’t as sheepish as I would like. (This is why reference photos are really helpful) I know what’s missing,  I will need to add ears!!

5) Ears added to the slightly sheepish head

Now that is a bit better. Next to add the first magnet.

6) Magnet balancing precariously on superior aspect of sheep neck

The magnets were tiny and behaved in a slippery manner determined to fling themselves to their death on the floor!! Alas for the magnet, I used another previous Princess Auto Sales item to find them and pick them up!! (Without bending or crawling around on the floor under the computer desk, even better!!)((I am suggesting anyone doing Dry Needle felting should consider this marvellous invention to retrieve errant needles, and magnets from the horror of nether regions that the floor has become.))

7-8) Extending magnetic picker-upper of things mettle, with built-in light (it Is dark under the table)

The version that is brought in for sales with the light doesn’t seem to be on their website but here is the link for the lightless one. You can likely find something similar at any hardware store, this one says it will pick up 3lbs (that would be one big needle!!) https://www.princessauto.com/en/3-lb-magnetic-pickup-tool/product/PA0008716615

I wound up trying 3 ways of affixing the magnet into the back of the sheep head.

9-10) First I tried lightly felting a bit of wool, then attaching it to the back of the head. This was not totally successful since the magnet migrated lower than where I had been trying to hold it. I also found the needle was very attracted to the magnet when I tried to poke adjacent to it. Interesting.

This did let me find out that the magnet is strong and once embedded in the wool stuck to bulldog clips (some people call them binder clips) with enthusiasm and required gentle prying to get them to let go.

11) Sheep head sticking to bulldog clip

Next, I tried a divot in the superior aspect of the neck or back of the skull depending on your perspective. I placed the magnet in the dent and then added a backing that I had felted flat.

12) Magnet sitting in a bit of a divot and leaving the rest of the loose wool to work over the top of the magnet once it was in position.

13) The magnet was attracted again to the needle so this may not be quite the best solution

14) It was a bit more challenging to keep the magnet where I wanted it but the divot did help.

15) Success! But this took more time but kept the magnet location where I had wanted it.

(16) The third option is “this picture is unavailable” which was a combination of making a dent to seat the magnet and then making a felt backing for covering the magnet. I could have used a commercial felt but it’s so easy to just make a bit more of the wool you are using and you are sure it will match the head if you use the same wool.

17) Now let’s talk about ears.

It is time to use those C40-111’s again, Crown Needles!!! For the first two sheep heads, I attached white ears and then added the wisp of pinkishness to the attached ear. For the third prototype, I build a base layer of the white, then lay in wisps of pink to make the inner ear. Using the crown needle at an angle close to parallel allows the addition of colour to one side without affecting the other. The working depth of the crown needles is much shallower than regular needles. Once the ear was constructed I attached it to the head. This was a bit easier than adding the pink to the ear after it was attached.

18) Time to add the second Magnet and check it sticks through cloths. Yep!

This sheep is still rather naked and needs curls. Remember that trip I took to Wakefield a few posts ago? Well, we are about to find out what happened to those fabulous little locks.

19) The tiny crimpy locks from Ferme Sol Farm in Wakefield Quebec http://www.fermesol.ca/

The locks worked perfectly. The tight and tiny crimp was perfect for this scale of sheep. Her sheep are Icelandic/ Frisian/ Gotland/ Finn and Shetland crosses. These were really fabulous fibre blends.

20-21) Front and back view of the sheep broach with a second magnet to go inside your shirt. This is less damaging to fabric than a pin broach back would be.

22) Here is the sheep with both the curls and ear details added.

23) A bit of online shopping arrived and I have added the two new boxes to the tools I used for this project (you don’t need quite this many needles I actually only used 3needles, which were each different, to make the sheep)

I had ordered two more needle boxes, this time a T-38G-333 and T-42G-222.  The T is the shape Triangle, the first number is the gauge, the G is the tip or point specification, and there is another letter designating the barb specifications which I have ignored and the last digits are the number of barbs per side. So I will leave you with a shot of the new needle boxes (yes there are 500 needles in the new ones a bit less in the older boxes) and the other tools and pieces I used for this project.

