Not long ago was shearing day. Before had we have to get pens and shoots set up to direct the sheep efficiently to the shearer. I had to go get wool bags, from the Wool Co-op I got half bags this time. The full-size ones are too hard to pack, they are taller than me. We also got my nephew to come and help out. Wrangling sheep is best done by young people, my son and nephew.
There is a crowding pen is at the far end of the shoot so the sheep can fairly easily be pushed into the shoot and past the one-way gates. You can see lambs on the right-hand side. They are small enough to pop through the fence and get out of the way. On the left are some late lambs from last year. They have been put there to be kept separate. They are too big to get back through the fence.
Despite taking many pictures most of them were terrible and I didn’t get any sheared sheep pictures because I had to grab the fleece out of the way as my husband handed the next sheep to the shearer. By the time I stuffed it into the appropriate bag, the sheep was long gone.
so here are the best of the bad shearing pictures. I am not sure that’s all the same black sheep but you get the idea. you can see how brown they look from being in the sun and weather and how black they are underneath.
I also have one lincoln sheep named Dolly. You can see how different her fleece is.
These are some of the wool sacks. I was sorting black wool I want to look at again and white wool I want to look at again and the stuff to go off to the co-op because I don’t want to look at it ever again. LOL
And some close-ups of some wool.
This one has so much lanolin the shine bounced the light and it looks grey.
It took about 4 hours to do 55 ish sheep. That’s about one sheep every 4.5 min. I know it’s no record but I still find it amazing. When it was all done we released the lambs to find their moms. There was a lot of noise while the lambs work out who mom is now she is sporting her new summer look. And the kids my 2 grandchildren and great-niece and nephew came in and gathered up all the little bits of stinky wool to play with. They had so much fun and smelled just like sheep in no time.
I wish I had better pictures for you. Maybe next year with no pandemic I can have Jan come play photographer.
I was excited to get my World of Wool order last week. As you can see they are taped, strapped and wrapped in plastic.
Box one is bulging. I wonder if sitting on boxes while they are taped closed is in someone’s Job description.
Despite the bulging, there are only 4 things in this box. This first is Batts. They are packed 5 /kg and take up more room because of that.
These bottom two are sari silk
On to the bigger box
All sorts of goodies. I bought some sample packs as you can see. I will keep one and sell the rest.
The second layer, some shetland for Jan, some peacock, to share with Jan and more sari silk
More sample packs
I took some pictures of the sample packs
The sari silk is what got me started ordering. They had it all back in stock so I could get the colours I wanted.
It is always exciting to see everything come out of the boxes. I sorted Jan’s wool. That’s the Peacock blend on top. It is very sparkly, we shared that one.
I am spinning the peacock right now. It looks really nice on my spindle.
And Bernadettes wool
Jan petting Bernadette’s Baby Camel
Bernadette showing her skill of getting a lot of stuff on a little trolly
Corriedale made by blending and carding different percentages of black and coloured fibre to create unique subtle tones.
And last but not least the sari silk blends, out of their bags.
I will divide all the silk up into 25gram and 50 gram balls to sell. The bag is what I will keep. I just have to work out a price.
Next is taking more pictures. I need to take the mixed bags out to get better pictures and I need to work out prices. I plan to take individual pictures of the silk balls and number them. They are all different. I hope to sell it all locally so I don’t have to work out shipping.
I have finally finished my pouch. Yay! I am not sure how big I want the individual spaces in the bag to be so I have just basted the divisions for now. If they are working fine I will sew them in permanently.
Here it is full of things. and some things that didn’t make it in. As you can see it’s not dedicated to one kind of thing. It’s a way to keep all the smallish stuff from filtering down to the bottom of the basket where they are hard to find.
and all rolled up.
Here is the basket. First I put the liner in. It’s a thick, fairly stiff fake silk scarf. I can’t imagine it was nice to wear which is probably why it was in the secondhand clothing store in the first place. It’s great for this job.
Adding everything into and onto the basket.
There was even room left to add my guild library books when I got back to the house.
I am sure you are all as tired f hearing about the basket organizer as I am so it is now time for something new and more colourful. I have been seeing felted rocks popping up on Facebook a lot. I figured they looked like a pretty obvious and easy thing to make, so I will give it ago. The first one I did use floor underlay resists. I started with a pebble. I covered it completely in wool.
