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A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

In early September I came across the website John Galon Designs. I think I found the link in a spindle group on Facebook but I don’t remember. https://johngalen.com/  He makes beautiful spindles, many from old, timepieces. I didn’t get a timepiece one but I did get one.

Here is the reveal

Are you ready? here it is:

It is a very pretty and cool spindle. The acrylic in the middle is actually clear but the purple of the spindle radiates out through it. There are about a dozen colours to choose from. I am really pleased with it. Now I need to spin properly with it. I am not used to a spindle with such a small whorl.

The other thing I wanted today is to announce the 2020 holiday card exchange on the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum.  We have been doing a card exchange for several years now. Its a fun and easy way for us to share a little cheer at this time of year.

You can sign up on the forum, here: Holiday Exchange link

the deadline to sign up is Oct 24th, Partners will be assigned ( by random generator) on Oct 25th

You have to make a felt card and send mail it to your partner by Nov 14th

Once you receive your card you post a picture of it on the forum

The cards do not have to be Christmas cards they can be anything. There is a lot going on in late December and there is New Year too.   We are starting a little early this year and on a tighter timeline, having you ship earlier so the cards have a good chance to get there for the holiday season.

Here are a few I have made over the years

 

 

 

A Busy week, but my Mer-Teen is underway

A Busy week, but my Mer-Teen is underway

Today I wanted to tell you about the Quadra-dents, and show you how i made them.  I know they should be Tri-dents but I like the look of Four points better than three.  As frequently happens life gets busy or interrupts and plans get put aside for other plans. so i will get back to the quadra-dents i promise!

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 the Quadra-Dents

Unfortunately, last week I started to feel a bit better, so tried to catch up on gardening while sitting in a chair. I was working on weeding the tall pots along the driveway, transplanting catnip out and planting the herbs and vegetables in. I think I just did too much of it. To be fair the side yard and some of the back patio look much better.  I will be having words with that chipmunk that seems to have other plans since he or she keeps digging deep holes in pots I have already planted and moving or removing things I had wanted there.

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1-10 Maybe these will give inspiration, Highlights of the front, back and side yard (yes that is a portable forest. the city wont let me plant poplar trees in the ground so the self seeded ones that start in my garden get moved to pots and grow happily there)

I did get a bit of felting in between meds, Dr’s visits, checking out a walker and weeding.

11 11  it is important to check Vital ergonomics when getting a vehicle.  My early cars were purchased on their ability to carry my warp waited loom in the hatchback.  Now its wheels and fiber as well as the looms!

 My Mer-teen is underway. i think she is taking after Mr. Mer since she also has great lats! (It must be all that swimming).  My goal is to get all the under-structures done so I can look at the proportions and keep them in scale.

12 12 Skeletal Mer-teen, Mrs. Mer and Mr. Mer.

This time I started working from the head down instead of starting with the legs and tail then working up. I have varied the order of application of fiber each time and seem to be getting a good outcome from all three.  So order may be more preference or to help keep in scale for the head and body.  This time I am going to add hands after I have the rest of the body blocked in. That will allow me to lengthen where the wrist is, if I need to. I think the torso may be a bit long on her parents but I’m short wasted and don’t like water thus haven’t seen a mer-person so maybe they are longer wasted than I am.

I have yet again notice felting while listen to an audio book ( this time  part of Wen Spencer’s Tinker series)  while  it is very productive, does make me forget to take photos. I remembered to take some as I switched books to Lynsay Sands’ the Trouble with Vampires.

I made latissimus dorsi, SCM and upper traps. I made use of the 3-needle pen tool, and the up to 20 needle tool (set up for 12 needles) and various single needles for different parts of the body, head and arms. i am continuing to use the slightly felted batt of alpaca in variegated  shades of light brown- beige. it may felt a bit quicker with some wool content but i am liking the effect the alpaca is giving.

131415 13-15 making and adding upper Trapezius

1617 16-17 you can see the lateral superior border of pec major heading towards the bicipital grove,  the deltoids,  both the clavicular and sturnal heads of SCM and both clavicle.