Next week I have a choice of things to tell you about, Mr. and Mrs. Mer’s trip to the Carp fair (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) or the mini-workshop I gave on a card stock 7- strand kumihimo-like braid (Monday). There is also going to be another trip up to Wakefield this coming Saturday, to purchase more little locks and hopefully get some good pictures.  It has been a VERY busy four days in a row!! Now it is time to find the Robax-platinum and crawl back into bed for a day or so.

Have fun and keep felting (even if you are wearing gloves – you will hear about that when we chat about the Carp fair!)

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

As Ann was saying, last weekend was the first Almonte Fiberfest since 2019.

 Almonte is a small town about 30 minutes from the west end of Ottawa. In 1818 David Shepherd was given 200 acres (0.81 km2) to build and operate a mill. However, it did not go well, there was a fire and Shepherd sold to Daniel Shipman by 1821, who rebuilt the mill. In 1866 the Rosamond Woollen Mill was built to manufacture fine tweeds.  By 1850, the area had seven busy woollen mills and was one of the leading wool cloth production centres in Canada.

1) Rosamond No. 1 Mill is now a condominium

2) Left the old mill Right the Annex

3) Mississippi Valley Textile Museum Entrance

The last textile mill closed in the early 1980s. By 1987, Rosamond No. 1 Mill was empty and was considered for a textile museum. The main Mill building was located by the lower falls. It was a large, six-storey, flat-roofed, stone building. The second building was the last of the outbuildings and referred to as the Annex which had housed the mill’s office and large warehouse space. It was a stone building on two floors, both of which could be reached from ground level (it was built on a slope). It was decided that the Main mill building would be renovated into condominiums and the Annex would be the new Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

Over the years the building has been updated with HVAC, an elevator and even bathrooms! A large number of volunteers and small staff support and run the museum. It contains a gift shop, permanent exhibits and gallery space. One of the fundraising activities to help support the Museum is the Almonte Fiberfest. (See I did get back to the point eventually!)

2022 was the 27th Annual Fibrefest. Originally held in the Museum, as the number of vendors grew larger it expanded to include other locations, now it is located in the Almonte Community Centre (arena). This year there were 69 booths (about 30 booths smaller than in 2019). The smaller number gave a wider aisle and made the arena feel less crowded. Workshops were again offered but there was no cantina this year.  While twist fibre festival was, quite noticeably, heavily loaded with knitting yarn, Almonte was more diversified having both finished goods and supplies for many of the fibre arts.

Let’s have a very quick look around then head out to see the demos.

4) Three booths with felting supplies or finished felting for sale (FiberCraft, Wendo and Starbright Curios)

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5-15) A Few Shots from Booths

Outside the arena, there were various fibre arts guilds and groups displaying or demonstrating their skills. (spinning, knitting, weaving, rug hooking, lace making, smocking and quilting).

16) West Carlton Fiber Guild (the guild just to the west of Ottawa)

 17) The Ottawa Valley Guild of Stitchery

18) Home Hospice north Lanark Comfort Crew

19) Ottawa Knitting Guild

20) Ottawa Rug Hookers Guild

 21) Ottawa Guild of Lacemakers

The arts collective Out of the Box was there but I cannot find their photo. The Smocking guild is usually there but I don’t remember seeing them this time.

22) Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild Demo (Sat.)

Not forgetting of course is the demo for the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild that Ann was participating in. We had different volunteers on Saturday and Sunday, so the table display changed each day too.

23)  Part of table display on Sat and Sun

24) Pine Needle Basket Demoing

25) Part of the Sunday demo Team

Demoing is a great way to introduce the public to something you enjoy and are passionate about. It allows the public a chance to connect and possibly join your group. We have also had people ask if we take donations of books or equipment, which can help the group.

You don’t have to be an expert to demo, you don’t have to know all the answers. If you don’t know the answer to a question you can ask them to contact the guild website or Facebook page or you can ask one of the other demo people if you are in a demo team.  It’s often good to have a new weaver or spinner or felter who can say “I am just starting, this is fun, you can learn this too!” it’s important to smile and look like you’re having fun, scowling at your work is not conducive of others wanting to join you in your endeavour!

One thing I have enjoyed over the years demoing is hearing people’s stories of their mother or grandmother or Aunt who spun or wove and the descriptions of their equipment. In Almonte, I have heard stories about working in the textile mills from some of the older people attending demos.

