I’m excited to announce that we have developed some new community pages for all of our readers and followers. We have had loads of requests from interested readers who wanted to submit photos after reading a post or being inspired by a challenge. We now have a place that anyone can submit a photo. Our Community Photo Submissions page is now ready for you to submit a photo. It’s under the Community tab on the menu.
We only ask that you resize your photo before submitting it to something smaller than 1MB. This allows more space for the photos and quicker loading of the site. Please include a description of what you are submitting as well as why you are submitting the photo. Once the submission is complete, we will review the photo and put it in the gallery under the community pages. This may take a bit of time (up to a week) but soon your submission will be available for everyone to see.
We have also included our Links/Resources page under the Community menu tab. There is some great information there if you haven’t checked it out before.
The other page in the Community menu is Links to Blog Posts. The page gives you a list of the last forty blog posts by name. It automatically updates whenever a new post is published. You might wonder what the purpose of this page is or how you would use it. If you read a post in the last several months, and you want to find it again, you can look on this page to find the post easily. That way, you aren’t scrolling endlessly through long posts trying to find a particular post. It’s also a place where Instagram visitors will land so that they can find the post they would like to read easily. Thanks Helene for setting this page up!
These changes have made this site much more interactive and we’d like to encourage all of you to submit some photos of your work. Have you created samples or a finished piece with repurposed or recycled items? The First Quarter Challenge is coming to an end but we’d love to see what you have created. It doesn’t matter if you created it recently or in the past, we would love to see how you are repurposing items into something new. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a finished piece or a small sample, show us your creations. You can upload photos here.
At the Waltham Textile group we normally have a biannual exhibition of our work but, due to Covid, it was cancelled in 2020 rescheduled for 2021 and then had to be cancelled again. It’s now been confirmed for August but in the meantime I’ve sold my main “Leaf” themed piece so recently made this mixed media “Monstera” to replace it.
I’m also thinking of submitting this piece for the 2022 IFA online exhibition which has the theme of Flora & Fauna. I’m waiting to hear if a mixed media piece will be accepted. I can’t imagine it being a problem but, if it is, I can simply crop one of the images to show the felted leaf.
I bought a 40cm x 80cm canvas with the intention of painting Monstera leaves on it and then adding a 3D Felted leaf. After drawing a template onto paper and offering it up to plan the layout I changed my mind about painting onto the canvas. It’s not something I’ve done before and the surface appeared to be a bit too textured for the look I wanted to create. Instead I sketched the leaves onto a piece of white cotton fabric, outlined them with an Inktense pencil and added a little shading. The aim was for very simple, very smooth, perfectly formed leaves looking more like curved metal than the foliage on my cheese plant. I think this was influenced by the very smooth metallic looking Tyvek seed pods I’ve been making lately. The Monstera in our lounge has been a bit neglected, to the point that I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it for this post!
I don’t consider myself a painter but I do like painting on to fabric. If you need to paint precise lines a good tip is to use aloe vera (by far the cheapest) or acrylic medium instead of water when applying acrylics on fabric. This keeps the paint where you want it to be and avoids it bleeding into other areas. I managed to get a tiny bit of black paint on the lower section of the fabric but stopped short of starting all over again when I realised the felted leaf would cover it up!
My paper template for the painted leaves was 13” x 18” so to make the felted leaf I multiplied by 1.4 enlarging it to 18.5” x 24” to allow for shrinkage. Layer one was a very yellowish green Merino (might have been lichen but not certain). Layer two was a combination of various shades of grey with the yellowish green running down the centre. This was topped with a layer of dark green Merino and Ireland Viscose all around the edge and snippets of gold Viscose down the centre. These images don’t give a true representation of colours but you get the gist.
After wetting out I measured the fibres and found they had spread to approx 20” x 27”. At the fulling stage, every now and then, I put the original template on top to check for size and ensure I was keeping to the right shape.
Once it had shrunk to the correct size it was left to dry. The next stage was to add wires to the back of the leaf so it could be shaped. This could possibly have been done with directional laying of the fibres and lots of fulling but I wanted the option of posing the leaf once it was attached to the canvas and wires are a good way of doing this.
The wires were spaced out and attached on the reverse using a zigzag stitch which also formed the veins on the front side. You can see that bright yellowish green colour on the reverse of the leaf. Once that was done it was just a matter of cutting into the felt to form the individual leaves and the characteristic little holes of the cheese plant.
