It was a half day class. the biggest challenge with the lantern covers is laying out the wool thin enough to let the light through but with enough wool to hang together. They don’t need to be strong because the lantern will give them structure. For this class, I provided a glass vase so everyone would be working to the same resist size. You can use a large pop bottle with the top cut off but I would add some weight to it to make it more stable.
I had 5 ladies for this class. I showed them two examples of covers I made.
Everyone wanted the longer one so they could add wrinkles
I only just realized we ended up with just 2 colour palettes. the largest part of this class is taken up with layout and decoration. We discussed how you can add things to the inside of the cover that won’t show when it’s not lit up but will show as silhouettes blocking more light. A couple of people decided to give that a try.
It is hard to see on the last one but she is adding white and blue silk hanky pieces to the wool. they disappear as soon as they get wet. They will show up again later. You can see them a little in the pictures below. I think everyone had a great afternoon.
Two of my students sent me pictures of their covers dry and lit.
I hope the others will send me pictures as well. One was very thin and delicate and I think it will look amazing lit up. If they send them I will add them here.
I did have someone ask why I like to make covers rather than making them with a bottom. There are 4 reasons, first making a nice flat bottom that will allow the vase to stand properly can be tricky. A cover that is self-supporting needs to be felted much more or be thicker to be stiff enough. Having an internal structure gives you something to put the lights in and attach the controller to. And lastly, the container inside allows you to add water if you would like to use it for flowers.
The last couple of weekends I have been teaching some workshops. Last Sunday was Nunofelt Scarves. This was originally scheduled for December. But I caught whatever nasty head cold was going around, it came with a very annoying cough. I did a test for Covid and it was negative.
Anyway, after a couple of years of no workshops and a delay, it was good to be able to teach people in person again. I am still rusty when it comes to taking pictures during class, so there are not very many of this one.
Yesterday I taught Wet Felt Birdfeeder/house.
This is the picture we use to advertise it.
Everyone in the class chose to do a feeder( larger opening) in a gourd shape.
I remembered to take a few more pictures but I still had a hard time remembering.
Laying out the base wool.
The finished birdfeeders. I think some of the holes may need to be enlarged. They have balloons in them to hold the shape while they dry.
All in all, we had a great time on both days. It was so nice to teach again to interact and answer questions and see people be amazed when it really does work.
I am continuing with my slow(very slow) stitching. I have accidentally done part of the first-quarter challenge. Last time I showed you my tree trunk. Next, I got some of my handspun to make the evergreen part.
I pulled a lighter green first. it was much too light. I switched to t a much darker green that works much better. it is a thicker yarn too, which I think works better.
The practice one worked out well so onto the good ones.
The trunk on this one ended up a bit fat but I don’t mind
And the third one
And this is how it looks now
I like it so far but I am not sure what to put in the blank corner. I thought maybe a branch so I did a test one. I may try to add some cones or snow. I am not sure what kind of tree it looks like. What do you think? what would you put there?
I like slow stitching. Just stitching for fun and to relax. No big purpose or major projects. Just do it as you feel like it. This suits me as I am not a great stitcher and I can pick it up and put it down without any guilt. I belong to a group on Facebook and some people are amazing artists and some just do random stitching on a piece of cloth and everything in between.
I decided I wanted t make some snowflakes and at least one tree. I had seen an interesting one in my Pinterest suggestions. To this end, I took the ripped-up sheet out of the donations box. You know what they say if you want to know what you intended for something just give it away and next week you will know what you needed it for. I was lucky that we are very slow with these things and they hadn’t made it to their destination. I am still not sure what the original idea was for these wide strips of sheet.
One piece was a little grubby looking so I chose it for the proof of concept (practice) piece. I have a nice small free-standing embroidery hoop I got at a garage sale (I think). It means it’s hands-free and can sit beside my chair and the hoop doesn’t go missing.
Snowflakes. I drew 3 stars onto the cloth to use as patterns. I used some thick gold polyester thread from Gutermann.
