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First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 2

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 2

Part 2

Last post I had shown you Watson’s Grist Mill Museum and showed you some of the activities and a few of the sales booths. I told you which groups were doing demos for the mill, but have not shown what we were up to.

Under our 10X10 tent, we had space for 1 table of display and had set up a folding Ikea towel holder to drape handwoven textiles over. The wind had other ideas and threw it off the table shortly into the demo. Ok, it sat in front of the table on the floor. I had brought a small metal folding table to work on and Bernadette had a small table for the drum carder and a wicker tray on a stand.  We had samples of weaving, spun yarn, felted pictures, the peg doll loom, drop spindles, and pine needle basketry on the table.

30 part of our demo team

31-32 shot of our display (we moved the stand down due to the wind) you can see my Peg Doll Loom (Sleeve loom) and Sheep picture at one end of the table

As well as the static display we showed Spinning (on a Ragnvald castle wheel, an electric wheel and drop spindles) Fiber prep (drum carder, hand carders and Combs), Pine Needle Basket weaving, Rigid Heddle weaving and Needle Felting.

Fibre prep;

Bernadette had her Drum carder, hand carders and combs. She tried demonstrating with a pink fibre that had a lot of VM (Vegetable matter), in it. She tried it first on the drum carder and found there was too much VM left in it. So she continued on to the combs which are usually great for getting rid of VM.  The choice of which fibre prep you use is determined by what you want to do with the fibre. For spinning woollen yarns, pick the drum carder or hand cards. If you want a more organized smooth yarn, pick combs for a worsted or semi-worsted result.

33 trying the pink fibre in the drum carder. Note Bernadette’s jacket and the kid’s attire, someone is optimistic about today’s weather forecast.

34 Demonstrating Hand Carders (this got her covered in VM! what a messy fiber!)

35  loading combs to get rid of VM still left after drum carding

We don’t usually have a basket maker with us demoing so this was extra special.  This is pine needle basket making which uses a sewing technique to build the structure.

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36-41 Pine Needle Basket

42 other than dirty fleeces we are not usually an aromatic demo. It was interesting to watch, we had a smell component to our demo. (in a good way)

Ridged heddle Weaving

This is a small, portable, usually, 2 harness loom. It can weave very simple cloth or if you add more heddles for a more complex patterns.

43-44 Ridged heddle Weaving


We had a couple of examples of spinning equipment, the more traditional looking Ragnvald castle wheel, an electric wheel and drop spindles. A few of the public tried the spindles I will show you that at the end of the post.

45-47 Ragnvald Wheel

48-49 Electric spinning wheel running on a battery pack.

We now have quite a few members of the guild with various electric wheels. There portability is quite appealing. if your curious there is a cart with links to a lot of the manufacturers here;  (Just in case you start to feel your felting fiber horde is getting too big and needs a bit of taming.)


We had examples of needle felting, the Sheep picture you have seen me work on before, the basket weasel dragon and I am still working on petals for the iris flower. (I decided I wanted to make the upper petal a bit bigger as I added the surface details).  I am quite enjoying the wool pad (its the medium firm 1 inch thick pad not the thinner half inch thick ironing pad). I have been seeing more people using the firmer ironing pads for felting. if you have the opportunity, you may want to try both types and see which you prefer.

50-51 adding details to the upper petals

It was a busy demo, i didn’t talk to quite as may people as i would usually but i was at the back of the tent instead of the front this year.  We had two particularly memorable chats i wanted to mention to you.  We had 2 women stop with their families a different times during the demo. They were both recent emigrants to Canada, and both were extremely good spinners on a drop spindle. Both gave us a demonstration. We were extremely impressed with their skill.

52-53 We are Impressed with Spontaneous Drop Spindle Demos

The first lady was from Turkmenistan, and the second I think was from Iran.  Their families looked impressed with their spinning and seemed please we were impressed with and valued their skill. The Lady in pink had a bit of trouble with my Lego spindle and then realized I had been spinning in the opposite direction, she stopped, changed direction and made the most lovely fine, even yarn. I think she was amused by my odd spindle but she made it work!

Demos are a great way to find people with fibre art interests. They remind the public that Fiber arts are not an old dyeing art no one does anymore.  It may even inspire others to try something they see at the demo. We hear about old wheels or looms from childhood memories.  We do occasionally hear “Look she is making wool!” we laugh and say no the sheep grew the wool, it was cut off and washed now we are spinning it into yarn. Sitting at a demo Is a lovely way to spend the day (but next time I will not believe 20c with a light gusty breeze and bring a jacket!)

Have fun and keep felting! (even in public)

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 1

First Fiber Arts Demo since 2019 part 1

Good morning Fiber Friends! (it’s finally a sunny day ) even with a lot of grey days, I have had a week busy with felting. I watched an online felting workshop with Ana-Maria Istrate on making realistic needle felted newborn kittens. As I had hoped she has some interesting surface treatments. While I watched, I took notes and worked on my Iris inspired by techniques from Tjarda van der Dussen’s workshop on Roses and butterflies.

Before I show you how that is coming along, I want to go back a week and show you what was happening at the first demo done by our local fibre arts guild, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild, since 2019.

The demo takes place in a small town that is just south of the main city of Ottawa. (The City annexed a large amount of the surrounding land, swallowing small towns there were nearby, including the town of Manotick.)

Manotick is on the Rideau River, which was part of the navigable waterway between Kingston and Ottawa. If you have a boat I hear that travelling through the locks (boat lifts not Scottish lakes) and the interconnecting lakes, finally reaching the canal in Ottawa, is relaxing and has good scenery. (Dow’s Lake, originally known as Dow’s swamp before the canal was added, has particularly nice views of the arboretum and Carlton University.)

