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Spinning Spirals and other topics.

Spinning Spirals and other topics.

A few years ago, while searching for an online textile workshop, I happened upon one that made me curious.  I was familiar with the tutor’s name, Ruth Lane, as her book “The Complete Photo Guide to Felting” was and continues to be one of my ‘go-to’ reference books.  Among its many attributes are two that I hold important, good writing and clarity.

At the time, Ruth was offering, among her courses, one titled   Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination.  This four week course is available under the heading Embellishing Felt With Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach.

(https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/classes/embellishing-felt-with-surface-design-techniques-a-mixed-media-approach/nuno-felting-with-paper-fabric-lamination/)  Ruth lived up to expectations by providing concise instructions on her methods.  The smaller class size made the whole experience very personal and enjoyable.  It also provided a space where I, as a participant could interact easily with fellow students – it’s something personally I think important as sometimes on-line classes can leave me feeling quite remote.

I was absolutely delighted when Ruth asked me to write some posts for the Felting and Fiber Studio blog and when I finally decided to design and produce the online Spiral Workshop I was thrilled when it was accepted as one of the courses on the FFS workshop platform.  I feel so comfortable with the whole ethos of small class sizes and encouraging participants to engage with others if they so desire.

The Spiral workshop came about as a result of a challenge put to me by a fellow felter.  Once I had refined my technique I set about filming each step of the process.  I wanted clarity as, to a large extent, the videos needed to replace my physical presence in the learning space –  that said as with all courses offered by FFS, tutors are available to answer questions for the duration of the course.

Once the full course was recorded, I set about editing the material. This did not involve a lot of deletions.  Instead the videos were broken into smaller steps which would make particular elements of the process easier to locate for participants.  Each video has an accompanying PDF which again is broken into steps to match the videos.  These are available for participants to keep and the videos are available for the duration of the course (and a few extra weeks).

This will be the third run of the course which will start on 26th August.  Registration for it opens today (12th August) and numbers will be limited to make the experience more intimate.

Here are some photos of students’ work.  They are all so gorgeous and so different. I have included some of the reviews at the end of the video.

 

If you are interested in finding out a bit more, feel free to check out the following link:

HANGING FELTED SPIRAL WITH HELENE DOOLEY

 

Community Art Installation

Community Art Installation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple of work in progress shots

And lots of happy felters with their beautiful creations.

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

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

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

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

Felted Hat Wedding Shower.

Felted Hat Wedding Shower.

Last weekend I got to teach a workshop for the first time since covid hit. I have really missed teaching. I was contacted to teach a wet felted hat class for a bride-to-be. She wanted to do something different than the traditional bridal shower.  Everyone was vaccinated and we all wore our masks. It was a lot of fun.

Everyone picked their colours from The Olive Sparrow (https://www.etsy.com/ca/market/the_olive_sparrow) and I ordered them in. I have to say the wool arrived quickly and nicely packaged with labels. I point this out because I have ordered from other places and received a mixed bag of fibres and I was left to sort out what the colours were and prep it for class.  All the embellishment fibres were from my own stash.

Everyone picked the style they wanted from the hat samples I brought. Then they grabbed their wool and we started. I like to do 3 layers for hats. With the most shrinkage being around and with the resist we used it leaves room at the top for shaping.

once the first side was laid out it was time to embellish. picking out the fibres and seeing how they look is always lots of fun.

Don’t forget to take a picture so you can embellish the other side.

Then the hard work begins rubbing and rolling.

After much rubbing and rolling, it was time to remove the resist.

and now they try them on and wonder how they are ever going to make them fit.

Much more rolling and fulling later the hats are shaped and ready to take home and dry. Sorry I got no pictures of that part.

