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3rd quarter challenge and Pinhey’s Point

3rd quarter challenge and Pinhey’s Point

I will start with the third quarter challenge.  Onf the challenges is to make something about where you live. I remembered this piece I made. It has a wet felted background, needle felted water and significant roads and stitched secondary roads.  It is about 6×6 inches or 15×15 cm. It was a fun piece to make. It just needs framing, like so many pieces.



I did a little bit of wet felting at a demo we did a few weeks ago at a historical site near Ottawa called Pinhey’s Point Historic Site.

I made this little bag for my purse. I will add a few snaps.  One to keep the flap closed and 2 more in the top pouch part so I can keep something in there without it falling out every time I open it.  It is for keeping a power pack and my square point of sale device mostly. I forgot to take pictures during lay out but here it is on the resist to show the shrinkage. I will probably add some stitching at some point. the finished size is 7 1/2 inches x almost 5 inches   or 19cm x 12cm


I did take some pictures of the group spinning and showing how the tapestry and 4-shaft table looms work. these are definitely candid shots that I only just remembered to take so I wouldn’t be in hot water with Jan.   It was a quiet demo with there being a lot of smoke in the air from the fires in Quebec. You can see in the background the faint outline of some hills. That is about 1/2 a kilometre away across the Ottawa River to Quebec.  You couldn’t see that much when we arrived about 10 am to set up.  It was nice to spend time with friends and to chat with the few people that dropped by to see what we were doing.

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That’s about all I have been up to other than a little spinning on my drop spindle. I will try to get some pictures of my little balls of yarn for next time.

Wet-Felted Bowl Workshop

Wet-Felted Bowl Workshop

I taught a new wet-felted bowl workshop recently so I decided I’d share my thoughts and ideas about developing and running that workshop in this blog.

I’ve taught a few different wet felting workshops over the years.  I really prefer people to start with making good quality flat felt before moving on to other things, but sometimes I bow to the pressure to do something else. I try to remind myself that I’m not the felt police and neither can nor should be in charge of how other people choose to learn. (But, of course, there’s still a little bit of me that would like to be the felt police.  If the vacancy comes up I will almost certainly apply!)

I wrote here in May this year about developing a felt flower workshop for a community art project. Link here if you want to look back at it.

This time I decided to go even more 3D and do a basic bowl, working around a flat circular resist. I wanted the workshop to be suitable both for complete beginners and those with some felting experience who were interested in trying out a 3D make.

I dug about in the studio and in my photos to see if I could find some old bowl examples and came up with a few.


I then walked my way through making a new sample bowl with a workshop hat on. By ‘workshop hat’ I mean focusing on what I think are the simplest techniques for inexperienced felt makers to achieve the best and most reliable results.

I decided on my layout: starting with a fanned-out layer from the centre then a second layer following the circumference of the circle. I intended the circular layer to overlap the edge as little as possible to reduce bulk in the middle, with the main overlap to connect the two sides on the ‘fanned’ layer.

I immediately realised I should have done the layers the other way around.  It’s much easier to follow closely the edge of the circle if you can actually see it! I also realised it was better to start laying the wool around the edge and move inwards rather than starting at the centre and moving out.  

I find it interesting how wearing a different ‘hat’ makes me think in a very different way from when I’m just making something myself. It’s a useful exercise.

I thought the sample bowl could demonstrate a couple of different surface design options so added some silk fabric, some locks and a little white wool to the grey area.

Sample bowl finished

It’s not the most beautiful bowl but it did its job. The collection of bowls then got me thinking about the size of opening.  I like a small-holed bowl to look at but it’s not necessarily so useful and it is certainly harder to full, being difficult to work from the inside. I decided that participants could choose.

I gathered together a range of tools and smiled at the weird variety of odd things I own. This is only a small proportion.

Some of the ‘tools’ I use

Something these tools all have in common is that not one of them was designed for felt making. My most recent purchase was a job lot of 15 small plastic rattles bought second hand on eBay. Actually, these worked remarkably well, especially for the bowls with small openings, and the quantity would come in very handy if I was teaching a bigger group. That was £5.35 well spent.

The workshop venue was the Horsebridge Community Arts Centre in Whitstable. The Centre has a lovely workshop area: really light and spacious with good tables and lots of sinks. Ideal for our purposes. After welcoming the 4 participants and a short introductory chat I demonstrated the layout. Jenny, Suzanne, Jane & Ronn then chose their wools and set about their bowls.

I had decided to go for 2 layers of wool rather than 4 as I find most people lay the wool out quite thickly to start with. 2 participants had some felt making experience and 2 did not. All of them went for quite thick layers.

We wet the first 2 layers down before flipping to the other side as I find this helps to get the wool tight around the resist.

Next I showed them how to start to work the wet wool: paying lots of attention to the rim of the circle and encouraging the wool towards the centre to reduce the chance of creating an accidental ridge.