The Rideau River was also used to create power to drive working mills, many are long gone with only photogenic remains. There are some surviving, including Watson’s Mill in Manotick, (a gristmill which is a mill that grinds grain).

1 Watson’s Grist Mill, Manotick, Ontario, Canada.

There is now a working museum housed at the mill I can show you the ground floor, I should have asked one of the other demo people to get pictures of the lower level with the water wheel (the stairs looked a bit too challenging). There are rumors of a ghost, occasionally spotted upstairs. Those stairs also looked a bit beyond me so I didn’t get any of the second-floor either. Luckily the displays on the ground floor cot my eye and were quite photogenic. They have a working millstone plus other displays. The flour shoot was interesting and the view out the window and side door patio were very nice. The river was a bit wet looking but seemed to stay in its banks.

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2-9 Watson’s Mill

The mill organized the groups demoing in front of the mill building and ran flower-making demos on Saturday afternoon. (Ground flour for baking, not the flowers like in the pretty flower beds along the river)

10 Sign; Grind today 1-3pm

Throughout the day they had interpreters, in costume, organizing kids’ activities. There was a fishing tournament, they had historical games (stilts and sticks and rings) there was a table with some kind of craft for kids too.

11-12  More Activities In and around the Mill at Manotick

Now back to the demos, we are in with several groups under 10X10 tents in the parking area in front of the mill. This year there were not as many demo groups as usual. There was our guild, the lace makers, the wood carvers and the public library (I am not sure why they were with us but I am very enthusiastic about books).

13 The mill with demo tents in front

I had checked earlier that it wasn’t going to rain. If it rains I bring anti-wetness-bins (plastic under bed boxes) to keep the wheels out of puddles and the runoff from the road. It defiantly said no rain, good, high of 20c with gusty breeze…. That sounds good. OVER OPTIMISTIC FALSE ADVERTISING BY THE WEATHER!!!  It was more than just chilly, one of our neighbors checked her phone in the late morning and said it was up to 15c. oh and the gusty breeze tried to take out the tents randomly a few times. (extra exciting demoing!!) I was sure 15c was unusually warm only a couple of months ago but that was before the August-like heat wave we had a couple of weeks ago before the big storm.

Let’s not think about the fickleness of the weather and take a peek at the groups that attended the Dickinson day demo this year.

14 OVWSG guild demo in tent number one

15  Lace makers’ guild demo in tent number 2

The library was in tent 3 but I don’t seem to have a shot of them. They were running late and didn’t arrive till just before 9:30 am

16  the Wood Carvers group display was in tents 4 and 5

There are usually more tents with wood turners, small engine displays and sometimes a blacksmith, past where the cars were abandoned in the photo of the Wood Carvers.

Besides the demo groups, the Historic 1860’s Mill and Dickinson House Museum (belonging to the founder of the mill and sitting across the green from the mill) there were also commercial and craft vendors on the side streets on either side of the mill.

17 Map of Manotick

18 A Few of the Booths Along the Road Near the Mill

Just past the green in front of Dickinson House sits the mill barn. A large tent was in front of the barn that hosts a pancake breakfast then later, a couple of local dance companies have demonstrations of dance routines by little kids up to teenagers. There is often a brass band and sometimes a highland pipe and drum group (I didn’t see them this year).

19 Tent with a Pancake Breakfast the used for the Kids Dance Ruteans

There are many kids and lots of dogs attending as well. (a few of the dogs looked like their coats would be spinnable! They wisely did not get too close to the spinners or felter. I am thinking of the overly fluffy Samoyed and the Keeshond that got away!! We will get you next year and liberate you of your under-fluff!!![ Maniacal chuckling herd off-camera ] )

20 The firemen were there with an old hand pumper. They were letting kids try on a fireman’s attire. It was a little big but the hat was cute!

21 a very elderly dog and a couple of the many kids.

22 everyone stopped to check out the Danes as they went by.

23 Ok this one did not bark at least while I was there!

24 one of the vendors had these lovely baskets.

25 another booth had this on a table.

We even spotted another guild member in one of the booths with her sock knitting machine. Her husband had made her the fabulous flat folding table to hold her circular knitting machine.

26-27 We found another Guild Member!

Now I will paws for a moment since you are probably as tired by this point as I was and I will give you a moment to rest and warm up. I will show you the demo team on Friday.

To wet your apatite I will show you a couple shots of Bernadette’s combs sitting on her drum carder and its cute little table.

28-29 Drum carder, Combs and tray table

Community Art Installation

Community Art Installation

I was asked by my local community arts centre to run a felting workshop to contribute ‘something’ to a community art installation to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s forthcoming platinum jubilee.  The wonderful Horsebridge Community Arts Centre in Whitstable is creating a ‘tea party with a twist’: everything will be hand-made and not necessarily from the usual materials.  Think papier mâché teacups and crocheted sandwiches.  The Horsebridge received a grant from Arts Council England to create their installation which meant participation was free but I would get paid to run the workshop – a win-win!

I mulled over what the ‘something’ might be and decided to run a workshop making wet felted flowers as table centre pieces.

I decided early on to take my colour inspiration from the Commonwealth flag – royal blue and golden yellow. This would reduce the choices people would have to make (which often take a long time!) and would be a change from the red, white and blue of our national flag.

I’ve not made flowers before so set about designing something that was as simple as possible to make. The creators were unlikely to have any felting experience and we were going to do this in 2½ hours – both demonstrate and make.

