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When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.

 


 

Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…

 


 

That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

An Accidental Army of Chickadees

An Accidental Army of Chickadees

It’s been another busy week heading into the September long weekend. We are back again in Oakville which should have been about 5.5 hours drive from Ottawa. Instead, the traffic was heavy and slow. (we saw unsuccessful car sex in three locations, once involving multiple vehicles! I told my car not to look as we drove past “avert your headlights!!” I was driving so I didn’t get any naughty car pictures to show you.) we are traveling because two of my brothers-in-law will be there. One departing and another arriving.

This past week I have been continuing the fleece washing. I had a strainer basket of wool ready to put out on the drying rack on Friday morning but restrained myself (since the weather is sentient and has a poor sense of humour, it would rain if I left it out to dry. It’s the long weekend.  We don’t want it to rain!

1) the last of ram #2 soaking.

2) don’t tempt the weather by putting out fleece to dry.

we also cleared the path to the back of the garage from errantly growing raspberry canes. this will make it a bit easier to finish raccoon-proofing the garage.

3) the extracted errant raspberry

My other quest for the week was to make presents for my brothers-in-law. There Are 5 brothers, and I have made one for brother number 4 and one for Glenn’s Mom last trip. So four more to go! I have tried variations on the theme and so far I am pleased with them.

The reason i am making a small invasion or maybe an infestation, of chickadees is they remind me both of my parents cottage and also of my in-laws home in Oakville. His brothers have been taking turns staying with his mom and i had hoped the chickadees would bring them good thoughts of Oakville and watching the birds and squirrel fight over the bird feeders (they are not squirrel feeders so we know is in the wrong in that war!) We were down this time as brother #3 was leaving and brother # 2 was arriving. We hope to see brother #1 before we leave.

4 & 4.1) Mega-Chickadee (Arnold) with his in-progress smaller cousin (for brother #4)

I had wanted to tell you about the first two I made. I had brought the wrong thread with me, pant mending thread not eye attaching thread (really they’re totally different thread!), when I was making the first two guys so devised a way to attach eye without the thread. This would not be strong enough if your creature was to be played with but if it’s just sitting around the eyes are secure and won’t fall off. (how embarrassing to have eye drop sounds terrible)

Without appropriate thread, I needed a way to get the bead (I had brought small black glass seed beads) to sit in the location I had wanted and to stay in place.

I used the felting needle to work some of the wool through the bead, arranging it so that there were wisps on both sides of the bead.

5) bead and a bit of fibre

5.1) Bead with a small amount of fibre through the centre

6) both eyes ready to attach

I chose the spot and used the awl and felting needle to make a dent in the felt head. good thing the little guys seem a bit soft in the brain, more room to inset half an eye bead.

7) using the awl

8) marking the other side and checking it’s in the correct location.

9) making the hole a bit deeper with the felting needle

First try; I found it was not as secure with a finer amount of fibre and need to have more added to it. With a bit more added lateral to each eye, the attachment was a success.

10) first one done, on to the next armature.

Second try; This time I tried using more fibre. (as much as would fit through the opening in the bead seemed the correct amount.)

I continued to work with wisps of colour to give a chickadee a bit of suggestion of feathers.

Once I had the little guy to my liking it was time to trim off some of the fuzzy halo. As I mentioned in a previous post the core wool from World of Wool has a bit of kemp which occasionally sticks out at an odd spot. The Corriedale is also showing a bit of halo which is more noticeable where the black is adjacent to the white. I used the scissors carefully removing the fuzzy bits of wool.

11) Hair cutting started.

12) a good trim

13) Two handsome chickadees ready for their new homes.

the Chickadees were given to their new owners before we departed back to Ottawa. Both were surprised and seemed happy with their new pets.

The next step is to make a few more. Unfortunately, I was working in front of the computer and had been distracted from my audiobooks by impending Hurricane Ida. I got so distracted with the Horrors of the storm I lost track of the number of armatures I was making, 4 or was it 5 more. Looking away from the nightmare water and wind event on the computer I realized I am overrun by chickadee armatures. There seem to be 6 of them now staring at me! I have a production line of leg wrapping ahead of me! That’s 36 toes to practice on! I seem to be making a small flock of chickadees!