I will keep working on the under-structure and hopefully will be ready to start the top layer soon.

I hope you are all having fun felting! Hopefully you are felting and relaxing out in your garden enjoying the summer! Stay safe and healthy!

 

How to Make a Wrapped and Felted Bangle,

How to Make a Wrapped and Felted Bangle,

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

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

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

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

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

This is the wrapped and wet bangle.

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

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

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

 

Here it is dry.

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

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

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

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

One of the advantages of being in a local Guild is definitely the people. We are very lucky to have quite a few who have taken the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners (OHS) Master Weaver or Master Spinner programs. It’s a multi-year, very challenging course. If you’re curious, an overview of the spinning program can be found here: https://ohs.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/SPINNING_CERTIFICATE_PROGRAM_OVERVIEW_1.pdf .  The master weavers description is outlined here https://ohs.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2018-03-29-Weaving_Certificate_Course_Outline-1-1.pdf

Cindy O’Gorman is one of the guild members that has made it through the master spinners program and is an amazing teacher. She has been very busy at work and has not been teaching too often the last few years but was talked into doing a series of evening practical spinning workshops this year. The concept is to take a type of fleece, add a particular processing technique and spinning technique to form a yarn appropriate to a specific end use.

1 1 Cindy O’Gorman our teacher

Before the Guild shut down due to the virus I was able to attend her first workshop in this series and wanted to share the fun I had taking her evening fibre prep/spinning workshop.

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For the first in this series, she chose a fine wool with an amazing crimp (that’s the springy kinkiness you see in the fibre) it was a Rambouillet / Merino cross. She used small mesh bags to wash some of the fleece (which kept the lock structure intact) and had washed some in a clump which did not clean the tips as well. The small baggies show the colour the fleece was before washing.

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For the OHS program, she had made a chart of various different ways to classify wool and sample of some of the many types. She also had a yarn size and twist angle gauge. This would be useful shortly as we tried to match the yarn she had used as warp on the rigid heddle loom she had brought for us to sample with.

Next was how to process the wool to prepare it for spinning. We used small fine combs. I had brought my 2 pitch Alvin Ramer Combs, single pitch Viking combs (from Indigo Hound), a few of my Bee combs (Decapping Combs) and a wooden handled dog comb.

88 My combing options.

99 Alvin Ramer 2 pitch combs. I use the blue clamps with them since the original C-clamps stayed with one of the previous owners.

101110-11  Viking single pitch combs (with diz on the green gardening wire). They were a Christmas present from Glenn quite a few years ago.

1212 Bee Decapping combs (Bee combs) these were from Princess Auto but you can find them online. The handle angle is not the best for using as a pair the way normal combs work but can be used singly to tease open a lock.

1313 Dog comb. Again, this was ok to tease locks open but didn’t work as a comb.

Unfortunately, my selection was not fine enough so we used the Roger Hawkins combs.

14         14

I went looking for a good picture of them online and stumbled across this really nice shot.  Then I thought it looked rather familiar. Yes, that is my picture of a bunch of Roger Hawkins combs! It’s odd to see your own photos show up in an online photo search.

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Cindy had two pair of Hawkins combs and had the guilds’ pair of the Louet Mini Combs. Unfortunately, the Louet combs have not stood up well to guild use. The tines have become loose. (watch for the picture of dizing from the comb)

 

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She had us load the combs with the butt end in the tines and the tips exposed to the tines of the second comb. Stressing that it was important to only comb enough to make the fibres parallel and get rid of neps and vegetable matter. We did this by transferring the fibre from one comb to the other and back again.  One comb was held tines up and the other with tines horizontal. Working from the outer tips slowly transferring fibres until we had as much fibre as possible migrate. (Don’t throw away your combing waste that remains on the comb!! Keep it for core felting something later!)

We spun off the last comb, remembering to space the fibre up the comb so it would draft more easily.

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She had us try both short forward and backward drafting directly from the comb.

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We had quite the selection of wheels; an Ashford Traditional, the Matchless, a Louet and a Rook by Lendrum.