By now my friend Sue (a ceramicist) had agreed to run another workshop making slab pot vases for the flowers to sit in, so they needed to stand in a vase. I took some wool away on a trip with me and started trying out designs.

Prototype One: a loopy sort of flower made by laying out 5 separate petal shapes of wool (herring-bone style layout) then felting them together with a little wool in the middle.

I thought it was OK but getting the petals even was a little challenging and we’d have to use wire for the stems. I wasn’t sure they’d sit very well in vases and I generally thought I could do better, so moved on to my second design.

Prototype Two: I liked this a little better. It was laid out in a flat circle and the petals were cut part-way though fulling. It seemed pleasingly tulip-shaped. I wasn’t content to settle quite yet, though, as I had a few other ideas to try out.

Prototype Three: a more complex design laying out one larger circle of wool then covering it with a circular resist with a hole in the middle and laying out a smaller circle of wool on top of the resist, ensuring the two layers joined together through the hole.  Not surprisingly, I realised that this was going to be way too complicated to create in the time available. The fulling took a long time. I did like the blue edging on the petals though so carried this through to the next sample.

Prototype Four: I wanted to try adding a felt rope stem so it would sit nicely in a vase without using wire so needed a fairly simple flower shape if there was going to be time to add the stem to the design.  I made a felt rope in blue, keeping one end dry and fluffy to attach to the flower head.  The head was laid out in a single yellow layer, radiating out from the centre, in a similar way to prototype 2. I joined the stem as I wetted down the wool and covered it with a piece of bubble wrap with a hole in the middle for the stem to poke through.  This would prevent the body of the stem felting to the flower.

Once the flower and stem were at prefelt stage and the stem was securely attached, I picked up the flower by the stem and rolled it closed, mostly between my palms, to shape it into a 3D rather than flat flower.

Yes, this seemed just about do-able within the time and was reasonably simple for inexperienced felters to make.  If anyone ran out of time they could skip the petal-cutting stage and make a cone-shape flower so they wouldn’t have to heal all the edges and shape every individual petal.

By the time I got back to my studio the right coloured wool had arrived, along with some yellow tussah silk.  I already had blue and yellow nepps so I could set about refining my prototype.  A few design changes: I decided we’d run a second layer of wool just around the outside of the flower head circle as this would give the petals a bit more body.  Second, I’d add add nepps to the centre and a few strands of silk to the petals. Here’s the new layout.

And here’s the finished flower: advanced prototype 4!

Yes, I was pleased with the improvements and fairly confident the flowers would sit comfortably in their vases. I parcelled out the wool, nepps and silk and gathered together all the equipment ready for the workshop. It took a while!

Normally I teach a maximum of 8 people at a time but as this was a small make I rather recklessly committed to 16 – thinking I could have 2 people per table. Not a problem until I started to seek out 16 towels and 16 mats…..but it seems my hoarding tendencies came good! Cutting out 32 pieces of bubble wrap (16 of which needed a hole cutting in the middle) and 16 pieces of net started to feel like I was on a production line. Happily, though, I got everything together just in time for the day of the workshop.

Here’s the teaching room at the Horsebridge with everyone setting to work – a lovely light, airy and spacious room with people well spaced-out.

A couple of work in progress shots

And lots of happy felters with their beautiful creations.

The workshop seemed to go well and we produced plenty of flowers to add to the installation. I made sure people took photos of their own flowers as they can collect them after the event, if they want to.

Here’s most of them gathered at the end of the workshop.

Lessons: we needed more time! It’s hard to estimate how long it will take to demonstrate something and for people then to make it.  I’d opted for 2½ hours but with hindsight should have gone for 3.  I’ve left myself quite a lot of ‘finishing off’ to do – to make sure stems are firm enough for example – before the flowers go into the installation in early June. I could wrap the floppier stems in florists wire but I’d prefer them to be fully felted. It also took me way longer than I’d realised both to develop the prototypes and prep all the materials. Happily I was able to put the time in and I’m now fully ready for any future flower felting opportunities!

The installation is from 2 June and I’m really excited to see how it all comes together and how the flowers fit in. I took part in a couple of the other workshops: making slab pot vases and monoprint doilies. There’s something really joyous for me in taking part in a community art project and the Horsebridge have done a wonderful job in involving lots of people in the installation. As well as a series of workshops, they’ve sent out lots of making kits for people who can’t get to the centre to make things and worked really hard to involve lots of different members of the community. If you’re interested in the end result I’m sure the Horsebridge Arts Centre will post photos so here’s a link to their website. and a big thanks too to Arts Council England for providing the project funding.

Going Back to Demoing

Going Back to Demoing

Sorry for today’s delay! I have been busy this week working on the guild Library report. It’s a lot of data to sift through even with a second year of reduced book borrowing due to covid. I do a report in December for the city grants then one for the AGM in May. It’s not the same data since the first covers the Year (2021) and the second covers the library term From the AGM in  2021 to AGM 2022.  I have a fabulous library team working with me but I write up the report and then send it to Ann to spell check and make a synopsis since I tend to be very thorough. It usually takes a week to get the data into charts then analyzed a bit then written up into the report. The main data is dropped in the appendix (21 pages) and the short tables go into the report (5 pages).  I am only missing one bit of data to finish it but here is the extremely short version (not I am not going to show you 21 pages of charts!!)

