Meet Pete also known as Handsome Pete. He is our new Blue Faced Leicester Ram.
He arrived on Wednesday. He is settling in well. he can see the sheep when they come in and he can smell them are girls. He is handsome and calm. He likes his back scratched. He is not sure about Ava. She is a dog after all but I am sure the others will let him know that although she is black and white, she is no border collie.
This very handsome and alert shot is also looking at Ava who is paying no attention at all.
For this article, I’m going to take you on an adventure, using your imagination. Sounds mysterious…possibly exciting! However, in reality it was poor planning on my part, and I had to figure out something on the fly. That’s real life for many of us, so let’s move on, and it will all work out.
My mother recently moved to a Senior Living residence, in the Memory Care unit. It’s a difficult transition for anyone, and it was especially tough on my mother. I wanted to do something that would help her, get to know those around her better. A monthly tea party, presented a good opportunity. My mother has always been a lady that loves her tea…the English way, with milk. When Prince William and Kate got married, I bought my mother a fascinator to wear to tea. I went early the day of the tea, and grabbed the fascinator, from my closet.
We arrived for tea, and everyone stopped what they were doing. The residence photographer took her picture, and she was awarded the “best dressed” prize for the day. Everyone was buzzing about the need for hats. I mentioned to the craft coordinator, Cindi, that I could help the Memory Care residents make felt flowers for fascinators! We started discussing our plans immediately.
Needle felting wasn’t a good fit, for the residents, even though I had the protective gear. The coordinator said they let residents put projects together, take a photo, and behind the scenes secure items in place. That would totally work for flowers, cut out from felt, they made themselves. Last Friday was the day we set aside to make the felt. I knew my article was coming due, and thought, this would work out perfectly, but I neglected to think about privacy issues. So this is where your adventure comes in…(I know, you were hoping for a trip, to some far away destination…and maybe an umbrella drink.🍹) This is a recreation, of how we handled this for a group, in a Memory Care setting. I have a photo, with no faces, to show results the residents achieved.
I have to say, this activity was a huge success. I’m hoping by sharing the story, others will volunteer to do a similar activity, in their own communities. We had 8 ladies decide to join us, and I was prepared, if gentlemen decided to join us. I really thought this out ahead of time and had everything ready to go: bamboo placemats, cut bubble wrap, small pieces of clear plastic sheets, 2 water containers, 2 ball brausers, and liquid dish soap. I used my electric drum carder to make, very thin individual batts, for each person. I can’t tell you how pleased I was at that decision: it made everything flow along beautifully. I was told the residents love anything that sparkles, so I knew Angelina and Stelina would be present in each batts composition.
The beauty of using my drum carder, is no need to lay out, and layer the fiber. A definite plus for working with groups. We covered the tables with clean hospital blankets instead of using towels…when in Rome, use what’s convenient. We set up each place with the following (bottom up) 1. bamboo mat, 2. bubble wrap – bubble side up, 3. thin fiber batt, 4. piece of clear plastic off to the side.
The residents did each step the best they could. We had to help a few with rubbing, after a while, but by that point a few aides dropped by. They were curious, when they saw all the people, crowded in the crafting area. Their help allowed us to move on to rolling. Everyone rolled at least a little: good movement exercises. After rolling was finished, we took everything away, except their bamboo placemat. We told them to “wash their windows” and they rubbed a bit on the placemat. The best part came next: after rinsing the first piece out I demonstrated “whopping” the piece on the floor. Big smiles came out of hiding! Many couldn’t manage that, but the aides sure had fun, obliging in the process. There were good times had at the the craft table last Friday. The best part was my Mom beaming, with pride, and telling everyone I was “a pretty good girl,” when someone asked a question. Mom was having a good day, and knew who I was. I will take that memory with me forever…as I break away from typing to shed a couple tears.
I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers, we make with our felt. But mostly, I hope to see a glimpse of the happy faces, that watched me throw that felt at the floor.
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)
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!
I confess I have not been able to make much felt this month, I have started a new bag using some gorgeous Gotland hogget (1 year old) locks that have that beautiful graduation from black to white that is characteristic of Gotland lambs wool. This lamb wasn’t shorn in its first year so the locks are unusually long for “lambs” wool. More on that bag in a later post.
I have been spinning, this is 2 skeins of merino “singles” that I dyed after spinning:
And here they are plied together, I am liking the berry colours but struggling to decide which pattern to use it on, I am thinking a pair of gloves but I found several patterns in a crochet book that I like….
This was some core spun art yarn, that I am planning to use for some twining (weaving):
On top of this pot:
This pot was a bit of a learning curve from a glazing perspective, as you can see, the holes I carefully created should have been cleared of glaze before firing. I have managed to fix it with a tile drill but would have preferred the smoother edges of glaze at the edges of the holes.