Next was on to Dizzing!  What a cool word Diz, to Diz, we Diz, we are Dizzing and we have Dizzed. It may just be the sound of the word or maybe having a plethora of z opportunities is what makes it a great word? Anyways, on to the dizzing. Using a button, shell, or a piece of curved plastic will work as a diz. The size of the hole will change the amount of fibre that is pulled through to make the sliver. A small crochet hook or loop of fishing line will help start the fibre through the hole. For best results, it is important to get the concave curve towards the fibre. (Like this;  spinner —-(===== fibre source)  You can diz from a drum carder too if you were curious.

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Again reposition the fibres upwards in the tines if the drafting feels resistant.

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3131 I need a button with a slightly smaller hole and I should pick up a tiny crochet hook!

All this work is worth it.  Look at the lovely fluffy clouds waiting to be spun!

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Spinning from the slivers was much easier than from the comb (which was actually a lot of fun). We quickly spun up singles with which we could then try weaving.  We wound off the spinning bobbin and directly onto a weaving bobbin using a bobbin winder. A single, being an energized yarn, I put my wheel back away from the bobbin winder to give the twist a bit more space to even out before winding on to the weaving bobbin.

Cindy gave us a quick rundown on how to use the rigid heddle loom (where to find the up, down and neutral position sheds). You can also see the small peg looms to the right on the table. The warp on the loom is Polwarth from Shirley Browsky’s sheep. We had been given a sample of the two-ply and were spinning to match the diameter but in a one ply.

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We were getting close to the end of the workshop and were going to take turns weaving off our samples at the next social (which was cancelled due to the virus). So we will have singles that have sat on a bobbin for a bit and that will make them a bit more cooperative (less energized).

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Cindy showed us a different way to wind over your hand to make a double-ended ball to spin from. She was winding pretty quickly so I’m afraid the pictures are a bit more “Action shot” than I had anticipated.

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I used to snitch Glenn’s paperbacks (usually the one he was reading) to wind a double ended ball. He eventually made me a metal winding tool with his blacksmithing skills so he could keep his books.

I am looking forward to eventually getting back to the guild socials and taking more of Cindy’s workshop series. This first one was called  Spinning in a New Direction – Fine Wool from Comb to Woven Scarf.

The next ones are Spinning in a New Direction – Medium/Fine Wool from Comb to Crochet Vest (Novice), Spinning in a New Direction – Medium/Strong Wool in Two Colours from Comb to Marled Coil Basket (Novice), Spinning in a New Direction – Strong Wool from Comb to Worsted 3 Ply for Rug Hooking (Beginner), Spinning in a New Direction – Angora Blend from Drum Carder to Woolen Style for Knitted Mittens (Novice).

She will also be teaching a fibre prep workshop; From the Beginning Starting with a Fleece.

Since this workshop, I am now watching for 2 more sets of combs, the Viking 2 pitch fine combs and a set of the Roger Hawkins combs. I have 2 fleeces that could use their attention! Oh, the Humanity! My poor fleeces will have to wait until I have the right equipment to really show off their loveliness! I wonder if the Wool Growers Co-Op in Carlton Place has any new fleeces yet? I wonder if anyone other than I would consider wool an essential item to daily life?

Take care, stay healthy, keep your hands in warm soapy water as much as possible!! (I am not implying you should do any dishwashing)

A little Social Spinning.

A little Social Spinning.

 

Since we are all sitting at home, and not going out to gatherings,  I did a little spinning with some friends from my weavers and spinners guild on Zoom. A social distancing, social. For our first try, it went very well. We chatted about many things while most of us were spinning,  just like we do when we meet in person.

 

This is part of the batt I used. You can see there are large parts that or very hard to draft along with wool. It is silk fibre, I think.

It was getting close to time to start zoom so I did a few rolags up with my hand carders. Naturally, I didn’t think to take pictures of them until later. Lying in bed I think that’s ok I had 1 or I thought 2 left I will do it tomorrow. But, they disappeared mysteriously. No one took them or moved them. Not even a bit of fluff from them has surfaced so I think perhaps some fairies came in the night and took them off to make soft beds or something.