I cut out a resist a bit bigger than the wool covered pebble and then added the top put the resist on the top of the rock and folded the wool around. then I cut a bigger resist and did it again and marked the top. It was a bit awkward. I should have worked the other way up but where’s the challenge in that. LOL.
It fulled down quite fast.
time to start cutting, I rubbed each cut to heal it before doing the next cuts. I don’t think you can see it but the bottom of each layer is fully attached to the one below it.
I sat it on a green lid to dry, looks really striking there.
That worked quite well. Now for a different way.
For this one, I used plastic wrap to keep the layers separate. I cut a small hole in the underside so the layer would be attached to each other.
I wrapped the last layer in plastic I just rubbed it and rolled it around in my hands as if I was making a felt ball. I did it longer to make sure the inside layers were felted as well. While wrapping I lost track of the top and bottom. Naturally, I picked the wrong side to mark. I cut the first hole and it was attached to the one below so I kept cutting down to the pebble. I planned to stretch each layer, but with it being quite small there wasn’t much stretch or even room to get anything in between the layers to try and stretch. so In the end I just fulled it tight around the rock.
Here is how they compared in size before felting
And how they compare with my hand to show the sizes
See Lyn, not felted rocks but felted rocks. Ha Ha Ha :O)
The winner of the 100 grams of premium washed Teeswater locks is Sttamburo
The winner of the 150 grams of Swiss mountain batt in your choice of colour(s) is Darrel
Congratulations! Monica will contact you via the email you provided.
Now my stuff
My heat erasable pens arrived. They come as a pack of refills and some empty pens. I got one that came with 4 colours, white, red, blue and black. That should cover all possibilities.
I picked the white. I think red would have worked too.
Onto the last part of the design. Diamonds were a popular repeating pattern. I better check to see if this will work the way I think it will. I did not do my usual quick sketch but using a ruler. Are you amazed?
Yes, that should work fine, real diamonds and not just squares on point. Now let’s see if those pens work. A straight line to work form. I may stitch that in too. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, even smooth felt is very textured. The tendency when a pen doesn’t write is to press harder. That didn’t work. A light touch was much better.
A couple of weeks has passed since I did the lines. I decided to use yellow for the lines.
I really like how the yellow looks against the green but it didn’t look complete so I added some red and black french knots in the middle
Next was finishing the sides. I decided to use double-fold bias tape. I like double fold because it’s easy to sew on invisibly. the bias I like to use with felt is a fleece bias. It blends with felt so nicely but isn’t as bulky as using felt. I had black and green that would work. I chose the green as it was such a good match.
If I had easy access to my machine I would have stitched the first side with it. You can stitch in the ditch of the fold and it’s invisible. That is the way I do it when I put a bias tape on the brim of a hat. As it was, I just stitched both sides by hand.
I think it looks good.
Next is sewing the pockets and filling them up. I should have that done by next time. I have almost a whole month to get it done and still be on time.
I just love this fibre because it makes both amazing wet and needle felted items. It comes in batt format in 49 dyed and 9 natural colours. At 27 micron it is a rougher fibre and has a moderate staple length of 3-5cm.
I fell for this fibre not just because of its felting qualities, but also because the product is made by happy sheep that spend their summers up in the high Swiss alps — travelling on ancient roman roads to get there. After they are shorn in a traditional manner, the wool is transported to a small Swiss family business where it is washed only with washing soda (aka sodium carbonate or soda ash is a natural cleaner and a powerful water softener. It’s very basic with a pH of 11). The washing process is environmentally friendly and the wastewater is safely returned to the local mountain stream. The wool is dyed carefully and without any harsh chemicals — using just natural vinegar and acid dyes. The wool is dried outside on warm metal roofing (weather permitting). In winter the warmth created by the dyeing process is used to heat the building.
The fibre is exceptionally clean as the carding machines have special vacuums installed to remove VM (Vegetable Matter naturally occurring in sheep fleeces) and ensure it doesn’t get back into the wool.
Due to the ease of felting with Swiss Mountain Sheep wool, kids love working with it. The fibre can also be laid out very thin to create transparent felts.