All in all, it was good to teach again and the ladies were great to work with. I think we all had a lot of fun. I need to thank Sabrina( the gracious hostess) for her pictures of the day or they would be sparse. I think she is happy with her hat. 🙂

 

 

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a pair of English wool combs. They were sold out at the time but the people in the shop were kind enough to allow me to backorder. Now all I had to do was wait a few days and let the spiky goodness arrive at my doorstep!

Finally, they were here.

 

Leonor of Eleanor Shadow holds a pair of English combs and looks chuffed

 

It occurs to me that these would make great Wolverine claws for Halloween, were I in the mood to risk self-injury… Seriously, despite knowing these are pointy, sharp objects, it still surprised me to find out exactly how sharp they were in a slight moment of distraction. Note to self: don’t daydream when handling wool combs.

If you’re not sure what wool combs are for, these brilliant tools are used to process fleeces for spinning. They work by separating, aligning and combing the wool locks, whilst also getting rid of any vegetable matter (VM). The end result is a fluffy and lovely cloud that you’re supposed to carefully diz off the combs, ending up with a longish sort of roving.

 

Texel cross wool locks on English combs, ready for processing

 

Ideally, you’ll place the locks facing the same direction, which in my case was cut side nearest the tines, ends on the outside.
These are lovely locks from a Texel cross lamb’s first shear’s fleece. I washed it myself. They’re so soft and all I want to do is bury my face in them.. (which I definitely have. Don’t judge.)

 

Eleanor Shadow uses English wool combs to process some wool locks

 

Next, you carefully start teasing the tips of the locks apart with the other comb, which will transfer a bit of fibre to said comb at each pass. As you keep doing this, the longer staples of wool will move and the shortest bits will remain on the clamped comb. You’re meant to discard these short bits, but I keep them to make dryer balls.

 

English wool combs processing wool on a table

A hand showing wool waste after using English wool combs

 

You can see above that the fibre left behind retains some VM. I don’t mind it because it’s clean, and won’t be seen once the dryer balls are covered in commercially processed wool top. Waste not, want not.

You will do this transferring of fibre from one comb to the other until you’re happy with how the wool looks. The one below was on the third pass.

 

Side view of wool on English wool combs, after processing

 

There was still a tiny bit of VM but I don’t mind.

Since I wasn’t planning on spinning this wool, I didn’t diz it off the comb, I simply pulled it all off  together very gently, so it all came off at the same time.
After 30 minutes I had a few clouds.

 

A few soft clouds of processed wool on a table

 

I’ll be gathering a lot of this fluff into a bag and, once I have enough, I’ll card it on my drum carder and make batts to sell to spinners and felters. Lamb wool really is like a cloud and I’m loving playing with it.

To end this post in my usual tradition, here’s a completely unrelated photo I took a few days ago that I find amusing. This was on a building I happened to pass by here in Edinburgh.

Plaque on a wall saying On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened

So, what’s your current favourite fibre utensil?

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 part 2

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 part 2

When we were last chatting about the workshop we had got the students to the point where the image had been transferred to the felt and they were beginning to work on it.

As with other painting mediums, I had them work from the background towards the foreground. This is common in pastel, and often seen in Oil or Watercolour painting. You can lay-in the required colour by hand blending your fibre then checking it against your reference photo.  The students discovered that very little fibre could affect a significant colour change in the resulting blended fibre.

 

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7-10) laying in the background then working forward.

One student using her own picture decided that the figure in the foreground was unnecessary for her landscape and after much debating removed him.

 

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11-12) Re-editing image and checking with phone

Kim’s lighthouse image was mostly blues and a bit more challenging. It was a photo taken at dusk, so the colours become more subdued.

 

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13-17) the progression of the light house

One student chose the round hay bales picture I had also done.

 

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18-22) Winter hay bales progress as more detail is added

Another chose the sheep in a snowstorm shot. It was vary painterly! The sheep are suggestions hidden behind the grasses amongst the snow.