Once they’d reached the prefelt stage we did some rolling using just the bubble wrap and towel. Then they were ready to cut the opening & remove the resist. Jenny went for a small opening, Jane and Suzanne a slightly larger one, while Ronn had something more organic in mind. She made 6 cuts out from the centre to create a sort of flower / leaf shape that would hold a plant pot.

Plenty of chat, a little music and lots of elbow grease later ……..

….here are the ladies at the end of the day, delighted with their finished pieces.

And here’s a better view of their bowls (plus the one I’d made alongside them to demonstrate the different steps – 2nd left). I was very pleased not to see any accidental midriff ridges as I think a smooth transition between the two sides is one of the hardest things to achieve when starting to work with resists. The bowls were felted really well, which made my inner felt policewoman very happy, with just the plant pot holder needing a little more finishing at home to fit around its plant pot.

I always ask participants to complete a short feedback form at the end of the workshop. There’s a bit of admin then 3 boxes to complete: ‘what did you like about the workshop?‘; ‘what could be improved?’ and ‘any other comments?’.

I also make mental notes for myself along the same lines. So, here are my own observations

We had a really nice day. It was a lovely group with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere: everyone seemed to enjoy making their bowls. Judging by the feedback forms, people found me adaptable, clear, knowledgeable and helpful throughout the session so lots of positives there.

What could be improved?

The participants didn’t have any suggestion but for myself I thought the timing was a little generous. I’d allowed 6 ½ hours (including a lunch break). We finished slightly early so maybe 6 hours next time, though that may be different if there were more participants.

I realised I didn’t give enough thought to / instructions on the interior of the bowl design. Because my sample bowl had a small opening the interior isn’t visible so I forgot to think that bit through. In fact all the visible bowl middles were good but definitely more luck than judgement on my part.

My making a bowl alongside the participants worked OK but I had to work very quickly to get it to the next stage while spending most of my time helping and advising the others. It would have been simpler to have pre-prepared another bowl sample to pre-felt stage.

All in all a successful workshop with some notes for myself on how to improve a few things if I run it again. Hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to our bowl workshop.

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

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

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

1) Rosamond No. 1 Mill is now a condominium

2) Left the old mill Right the Annex

3) Mississippi Valley Textile Museum Entrance

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

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

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

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

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

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5-15) A Few Shots from Booths

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

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

 17) The Ottawa Valley Guild of Stitchery

18) Home Hospice north Lanark Comfort Crew

19) Ottawa Knitting Guild

20) Ottawa Rug Hookers Guild

 21) Ottawa Guild of Lacemakers

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

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

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

23)  Part of table display on Sat and Sun

24) Pine Needle Basket Demoing

25) Part of the Sunday demo Team

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make a Tiny Jellyfish

How to Make a Tiny Jellyfish

After seeing Mr. Mers pet jellyfish I decided he needed another one, a felted one in his creator’s favourite colours. I am sure you saw him playing with his new pet in Jan’s post. mr-mer-gets-a-new-little-friend-part-1/

First, you need to make a small needle felted disk.

Then peel it off. You can see how thick it is. It is fairly thick for the size but it could be thinner but doesn’t need to be.

Now what you want to do is turn the disk into a bowl shape. You do this by holding your needle almost flat against the felt and poking around and around the rim of the disk.

Soon it will start to form a shallow bowl.

Keep at it

And you will end up with a nice bowl. The perfect shape for a Jellyfish bell.


I forgot to take a picture of myself needling 6 small Blue Faced Leicester locks into the bowl so they would hang down the outside edge of the bowl. 4 would have worked but more than 6 I think would have been too much. After I poked them in I trimmed the outside of the bowl to get rid of the fuzzy bits they created.  It seemed a bit plain so I added the 2 blue lines around the outside to create a Blue Ringed Jellyfish.


I added a String through the top to act as a leash. Don’t worry it doesn’t hurt the Jellyfish.




Plain Air wool painting at a the Pinhey’s Point demo

Plain Air wool painting at a the Pinhey’s Point demo

One of our local guilds mandates is education and we fulfill part of that by doing demos for the city of Ottawa at their local Museums. This weekend we were requested by the Pinhey’s Point Historic Site to provide a demo focusing on weaving but including other fibre arts.

Sign for Pinhey's Point

1) Sign for Pinhey’s Point

Pinhey’s Point features a nearly 200-year-old manor house (Horaceville) and surrounding ruins on 88 acres. There is a fabulous view of the Ottawa River overlooking sailboats at anchor in the bay in front of the house.  There are remains of the original old kitchens and a couple of outbuildings visible from where we were located.

2)  Views from Pinhey’s Point

We had been having high temperatures during the week, not as bad as parts of the States, but still hot for what is normal for us. On Saturday morning I checked the weather and was happy to see a lovely (cool) high of 26c but under the tent, on the top of the hill with the breeze, it felt more like 20c and I should have brought a sweater or jacket! (Never complain, because it could always decide to snow!!!)