I do have a picture of the little bit of spinning I did. I will have to make some more rolags and hide them. Although putting stuff in safe places often means I can’t find them either.

This is the P.S. to this part of the post. I made some more rolags after I finished setting the post up. Here they are:

This is some spinning I did earlier in the week form a different batt. This batt is a nice grey and pink. I think I showed it to you before but can’t find where.

I thought I had a picture of it as a single but it’s not on my phone.  This is it plied into a 2 ply yarn and wound into a little center pull ball. It is quite pretty

I hope everyone is keeping well during this stressful time.

Studio Space -“Final” Layout

Studio Space -“Final” Layout

On my last post, I showed you my new studio space. I had just moved in and my beloved fibre was still very much scattered around, and I felt a little at a loss as to where I should place my furniture.

It’s been 3 months, so how have things progressed?

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The quick answer is, very much as I’d expect – there’s still work to be done! For good reason, however: I’ve been busy working on a new collection and have been concentrating my energy on that instead of changing things around.

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I did manage to add a little touch of whimsy to this corner. A few of my for-dyeing fibres are tucked in those cubicles, and I managed a way to show off a few o my hand spun art yarns, as well as some commercial ones I have plans for very soon.

Holes in the walls are a no-no, so I’m buying some MDF, placing it behind the shelves and  drilling that instead to keep my vertical storage organised. Having it propped against the walls as is isn’t agreeing with me.

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My little reading corner, currently filled with work stuff. When I’m sewing I feel I never have enough space to place my finished items.
I managed to add a little artwork to the walls, to liven the place up. My ceiling is very high and the bare walls looked a little sad. Wish me luck when it’s time to remove them…

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Placing the sewing table in front of my window was both smart and silly. I get plenty of light (my initial reasoning) but when it’s windy I can feel the draft from the window ventilation slots. For now, it stays where it is, but I might change it later.

Have I told you I named the sewing machine Marge?

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My former dining table can be completely stretched now, which is lovely. It might look chaotic but every item is in use for my current project! Ok, most items are.
Spot the Christmas wreath in the background… it’s needle felted.

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I made this wreath for my husband, who had to spend the holidays by himself in Scotland. I wanted him to enjoy a little seasonal joy and made this in a couple of hours. What do you think?

That’s my tour of the studio space. I’m still going to add more artwork to the walls, and might change the big table’s orientation. Other than that, I’m very happy with my work area and have found my energy is higher here, especially now that the days are growing longer. I’m looking forward to working in my corner during Summer.

Spinning

Spinning

I haven’t managed any felting this last little while but I have been doing some spinning. I spin on my drop spindle, making small balls I use to decorate my felt. I did have a wheel at one point in my spinning journey. I had an Ashford Traveler. It was a very nice wheel but it ended up sitting in a corner gathering dust, so I sold it.  My favourite wool preparation right now is rolags. The wool just seems to draft so easily.

I’ve spun up most of this blue.

I did a ball of regular yarn and one of thick and thin. I can do both these very well but am having trouble making consistent and thick yarn.

I also have these nice orange-yellow rolags I am working on.

I’ve only done one ball of this so far. I had just wound it off into a wall when I took this so It has some cardboard in it so the center doesn’t collapse.

and lastly some wool I won at the Rosepath Auction at my guild in December. This is a funny cross between an auction and a draw. I spun the smaller ball of this and gave the rest to my friend Judy as she had tried to win it as well. I am not sure what this is other than wool and silk. At least we think so. Bernadette burned some at one of our guild socials and it stunk up the place like burned hair.

and here is the ball.

I have a lot of these balls more than I am ever really going to need for felting. I do make some small skeins, 11 yards, to sell.  That is enough to cover an 8-foot scarf quite densely. I don’t knit crochet or weave so not sure what else I could do with it. maybe some crewel work or rug hooking/punching maybe, because I need another fibre hobby. LOL

 

 

 

 

Trying to make up for a bad beginning to January 2020 so lets go buy more Fibre!