 

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23-25) sheep in snow behind branches

The alpaca picture was coming along nicely.  When I checked again it had suddenly gone from 5×7 to the full size of the frame without the mat! (That is twice the felting space of the other pictures.) I like the tree details she was developing.

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26-27 Alpaca in progress and finished

The students did very well with their pictures and even had time for a relaxing lunch break! It was fun to see them putting the frames on their pieces, which always makes it more of an artistic statement rather than just bits of fluffs of wool.

 

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28-34) the students framing their finished paintings!

One student was having so much fun she started her second picture on the remaining half of the wool felt.

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35) One student was starting another picture at the end of the workshop

This was a fun workshop to teach and the students seem to have had fun too. I still have 3 workshops full of 3D felted sheep coming up this spring. They will be scheduled when we have a classroom available and I am back to fully healthy again.  (ok March has got to be an improvement on January and February Right?) I hope you avoid the flu, both the imported and domestic varieties and instead have lots of fun felting!

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 Part 1

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 Part 1

On the last day in February, I ran the Needle Felted landscape workshop for the Ottawa guild. We had six students sign up but one had to stay home to attend a first time mom who was expecting twins. The impending mom, being a sheep, was not as forthcoming in accurately indicating her due date and did not actually go into labour during the workshop but I am sure she would have them if he had joined his wife and left the sheep alone.

I brought a good amount of my fibre stash (I have been collecting fibre focusing on the landscape workshop and the sheep workshop). By the time Glenn got the car loaded, I had a full car of fibre and supplies to the point I could not see out the back window! Ok, it’s a  Kia Soul so not a huge car but that was a lot of wool!

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1)    This is the foyer at Hartwood house. The studio is on the other side, through the double doors that Glenn is moving my stuff towards.

I had intended to get a picture of the room once I got it set up but I got distracted by one of the students arriving early and then I forgot. I had set out all the items the students were getting with their workshop.

Which included

  • 23 pages of notes plus an appendix of photo options,
  • the foam kneeling pad that is made of a pool noodle like foam,
  • 4 types of felt, (for a name tag, a large piece of good wool felt half of which was to be used for the project, a cheaper lower percentage wool felt and an acrylic felt to compare to).
  • different Needles, (including a finer spiral)
  • Permanent markers,
  • a test tube with a lid to keep the needles,
  • elastics,
  • pins,
  • hard ruler (not a tape measure),
  • paper to make a template for the mat,
  • 3 sizes of finger protectors (wooden)
  • Wooden frame with mat and glass
  • Fine particulate mask (no one wants to get wool lung!)

 

I had also brought Sock yarn to make their names and Lots of wool to select colours from!

To borrow I had extra scissors and a 7 needle holders tool with a guard (it’s the fake clover tool from somewhere in China).

I had them start with making a name tag allowing them a chance to try out the needles and work on eye-hand coordination. They wrote their name in yarn on a piece of felt from an accidentally felted duvet. Only one bandaid was needed so the practice was helpful.

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2-3) Nametags – note the bags of wool in the background of the second photo

Next, they were on to choosing a picture from the ones I had pulled or three had brought one of their own.  Two of my adventurous students had painted before and the other one had done a number of other types of felting so I felt they might be up to a bit more challenging subjects.

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4) Using the phone to see details of the image and checking the pictures as they progress.

I had asked the students to bring a camera, an eye pad or a phone with a good camera function so they could check their work as they progressed. One had her Lama picture on her phone and could zoom in and look at details which was also an excellent use of technology. The phone works similarly to looking at your drawing in a mirror. It allows you to see proportions and negative space more clearly.

Transferring the chosen image to the felt

I discussed the lightbox or window method of tracing. This works well on thin light coloured felt or pre-felt but not as well on thicker or darker felts. If you are using a window, it works best on sunny days (sunny days can be scarce in winter). This transfer method was used in the workshops I have attended.

I also mentioned the grid method to scale a drawing while transferring it to your work surface. It is a lot slower but can produce an extremely good underdrawing. I suggested they check out their notes for other methods like the projector, Lucy and camera obscura.