The staff had set up a number of 10×10′ tents with tables and chairs. It was overcast most of the day but a lovely spot to chat with visitors, some of whom had come up from the sailboats to see what was happening under the tents.

  3) Part of the Demo team showing, Weaving (2 harness, 4 harness, 8 harness looms), Spinning (2 different wheels) and Felting (Just 2-D today)

I was running late and selected a spot for my table overlooking the front lawn and down into the bay with the sailboats. It would be a lovely spot to work.

3) Morning view of the front lawn

I originally had intended to work on the sheep horns that you might have seen me working on at other demos. I may have been watching too many episodes of Landscape artist of the year, since I was inspired by the vista, even in its overcast colours, before me.

4) the not quite 8″x10″ felt base for my picture

I had a piece of felt with me that I could use as a backing, about 8×10 inches so started laying on a white wool base. (the base layer was a bit uneven and seemed a bit kempy.) It was also not quite 8×10 so I had to spend a bit more time adding more width and a bit more height.

5) the not quite 8″x10″ felt base for my picture

 Next, it’s time to draw in the basic shapes using a bit from a micro-batt Bernadette was not pleased with (thank you, Bernadette! It worked perfectly for my use!)

I started to add the murky skies and reflected water.

6) Beginning to add sky and water

There is a small airfield nearby but I am not sure if that was the origin of the float plain we saw circle, then land and take off a number of times over the morning.

7) float plane practice landings on the Ottawa River

As the day progressed, more groups of people arrived with picnic paraphernalia and headed down the path toward the shoreline. More of the sailboat people came up the hill to check out the tents, their occupants and visit the museum. I have worked at this demo 3 or 4 times, this is the busiest I have seen it.

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   8-12) More of the Demo Team

As the afternoon went on I spotted the first bit of Blue sky!

13) the first bit of blue sky (still almost all grey)

Drat, do I have to add that in? I still haven’t got the foreground done!! Sneaky Weather!!

14) I didn’t get as far as I had hoped but I had a lot of fun

It was getting close to 4:30. Where did the time go? I will not win landscape artist of the year if I am this slow!! I will just have to practice more!!

Since it was getting late, I went in to take a peek at the ground-floor exhibits. It’s a fabulous 200-year-old stone house that is very grand for its time.  It has a central grand staircase and a fabulous main door.  The Dining room is at the top of the stairs and very posh when built.

I toured the ground level displays but did not feel inspired to try the stairs (it had been a long day by then).

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 15-21) inside the ground floor at Pinheys Point

By the time I was heading down the hall towards the kitchen, I was behind a woman telling a younger woman about living in the house when she was age 13 to 21 when her grandmother still lived there. It turns out she is one of the Pinhey descendants visiting from BC and had brought some artifacts for the museum from her part of the Pinhey family. She was telling her niece stories about living in the house in winter, flooding, and taking over from her aunt living with her grandmother in the old stone house. (Her parents lived nearby in another house on the property). I asked her about the spinning wheel in the kitchen room but didn’t want to interrupt her touring her old home. She said she remembered a different wheel when she was there.  She explained about the setup of the house when she lived there with her grandmother, who in the winter slept in the room that had been behind the stove in the kitchen (the warmest part of the old stone house). It was fascinating and I felt extremely lucky to hear some of her stories.

22) The Great Wheel in the kitchen

She told me about her Grandmother getting unexpected, uninvited visitors one winter while she had lived there. The hill path down to the side door by the kitchen, which was the house access commonly used, was particularly icy and treacherous that day. Some very well-dressed men arrived to see the house, it was the Governor General of Canada and his entourage. When they entered the house she was sent out to put ash on the ice so they would be able to leave, after her grandmother reluctantly gave them a tour of the historical house.

I returned to my spot but it was time to pack up, the weather was showing signs of improving further. I took a couple of quick reference shots as we packed up.

23-24) A couple of quick shots as the sky started to show more blue areas

It was time to pack up, Bernadette had been combing as well as carding and spinning so there were lovely tufts of fluff floating around the landscape. The staff was sure that there would be some stylish squirrel nest this winter!

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25-26 Bernadette droppings left to improve the homes of the locals

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27-33 a few more shots of the area as we were packing up and heading to the car

We had packed up and were on our way out when we met this guy coming in. He was a bit late for the demo. I don’t know if it was the weaving, spinning, felting or the loose fibre he was looking for.

34- the last visitor was just a bit late for the demo

I love to see auto-mobile-lawn decor. Maybe he/she, or some of the landscapes will inspire a bit of picture felting? Have fun and keep felting!


If you are in the Ottawa Ontario Canada area and you would like more info on Pinhey’s Point you can check here;

There is more info on the house here;,_Ottawa


PS Today is Mom’s 91st birthday, don’t tell, but there may be some of Ann’s amazing chocolate chip cookies involved in the celebration!

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

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