After attaching to the canvas with a few strategic stitches the leaf was given its final shaping. It’s now hanging in the lounge above my cheese plant where it will stay until the exhibition…..although if I do get the chance to sell it I suppose there is still time to make another!!
My weavers’ and spinners’ (and felters) guild has had to move online during the pandemic. One way we have been interacting is with Study Groups. For those who don’t know a study group is a bit like a workshop but not. There is a leader, and they facilitate the learning and do the organizing. It is an interactive learning experience with everyone participating and sharing information.
The group runs for 5 Zoom sessions over 10 weeks and has a dedicated space to share pictures, information and ask questions between sessions. The space will be available for 3 weeks after the last session.
Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
Time Zone: North American Eastern Standard Time(EST)= GMT-5
We will be sampling wool and how it felts. We will sample as many kinds of wool as possible and share results online and using a standard form and pictures, so we are all getting the information the same way. We will discuss possible uses for the different wools and outcomes.
We will share pictures (taking and sharing pictures is a requirement) and if everyone agrees to the extra work and expense(fibre and shipping), I will collect and distribute real samples to everyone in the group. If time and resources permit, we will try some non-wool fibres and possibly how adding non-felting fibre affects the felting outcome
The prerequisite for the study group is to be able to layout a simple 10×10 square and feel it and take and share pictures. We will discuss techniques and how they affect the outcome. This study group requires you to participate so everyone can learn and grow, it is all about sharing.
I hope some of you can join us for this fun way to find out about different wools and share with a group of like-minded people.
It would be a great Christmas or whatever you may or may not be celebrating (Happy Friday works for me) present for yourself or a friend. And no shipping fee. Adding some unusual wool would make it even better.
Line Dufour has been a practicing textile artist and tapestry weaver for the last 35 years. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto Ontario and has always had her own studio. She taught weaving to adults for about twenty years, while at the same time doing art/craft shows and exhibitions. She is currently retired from teaching but continues her studio practice. At the moment, Line does not have a gallery that represents her, and if someone wants to purchase one of her pieces they contact her through her website or social media or other channels. Line’s website www.linedufour.com. You can find her cv on there as well. She is currently enrolled at the University of Gloucestershire in the UK and working on obtaining her Master’s in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking.
And now the project
Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry, Punta del Este, Uruguay 2017
Fate, Destiny and Self Determination  Le Sort, Destin, et l’auto-determination  Suerte, Destino y Auto-determinación  Los, Przeznaczenie i Wola  Das Schicksal, das Geschick und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht
 운명, 숙명 그리고 자기가 결정한 팔자. 팔자  Usud, sudbina i samoodređenje  Sorte,Destino,Auto Determinação  Öde, mål och självbestämmande  Fato, Destino e Autodeterminazione
Written by Line Dufour.
Fate is defined as a force, energy, principle, element or power that prescribes to each person a set of limits, boundaries and confines. In Islam it is called Kismet. The Greeks called Fate, Moira. Greek Mythology speaks of the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos who supposedly controlled each person’s fate. The youngest, Clotho, is a spinner and she determines the time of birth and spins the thread of life on her distaff. Lachesis measures the length of the thread to determine the length of one’s life; the time of death is decided by Atropos, who cuts the thread. Inherent in the idea of Fate, is that one has no influence over events and outcomes. Mythology and psychology distinguish between Fate and Destiny. Destiny is considered an expanding field of possibilities alluding to our potential to influence our Fate. This makes Destiny kinetic. “The lives we construct are an inextricably woven fabric of influences, possibilities and accumulated consequences of choices made.” (James Hollis)
The development of the COVID-19 has made all of us more aware of the impact of isolation on our well being. This sense of isolation forms the underpinnings of this installation launched in 2016. Fate, Destiny and Self Determination was created as social media driven initiative to reduce the isolation artists experienced in their artistic process through co-creating the installation, providing planned hands-on events and gathering them together to exhibit their collective efforts. Inclusiveness is the weft that weaves the installation together.
Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is composed of three sections. The main tapestry woven panel (on the left) was created by Line Dufour, referencing the contemporary practice of tapestry where artist and weaver are one. The second panel on the right, was woven by visiting participants ranging from the inexperienced and amateur to the professional. This referenced traditional tapestry conventions in that many weavers work(ed) on the tapestry at the same time or at various stages and did not contribute to creating the tapestry designs.