Combine Swiss Mountain sheep with Maori or other Bergschaf yarns. You can also combine it with 18/19 micron to create an inner layer that is next to skin soft when making garments. I love making slippers with an inner layer of 18/19 micron merino batt or Kap Merino and the outer layer being Swiss Mountain, combining softness with hard wearing wool.
Yak and Mulberry Luxury Roving
A custom blend made for The Olive Sparrow — this is a commercially triple-blended roving/top which mixes the silk with the yak to create a lovely variegated roving. Although it requires some gentle coaxing to wet felt due to the high content of mulberry silk, the resulting felt is an absolute dream to wear right next to the skin.
The yak fibre is naturally fawn coloured, the mulberry silk is undyed.
To produce yak fibre for felting, the soft fine under hair is the desirable element of this animal’s coat and is removed commercially by dehairing, which separates the soft under hair from the coarse outer hair, known as guard-hair.
This also makes a lovely spun yarn.
Using acid dyes on this fibre is very interesting — the yak and its brown/yellow undertones combined with the undyed silk to absorbs colours differently and will make mottled/variegated tones. As the fibre is very fine, it lends itself to be dyed after felting or spinning.
The fibre length is 75-80mm.
I love using mint fibre in the same way as mulberry silk — the softly off-white colour and the slight mat sheen give a look between the extra shiny mulberry silk and the much softer gloss of tussah silk.
Mint is a new biodegradable cellulose fibre that is infused with mint powder that is extracted from peppermint leaves. It does not smell of mint and has a lovely soft and cottony texture. This soft golden fibre has antibacterial properties and natural cooling properties. Mint infused roving can be dyed using natural plant dyes and mordants or other dyes suitable for cellulose fibres. Perfect for spinning and blending with fibres such as cotton, silk, wool and Linen. Great surface inclusion for wet felting. A wonderful vegan needle felting alternative.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
I use my ball brauser — I generally have two on the go at the same time. I also love the hand-pumped vegetable sprayers from the garden centre to wet-out large areas. When doing a sculptural piece, handheld massage tools make shrinking of specific areas very fast. Thin painter’s plastic as one layer on bubble wrap — and I always use the bubble side down when initially starting to felt.
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
Having been blessed with learning handwork techniques from grade 2 onwards, my arsenal of techniques means that I often will blend them all together in a project. Because of the shop keeping me quite busy and still being needed as a mother, most of my creative time I spend making dolls or knitting simple items. Yet especially in doll making, I frequently wet felt garments for the dolls. Doll making lets me use all my skills. In wet felting, I love making long voluminous shawls — generally using at least a 4m length and 30” width. I also love working with Teeswater locks — washing, sorting, dying them. I sew them into wefts for my dolls and use them as fringes in shawls.
What is your business?
The Olive Sparrow.
Good Hand-Made Goods made by You and Me
Here is a bit of background information about how this all came to be:
The Olive Sparrow is me, Monika Aebischer, I am a felter and a natural fibre doll artist. I quite proudly call myself a crazy when it comes to collecting books about wet and needle felting. In a previous life, I was a mixed media artist with work in galleries across Canada. Sadly during the 2008 financial crash, the art market collapsed and I was forced to re-invent myself. As I had fallen in love with felt making during my student years at the Ontario College of Art and Design and had taken some wet felting workshops in Switzerland, it seemed to be the right direction to go. It also worked very well with my doll making — I needle felt the heads of my dolls and also make felted clothing for some of them. While growing up in Switzerland as part of my apprenticeship in selling women’s clothing, I studied fibres and textile manufacturing.
The Olive Sparrow shop started as a way to bring supplies to my felting students — I taught a 5-day felting intensive workshop at Loyalist College for 4 years every summer from 2011 – 2015. Every year I would import specialty felting fibres from Europe for my students. These students then wanted to purchase fibre after the workshop. Learning that there are several Fibre Festivals around Ontario made me realize that there was an opportunity to share these fibres with other felters. My painting studio slowly turned into a shop — alongside my selling on Etsy. I decided that the shop was going to focus on Felting supplies and not be another general fibre shop. I also decided that the focus will be on European felting fibres, rather than local fibres.
After 20 years in that space, I was forced to move in 2018, as the old building was being turned into condos. Now located in the East end of Toronto, the shop is in an industrial building — and open by appointment. There are about 600 square feet full of fibre, commercial 100% wool felt, Waldorf doll supplies, Sajou notions from France and select other items. The shop is also somewhat flexible, in that it can be transformed into a workshop space for 1-3 students.