  • Library team: 6 regular members and 3 assistants this year, for a total of 9.
  • Acquisitions: 69 new items From Donations, Bequests, and purchases
  • Circulation: Total items; 249 (1 item out for repair)
  • Format of items in circulation: BOOKS 208, MAGAZINE 21, DVD 18
  • Accessibility: 238.5  hours in the library, plus the hours from March I still have to add.

1 The Felting Section of the Guild Library

2 Part of the Guild Library Cabinets

I also got a note off to the newsletter about the next Library day. We have been having members email their book requests to the library and we pull, sign out and bag the books. The members come to the library, knock on the window, hold up their name signs and we grab their bag of books and meet them at the side door to give them their books. It has been working quite well over the last 2 years.

3 books pulled ready to bag

4 books ready to go out to members.

2 months ago, we got word that we could have more people in the studio space, where we have the library. We would need to have only 2 people browsing the books at a time, proof of vaccination and wear a mask at all times. Last month we were allowed 4 people at a time looking at books and they could self-administer the health questions, but still had to wear their masks. This month it looks like we may be able to have the regular capacity and no symptoms of ill health for ourselves or assonated people but still keep the mask. We hope that the books can finally visit with the guild members in a more personal way.

5 Ann Ready for in-person book sign-out, for the first time in 2 years!

So if we can have library happening in a more normal way Demos of spinning weaving and felting cannot be far behind.  I have been doing demos for the guild since the 1990s, first weaving then adding spinning, and finally adding felting to the options for demos.  I’m not sure what my first demo was but it may have been weaving at a sheep to shawl demonstration at the experimental farm. My first time spinning at a demo was at a tractor pull competition with another spinner Clara (she was very good). In the morning, she spun and answered questions. By the afternoon, I was spinning and talking at the same time too!

At first, I carried a folding Leclerc table loom either a 2 or 4 harness. They didn’t feel heavy at the time but after quite a few years they seem to have gained weight. I was sometimes also bringing a wheel or two depending on the demo. For the Carp Fair demo I could fill a small station wagon with equipment and display stuff (they gave us a 20x 20 tent to set up a four-table display, it was a challenge that we filled each year.)

6-7 weaving at the same demo (it’s a super long warp!)

8 We let anyone who wants to have a try. It means we get many interesting variations on the pattern we thought we were doing!

Over the years, I have learned a lot of demo tricks. one of the best is if you think you will be on damp grass or it might rain (we have had sudden small rivers appear in tents we were demoing in when it rained), bring a plastic under bed box or low sided storage bin that your wheel will fit into as well as your feet. Spinning in a plastic box will keep your feet and wheel dry. If it’s just morning dew to worry about bring a rubber-backed kitchen matt that is big enough to fit under your wheel. They roll up and take up little space to bring with you. I also have a folding wagon that can transport wheels, looms, wool, a folding table… from the car to the demo spot if I cant get the car close to unload.

9 One of my Friends demonstrated the weight capacity of a folding wagon

10 a Plowing match demo  with a tarp to keep the dew off the wheel

11 Manotick demo in a tent in the rain.

12 in a tent, raining at the Richmond Fail (trundle box is tucked under the table.)

Another sneaky thing I do at demos, now that I am also felting, is I have a couple of pieces that I save to work on only at demos, that are works in progress. I have found that when I am just starting out with a picture or sculpture there is a lot of mild curiosity. However, if I have something underway to the point you can make a good guess at what I might be doing, I tend to get more interest and questions.  “Is it a dog?” gets kind of boring until someone says very hesitantly “….is that.. a ..polar bear?” “YES! It is!!”

13 Polar bear finally looks a bit less like a dog.

14 Makers fair demo

15 Demo at Wool Growers Co-Op, Carlton place

When you demo you don’t have to know everything, so don’t be afraid of questions.  It’s fine to say “I’m still new and don’t know that, but we can see if we can find out”. If you are demoing in a group ask the others who are demoing, if you are by yourself, refer them to your guilds email to ask.  There are also breed specific organizations you can find many of the contacts at sheep 101 on the internet.

Second, don’t worry that you’re not a master weaver, spinner or felter. There are not a lot of masters out there and they all started somewhere not being masters. If you enjoy what you’re demoing, your enthusiasm will be contagious. In addition, if you’re just beginning, it shows others they can do this too. Watching someone make fluffy fibre stick together it’s like magic! Watching someone make perfect fine lace weight yarn is a bit daunting, If it is a slubby functional yarn, that may actually be much more approachable. It’s amazing how many times someone will ask, “What happens when it brakes?” then you accidentally brake it and show them how it reattaches.

Once I took my Ashford Traditional out to a demo. It is a lovely wheel, the golden retriever of wheels! “Is that fibre? Can I spin it for you?” anyway I had the drive band brake and had repaired it but only had blue crochet cotton so I had a blue drive band and was spinning white wool. You can see where this is going I am sure. After having a man stand staring at the wheel for much longer than most people stop and just stare, he finally asked.

“How does the wool go from white to blue, then back to white?”

“Good question!” so I stopped the wheel and showed him the path for the yarn through the orifice and on to the bobbin and the path of the drive band and how the treadle and footman turned the wheel.

I hope we will be able to demo again soon. It is a lot of fun and you may find others who didn’t know anyone did weaving, spinning or felting and they have always wanted to learn to do that too!

16 Basket dragon with hand died wings, Carp Fair Demo

I have lots of photos of the demo display and other people demoing.  I am usually the one with the camera so these are most of the pictures I have of me actually demoing.

17  1812 was not my best year, the diminutive Great Wheel and the Robiedue wheel went to this demo with me. Demo at Chrysler for 1812 battle asked to demo in costume.