14) 26ga steel toes wrapped around 20ga steel floral wire armature (both wires are coated so the steel is not exposed)

15) all lined up with legs and beaks done, still have to try toes with wax. (the fleece i chose has some lanolin left in it after washing and has a lot of very fine crimp)

16) now with a bit more body

the eyes for the last two worked well out so well I used the same technique again.

17) supervision!!!

17.1) time to add the second eye

18) one of the two I have finished and brought with us to give to brothers #2 and #3 this weekend.

19) here he is in a jaunty pose before retiring to his travel facility complete with bagged lunch for his travel pleasure.

20) upon our arrival here in Oakville, we found that Glenn’s mom’s bird had discovered the bole of nuts on the coffee table!! He seems to be very happy in his new home but is reluctant to let the rest of us nibble on the nuts. I may have to leave some sunflower seeds for him too!!

I have been doing variations on wing attachments, separate wings, wings constructed on the body, separate wired wings,  wing tips added to built-in wings….. who know what else I will try?

I promise I will do something other than chickadees in the near future! Have fun and keep felting

Making felt ball in bulk

Making felt ball in bulk

This exercise started with me wanting to make some felt cubes and triangular prisms to make a more 3D version of a sky view landscape. the first thing I thought of doing to get the shapes was to felt around some small wooden blocks. I spit some into roof shapes and some in half for shorter cubes. Although this seemed like a good idea it was not very successful. the pointy corners proved to be a problem and adding more wool would just start rounding them too much.

Then I was talking to the group and Lyn said to try squishing them into squares when you making them. Well of course why didn’t I think of that. Now I need to make balls and I had been thinking I should try making a bunch of them, why make 4 if you can make more. I had seen a video of them making large numbers all at once in Nepal. So off to google how to do that. There are several videos on how to do this. Living felt has the best one.

Step one roll up some wool for the beads. I wrapped the wool around a chopstick and poked it a few times with a felting needle to hold it while I make more.

Once I had a bunch ready I added some soapy water. Just ad a little then roll them around the container to absorb it. Then add a

little more until they are wet but not soggy.

Then I popped the lid on and started rolling them around and shaking them until they were felted. This works really well and doesn’t take long at all. I rinsed them and couldn’t believe how dirty the water was.

Now I need to full them, I put them on a towel and used the starburst lid of my container to roll them around. adding pressure as I went.

 

On to a drying wrack.

I squished a few into the right shapes for my picture

I haven’t started the picture yet. I did make a sheep glasses holder for my granddaughter who just got glasses. I flattened the bottom so it wouldn’t roll. You rest the glasses on the lamb’s nose. His nose I a bit piggish but he was gone to her bedroom to find the best place for him before I could fix it.

And just to throw another spanner( or 2 )  in the works we started having lambs ( early, rams are very sneaky and quick when they want to be) got our new puppy. not sure how much felting will be going on but I usually do best when I have no time. Always seems to motivate me and create ideas.

Ava: 8 weeks

Who could resist , the sequel.

Who could resist , the sequel.

I simply had to develop one of the pieces from my play with multiple resist further. This particular piece intrigued me, and after we spent time together ie me staring at it for a considerable time, I knew where we were going. The centre felt like something had fractured, a cell broken apart. Having recently lost both my parents it felt like a metaphor for my grief and the feeling I was going through, emotions of pain and detachment. These became the red, pain, anger, hurt. The white, detachment, cold, an emptiness. And do our journey began.

To the original felted piece, I added some shaped prefelt which I added with a couching stitch. This gave me the raised effect. I then added beading from the centre of the “cell” out to either side. Throughout the whole piece, I chose a palette of white red black and grey ( there is a little exception to that but I will go further later ).

I wanted to use a material other than felt for the background of the piece and decided on mixed media. As a base, I used calico which I coloured with acrylic paint. As I turned out I needn’t of done this as I covered the whole piece in materials. I knew from the very beginning how the piece was going to turn out but wasn’t sure of the materials I was going to use to achieve the textures I wanted. So I had a play. I got several different materials and heat treated and used my embellishing machine to see the effects I could achieve.

For the red area, I decided upon prefelt with red satin added with the embellisher, heat treated tulle, crocheted wire and beads.

Arranging composition

In the white area, I decided upon prefelt embellished with satin I also heat treated a mixture of materials lutrador, plaid plastic bags and plastic netting (from a cheese sac) doing this gave the texture of ice which is what I wanted to achieve.