Demos don’t have to have to be planned events with lots of people and a display table.  You can find yourself demoing when you thought you were just using your drops spindle waiting in a slow line, or needle felting while waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  If your guild or group has business cards with your web contacts keep some with your spindle or felting to hand out to anyone that seems interested. The stranger you give a card to may be a fibre friend in the near future!

If you get the chance, I hope you will try demoing, either a formal demo or a spontaneous accidental demoing. Both are fun! Keep Felting!

Mr. Mer gets a new little friend Part 2

Mr. Mer gets a new little friend Part 2

It is time for Hair!

16 When we last saw Mr. Mer he was distracted and playing with his Jellyfish little friends.

17-18  I wanted to add hair down the spinal ridge I had created for him.

I had built up an extra amount of muscle above the upper traps attaching to the suboccipital bone so he would have an easier time looking up to see where he was swimming. Likely this muscle might be called the suprasuperior trapezius or maybe the superficial Inferior occipital muscle?

I considered and decided I would like to add hair along the spinal ridge of the new mer-muscle, (it will give more options in hair styling!!).

19 working in the spinal ridge and long hair

I started at about the level of the scapula and layered in thin locks. I focused on building up the area over the cervical spine, affixing one end securely in a narrow band and leaving the other end long and loose down his back.

(at this point I got very focused and put the camera down behind me… safe but out of sight!!!) SORRY!!!

While Mr. Mer patently admired his jellyfish friends, I moved to the occipital ridge (the bony bit at the back and base of the skull). For this area, I worked with the locks in the opposite direction to how I wanted them to hang and securely worked in the last half inch of the locks, I am not worried this will not hold since I am using enthusiastic needles (T36-333) and I will have more fibre layered over top. I worked with the darker shades of green then as I added fibre this time in the direction I wanted it to lie I added a few of the accent locks of gold/green and green/grey blue. I worked from the base of the skull up the back and sides. I added some shorter locks towards the temples and set aside some to use across the forehead. I added, like shingles –overlapping the butt ends of the locks and leaving the length and tips loose. When I got to the crown (top) of the head I had a few very long locks that I laid in side to side (ear towards ear) then let them fall back and to the sides. This filled in his potential bald spot (I don’t think it would work to try and comb over a merman’s hair!)

20 Mr. Mer helpfully held up his hair so you could see the long locks originating from the neck and upper traps area.

I then started to look at styling, I don’t have hair accessories of the correct size! He has decided on a loose ponytail for now but may look into other options if I can find Hair combs in his size.

21-23 Mr. Mer admiring his new locks.

I think he likes the colour! And his new eyebrows.

He seems a bit overwhelmed with all the new hair!

I think he could consider some beads to go in his hair (for special occasions). I have a couple of boxes of beads to look through and some fine wire to thread the beads on.

24 Mr. Mer lost in thought inspecting his new hair

25 In fact he seemed quite contemplative and took off for a quick swim around the office before returning to his project bag for a rest.

Now that he has hair I took a look if I could find hair accessories in his required size. No luck, so I decided to make a few options in different sizes of wire and beads.

26-28 beads strung on wire (20ga, 24ga, 26ga) to go in his hair.

On Saturday of the long weekend, we had a Cookie run to the Log Farm Farmers market and a fibre quest at the Wakefield Farmers Market in Quebec. Mr. Mer joined Glenn and me for the drive and to show off his fancy new hair to Ann.

29 Ann checked his new hair, Ross seemed quite impressed with him and took his picture!

30 Glenn Cookie shopping with Ann and Ross

We of course remembered to get the cookies! Now off to Wakefield!  We had a lovely drive north of Ottawa into Quebec up highway 5 through the Gatineau hills. There are great rock cuttings, Lakes, small rivers and lots of trees to admire on the way.

By the time we got there, it was very busy and hard to find a parking spot In the main parking area, we were going to go around for a second look when the Gods of Parking smiled upon us and we saw not only a parking spot but it was adjacent to the back of a booth with hanging sheep skin rugs!!  It must be Ginger from Ferme Sol and the booth we were looking for!  (if you would like to see some pictures of her sheep you could check out her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Ferme-Sol-105585311548965/)

31 Fabulous parking spot and the back of the booth we were looking for

32 the front of her booth with fibre, yarn, sheep skin rugs and the freezer. (my little grey Kea Soul is hiding in the back)

33 Her fibre and yarn for sale

I got 3 bags of locks with very tiny crimp, in natural black, grey and white. I also selected a part of a ram’s fleece in natural black and white, which will be lots of fun to spin or felt with. Her flock of sheep are a mix of Finn, Gotland and Icelandic, which are fabulous for both spinning and felting.