Trying to make up for a bad beginning to January 2020 so lets go buy more Fibre!

A bad beginning to January 2020

January 8th 2020 started a series of sudden unexpected Doctor and Dentist appointments culminating in a trip to emergency. It was an infection on one side of my face with a strong possible suspect of a broken tooth for its source. Three antibiotics later, one of them IV administered, I was off to see the dental surgeon for a consultation on Friday Jan. 17th. Really it was just to be an assessment then that word “expedited” from the specialist at the hospital came up and I was requested to return that afternoon at 3 for an extraction. They could squeeze me in while he was doing a triple wisdom tooth extraction. Oh no! Oh well, it has to be done and it would be under full anesthetic which works much better than locals for me. I’m not sure what they used this time but it must have had a codeine chaser. I was wide awake till after 4:30am last night then wide awake by 8am this morning. Since I was still a bit frozen in spots but was feeling pretty perky Glenn said he would be porter and take me as long as I took it easy.

OK now on to the fibre related stuff:

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1) Wheels on Fire / Les Rouets en Feu Spin-in January 20, 2018 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Wheels on Fire is the first spin-in of the year. A time to stock up for the rest of the snow and deep freeze that can be Ottawa in the winter. Also it’s a chance to see friends from other guilds and meet some of the ladys and gentlemen from the Quebec side of the river.

It is held at Le Cabane just at the edge of the Gatineau park. It’s an old log building with a few large meeting rooms, all of which were in use today by various groups. We had a lower turn-out this time due to impending snow dump forecast for later this afternoon. However, for those who could make it, there was great shopping of fibre, yarn, felting needle and holders, Japanese embroidery templates and thimbles and did I mention fibre?

There was also to be a talk and slide show on the flax study groups findings for 2019

2-12) Report on the Flax project 2019. There will be a 2020 Flax project if you want to join in on this summer and fall’s study group you still have time to sign up.

Glenn found a great spot in the far corner and I set up for felting then I promptly wandered off to get photos. I keep forgetting to get of shot of the outside of the building before I go in. Sorry, but if you want to see a summer shot of the building you could take a peek here: https://fr.tripadvisor.ca/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g182166-d7810907-i130324489-La_Cabane_des_Aines_de_l_Outaouais-Gatineau_Outaouais_Region_Quebec.html

please note the size of the logs as you see the inside pictures.   Finally a few shots of vendors and participants:

13 13)  $5.00 cost to get in, Tim Hortons coffee and the roll of door prize tickets.

 14—16)  The drawing and the Door prizes

 17-18) the Cabane and the man who created it.

 19 -20) Fibre cleaning supplies for sale

 21-23) Icelandic fleeces and kids leather mitts.

  24-30)Fibre buttons and felting supplies

 31 – 33) the pink blue and white batts are the from the fibre she won a couple years ago at wheels on fire 2018!It was a donation from the Wool Growers Co-Op in Carlton Place (just west of Ottawa)

  34-36) stitch markers

  37-40) Bernadette organized the event, selling batts and locks of fibre.

 41- 47)Weaving and spinning wooden supplies, more fibre!

  48-50) Art batts, wild colour batts!

 51-54) basketry complete with a demo! (he does workshops and gives very good presentations on basketry)

                   55                            55)Yarn to knit or weave

 56-59) Indigo dyed cloths, natural dyed yarn, Japanese Embroidery –kits supplies needles and templates.

                       60                    60) Really big logs

 61-75 some of the participants today

 76-80) Ceinture Flechee

 

After such a fun day the snow started and we all made a run for home. Even with the threat of the impending storm the day was wonderful. There were many of the items I was hoping to find for sale and it was lots of fun talking with many of my fibre Friends.

81-82) The storm was just starting. It was time to get home and back to indoor ice (pack) and antibiotics!

Now home I can write up my day and a few quick shot of today’s purchases to inspire your own shopping. I think my year may be looking up since both Glenn and I won door prizes! He got the silk wash and I won Green Locks from Bernadette!

83-87) Shopping! (i went from 6 students for a full class to 18 students wanting to take needle felted sheep workshop so i had to get more supplys!)