I wanted to give them another option if they did not like to draw freehand or using a lightbox.  I explained the template method of transferring an image, which requires scaling your image by photocopier or by computer and printer to make your image the size you would like to work with. Make a border on your felt, the outside size of your picture. Then divide your picture into basic tonal areas again working from the background to the foreground. It can be handy to put your image in Microsoft word then adjust the image with “Artistic Effects” look at “cut out” to give tonal blocking. While you are in Microsoft, you can check under “colour saturation” to see what hidden colours are in your image.

This is the point that you move trees or tilt hills to suit your wants. You are God of your landscape! If you want to have a tree lose or gain a bit of weight, you can decree it!

 

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5) Freehand drawing and the use of a paper mat

One student went with the freehand method. She referred to her phone to get the detail in her picture. I had a number of different colours of permanent markers.  We were using permanent markers since I have used quilting makers in a workshop I had taken that did not stay on the felt but appeared as a blue smear on my arm from finger to elbow as I worked on my piece. (The options of various colours of permanent markers are nice since they stay where you put them and they will be hidden under the fibre you are adding.)

I had them make a paper mat the size of their picture, 5×7. This lets them check to see if their picture was getting bigger or smaller as they worked. Checking your image with your paper mat will save you money by ensuring that your image will fit in your mat and frame when it is done.

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6) Template method of transfer and using the phone to check the progress

Continued in part 2 scheduled  for March 15th 2020 (lots more pictures to come in part 2!!)

Terry Berries Felted Bag Online Class

Terry Berries Felted Bag Online Class

Registration for Teri Berry’s Felted Bags online class is now open! This is a great course and was well received, so it’s exciting it’s being run again. There are limited spaces available so if you want to register, click on this link and fill out the registration form.

During this 5 week course, you will have the opportunity to make at least 3 bags/purses.

In week 1, you will make an animal themed spectacles/phone/pencil case, this could be in the image of your favourite pet or a friend’s pet (they make very thoughtful gifts) or a mythical beast of your own imagination! You will use multiple resists, introduce some nuno felting and make a closure entirely from wool.

In week 2 you will learn to make a small to medium shoulder/handbag (purse to our US friends), this tutorial will demonstrate how to add internal pockets, a magnetic clasp, adjustable shoulder straps and take shaping the felt to the next level so the bag has a flat bottom and stands up on its own.

The week 3 tutorial is a little more ambitious, you will learn to make a backpack with adjustable straps, multiple internal compartments and internal pockets.

Weeks 4 and 5 will be for catch up / further development, you might like to apply your own design to a bag, Teri will be on hand to answer any questions and talk through any challenges your design might create.

As with all the online courses, there will be lots of opportunity to share your work with the rest of the group and share ideas.

The content of this workshop is suitable for felters with some experience, you do not need to have made a bag before but if you are confident making felt pods, bowls etc. over a resist you will be able to make these bags.

The class begins on February 13th. The price for this five-week course is £60 GBP (approx. $79 US, $105 Canadian, €70, $112 AUD, $119 NZ) and the number of places will be limited to 30 students.

Sign up here.

In the Begining

In the Begining

 

In the beginning;

In 1989 I joined the OVWSG at their annual general meeting and became their librarian. I did tell them I was Severely Dyslexic and was assured by the executive that would not be a problem. I was given 5 boxes of books that had to be entered into the library before the September meeting which I did with a bit of help from Glenn. Things went on quite well until I built them a subject catalogue and they discovered what dyslexia was. Isn’t Urope always filed under U? E-Urope sounds like a burp not a continent. Annoying English! I think you should all convert to dyslexia and spelling would all be phonetic with occasional decorative letters you stick in because you likely forgot to use them earlier.