18 Demo at Carp Fair

Have fun and keep felting (hopefully soon in public!)

19 One of my long-term-in-progress-demo pieces.

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

Thinking Positive, it was a demo opportunity – Mer-Man in progress

Thinking Positive, it was a demo opportunity – Mer-Man in progress

Short post (for me) today before painkillers kick in again.

Sometime, probably Friday morning I did something that insulted my back. But it waited till Friday evening to launch into its escalating counter attack.

I claim innocence! I sat on a chair and planted out little pots of seedlings (broadleaf basil, radishes and one of the two curly leaf parsley). The planters were chair height so I was not bending and the pots the seedlings were in were quite light, I did pull the new hose so I could water but that didn’t seem too unreasonable either.

But by early evening I had decided sitting was not an acceptable activity as far as the disk was concerned. I had a burning and buzzing nerve (on the wrong side) and very puffy tops of both feet.  When I tried to get up later in the night, I could not without a lot of help and a lot of pain. Luckily, I have been collecting helpful items that my former patients could see or borrow, including a quad-cane. I got to use it for the first time. It is a wonderful thing when you need it.


In the morning I was not much improved. We called Tella-heath and got the receptionist. After getting the gist  of the problem told me a nurse would call me back. The wait would be about 14 hours (which would have been 11pm). Oh well, at least I could then ask questions. (It also allowed me to try to watch the next installment of the mermaid felt along but I was distracted so I will watch it again) He called in the late afternoon and was quite helpful and said I should call the emergency to get instructions on their present procedures.

I gathered a basket while I charged the cell phone (it’s always dead when I want to use it). Glenn got me, the quad cane, a normal cane and the basket into the car. He dropped me at the doors to the hospital. I think a snail in good health could have passed me as I tried to walk. I was having a lot of trouble thinking as well as walking (pain can make it hard to think and remember). All I remember of the first instructions was follow the green dots and the woman had held up a square sticky but had not given it to me since I had both hands full with trying to stand up. The waiting room was divided and some of the chairs had been taped off. The green sticky people went quickly but there were a lot of blue sticky people. I seem to have been blue.

So I found a seat in the far corner by the window and pulled stuff out of the basket. First the paper moridi until the Tylenol from the intake nurse stated to kick in. then it felt safer I put on the audiobook and pull out felting needles. (See this did have felting in it – there will be more)


(I didn’t notice when I did their photoshoot that Mr. Mer seems to be receiving a scalenes acupuncture treatment!)

An orderly would come and escort a few people at a time out of the waiting area. When called I moved as fast as I could but could not keep up with the others (maybe they had escargot for breakfast?). The orderly seeing the problem found a comfy wheelchair, Got me seated and jogged me up the hall to catch up to the two he had sent ahead. Compared to the snail speed it felt like flying! I was parked in the comfy chair of wheels just outside one of the inside waiting rooms at the end of the nursing station.  Since the back seemed to deem the new sitting arrangement worthy it reduced its screaming and buzzing. So I pulled the Mer-Man from the basket and continued working on defining his Illiotibial bands (I.T. band).

First the kind orderly who brought me the chair stopped by on his way to a break.  I explained how the needles worked and showed him Lats, upper traps, SCM and delts (they are a little accentuated so when I do the top layer in a thin wash of colour they will still show). I also pulled out the Mer-Woman to show him the size comparison. He seemed, particularly, to like her (she is naked). Some of the nurses rushing by seemed curious but too busy to stop. (There was a very grumpy woman demanding they get her food and Adderall). I got to see a nice doctor who was quite patient with me (it was still hard to think). He checked the feet and back and suggested contact my doctor, a big increase in painkillers and blood work to check for clots. If the blood work came back negative, I could go home.  The very nice nurse who had been harassed by the yelling patent earlier did an excellent job of taking blood and gave me 6 more pills.

Sent back to my previous parking spot I noticed I was at the tail end of the wave of patients so everyone seemed to be much more relaxed.  The doctor I had seen, and some of the nurses stopped by to see what I was doing.  Again I told them how it worked and about online felting sites and the felt along on youtube. I also told the two that seemed very interested, about the local weaving and spinning guild that had a good number of felters in it. (We may have new members when this pandemic is done). the results came back as no blood clot so I could go home, I was very tired.  I got picked up at 12:30 and climbed into bed just after 1 a.m.

(you can see the clavicles on both and SCM on Mr.Mer. I am still exploring the legs being absorbed by the tail.)

I was very glad I had taken the basket of felting and one of the kumohimo disks with me. Most people were just sitting there looking unhappy and bored. I was in pain but definitely not bored. I’m sorry I didn’t think the back would allow me to bring the camera so no interesting pictures of tarps draped between sections of the waiting room and taped off chairs but I’m sure you can envision it. It is wonderful to have light portable interests you can take with you to these places you would rather not have to be. (I am sure given time and a less fogged brain I might be able to figure out a wet felting take along …..maybe in a zip lock bag to keep things from getting wet?)  Stay healthy and be careful of planting vegetables, they may be heavier than they look or felt!

How to Make a Wrapped and Felted Bangle,

How to Make a Wrapped and Felted Bangle,

The other day I made a bangle. I have made them before but it has been a while. So long ago, I can’t find the pictures. I know I have seen them recently while looking for something else.  I was not as good at labelling things then as I am now so searching didn’t help much. Anyway, for this one, I wanted to use some of my handspun. I have many little balls of yarn as I never make much of any one thing.

To start you need a piece of cord or yarn.  Make it the size you want your finished bangle. It will not shrink in size. I used a scrap of yarn.