I hope your year is starting out with lots of fibre and no trips to doctors and dentists!

Flax Study Group Part 3

Flax Study Group Part 3

Flax Study Group Part 3

(sorry this is a Long Post if you make it through to the end there are videos! make sure to check out the one on flax dressing its really horrible looking stuff but works exceedingly well)

After a break for the guild Sale and Exhibition we resumed the Flax project on Saturday, November 16th at 10am. It included a potluck lunch.

A quick review of what went before:

– April 4, 2019 Waiting for the soil to thaw and dry

– May 5th  Prepare the ground and plant the seeds; germination expected in 10-14 days.

– May 13th Sprouts are seen

– June 08 2019 – Weeding party

– June 28 2019 – The first flowers have appeared

– July 7 2019 flax flowering is slowing down,  seed pods developing

– July 9th added extra support ropes to keep flax from collapsing during impending torrential rain storm

– July 13 flax survived storm – wind and heavy rain

– July 18 Seed pods are showing signs of turning yellow

– July 27, 2019 at 10 am First Harvesting  (1/4 of the crop has been left to be harvested in 2 parts later)

– July 29 Bernadette tries rippling, not yet ready.

– August 10 2019 Rippling and Winnowing the flax then beginning of the retting

– August 15 the remaining crop is ready to harvest for the seed

– August 17 2019 continuing threshing and winnowing. Retted flax laid out to dry

Which brings us up to November 16th at 10am. We converged at Cathy Louise’s Coverall barn where the flax was waiting for us.

11 kiddie pool of first harvest, retted flax

We kept the flax in the three sections of harvesting. The first harvest in the kiddy pool, second harvest on one end of the metal troughs (it’s the darker colour) and the last harvested, saved for the seed, which is the lighter colour and at the other end of the trough.

22 the later harvests darker, below, harvested before the lighter on the top of the picture

Starting with the largest amount, we began the breaking. (Let the Violence begin!). The Brake breaks up the outer fiber to start to access the long linen fibers within. We eventually figured out this was a very important step. Cole who has processed many local bass fibers (dog strangling vine particularly) had the most experience with the equipment. He had built his own brake, we had the loan of an antique and Gord had found a good rugged one for sale.

 

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3-6 Using the Brake

After the fiber had been cruelly beaten by the brake its fate turned dire as it was firmly thwacked by a skutching sword. The best one seemed to be the Lilac branch that had been split and slightly shaped. It was a bit more flexible than the kitchen implements Cathy Louise had tried or the wooden swords similar to my Viking sword beater. Cole had brought a massive timber and a board with a hand-protecting hole cut in it. Both worked more ergonomically than the boards we had started with.

7-8 Skutching Knife made from Lilac

9-11 Skutching tool  formerly a kitchen impliment

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12 -16 our various skuching boards, note the handy safety hand hole to keep your finger safe.

The next step was the Hackles. This is the sharp part!! By this point, you really do need to have your tetanus shots up to date.

1717 setting out the hackles

We set up a coarse, medium and fine set. We had been lent both old and newer Hackles, all were very sharp and really should be used with gloves. I found them highly photogenic.

1818 i got a few really cool shots of these viscous implements of plant torture

We ran the flax through the teeth to separate the line (the long really good fiber) from the tow (the shorter pieces that are not as sought after but still will spin and weave up nicely)

192019-20 drawing the flax through to hackles removes more of the shorter fibers and leaves the high quality line linen. you can see the tow stuck in the hackles and on the table.

We worked from the course to the medium to the fine. Producing small amounts of line flax.

21222324 21-24 Hackles and a growing pile of Tow

As you can see there was a lot of tow for as little bit of flax. We suspect that we will get a better yield with greater attention to breaking and possibly slightly longer retting. This is our first time and we suspect the growing season was not prime for flax so we hope for a better harvest next year. The Line flax we got from the process was very nice; most of it seemed quite fine from the first batch.