Before we were in this Pandemic, the Olive Sparrow could be found at various fibre festivals — Twist, Picton, Woodstock, Peterborough, Knitter’s Frolic, Kitchener/Waterloo knitters festival, and other smaller events. 2020 has meant a focus on building out the online presence and extending inventory.
What kind of items do you sell?
Too many to list, however, here is a sampling —
18/19 micron roving in over 100 colours
24 Micron roving
Swiss Mountain Sheep batt
19 micron merino Batt
Pre-felt (both in 40 x 40 cm sheets) and by the meter
Maori and Maori/Bergschaft batt
100% wool felt by the sheet and many colours by the meter
Unicorn Power Scour
Premium locks – Teeswater extra length
Wool felt balls/hearts/stars from Nepal
Silk – Mulberry, Tussah
The Olive Sparrow locks in Vogue
Hand Dyed locks
The Olive Sparrow is an official DHG Dyehouse reseller — carrying all of the pre-felt colours, as well as an extensive selection of 19 micron roving, 19 micron batt, sari silk waste, mulberry silk and a variety of other fibres.
What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
Unique premium products from Europe — all our goods are imported from Europe. Volume discounts to help small-scale makers. Teaching workshops – private and customized — creativity counselling. Very hands-on knowledgeable. A brick and mortar shop that is open by appointment and sells online.
Where are you located?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada – at 19 Waterman Avenue — which is an industrial area just south of Eglinton and just off the Don Valley Parkway.
I’ve been working on the stitching for my basket organizer. The first part I did was the waves. I liked them but I didn’t like how the edges were fuzzy.
I went looking in my stash for the right size yarn to edge it. I found my stash of Briggs and Little Sport singles. I picked up several colours cheap from a weaver who had finished a project. I picked black to outline the waves.
You can see how the wool yarn is raised adding texture as well as definition. I enjoyed following the curves with my stitching. more fun than straight lines. I only
And finished. I like it much better the black outline really makes the waves pop.
Next was the rectangles on the flap at the front bottom. I used some red this time.
At first, I thought I would do a Fly stitch up the middle of each one. My stitching was really uneven. I didn’t like it, so out it came.
I decided to put two lines up the rectangle. the stitching isn’t fabulous because I had no line to follow. the only thing I had to mark it was chalk. I did try it to see how it would brush out and it was really hard to get off the felt it wanted to move further into the felt rather than come off.
And after I cut off all the tails.
So far so good. I have a plan for the last part of the decorating. It will need lines for me to follow so I will have to wait for the heat erase marking pens I ordered. After that is the really hard part……….. the finishing.
First, the part everyone wants to know, who won the Custom Fibre Chest. The winner is Karen Cantwell. Congratulations, I am sure you will enjoy your basket of goodies. For everyone else get a Free goody bag if you place an order this month. Just mention you saw it on the Felting and Fiber Studio Blog.
And now the less exciting part,
I decided to make another little bag to keep things in my basket organized. I am going to use some thick prefelt I have. The nice thing about the thick felt is you can split it and cut away a layer so you can overlap the edges and not have a thick seam.
Here’s the layout ready to wrap around. I use a felting needle to keep it all in place before wetting.
I thought it would make it more versatile if it had a little loop so it could be attached to something if I wanted to use it somewhere else, maybe attached to my sketchbook. to add it I used the offcuts from pealing the prefelt and some of the yarn I am using to decorate it. It’s handspun wool and silk. This is the back with the loop wrapped up so it won’t stick down. I needled the ends of the yarn down.
And this is the front. I may embellish it after it’s felted. I will see what it looks like. It looks very blank at the top but I will be cutting that later to make a foldover flap.
It felted down really well and you can’t see where the joins were. The join is right down the middle top to bottom.
I added the pen for size and a little piece of white felt so you can see where the opening is. It didn’t show with the black on black. I will probably add a magnetic closure if I have a small enough one. If not I will add a snap.
I love the way this yarn worked. This yarn is handspun. it’d shredded sari silk and wool. I don’t remember spinning this but looking at it I think it must be mine. Firstly it is a very small amount and I typically do this. The other is how it’s plyed. It looks like it sat in a center-pull ball or on a spindle a long time before plying. When you do that the yarn sets and when you ply it, it doesn’t really look right until you wet finish it to give the yarn back its spin energy. I almost never bother to wet finish my yarn because I won’t be knitting with it. Essentially I’m lazy about it, what can I say?