The final section is composed of irregular shapes positioned at varying heights, between the 2 main panels, floating freely in space, as though the tapestry is pulling apart or coming together. As each shape arrives, Dufour photographs/documents it, posts it to the Facebook page for the project https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425 as well as on Instagram@tapestryline and Twitter@tapestry_line. She also includes information about the participants such as their website if they have one, and other comments they have made about the project or about their work and/or life. Thus far, 864 shapes have been received from 43 countries, and a total of about 519 people have participated. The installation continues to expand as it accepts shapes on an ongoing basis. Part of the exhibition includes a list of all participant names. If a label cannot be displayed in the gallery, a QR code label is available so that the gallery viewer can access the web page with the names of all participants.
Each time Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is installed the shapes are never placed in the same positions, making it interactive and spontaneous, and permits the curator(s) to be part of its creation. Conversely, the curator could also invite the gallery guest to position shapes on the wall between the two panels, having them re-create the installation.
The installation welcomes invitations to be exhibited around the world, and to that effect has been exhibited in the following venues:
Craft Ontario in Toronto, Canada
The Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The Doyle and Margaret Hartman Gallery, Regis University, Denver, Colorado USA
Craft Council of British Columbia, Canada
The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles as part of the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 11
Guan Shan Yue Art Museum, Shenzen, China. 9th From Lausanne To Beijing
The Centre D’Action Culturelle de la MLC de Papineau in Québec
World Textile Art Biennial at the Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry in Punta del Este Uruguay
World of Threads, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Rosccommon County Council, Roscommon Ireland
Tuchmacher Museum, Bramsche, Germany
Tuch & Technik Textilmuseum, Neumunster, Germany
Anyone who wishes to do so, can create a shape using a textile/fibre related technique (tapestry, rug, weaving, felt, basketry, etc) or create a piece that references textiles with whatever materials they like. Any hue from the colour wheel is suggested. You can use more than one colour. There is no minimum or maximum size, but the average size is 10cm (4”) . There is no maximum on the number of pieces you can submit. A person can also weave (create) a shape of their country, state or province or any shape except not a square or rectangle. You can look at the Instagram @tapestryline page for the project to see how other people have created their shapes.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago when life was simple and the only decisions we needed to make regarding our daily fix of caffeine were “instant or percolated”, “black or white”, “with or without sugar”?
How times have changed! Nowadays we have a dazzling array of flavours and styles to chose from when visiting our favourite Barista. I did once try a cinnamon and syrup latte in M&S and have never forgotten how vile that was…..give me a straight forward, simple latte every time! On the other hand, if you like your coffee more exotic, there are plenty of rather weird (and probably not so wonderful?) tastes to explore. The Farm Girl Cafe in Portobello Road could be the place to visit if you fancy a black charcoal latte made with activated charcoal, date syrup and cashew milk. Or how about their blue Butterfly Matcha made with organic blue matcha powder (now there’s an interesting ingredient to look up) with almond milk or their most famous creation, the rose latte (a double shot with rose water infused milk and petals)….there is obviously a market for it but personally I think I’ll pass!
Of course we no longer have to go out to get our fix of posh coffee thanks to the popularity of the domestic barista machines and the single use coffee capsule. Although many of these are said to be recyclable, according to Nestle, only around one third of their capsules (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo) were being returned to the manufacturer for recycling in 2020. The rest were ending up in landfill where it’s predicted they will take 500 years to breakdown!
A “not for profit” organisation in the UK called Podback are now working with local councils and other organisations to make it easier and more convenient to recycle our capsules with roadside collections alongside other household recycling. Consumers also have the option of leaving them at over 6,500 Yodel drop off points and we should soon (if it’s not happening already) have them collected by supermarkets when they drop off our online shopping.
That’s all sounding good but many of us are finding more creative ways to recycle our coffee pods, albeit on a far smaller scale. One use is to add them as interesting, textural ‘inclusions’ to a felting project. The first time I saw this done was in 2018 when I attended a Felted jewellery workshop with the wonderful German tutor Ricarda Assmann. Although we were working with fabrics, not capsules, three of the necklaces Ricarda brought as workshop samples had the aluminium crushed pods in them. At that time I didn’t have any capsules but the contrast between the hard texture of the metal and the soft feel of the fibres really appealed to me.
Another fabulous feltmaker, Judit Pocs, created this enormous “Gate” wallhanging in response to a commission from the Feltmakers Association. It is something like 2mtrs tall and studded with crushed capsules in a multitude of colours. Judit also makes beautiful rings with them and teaches the technique for making these in her online workshop.