Ginger asked about Mr. Mer so we brought him out of the car for a visit. She liked his new hair and said it was very soft.

34 I think Mr. Mer may be a flirt and I will need to finish up Mrs. Mer soon so she can keep an eye on him!!

Mr. Mer dose seem quite pleased with his hair and his lovely jellyfish. I may do a little adjusting once i have the complete family finished, but he is basically done.

I am sure he will reduce his flirting and behave himself, since i suspect he notice i took Mrs. Mer on her first outing to the Ottawa Guild social on the holiday Monday to start her (Butterfly) Koi body tail.  (Overall its was a very fishy and fibery holiday weekend.)

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35-37 Mr Mer wanted to say “Hi! and thank you for following his progress so far,” before he returned to his project bag for a nap (photo shoots seem to be quite tiring).

I am not sure that Sara, who started the Mermaid-felt-along on YouTube, intended quite this scope of project but it has be lots of fun. i hope others will give making a family of Mers a try!

Whatever you wind up working on, I hope you have fun and keep felting!

Mr. Mer gets a new little friend Part 1

Mr. Mer gets a new little friend Part 1

It has been another busy week full of multiple projects for the Ottawa Guild along with a sort and prep for photos project for Glenn. So Mr. Mer has been very patent and supervised me while he sits contemplating his options in his project bag (I did get him a bigger project bag).

On Monday evening the Ottawa Guild is usually back to an in-person social. There is still a zoom social for those who can’t travel. Unfortunately, last Monday coincided with a department heads/exec meeting so not as social as usual but it was good to see a lot of faces I had only seen over zoom the last 2 years!

Ann was there and had brought a present for Mr. Mer (I will defiantly need to get more hair if he gets a swollen head from all the attention!) Her Jellyfish is sooooo Cute!!!!! It is such a pretty blue and so delicate. I wonder how she made it?

1 – You saw his new Jellyfish from Twist.

 

2- This is his new Jellyfish from Ann

I set up my desk for a photo shoot and hung up the little guy.  Mr. Mer seemed happy to get out of his project bag and was immediately interested in the little blue jellyfish. It’s so delicate!

3-6 Hunting and catching Jellyfish

I have discovered the correct way of hunting jellyfish! You pick them up very carefully by their head strings!! (Not the lower strings, which might kill you. This is a special Mer skill and should only be tried on fibre-based jellyfish that have obvious head strings. Not the squishy ones found in water or stranded on beaches.)

7- 8-  He seemed mesmerized admiring both jellyfish.

While he was distracted, I went through his shopping bag to see what lengths and colours he had collected. Most of what he had collected was too short but in very nice colours. I am sure we can use them for other projects

9- 10- Sorting through the longer locks while Mr. Mer is distracted

The locks that look like they will be best are mostly the ones from Bernadette, who had purchased them from Adele’s locks of love.

11 looking at the best locks

I think I will have enough for him to have respectable hair.  He was still quite captivated by his jellyfish, having them chase each other. so I snuck his hair option into a bag and put the rest back into a bag of locks for other projects.

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12-14 Jellyfish racing!!!

Now I am distracted too! A Majacraft Suzie Pro spinning wheel has come up for sale, with a lot of accessories…. I am sure there must be room for one more wheel? it’s small! As I contemplate and consider a test drive/spin, Mr. Mer has tried to swim off with his little friends. Sneaky!!

15- ran off with his jellyfish

He wasn’t fast enough! I cot him and brought him back to the desk. I got his little friends to distract him as I got out a T-36-333 (I do have more aggressive needles but this should be perfect.)

16- ah good, he is not paying any attention to me!

Jellyfish seem to work as well as antithetic!!! We are set and He will shortly have hair! But that will be for next week in part 2!

Thanks, Ann!!! (your jellyfish is so cute and tiny I will have to inquire how you made him so tiny and so cute!! I hope there are pictures!!)

 

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!

 

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