Developing the white area

For the other surrounding area, I cut up an old silk dress that had wonderful shades of grey. These were added with the embellisher around the edges. It had many shades of grey going to black so I could shade the composition. It did take the whole dress to complete it.

The base layer was now laid down so next I added the beading As part of the white area I wanted some raised beading so I beaded small clusters of beading on the net and glued the back. When dry I cut them out and arranged them on the piece.

In these little parts, I added only a couple of golden seed beads. My little sign of hope I suppose.

In the red area, I added beading in shades of deep red and dark green also many sequins which reflect light wonderfully. wire crocheted flame-shaped pieces were added radiating out into the grey area. I also embroidered with daisy chain stitch.

And so our journey ended. I have never worked on a piece that felt like a part of me more than this. Because of the lockdown here I am unable to get it framed but it will be. Then it will go on my wall

Knitting and modeling a shawl

Knitting and modeling a shawl

After a big hiatus, my knitting mojo finally woke up, and it was craving complicated stuff, not just the customary stocking stitch pattern.
I’ve a soft spot for lace shawls, particularly those by British pattern creator Boo Knits (find her by searching on Ravelry). Bev also allows knitters to sell finished shawls, as long as they credit her as the pattern author – very useful for a fibre business owner like myself.

I set out to knit a shawl named Out of Darkness. The lace pattern is beautiful, yet simple enough to not drive me mad (as long as I pay very close attention to the instructions and count my stitches frequently).

Lace looks very underwhelming when you’re knitting it. The stitches don’t look defined or “pop,” it’s as if you’ve gone through a lot of trouble for not much.

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Once you block it, however, the magic happens.

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Isn’t the transformation amazing? The pointy bits look on point (pun intended), the beads suddenly make sense and this is now a thing of beauty, luxurious even.

This was intended as the show stopper in my new online shop, so I went out of my way to create decent photos.

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Finally, I also gathered up courage to take some “lifestyle photos,” as they say. I even managed a straight face…

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You know how that classical novel ends with, “reader, I married him?” Well, my story ends with, “reader, I ended up selling this beauty before I finished setting up my shop!” Ah, well.

So here it is, my adventures in lace knitting. What have you created with your hands lately?

Spinning some yarn

Spinning some yarn

I haven’t done much other than make meat pies for the farmers market the last week. It seems with cooler weather people want comfort food. So many Steak and Mushroom pies and Tourtiere pies have been made.

I did finish my Guild poker challenge I told you about here: spinning-for-the-guild-challenge/ The beads really were not inserted very well and that showed up more in the plying but here it is finished.

You can see how the locks aren’t in well enough so they are very loose in the ply.

I learned a lot and I think next time I will ply with a thread with beads on it instead or maybe do some sort of core spun yarn with a beaded thread.

I have also been spinning on my spindle. I can do that anywhere.  They are both thick and thin yarns. It will show more after they are plied. I finished this, it’s reds with gold super bright trilobal nylon I dyed. I don’t remember what colour I used to get it, maybe aztec gold. The first picture shows the colour best. The second picture is over exposed, so hopefully you can see how much sparkle is in it.

My current spinning project is also red but it has pink mixed in and white silk and undyed supper bright trylobal nylon.

After this spindle is full I will decide if I want to play them together or keep them separate.  Later they will make their way into some felting. What have made to use later in your felting?

Working Small

Working Small

I’ve been trying some new things to work on that I could do easily and fairly quick. Right, haha.

I had seen some crochet and bead earrings online I wanted to try.  I used the same Aunt Lydia’s variegated cotton thread that I used on one of the scrubbies  I posted about recently.

 

It turned out out to be a little fiddly, but I got the hang of it and was pleased with the results. I especially like the variegated thread since it makes it easy to wear with several colors. My favorite ocean like colorway.  Here they are lying flat.

 

But then I thought they would nice hanging. So I scoured my house for something to hang them on.

Can you see the beading?

I keep pulling out my felt scraps and wonder what I can do with them.  I had some prefelt leftover from making business cards covered with throwsters waste to add a little bling and just enough to make two earrings.  I cut out two squares and played around with how to use them.  I like dangling earrings but not too big.  Since it was prefelt I didn’t want to add beads on it and weigh it down.