I have been making quite a lot of pottery this month, including several lidded pots, all of which were the subjects of some glazing experiments…..
This one has 3 different layers of my favourite glaze combination (it gives a bluey-purple through to crimson red colour with pretty pink spots) with some wax over red underglaze:
This one is a type of scraffito, where you paint on layers of different coloured clays and then scrape areas aways to reveal the layers underneath. The colours in this photo are not very accurate, they are actually black, lemon yellow, brick red and cream:
This shallow bowl with a cat design was another experiment, to see if I could paint with coloured clay slip (a watery version of clay). I painted the image on clear plastic sheet in black and let it dry so the colours would not mix but that caused all sorts of problems, not least, the black slip cracked and broke up making it very difficult to add the other colours. The bowl is not a total disaster but I have some other ideas on how better to approach this technique in future.
In my last post I introduced you to the amazing creative community that is the Cosby Yarn Bombers who reside in the village of Cosby, just south of Leicester. When I was down there two months ago they were working flat out to pull together this years Summer Yarn Bomb with the theme ‘Make a Splash’. I promised an update so here are images of just a small fraction of the wonderful installations that were put up around the village….enjoy!
I just love that the bather has removed one of her cucumber eye patches so she can read her iPad! The detail that goes in to this work is fantastic.
My friend Pat made an enormous wet felted Loch Ness Monster which found a new home in her garden hedge!
Having been told that a lot of the work is reused and remodelled each year I’m sure I spotted Madge (minus her crown) laying on a sun lounger eating an ice cream with the corgis close by!
Another very visual event that I can’t resist is the annual Asylum Steam Punk Festival that’s held in Lincoln over the three days of the August Bank Holiday. It’s advertised as the largest Steam Punk event of its kind and attracts enthusiasts from far and wide.
The term Steampunk was first coined in 1987 by K. W. Jeter, the author of the novel Morlock Night. He used the term to describe a genre of speculative fiction in which steam, not electricity, drove technological advancements. Since then it has been used to describe an artistic and cultural movement.
Every year I tell myself I’m going to create a costume and take part but every year it sneaks up on me and, you guessed it, I’ve no costume ready! Maybe I will join in fully next year but for 2022 I was there once again as a spectator, still having a fabulous time, taking photos and chatting to folk and generally soaking up the atmosphere.
The setting for the gathering is Lincolns Cathedral Quarter and the old Asylum which provide the perfect backdrop. There are lots of stalls selling costumes and accessories as well as a programme of activities each day throughout the weekend culminating in hundreds of folk taking part in the grand parade which is a quite a spectacle!
The green man jacket was made out of old curtains by the lady wearing it and the face was her first attempt at needle felting which I thought was pretty impressive!
While I was in Lincoln that weekend I also took the opportunity to visit a textile exhibition in the Cathedrals Chapter House. This was by a local group called Lincolnshire Textiles. It’s title, Sapphire & Steel, was a reference to the main exhibit, a beautiful, huge wheel of fabric covered shards.
This group project had been created using a variety of materials and methods including wet felting, free motion stitch, cross stitch, hand embroidery, beading, heat manipulation with tyvek, etc, etc. One of the shards is actually made from steel which has been decorated with threads and sealed with resin….unfortunately when I looked through the photos I’d taken I’d missed that one!
Another collaborative project involved each member being given a small image to reproduce in whatever materials and techniques they wanted to use. Once finished they were assembled to reveal two famous paintings. Some had been working on a Monet, others on a Klimt.
The Chapter House is a stunning piece of architecture but a nightmare when it comes to hanging display items, the ladies certainly had their work cut out!
These are just a few of the other pieces that were on display.
The whole weekend had been a visual extravaganza and I couldn’t help but come away from it feeling inspired. Who knows, I might even have a Steam Punk costume to show you next time…..just don’t hold your breath!
My ‘floral challenge’ is an homage to this piece of Annie’s free motion embroidery – black thread on white handmade felt.
I started with four layers of white merino wool fibres, wetted and soaped, to make the background.
Then I sifted through my scraps box to find some colourful pre-felt leftovers.
I cut out some flower shapes from the pre-felt, then placed them onto the wet, white wool fibres. I misted the pre-felt down with soapy water then I outlined the flower …
… and added a stem with thin, black yarn.
I made the rest of the flowers in the same way.
I tried to mimic the pointy grass in Annie’s version, but the yarn wasn’t having any of it! It stubbornly refused to do ‘pointy’. You have to choose your battles wisely so I surrendered and just used cut pieces of yarn.
I didn’t roll this picture. I gently agitated the front with scrunched up bubble wrap to set the pre-felt and yarn in place, then I rubbed it, mostly from the back.
White merino fibres always look so dull when wet but they do dry to a warm, delicate off-white.
The picture turned out as a smooth piece of felt, but to make it even smoother, I ironed it when it was dry.