In 1993 I went back to school and Clara took over the library at the guild with the goal of fixing the subject catalogue by making cards with the “English spelling” -See – “Dyslexic version of the word”. I returned to Ottawa in 1996 and got the Library into a Database with fewer spelling errors or foreign languages.

I am pretty sure that somewhere between the 1989 start with the guild and the return to school I took my first felting class. It was with Maggie Glossop. She has had the starting of many of us into the addiction of fibre accumulation both for Spinning and Felting. When I checked on line to make sure I spelt her name correctly I found her resume http://www.convergenceart.com/Maggie%20Glossop%20Resume.htm Impressive!

The workshop I took was making a small bag in felt over a resist embellished with an image. Mine were Iris, a bit stylized, but definitely flower-ish. I discovered I was entranced by laying out layers of wool, making pictures and not so fond of wet hands. But it sparked enough interest I took more workshops with other teachers as they were offered but Maggie was the first to introduce me to this medium (so it’s likely her fault you are reading this).

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I had thought she was a pretty amazing person but hadn’t realized just how many people she has touched with her teaching. To illustrate I should tell you what I was up to yesterday. Friday (which was yesterday) was the first day of a 3 day demo at the Carp Fair. I was organizer (Just don’t blame me for today’s weather. I didn’t ask for rain / drizzle and mist). Friday we had Elizabeth and Cindy who are both Master spinners (OHS spinning certificate) and myself, who is not one but does a lot of felting, spinning and occasionally weaving.

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Maggie was at the Fair and stopped by the demo to say Hi! We were all very glad to see her. In her teaching career of both spinning and Felting Instructor, we realized she had taught all three of us.  For me she had ignited an ember of interest that grew to include wet and dry felting both 2D and 3D.  Without her would I have discovered this art form or would I have listened to myself “ick Water” and avoided wetfelting? I don’t remember what her workshop description was but it was enough to get me curious (maybe she omitted the part about getting your hands wet) and started me on this path.

I want to thank Maggie for her patience with this student and her obvious deep enjoyment of her art which has started the path of interest I am now following. Teachers can be such a strong influence on their students. By sharing their knowledge with a student their information can inspire them into totally new and interesting directions and adventures. Seeing Maggie made me think about my first class, my first time laying out wool, my first flower. I still have that piece and look at it as I walk by the bookshelf it sits on.

 

Inflicting Fibre arts on unsuspecting relatives.

Inflicting Fibre arts on unsuspecting relatives.

Last month Glenn and I took a trip down to Oakville to visit his parents and one of his brothers and part of their family who had also come for a visit. It was going to be crowded at the house so we stayed at a hotel with a pool (I got to go swimming and do pool exercises each morning). I had been hoping to see both of my nieces but Fiona could not escape from her work so I was only able to enjoy the company of Jennifer and her Mom Marg (I did not inflict fibre on Grant!) (Really I will get to the fibre stuff)

 

When the nieces had been very young, both our families had all lived in Ottawa. I had bought them excessive numbers of Barbies (because there dog kept trying to keep the population down by eating them) and had taught them how to weave Barbie blankets on a plastic loom.

 

Two years ago they visited in Oakville at xmas. while I was desperately finishing Alex’s Xmas Polar bear, I got both girls doing sculptural needle felting.  It went quite well and Fiona seemed to really like it.

 

This visit I was determined I would further their Fibre arts indoctrination. I brought supplies for pictorial needle felting, spinning (Wheel and spindle) and Japanese cord making (Kumihimo).

 

There was a lot of running around town and family visiting happening but in preparation for the landscape I took pictures of my Mother-in-laws amazing garden. I also caught shots of some of the wild life you see in their back yard. I was not sitting outside when the Raccoon and rabbit went by. (More about inspirational images in another post)

 

We  finally had a quiet day (the day before they left) and started on the drop spindle. I used the same make-it-yourself Turkish drop spindle I had used at the Gaming convention to Spin the Golden fleece.