That was easy enough so I moved on to some clean fabric
I drew the stars a little bigger and I did gold again
Then I moved on to what would be the problem thread. It is something I picked up because it was shiny but it has no markings it is just on a plane cardboard tube. It’s a copper/bronze kind of colour and it is terrible to work with. it seems to be a wrapped thread and it kept breaking. There are a lot more knots in the back of this one. and there was a lot more cursing with the rethreading of the needle. I would have liked to add more to this but I was done with the thread.
Next was some nice silvery embroidery thread. DMC rayon S712. I used 3 strands. It was very nice to use.
And here they are together
I switched back to the practice cloth to work on the tree. this is the trunk( obviously) I tried to do varying lengths of stitches to help it look more like bark. It is very hard to deliberately make random stitch lengths.
This is what the back looks like where the backstitching is. I think I like it better for bark. The problem is I am having a hard time wrapping my head around doing backstitch upside down. It probably has another name with you do it that way.
Next is the evergreen bows. I will see how that goes. As I said it’s slow stitching.
Many years ago, I finally got to try weaving. I took the Beginning to Weave workshop through the Ottawa guild. At that time, 1989, the OVWSG did not have a studio space to house what guild equipment we had acquired. (The Guild had an old second-hand 100 inch loom and 6 or 7 table looms. There may have been a floor loom too but I was distracted by the 100 inches of loom, so do not remember). All the looms lived in one of our guild members’ very big basements. On weekends, she either taught weaving workshops or hosted weavers working on the 100 inch loom. It sounded like a busy basement! I remember 4 weekends of driving to a little town just east of Ottawa. I took the table loom home each week to do homework. I still remember the sound of the mettle heddles rattling as I drove down the highway, back and forth to the classes. Then I think there were two more weekends of Intermediate weaving and Dona sent me off and I was weaving!
It all starts with yarn, wind it carefully, attach it to the back beam, wind on, thread the heddles, slay the reed, tie on to the front beam, check the tension and then start to weave. It sounds like a lot of work but it is all worth it as you start to pass the shuttle through the shed and the cloth begins to appear. Weaving was like Magic! From a pile of string to POOF, actual cloth!!!
During the workshop, I found pickup seemed strangely familiar as my brain watched my fingers happily lifting and twisting threads for the various lace and decorative weave patterns. The other thing that my brain went “ooh this is cool!” was Overshot. It is a weave structure that requires a ground and a pattern thread, (two shuttles). One is fine like the warp and the pattern thread is thicker and usually wool. I was still reacting to wool so I used cotton for both. My original goal was to draft and weave a Viking textile for myself but I put that aside for a moment, I will get back to that later.
The first thing I wove after my instruction was a present for my Mom. she had requested fabric to make a vest. I looked through A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison and found an overshot pattern that I thought we both would like. I wove it in two shades of blue (Mom’s favourite colour), at a looser thread count than usual. (Originally the overshot weave structure was used to make coverlets, so were tightly woven and a bit stiff, while I liked the pattern I wanted the fabric to be much more drapey.) Even worse, I did not want it to be as hard-edged in the pattern as it was originally intended so I tried a slub cotton as a test and loved it.
1-3 Cover of Marguerite Davison’s Book, an interior page showing overshot patterns, and a close-up of “Weaver Rose’s Coverlet no.28”
So, for any sane weaver, it was all wrong! Wrong set, wrong fibre, wrong colour choices! It was fabulous and perfect. I kept the sample as a basket cover and at either the end of 1989 or the beginning of 1990, I gave Mom the yardage for her vest. “Oh this is too nice to cut” Mom Said, so it lived on the back of her favourite reading chair as a headrest until her most recent move (2015?) it never did get to be a vest but it has been well enjoyed.
I don’t have a picture of her yardage but I do have pictures of the sample I kept.
4-7 My demo basket with cover at Plowing match demo, Algonquin demo, Richmond fair, Carp fair and Farm show.