The finished picture (below) is approximately 53 x 25cm (21”x10”)
It’s summer time here in Ireland and the living is, well, slightly more laid back than the norm. Having decided to metaphorically kick off the shoes for the month of July, I thought it might be nice just to “see and share ” rather than “do” and this forms the basis of my post.
Before I start on the main focus of this post (my holiday in Italy), I just have to show you a beautiful piece that totally blew me away. Before heading off, I visited Dublin’s Botanical Gardens. Founded in 1795, it is an oasis of calm for any visitor and I would highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. While there, I noticed that there was a patchwork exhibition happening in one of their exhibition spaces. This piece just caught me, so I want to share it with you. The artist is Ethelda Ellis and the piece is called ‘Aoife’s View’. The curator told me that Ethelda is a medical doctor by profession. If you would like to see more of Ethelda’s beautiful creations check out her blog: http://ethelda.blogspot.com/
Now, to the Italian holiday. We headed to Como mid-July and, in spite of the heatwave, spent our time sightseeing and eating! Our base was Como which is to the north of Italy, right beside Switzerland. Lake Como is totally dwarfed by the Alps – a really beautiful place.
We called into the Cathedral, the Duomo which was magnificent internally and externally. I reckon that to appreciate all its beauty would take months observing 24/7! I want to share with you a small area of a tapestry which was made in 1610 and which underwent restoration in 1990. It was impossible to get a good photo of the entire masterpiece as so much detail would have been lost. So I settled for a little!
One of our tours took us to the tiny picturesque village of Orta which is situated on Lake Orta. It was recommended that we visit the interior of the local church which was situated at the top of a steep street.
My journey was interrupted by the sound of a piano recital and when I investigated I discovered a rather special textile exhibition happening in the same building. The works exhibited were by Sergio Cerini. The artist merges his early experiences in the Italian high fashion industry with his current artworks, producing beautiful pieces which are in essence a mix of paper mache and textiles. The description does not do justice to his widely exhibited pieces and he was reluctant to allow me to photograph his work. He did, however pose in front of one of the pieces and others can be viewed on his Instagram page @sergiocerini
Since the 1800s, the city of Como was historically the main producer of Italian silk. When ultimately production was outsourced to China, the area was in danger of losing connection with its cultural heritage. The large factory was bought by the Hilton hotel chain. These photos show early paintings of the factory, what it became at the height of the industry and where it is now (apologies for the reflection on the glass):
Rather than allow the old machinery to be lost to history, a wise decision was taken about 10 years ago to set up an Educational Silk Museum to preserve these beautiful machines. Along with displaying the machinery, some of which dates back to the nineteenth century, the museum offers interactive videos and exhibits of high fashion clothing. Unfortunately this section was not open during my visit but I thought it might be fun to show you some of the many machines featured. So please, grab a cuppa, sit back and I hope you enjoy the show. I have included captions for ease of reference.
It has been another busy week full of multiple projects for the Ottawa Guild along with a sort and prep for photos project for Glenn. So Mr. Mer has been very patent and supervised me while he sits contemplating his options in his project bag (I did get him a bigger project bag).
On Monday evening the Ottawa Guild is usually back to an in-person social. There is still a zoom social for those who can’t travel. Unfortunately, last Monday coincided with a department heads/exec meeting so not as social as usual but it was good to see a lot of faces I had only seen over zoom the last 2 years!
Ann was there and had brought a present for Mr. Mer (I will defiantly need to get more hair if he gets a swollen head from all the attention!) Her Jellyfish is sooooo Cute!!!!! It is such a pretty blue and so delicate. I wonder how she made it?
1 – You saw his new Jellyfish from Twist.
2- This is his new Jellyfish from Ann
I set up my desk for a photo shoot and hung up the little guy. Mr. Mer seemed happy to get out of his project bag and was immediately interested in the little blue jellyfish. It’s so delicate!
3-6 Hunting and catching Jellyfish
I have discovered the correct way of hunting jellyfish! You pick them up very carefully by their head strings!! (Not the lower strings, which might kill you. This is a special Mer skill and should only be tried on fibre-based jellyfish that have obvious head strings. Not the squishy ones found in water or stranded on beaches.)
7- 8- He seemed mesmerized admiring both jellyfish.
While he was distracted, I went through his shopping bag to see what lengths and colours he had collected. Most of what he had collected was too short but in very nice colours. I am sure we can use them for other projects
9- 10- Sorting through the longer locks while Mr. Mer is distracted
The locks that look like they will be best are mostly the ones from Bernadette, who had purchased them from Adele’s locks of love.
11 looking at the best locks
I think I will have enough for him to have respectable hair. He was still quite captivated by his jellyfish, having them chase each other. so I snuck his hair option into a bag and put the rest back into a bag of locks for other projects.
12-14 Jellyfish racing!!!