So, I used a head pin put a few beads on it then attached the prefelt around it just sewing it closed in the back. And finally attached the hooks.  They aren’t perfect but they are handmade.

I started another round pair with beads, but got frustrated and put it aside for another time.

I still have piles of scraps.  I’ll have to play with them some more and figure out what else I can use them for. Unfortunately, many pieces are too small to match and are odd shaped.  What have you done with your scraps lately?

 

Out of the box Part 3

Out of the box Part 3

This is the 3rd and final set of pictures from this exhibit. http://mvtm.ca/?exhibition=colour-unboxed   the first is here:  https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/18/colour-unboxed-by-out-of-the-box/ and the second here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/26/out-of-the-box-part-2/ Again I apologise for some of the odd angles as it was very crowded with people enjoying the exhibit. In the last picture you may find it hard to see but the is a very long weaving draped across  the ceiling.

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Last weekend was a Demo at the Carp fair

Last weekend was a Demo at the Carp fair

This was another great demo weekend. It was cool to start and we got to wear our wool. Later we added it to the display. It was lovely and sunny.

I was doing beads again and spinning on my drop spindle. I taught Lynda how to make a bead, just for fun. She is a fellow felt lover at the beginning of her journey.

beed-makinglinda-making-a-bead

Jan got a shot of me with some kids. They came in waves so I either had non or more kids than pencils. I stole Jan’s picture from the guild facebook page.

me-making-beeds-jan-pic

The beads proved useful too. Lauri has an old wheel that she made some new spindles for. they were a little short but also a little wide at the orifice end. We solved it by cutting a bead and using it as a spacer. Sorry I didn’t get a picture.

lauri-spinning-jams-pic

Linda was not just slacking off making beads she was working on her cool Master Weaver loom. Invented not to many years ago by a man whos wife could no longer use the foot peddles or leavers on a regular loom. Lynda is adding some extra weft for interest. She is sitting on the back side of the loom

lynda-weaving

Lynda also brought her husband along and he was doing carding. He had a great time making batts and talking to lots of people. He wants to come to more demos. Lynda says she will have to get a family membership in the guild now.

lindas-husband

Jan was spinning on Saturday. Here she is winding off single yarn into a wrist ball so she can ply it. Her husband (the blacksmith) made her a tool. She had been steeling his books to wind off her yarn.  When she is done she turns it around puts her hand through the middle and takes it off onto her wrist ready to ply. The tool works really well, but it has no name. He calls it a pre-plyer. That is descriptive but not a  great name. Woolly Winder would be perfect but that is already taken.

jan-widing-a-center-pull-ball-on-a-new-tool-with-no-name

Mary was there with her circular sock knitting machine too. It is a very cool machine.

mary-knitting-machine-jans-pic

The most interesting thing I found while out looking at the displays was 2 dye tools. I can’t remember the name of them. They were in with a great cast iron display. I love the painted pieces. I was going to ask about them but the owner was not around.

cool-stuff-at-the-fair dye-tool-2 dye-tool

That was my weekend. I hope I haven’t board you with to demo posts in a row. I will have to get on and make something interesting for next time.

 

A Mini Maker Fair

A Mini Maker Fair

This week I went to a Mini Maker Fair at one of the local universities. I went representing my Guild with my friend Elizabeth.  there were some their guilds there but also lots of interesting science.  There was R2D2. They were using him to talk bout robots.

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There was a 3D printer, making some parts for something. I think it could make a cool spindle.

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This one they were have in the computer make picture using pointillism. they seemed to be writing it as it went.

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There was wood burning, print making and violin making.

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And a fun one, Banana Piano. the size of the banana didn’t matter. They had hopped that they could line them up smallest to biggest but no luck. You play by tapping the bananas.

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An now Us.

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This is Elizabeth at her riged heddle loom and me teaching some kids show to make tube beads.

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The beads are easy and fast to make. Just wrap some wool around 5 pencils, wet and roll in you hands. As it shrinks you remove pencils until you are down to the last one. When it’s tight around the last one, that’s it you have  bead. The kids like it because its a bit noisy too with the pencils clacking away. Well it wasn’t just the kids. We had lots of adults wanting to make them too.

mmf 12

Do you know any other fast easy ways to demonstrate wet felting?

 

 

 

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