My sample piece, which became my main demo basket cover, has been in the background of many demo photos. This year it was used as an Old example in part of the guild Exhibition. You can see the subtle distortion of the pattern when a slub yarn is used.
8 Exhibit from the 2022 guild Exhibition and Sale
In the Exhibition The Inkle band, hanging beside the overshot, I wove much more recently. I used an Inkle loom and a supplemental warp thread. This means weaving with an extra separate thread that was not part of the main warp on the loom. I used a yarn with a fuzzy caterpillar-like slub.
9-10 close up of Inkle woven band with inserted slubs from the supplemental warp, Inkle loom set up with the supplemental warp slubs.
You may be able to see how I wove the weird slubby supplemental warp. The yarn is weighted and left hanging over the back peg of the Inkle loom. It comes over the top peg (usually labelled B in diagrams) and floats above the weaving. In the areas where the Caterpillar (Slub) is not present I catch the yarn with the shuttle and weave it into the band. In the area the caterpillar appears I would leave the yarn above the warp and then start weaving it in again as I reached the end of the caterpillar. I hope that explanation doesn’t sound like mud and makes a bit of sense. Using a supplemental warp on an Inkle loom is not quite normal but it is a lot of fun.
Over the years I tried out other two harness techniques that you normally don’t see with an Inkle loom. It turned into an entire 2 day, with a week in between days, workshop (with a homework assignment) and lots of samples!! I think it’s the fault of my dyslexic brain wandering off into odd thoughts again.
I was going to tell you about my original goal in learning to weave, the mysterious Fragment #10 from a Viking excavation from around the year 1000, but I have likely confused you with weaving enough for one day. So I will save that for another chat. (don’t forget the Inkle loom I would like to tell you a bit more about that in another post too. I promise I will get back to felting in the not-too-distant future)
Both Jan and Bernadette have told you about our guild sale and exhibition. Now it’s my turn. I didn’t have my own booth this year so I got to wander around and fill in and help out wherever I was needed. It was really nice to not be assigned anywhere and just enjoy the show and chat with everyone after not seeing so many in person for a couple of years.
I am not a big spender at these things. I look for new fibres and add-ons and how people are combining things. Then I go looking for the ingredients to make my own.
The one thing I do buy is spindles. I bought a new spindle from Judy Kavanaugh. https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JudyKavanagh She makes all kinds of tools and patterns. This one is a bedouin-style spindle. It has 4 arms and is a top whorl spindle instead of a bottom whorl spindle I usually use. The wood is beautiful.
People kept asking if it was a Turkish spindle but you can’t take the arms off this one and you don’t wrap your yarn around them. this is the other way up so you can see the wool cob on it. The angle makes it look small.
I am enjoying spinning on it. and that brings up to the other things I bought. I bought 2 batts from Bernadette. I like to buy them from Bernadette because she isn’t recarding wool tops. She is using wool she processed herself and it is really nice to spin.
The Darker blue is what I am spinning on my new spindle and it’s marked as mixed fibre. It’s soft and a little shiny.
The brighter blue I am spinning on another spindle.
The wool is much spongier and I have lost the label but I am betting it’s Coopworth. It’s very nice to spin too.
This post is a bit backward because I bought the wool first and the spindle second. The new spindle is more exciting to chat about so it got top billing. It really went like this. I started to spin the bright blue batt first. Then I decided that a blue spindle that Judy had for sale really was calling my name. When I went to get it, someone had already bought it. You snooze you lose. then standing there chatting with Judy I saw her spinning on a Bedouin spindle and gave it a try and decided it was just as well the other one was sold. I picked out the lovely one at the top. So then I abandoned this lovely fibre and started spinning on my new spindle with the other batt.
All in all, I think I was very restrained in my buying. There were so many pretty things I could have bought.
Here is a picture of me spinning at the show. And yes I really did chop my hair off. It was time for a change and it will grow again.