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25-26 inspecting the flax and checking out the cows

While we were torturing plant life on one end of the coverall our neighbours were having an extended lunch or maybe it was second or third lunch. Like cats, cows seem to feel that there butt ends are one of their best features. I had trouble getting a shot that wasn’t mostly butt shots. (I had promised the study group not to take them but not all the cows would cooperate.)  Thinking of lunch it was time for ours so off we went back to the house to enjoy it and get a bit warmer.

Lunch break Pot Luck:

 

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27 – 35 Lunch

After lunch, Cathy Louise showed us her CPW (Canadian Production Wheel) she has an amazing spot to sit and spin in her loft.

Then it was back to work

36 – 40  thump thump thwak thump thwak thwak

At the end of the day we had 2 bags of floor findings from the Brakes and the same amount from the Skutching and possibly a bit more from the hackle leavings. We kept them separate to work on as part of the final days processing.

This was the amount of line linen we produced.

41424344 41-44 our days work, a little bit of good line linen and lots of tow

Final day of flax processing

45 45 the coverall barn that we were sharing with the cows and some annoyed birds

Saturday November 23 at 9:30 am, one week later and we were back at the coverall.

46-47  Alison had brought her course drum carder to try on the flax

4848   First batt off the drum carder looked promising.

49-50     Bernadette arrived with the dew-retted flax she had done. It was a darker colour. She also had big English combs in her bag to try out with the flax.

51 -53 4 pitch English combs by Alvin Ramer

Unfortunately the combs were not as successful as we had hoped ( it shredded both the long and shorter fibers) so we continued with the drum carder.

54 -55   Here is the difference in colour between the two types of retting (field and trough)

56-57  We finished possessing the last of the flax and put most of the tow through the drum carder once before we cleaned up for lunch.

5858 Cole made a quick bit of rope out of some of the coarsest waste. He used the strange wooden tool on the table to make the rope.

Lunch Break Pot Luck!

 

59-62 Lunch!

After lunch, we measured and divided the flax seeds. We kept part for next year’s planting from the late harvested plants. We each got a portion to either plant at home or make flax dressing from. (This is used instead of water when spinning the flax or to size a warp for weaving. Bernadette made some it was truly an interesting viscosity but worked extremely well for spinning.

 

6565  We then weighed and divided the line flax.

66-67 the line is ready to be divided

We looked at the difference between the two methods of retting and tried to determine if the second and third sections harvested were much coarser than the first.

6868  We kept aside samples for comparison later.

Then it was back to the coverall for a quick peek at the cows and to give the tow a second pass through the drum carder.

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-73 We divided up the tow, did a final clean up and headed for home.

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75 75  (Glenn took this just to prove I was actually there since I wasn’t in any of the pictures!)

I took  a number of videos while we were processing the flax and Bernadette’s experimentation with flax dressing. If you would like to see all the videos please consider joining the OVWSG Flax Project Private Group on face book https://www.facebook.com/groups/642029912915854/?fref=nf

Cole using the Brake:

Cole Skutching

The Hackles

Drum carder with the Tow

 

this is the culmination of this part of the Flax study group.   Bernadette has boiled 2 tbs of the flax seed to make a flax dressing which is used to size warps that are being difficult and to add in spinning flax.

11-25-19 flax dressing – Bernadette with wool and flax spinning using Flax dressing.

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed the Flax study group as much as i did participating (well i did more photography and not as much hands on but it was still a blast and i hope to be able to participate in next years study group).  if this appeals to you too you mite want to join next years study group or maybe start your own.

PS it takes a lot longer to upload a video than it dose a picture so its much later than i expected it to be and i think i best head off to bed now.

Flax Study Group Part 1

Flax Study Group Part 1

Flax Study Group Part 1

(Sorry. I got to the first part of the harvest and realized this could grow into a book! So i will tell you about the violence and weapons like swords, brakes, hackles and skutching later.)