Now I am distracted too! A Majacraft Suzie Pro spinning wheel has come up for sale, with a lot of accessories…. I am sure there must be room for one more wheel? it’s small! As I contemplate and consider a test drive/spin, Mr. Mer has tried to swim off with his little friends. Sneaky!!
15- ran off with his jellyfish
He wasn’t fast enough! I cot him and brought him back to the desk. I got his little friends to distract him as I got out a T-36-333 (I do have more aggressive needles but this should be perfect.)
16- ah good, he is not paying any attention to me!
Jellyfish seem to work as well as antithetic!!! We are set and He will shortly have hair! But that will be for next week in part 2!
Thanks, Ann!!! (your jellyfish is so cute and tiny I will have to inquire how you made him so tiny and so cute!! I hope there are pictures!!)
This is my favorite work, because here the archaic motifs are the base but the colours and curves make this work to be a modern piece. It’s wet felting technique, first the design and than the 3 layers of wool. (rolling)
Back in June last year, at the end of my 2nd post on this felt painting, having remixed the fibres for my palette and removed the fibres I had already needled into the far background of the picture, I redid that bit of work and left you with this picture of where I had got to then:
I am pleased to say that I have made considerable progress since then and here I’ll take you along for the ride!
On my next visit to the Hideaway Workshop – my friend’s place where I tend to do most of my work on my pictures – I set to to blend fibres for the palette for the main part of the picture.
I worked on the picture for about 4 – 5 hours once a month, until I was able to take this photo of the results on 26th February 2022.
This was still work in progress and I carried on and in May I was able to take further pictures of details – Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields; sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance; the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance; and the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind.
By then I had done pretty much all I was going to do for the landscape until the final details just at the end, and I needed to get on with the horse.
Now, I was toying with a new idea about how to do this. For some time I have been considering experimenting with the type of scenery often seen in simple stage sets like our typical panto village scene with shops and other buildings. Almost all of which were flat with one side showing a village shop and the other some other building for a different scene. These would be set about the stage facing square on to the audience so that they could see only the side applicable to the current scene, with further buildings painted on the backdrop. Cast members would appear from behind these and various other scenery flats like rocks, or bushes. I don’t have any suitable photos that would illustrate this, but I do have a couple of photos of children’s toy paper theatres which also demonstrate what I mean.
I thought I might be able to do something along these lines for the horse in my picture. By affixing a fairly stiff piece of felt in the shape of the horse to the picture but leaving it’s head and the top of the body unattached and slightly proud. I was hoping that this would give even more depth to the whole.
Knowing that if I was to needle felt a “flat-ish” horse to the required size, I would actually have to start off with a slightly bigger image – as the more it was needled, the more it would shrink and become out of scale. So using my copier I enlarged the image of the horse by 10% and then made a tracing of the image. As I did with the actual landscape picture, I then stitched the outlines of the horse through the tracing onto a piece of thick white felt. This was a piece of the felt that I used for the background of the landscape, but folded into three. I needled it and then wet felted it so that it was a solid piece of felt which would if necessary stand up on its own.
I blended some fibres to make the palette I would use, having decided that the picture I had taken would be a guide to shape only and I’d have a slightly different coloured horse in my picture.
I had by this time removed all the guide stitches from the landscape picture, except the lower part of the Golden Mean lines to guide me where to place the horse when completed.
Here is the horse, substantially finished, about to be cut out of his background.
And here he is having been cut out.
I have left the top part of the body with the original depth of the backing felt and have shaved down the backs of the legs, the belly and nose so that they will be more part of the picture as opposed to appearing to stand proud of it. I have also added coloured fibres to the sides and the rear edges for the whole horse so that no white background will be visible when the horse is attached to the landscape. The final shape of the legs and neck will be refined at that stage, and more grass added around the muzzle and hooves. I have left the tail and the forelock un-needled to emulate a slight breeze blowing some hairs around. I have also attached some linen threads to the back which I will use to secure the body to the picture. If I don’t do this it is possible that the horse might fall off the picture if he’s only attached by his hooves and his muzzle.
And this is where I have come to a (“shuddering”) halt.
I was hoping that this would be the last post in this series; that I would have finished my picture of the horse on the Devon hillside. However the recent very hot (to us) weather we have been experiencing here in the UK has meant that I’ve had to stop work. So I was getting very behind. In addition, I seem to have acquired an RSI (repetitive strain injury) to the shoulder of my dominant right arm – to be exact “rotator cuff related shoulder pain”. Although I don’t think it was as a result solely of needle felting, I suspect that the action of frequently stabbing fibres for several hours at a time may have contributed to it. It certainly hasn’t helped it. Whatever, it has resulted in my having to put aside my needle felting for the moment. I will post again as soon as I can get back to work and finish this, which has fast become a labour of love. In the meantime this where I have got to.