Jan Scott documented the Sale and Exhibition put on by our Guild in early November, kudos Jan. It was a great success and inspired me to try to answer a recurring question asked by so many of my clients. I was embarrassed that I didn’t have the information for them. Will this skein make a hat, scarf, mittens, socks, etc? The response was always – ‘that depends’ and it does. It depends on technique, the width of the weaving, stitch size, needle size, size of hands for mittens, and all sorts of variables. It’s so frustrating to not have an empirical answer, so I decided to use my handspun and make a scarf, standard 14 inches wide by 40 inches long.
I calculated I had 234 yards/215m of brown and 495yds/457m of burgundy and silk. I would need 106yds/98m brown for the warp and 214yds/196m burgundy and silk for the other part of the warp. Based on that I had lots for the weft. We’ll see. Math and I are not on speaking terms.
Just to keep the learning curve vertical, I also decided to use a warping mill along with my sectional beam. If you have ever watched videos of industrial weaving facilities you will see huge walls of bobbins feeding into the back of looms. A sectional beam is one step down from that. All the threads you want are wound onto a single inch of the back beam of the loom. So if you want to weave something with 20 threads per inch you need 20 bobbins full of thread to wind onto that little 1 inch spot. You wind on for as many yards/meters as you want, then move to the next slot in the beam, wind on another twenty threads/inch and continue on.
The warping reel lets the weaver measure a single thread for the whole length of the project, change the colour as needed and then keep measuring for the whole length of the project. It’s perfect for smaller projects. The craftsperson will have to decide when it’s time to move onto a different warping technique to suit their purposes. This time I wanted to try a hybrid method of warping.
When using a warping reel you must keep the warp from tangling. It can become the weavers’ worst nightmare. I know in my early days I did lose the cross on one of my warps and nearly lost my mind. It did get untangled but I swore it was never going to happen again, so I do double crosses on all my reeled warps. Tie the cross at both ends of the warp. Better to be safe than very, very sorry.
I also didn’t want to waste any of the handspun if possible since it was in very, very short supply, so I used a salvage technique of tieing onto an old warp. This can save up to 24 inches or nearly 3/4 meter of handspun wool per thread. That’s a huge amount of handspun. It’s also a ridiculous amount of work, so I’ll have to rethink this, but once done I was pleased with the result.
I still had to check for threading errors and there were some. Don’t thread the loom late at night, don’t thread the loom late at night….and don’t thread the loom late and night.
The next morning, a quick check of the basic threading by lifting the threads at an angle shows that everything is in order, literally, and the threads are ready to be tied up and woven with a test thread.
And finally woven with the real stuff. I wish you could see this in real light, daylight, oh my goodness, it shimmers.
What a load of work, and what a great result!! I had no idea my hand spun could be so lovely, I’m so pleased, but there is the last bit of finishing that I need to do and hopefully that will be successful too. This will make a great display piece for the next Sale and Exhibition!
The Other Ann had posted about a challenge in a magazine she gets. Inspiration Magazine. https://www.inspirationsstudios.com/product/inspirations-issue-116/ it’s a needlework magazine. It looks really cool. So, I thought it might be an idea to ask people what magazines they read for knowledge and inspiration. Everyone seems to really love the Christmas beetle brooch. So I thought I would edit in the price for the kit, $129.00. I am assuming that is Australian dollars.
I would love to see Felt Matters but can’t bring myself to pay $65 for a digital and $81 for a printed ( 4 per year) magazine.
I like to leaf through unrelated magazines too when I see them. art quilt magazines are inspiring. They are good at showing you how to break down and simplify a picture. Nature magazines of course are great for inspiration. I have an old National Geographic magazine that talks about wool. It’s packed away but I found a picture
So tell us which magazines do you read to learn, and/or get inspired.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
I love to felt bags because I think the size, model or colour of the bag is representative of us. My bag is one of my best friends because she is with me all day long. I will show you some pieces, all of them were made for custom orders. After the bag is felted I use leather and embroidery to create something different and beautiful, my style.