I didn’t look at this too closely before using it, I just liked the colours and thought they would look good on both the black and grey. Now looking at it after felting I suspect ( I would have to go look to be sure) that it was plyed in the wrong direction. I plyed it in the same direction as the spin so added more energy rather than plying in the opposite direction, removing energy and balancing the yarn. If you look at the yarn now you will notice it sometimes looks like two parallel yarns and sometimes one wrap around the other and that seems to be happening in the same direction as the single yarn. It didn’t just all unravel because I have tacked down at both ends.
It is another fun thing about making your own yarn. You can do some cool stuff on purpose or by accident. It fun, you should try it. It’s all the same supplies you already have. You just need a cheap drop spindle. You can even have lots of them, cheap and expensive and still not be in as deep as one spinning wheel.
Silk, silk and silk! It goes with everything and always improves any project I create. I consider it a ‘workhorse fibre’ due to how adaptable it is. Even the smallest amount does wonders and I consider it essential for any of my personal projects, or where I want to really wow someone.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
A felting rolling pin. I start all of my felting projects with this. It takes the hard work out of felting and I don’t have to roll the felt up, I can work on it flat. Within minutes I can have a large piece of felt that is ready to be developed further.
My trilobite finishing tool. I use the tool at the end of the felting process to give a sheen and smooth finish to my felt. It works especially well when I’m using silk.
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
I looooove *gestures at the void* how can you ask me to narrow it down?! I suppose if I had to choose, I love making nuno felted garments using fibres I’ve dyed myself.
What is your business?
Marie Redding Arts
What kind of items do you sell?
Felting, weaving, crafting, knitting materials, tools and supplies. I also create and sell my own yarn and locally sourced sheep fleece and locks.
I supply a wide range of wooden tools which my master carpenter makes just for me, to my designs.
I ship worldwide and have customers in every country which has enriched my experience and consider myself very lucky.
I’ve recently started creating spirit dolls on a custom basis as well. They’ve proven to be very popular with my customers.
What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
I have a unique eye for colour and use books for inspiration, such as Alice In Wonderland
I make sure every order that goes out is special and contains little gifts. I also pride myself on being a one stop shop and cater for all my customers’ needs if I can, with a very diverse range of goods. Being plastic free as much as possible is important to me.
Marie has done an amazing giveaway of a felting basket of goodies. To get in on the draw leave a comment below. Make sure there is an email attached to your profile so we can contact you. (don’t post your email ) If we can’t contact you we will pick another number. Marie will use a random number generator on May 4th to pick the lucky winner and I will announce it in my blog post on May 5th.
A luxury mixed media treasure chest in a gorgeous wicker hamper, ideal for a gift or a treat just for you. A bumper haul of mixed media fibre in your chosen complementary colours, merino wool, hand dyed silks, beads, hand dyed nylon sparkle, hand dyed locks and Teeswater fleece, and a gorgeous piece of luxury fabric to top it off! Presented in a beautiful wicker hamper which can be supplied gift wrapped at no extra cost, with a gift message or blank gift tag. This kit has no plastic packaging as I care about the environment.
As I added layers the layout grew beyond the template outline so I trimmed it. After leaving it overnight it had mostly dried. It made it easy to cut and separate the layers for later.
I originally thought I would do diamonds but after sever attempts I couldn’t get them all the same and it looked odd so I went with rectangles.
I wanted to do some waves on the back. when I looked at the art deco waves they were not even lines but they got thicker and thinner.
It looks a bit messy but I think it will be alright after felting.
It turned out pretty well, not too much shifting. after drying I decided it wasn’t wide enough. I wet it down and pulled it top to bottom and then ironed it for good measure. Now it’s not quite as long to will fit things that are a little taller.
When it’s folded up the back will look like this:
The front closed will look like this:
The inside looks like this:
I have decided to do some stitching on it before sewing it up and dividing it into sections. I am not sure what yet. I think I may outline the waves in a dark yarn to smooth them out and a diamond pattern on the blank flap and some lines or something in the squares. I will be looking up some colour palates of art deco.