You need some wool and some yarn. I am using some very dark purple merino but you won’t see any of it when I am done.  The yarns are some of my mostly wool handspun.

Wrap the roving around the string. Wrapping down through the hole and back around until its all covered.

At first, I thought I would wrap the 2 yarns side by side. The larger ball was too hard to poke through the hole all the time. I forgot to take a picture of wrapping the pattern I did but you can see here how snug I did it. It is compressing the roving but not a lot.

This is the wrapped and wet bangle.

At this point, I  just wrapped my fingers around it and squshed it like making a playdough bracelet. Move the bangle around and around so it was all getting squished. I did that for a few minutes, not very long as I am impatient. I rolled it up in a rolling mat. It’s a piece of the foamy, rubbery shelf liner.  I rolled maybe 10 times and then unrolled rotated and flipped it. I did that maybe 4 or 5 times. I wasn’t thinking about it as a tutorial at that point, so I wasn’t keeping track. When I was done it was flat.

Don’t panic, just pick it up and put one hand into the hole and one on the outside and roll it back and forth in the hands like making a playdough snake. Do that all around the bangle until it is round again and feels firm. You could just squeeze it for longer and then roll it in your hands if you don’t want to roll it in a mat.

It really works, it is round and the yarn has given it texture, as well as colour. The longest part of making the bangle is wrapping the yarn.  If you were not as neat as I was, you could do it much faster and would have a more textured bangle.


Here it is dry.

You can see it’s a little fuzzy. I wanted more texture and more sparkle. Both Yarns have silk and some Angelina in them.  So I got out my trusty dollar store disposable razor and gave it a heavy shave.

There is a lot more texture and you can see some of the minor colours and some shiny and sparkly bits. I had a really hard time trying to capture the sparkle. Most of the little pink dots are sparkle and the orange Bits are silk.

It is too large for me really It would fall off if I would it loose on my wrist. I push it up to my forearm. On a less Rubenesque person or my much younger self, the upper arm would work well. It was fun to do and I should have thought of it for the first quarter challenge.

So much time.  So much to do!

So much time.  So much to do!

So much time.  So much to do!

Almost all the exciting things I was going to tell you about today were cancelled. The first was the Drive to Peterborough for the first big fibre festival of the year. Last year, due to unpleasant weather in Ottawa, we seemed to be the only ones from there to make it. Not only does the Peterborough Weavers and Spinners guild put on a good sized fibre festival they also get Spring before we do! So it’s nice to see it may arrive in our area in a couple weeks more.

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1-14  From last year at the Peterborough Fibre festival,  a good mix of fibre, yarn, supplies and finished goods.

We also missed the yearly Demo at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show. In the last 2 years, I have felted at the demo, making the polar bear face and then a cardinal. This year it was cancelled but it is better to be safe than sick.

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15-27  The Farm show demo 2019. this is a demo for excellent questions, talking to hemp growers, and trappers with fur. I am going to miss the sheep shaped car air freshener that one booth was giving away!

Well this stay home/work from home idea may not be all bad (as long as we do not get sick!) So far I have read (yes books with words not available in an audible form), watched felting videos I had not yet watched, also videos on restructuring a Victorian style coat, making a pair of combinations (historical fancy underwear), making an 1887 corset and a video on pad stitching. I also am going through and sorting some of the project boxes I have around the house.

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28-30   This was hiding in a box between the dining room and the living room. I wondered where that had got. Originally it was going to be a 5×7 but quickly turned into an 8×10 as I grew more interested In the branch. I should keep looking and find its frame.

Best of all I found one of my missing pairs of old glasses that are just the right focal depth to read, type and felt easily!!! (Oh, maybe not being able to see the keys was better, I think I need to dust the keyboard more often)

3131  Hmm, maybe it’s time to clean up my desk too.

I have been spending a bit more time in the kitchen making interesting Dinners since Glenn is still working. In addition, I have a Grocery run for my mom. Last week was milk, which is a bit heavy for me. So the trundle box, that has been sitting abandoned in the kitchen had to be emptied so I can put her groceries in it.  When I emptied the trundle box I found my missing Other pictures for the landscape workshop!!! I have to remember to unpack and put things away!

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32-34    These are frames I picked up second hand at Value village. The larger one is a memory box, it has a fold down glass front. The second is a shadow box so it has a deeper space between the glass and the artwork. Both are lined with linen fabric so the felt has been pinned to the backing fabric.

Well, now I will have a bit more time since the Guild is closed and I haven’t been working on the guild library projects. Who knows, if I keep puttering on the house I may find that place where I keep putting things so they will be safe!!! (So safe I cannot find them again!)I have done a bit of online shopping some of which will be shared with Ann when it eventually arrives.  I even have felting projects I want to get started before the fleece washing season is back upon us. I hope you are all healthy and since we are instructed to stick our hands in soapy water frequently, at least the wet felters should have a great chance of avoiding the flu! Maybe I will have to wet felt a few backgrounds to needle felt over later. Have lots of fun and use up lots of soap!


Cangames gaming convention long weekend in May 2019

Cangames gaming convention long weekend in May 2019

Cangames 2019 Ottawa Canada. Upstairs at the curling club

 Image 1

A strange request

Image 2 Cangames 2019

In Ottawa, Canada there is a large gaming convention on the May long weekend each year. Glenn usually runs 18xx train games, other train games and sometimes Settlers of Catan. The 18xx gaming system is extremely long, involves stock trading, math and the early trains rust out part way through the game. It really doesn’t sound like much fun to me so I spin or felt.