The year before I attended Ricarda’s jewellery workshop I had the idea to recycle my collection of Tektura acrylic wallpaper samples as inclusions in my pendants (I never throw away anything that might have a use in the future!) It’s a simple process but very effective, wet felting the “waterproof” paper discs between pieces of prefelt. Four years on, and with those papers almost depleted, I’m now starting to use coffee capsules instead. Being thin aluminium they can be crushed by hand (that’s how I did the gold one in the ring) or they will flatten more easily with a little persuasion from a hammer, in which case I find it best to cover them with fabric first to avoid the hammer scratching off the colour. I’ve also started using them in some of my brooches.
I’m sure some of our readers will have tried Felting with capsules and I know Ann did some experimenting with them which you can see here, has anyone else tried this? They could look great in 3D pieces such as bags, sculptures, etc. I did a google search and didn’t find any other images of felt with capsules but I’m sure there’s lots out there somewhere. I did find zillions of “non felted” ideas for recycling on Pinterest, Etsy, YouTube, etc and websites including ecogreenlove.com, these are just a few…..
There are so many inventive ways to create with coffee capsules and with Christmas fast approaching they could be used for decorations or even nativity scenes like these found on Pinterest…….
I will leave you with one of the most impressive uses I came across which was the stunning 2017 catwalk collection by Birmingham designer Rhys Ellis. Rhys studied Fashion Design at Birmingham University and, as part of his course, he spent a year in Italy studying at the Politecnico di Milano design school alongside world-renowned tailor, Guiltiero Fornetti.
“It was while I was in one of the markets that I saw a lady making very simple jewellery from these coffee pods and something just clicked and I knew that I could create dresses this way.“ “I also liked the idea of using material that would otherwise be thrown away.”
I won’t be making anything that dramatic but I am planning to make lots more pendants and brooches. I might just add some capsules to my next felted bag too. If you’ve done anything with them we would love to hear about your projects in the “comments” and you could always post them on the Forum.
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.
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.)
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…
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.)
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.
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:
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.
A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a pair of English wool combs. They were sold out at the time but the people in the shop were kind enough to allow me to backorder. Now all I had to do was wait a few days and let the spiky goodness arrive at my doorstep!
Finally, they were here.
It occurs to me that these would make great Wolverine claws for Halloween, were I in the mood to risk self-injury… Seriously, despite knowing these are pointy, sharp objects, it still surprised me to find out exactly how sharp they were in a slight moment of distraction. Note to self: don’t daydream when handling wool combs.
If you’re not sure what wool combs are for, these brilliant tools are used to process fleeces for spinning. They work by separating, aligning and combing the wool locks, whilst also getting rid of any vegetable matter (VM). The end result is a fluffy and lovely cloud that you’re supposed to carefully diz off the combs, ending up with a longish sort of roving.
Ideally, you’ll place the locks facing the same direction, which in my case was cut side nearest the tines, ends on the outside.
These are lovely locks from a Texel cross lamb’s first shear’s fleece. I washed it myself. They’re so soft and all I want to do is bury my face in them.. (which I definitely have. Don’t judge.)
Next, you carefully start teasing the tips of the locks apart with the other comb, which will transfer a bit of fibre to said comb at each pass. As you keep doing this, the longer staples of wool will move and the shortest bits will remain on the clamped comb. You’re meant to discard these short bits, but I keep them to make dryer balls.
You can see above that the fibre left behind retains some VM. I don’t mind it because it’s clean, and won’t be seen once the dryer balls are covered in commercially processed wool top. Waste not, want not.
You will do this transferring of fibre from one comb to the other until you’re happy with how the wool looks. The one below was on the third pass.
There was still a tiny bit of VM but I don’t mind.
Since I wasn’t planning on spinning this wool, I didn’t diz it off the comb, I simply pulled it all off together very gently, so it all came off at the same time.
After 30 minutes I had a few clouds.
I’ll be gathering a lot of this fluff into a bag and, once I have enough, I’ll card it on my drum carder and make batts to sell to spinners and felters. Lamb wool really is like a cloud and I’m loving playing with it.
To end this post in my usual tradition, here’s a completely unrelated photo I took a few days ago that I find amusing. This was on a building I happened to pass by here in Edinburgh.
It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.
I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.
Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, has an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.
The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.
After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!
With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.
I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!
What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!
I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.
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.