There are many reasons you might want to join a local guild. There is the comradery of people who are also interested in what you are interested in. There may be access to shared equipment or resources. There may also be the opportunity to join a study group.  The Guild Ann and I belong to is reasonably old by North American standards and reasonably large for a local guild. We have members with interests from spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing to tatting, lace making and naalbinding . We even have at least one (Icelandic) warp weighted loom represented within the membership.  We have socials every Monday nights if we are not having a meeting which happens once a month.  At socials we spin, weave, knit and chat. One of the chats led to the idea to form a study group to grow and process flax. I think that was about a year ago.

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Pre planting planning:

Cathy Louise offered planting space at her farm and started to research on seeds appropriate for our climate and length of summer. I tracked down books in the library, looked on line for information, and volunteered to photograph the experiment. We had a number of people that expressed interest but not all made it through to the end. We found a particularly good book on growing flax in Canada.  Cathy Louise bought the seeds (we divided the cost amongst the participants; $7.00 Canadian) and prepared a row in her farm garden for the planting to take place.  I think it was 4 feet wide by 40 feet long.

 

We had to wait till the field was dry enough to work (there was flooding again this year as the snow melted)

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This is April 4, 2019 at Cathy Louise’s field south of Ottawa while most of my garden was still covered in snow.

 

 

Day 1 planting:

22 Cathy Louise Leads Us to the field

The study group arrived on a bright sunny day (May 5 2019) to rake, stake and plant the 3 bags of seeds to start the beginning of the practical part of the study group.

  • density 4 seeds per inch hand scattered

 

Step 1 measure and mark the planting section for the flax.

3-4 Positioning the Flax Plot

Step 2 weed and rake the area of planting. Put up a line to mark the planting area.

 

5-6 Weeding and raking to prepare for the flax seeds

 

Step 3 we had three seed packages so we cut the section into thirds and marked them by a stake.

We planted each section by scattering the seeds by hand. Then raked and tamped them down.

 

 

 

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14 14 Afterwords,  relaxing with everyone on the deck (there use to be cake)

The end of planting was celebrated by cake on the deck!

Cathy Louise gave progress reports as the seeds became plants on our study group face book page; OVWSG Flax Project. (There was much rejoicing when we saw the little green bits  and they didn’t seem to be weeds!)

(Skip ahead a little)

Weeding party- June 08 2019

  • Checking the amount of growth of the row. Height just over 4 inches?
  • Instructions- if it’s not flax pull it.
  • A quick touch up along the edges (was that implement called a stirrup hoe?
  • visit the very pretty cows
  • Celebrate with cake and ice tea!!

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15- 21 Some of this green is not like the other green so get rid of it! Glenn’s technique is vary relaxing.

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22 We Work hard evicting and terrorizing weeds.  So we relaxed with Cake and ice tea! it was vary good!

All this took just over an hour and then we celebrated with cake!

Cathy Louise posted updates at the flax grew

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June 22 Cathy Louise Posts update on flax groth

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June 28 updated on flax from Cathy Louise

 

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July 7 update from Cathy Louise

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26July 11   In early July, Strings were added across the flax to help keep it upright before a large rainstorm was forecast (Cathy Louise, Bernadette and Julie did the stringing)

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July 22 the seed heads suggest we should be harvesting soon updated picture from Cathy Louise

First harvest Saturday July 27, 2019 at 10 am. The harvest took an hour to complete.

2828 Flax flower and seed pods

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29 – 39 the Harvesting Teem.  small bundles were pulled and tied with a flax plant to hold the bundle securly. the bundles were staked along the fence rail to dry.

4040 the first part of the harvest is in . look at the weeds that snuck in  among the flax plants.

You can see that we left about 1/4th of the row to continue ripening so it could be used as seed for next year. We split the remaining flax in two more harvests so we could not only have viable seeds but also see how leaving it to grow longer would change the characteristics of the fibre.

To also give comparison we were going to rett most of the fibre in a trough but wanted to also see what effect dew retting would create. To sate our curiosity Bernadette took a few bundles home to dew rett (spreading and lay it out on the grass, turning it to start the rotting of the outer part of the stalk to allow access to the inner fibre)

I will show you more of what happened to the unsuspecting flax plants after they were pulled up by their roots and left to dry by the fence. That will be for next week, or i am sure you will feel like you are reading a book!

 

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