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Images 2-9 of cangames slide show


As you may recall from a previous post ( I have done these activities in the middle of several gaming conventions for many years. There has always been curiosity about what I was doing, culminating in a request of “can you run that as a game?”


Aha! A Challenge!


Why yes I think I may be able to come up with something. So I made a beta testing game for this year, with the option of a second theme for beta testing next year.


Since its live action it would likely be best to run this game as a live action role-playing game (LARP). Larp’s are a form of role-playing game (RPG) where the participants physically portray their characters. You may be familiar with table top RPG game like Dungeons and Dragons.  In both systems everyone has a character with stats in various skills. Using these skills, critical thinking and co-operative problem solving you have to defeat or solve some problem (rampaging orcs, dragons, other common problems) within a story told by your dungeon master.  (It’s all very exciting and better than trains that rust – Sorry Glenn)


Now how to fit fibre arts into this? I need a story arc or plot; one with the necessity to spin.  Rumpelstiltskin, which would be spinning flax, would be a bit hard for a beginner to start spinning on. Sleeping beauty, no that’s just how to catch tetanus. It would also be hard to find a prince that could actually heal that.


Eureka!! Jason and the Argonauts! Yes perfect. Jason is an idiot but the story has lots of other great non-player characters (NPCs). Such as Jason, Captain and leader of the Argonauts (a lot of sailors), Medea (a high priestess) and her father (the King). The two important magical artifacts were the cloak of Helios and the Golden Fleece. There is even an epic battle. Perfect! But most important it involves a fleece (a rams fleece technically but I won’t be picky).

Well the battle is unimportant for spinning but it has to have already occurred so the players will have the fleece in hand to spin. It also needs to happen before Jason tries to dump Medea for the young and beautiful Creusila, daughter of the King of Crete.


Ok let me try to write that up as an RPG

“Live action RPG Spin the Golden Fleece

(Advanced characters with High Co-ordination best suited to this game but lower levels are welcome too)


Spin the Golden Fleece.

This adventure takes place between the heroic battle you fought, assisted by Jason and the Argonauts and the High priestess Medea against her cruel and unreasonable father the king. And before the adventures in Crete with the beautiful Creusala and her father, the king of Crete. (“Weave the Cloak of Helios” may be offered in another RPG another year but only if the weather is cloudy.)”


I printed out the instructions (see below) made up kits with the instructions, parts and a bit of wool to practice with. It all fit in a basket I picked up at value village. So off to Cangames with one of my travel wheels in a trundle box and basket to beta test the new “spinning game”.

Images 10-12


The gaming takes place in the curling arena, some games are on tables set in the lobby, a few in the basement and some in the upstairs hall that overlooks the curling area. It’s a very old building and there is no elevator but 2 very long sets of stairs do get you up to the comfortable chairs of the upper hall (luckily the washrooms are also on the upper level). Since Glenn was gaming upstairs and it has the best view for watch the other gaming happening below, I enjoy being up there. The best chairs are also upstairs.

Images 13-14


I set up in a corner near the RPG-ers but not underfoot. Most people had pre-signed up for games but occasionally there will be a break, a game is canceled or ends early. If you have a game going that could use another person you put out a small orange traffic cone to indicate you are looking for more players. Since I was beta testing I was not on the schedule so didn’t have preregistration. I put out my traffic cone, kits of spindle making and some extra fibre. Then sat down with my roadbug wheel, turned on my audio book and started to spin.  I had 5 people join me this year. Only one had tried to spin before. I did have lots who stopped to see what I was doing and were interested but about to start a preregistered game. A couple of the organizers stopped by to see what kind of game I had come up with too. They were also busy but wanted to see me submit it for next year’s program.


The first part of their adventure was to construct their own drop spindle. I had bought the necessary supplies at the local dollar store. The long and short meat skewers, small hair elastics, bull dog clips in a few different sizes (weights), a box of extra-large Ziploc sandwich bags, a ball of string and a really strong pair of garden pruners. I selected some of my superwash merino wool to stand in for the Golden fleece. Super wash wool may not felt but it does spin quite nicely.


After getting the players to assemble their own drop spindle I had them try spinning by using the park and draft method. I also showed them how to put it all together, drafting and spinning all at once. They all seemed very happy and headed off with their spindles, fibre and the web address for the local guild and their Face book page so they could find more spinners.

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Images 15-23

It was fun to try to integrate two activities. My solution was to make spinning a game, but Glenn’s solution has been trying to entice me into sheep related boardgames (without trains that rust or excessive math or spelling skills). He has actually found and acquired a lot of sheep related board games for me. We have even taken them in to a couple social nights at the guild to enjoy them with other sheep oriented people.


Here are some of them. Have you found ones he has not?

Images 24-25

Images 26-30

“Sheepland”, “Attribute”, “Battle Sheep”, “Shear Panic”, “Sheep’n’sheep” (the Japanies one), “Wooly Bully”,   “Space Sheep!”, “Wool rules” and a sheep staking game.

“Sheep and Thief” and “Lowlands” have recently been added but not yet played.



Image 31 Glenn won a tournament.



If you were curious here is the written part of the RPG game I was running.

Live action RPG Spin the Golden Fleece

(Advanced characters with High Co-ordination best suited to this game but lower levels are welcome too)


Spin the Golden Fleece.

This adventure takes place between the heroic battle you fought, assisted by Jason and the Argonauts and the High priestess Medea against her cruel and unreasonable father the king. And before the adventures in Crete with the beautiful Creusala and her father, the king of Crete. (“Weave the Cloak of Helios” may be offered in another RPG another year but only if the weather is cloudy.)


The adventure instructions:

Part 1 Assemble the Turkish Drop spindle (25 experience upon completion)

How to assemble the spindle;

32  Image 32

Take the 4 shorter skewers, elastic-ed together in pairs laid tip to tail.  Make an ‘X’ by crossing the two sets on top of each other. Put the long skewer through the center of the cross and rap elastics diagonally from the point between the arms of the X and back to the point. Then add an elastic to the other diagonal. Trim off some of the extra length at the top of the long skewer. Take an arm’s length of your string and tie a knot to make into a big loop. Rap the loop around the spindle shaft and pull one end through the other do this again to make a double loop to set your leader. Add the bull dog clips on opposite arms to give more momentum if needed.


Part 2 spin the Golden top or Roving


(the golden Fleece has already been fiber prepped, presumably by Jason (drum carded), his crew of the Argonaut (Roving or Rolags) or Medea herself (Top).)


Method; Park and Draft

Use the attached leader from your spindle, fold over a bit of your fiber (pre-drafted if you have not spun before is suggested). Pinch the fiber and now add twist by spinning your spindle.


Do not let the twist into the fiber you are not yet spinning.


Once you see a good amount of twist in the leader and bit of fiber you are starting with, Stop.  Park the spindle between your knees. Now comes the draft part.  Slide the fingers you are pinching to keep the twist on the spindle side of the roving up the roving until you feel the fiber is starting to lose twist or you reach the end of the area you have predrafted.


Twist is what keeps the fibers together.  It’s the magic glue when you spin. If you get too much twist the yarn will have too much energy and twist up on itself when plyed. If you have too little twist it will break.


If the singles seems to be twisted to your liking, wind on to the spindle. With a Turkish spindle you wind over 2 and under one arm. Then set up to add more twist by spinning the next section of fiber (roving or top).

When enough twist has built up again, park the spindle and draft out the fiber.  Then add to spindle. Spin again to build up twist repeating until you run out of fiber or have a full drop spindle. (Park/Draft/Park/draft….)




If you wove or knit with a single (that is the yarn you made on the drop spindle) it will have excess energy which will affect the product you are making. To remove the excess energy plying is used.

Double ended ball method.

Use a ball winder, Nostapina or toilet paper tube to wind a ball keeping the inside end accessible. Join the inside end and the outside end together. Spin in the opposite direction to balance the twist and produce relaxed yarn.

Exp 25


Making a skein

Storing the spun 2 ply yarn is important, so it will be ready to weave or knit with between battles.

Equipment: skein winder, reel or squirrel cage. In an emergency, the space between your thumb and first finger and your elbow can be used to make a small skein.


Affix with a slip knot or hold the starting end. Wind the skein.  When you have almost finished secure the tail in two or three places to finish the skein.


Twist opposite ends of the skein and tuck the tail in to the opposite loop end. Let the twist create a finished looking skein for you.

Exp 25


Image 33


A class with Moy MacKay

A class with Moy MacKay

Last week I had the opportunity to take a 2 day class with Moy MacKay. I went with a couple of friends and we had a great time.  We did the wet felting on day one. We had 2 pictures to choose from for the landscape.

I chose the one the left.

Moy demonstrated and explained to us how to work and what to do. We got to ask questions. She told us to take lots of pictures as we went because you see things in the picture that  you don’t see in just looking at it. Still I didn’t take enough.

First we laid out the background

Then we added the foreground and details. The house is prefelt and the flowers in the front are chopped up curls

We wet them down and gave them a 2 or 3 min rub and then rolled them for about 3 min one way and then the other for another few min and we were done. They are very lightly felted but that’s ok because they are pictures not hats.

That took the morning. After lunch we did another piece, a still life, flowers. We had a vase of red flowers and babies breath to use for inspiration. We were not to copy it but to use it to see how flowers look. You can see it in the group picture. Moy demonstrated again and explained again and then we only had about an hour to put the picture together and then a short time to get it felted before we had to be out of the room for another group.

We started with the table then the foliage and then the vase and then moves some leaves around. Then we added the flowers. The babies breath is nepps.

I quite like it at this stage. Not as much after it was felted.

On day 2 we started the embellishing. Moy talked about and demonstrated needle felting accents and refining the pictures. Also some machine embroidery and stitching.  we could try the machine stitching if we wanted but my picture wasn’t ready for that yet.   This is what they are like now. No where near done but works in progress.

This is after I straitened up the house and removed the mangled fence and added a new one.

This is where it is now.  I added windows and ivy to the house. I removed the cobwebs from the trees. I added some shading to the trees. I added in some stems for the flowers in front and another fence. I think the field behind the left fence needs to be darker because it’s farther away. It doesn’t show well in the picture but right now it is lighter and more yellow than the front field.  It needs a lot more work but I think I know what I want to do to it.

And the flowers. I forgot to take a picture of when it was wet felted but had no embellishments.  But here it is so far. I am not as keen on the flowers but they are alright. I may like them better after I work on them some more. The table needs straitening up and lots more texture. And notice the nepps have stuck. We had chopped up some green fibers as part of the foliage and I think the short fibers under them made them stick.

And lastly a picture of everyone’s works at the end of the second day. the flowers we used are beside Moy.

It was a great class. I think it’s given me confidence to try some more. Jan will be doing more posts for us and I hope she will do one about this class too. She will have taken at least a hundred more pictures than me and be able to show you her works in progress too.

Don’t forget to sign up for the holiday card exchange on the forum. Read all about it here:


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