 

For those that missed it the DIY spindle requires;

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  • 4 six inch (short) meat skewers
  • 1 longer meet skewer with the wide end cut down. (my cheap garden sheers cut them nicely)
  • (optional nail file to clean up the cut on the skewer)
  • 6 small elastics
  • 2 bulldog clips (I have medium ones but if you want less weight and momentum use smaller ones. If you want more weight and thus greater momentum use larger ones)
  • One leader cord (piece of string) about 3 feet long tied in a loop.

We assembled the spindles and I showed them the “Park and Draft” method of spinning.  You build up the twist then park the spindle between your knees. Next focus on the fibre, draft out what you want the twist to deal with and let the twist slide up to the top of that section. Add a bit more twist if necessary then wind onto the spindle. After a bit of this they put it all together and did the drafting and adding twist together.

With the first yarn successfully completed we moved on to try the wheel.

 

I had brought with me from Ottawa the new-to-me Lendrum Rook. Gord Lendrum made about 40 of them between 1984 to 1986. There a very nice little upright wheel with a very odd tensioning system. The one I have has a problem with the upright that supports the wheel.  It’s lost its’ glue and now will rotate so you have to straighten the wheel each time you set up to spin. But once you have her strait she spins like a dream!

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Both Marg and Jennifer seemed to have enjoyed the wheel. Both were able to make respectable yarn.

 

Next Jenifer and I moved on to Kumihimo with the card stalk marudai. She selected her colours, and set up her marudai.

 

She also likes blue, the green was a nice highlight with the blues.

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The supplies you will need to make a Moridi are heavy card stock (I’m using 110lb cardstock, a cereal box would work too). I made a template in publisher then saved it in PDF and Jpeg.

 

 

You will also require;

  • 8 slots,
  • a hole in the center and
  • 7 strands of yarn.

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“100% Cotton, each skein is 7.3m/23.9ft.” I found these at Dollarama

Good options are

  • tiny elastics and a
  • mid-sized Bulldog clip

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Ok now that you have run out and collected all the equipment, measured (I have heard it’s about 3 times longer than what you want to make) and carefully cut out your marudai, here is what to do next.

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Set up:

Depending on how you set up the colours and position them around the marudai you will get different patterns. (I have not yet tried all the variables yet) gather all the 7 strands together and Tie a knot (leave extra length after the knot if you want to have a fringe). Either push the knot through the hole in the centre to the back side or from the back side thread the yarn through, leaving the knot. I add the bulldog clip to the knot so it won’t slide through the centre hole. Skipping one slot (I skip the one with the direction arrow when I am setting up) space your strands into the 7 other slots. Wind your strands up so there is about 4 inches loose; the rest wound up in a butterfly. Use the knot for marudai bobbins or elastic to keep if from slipping when you don’t want it to. (See the picture above)

 

How to weave:

This is really important. There are only 3 steps!

Step 1) From the empty slot count clock wise to the third strand.

Step 2) Pull it out of its slot and move it to the empty spot.

Step 3) Rotate the marudai so that the empty slot is towards you again.

Repeat from step 1 until you run out of yarn to weave.

 

When the cordage you are making gets too long curl it up and clip it with the bulldog clip.

Keep the marudai surface flat and the strands will not tangle as much.  Also keeping them not too long will help keep them in order.

 

This is a fast, portable way to make cordage. This particular pattern, 7 strands in an 8 slot marudai, makes a number of variations depending on colour and strand placement. It is easy to pick up and put down and not lose your place

 

Jennifer really enjoyed Kumihimo. I sent her back to California with extra cotton to weave with on the airplane.  I look forward to seeing what she will do with her cordage. Now let’s see if she finds herself a spinning wheel and a drop spindle!

 

 

 

Cangames gaming convention long weekend in May 2019

Cangames gaming convention long weekend in May 2019

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Cangames 2019 Ottawa Canada. Upstairs at the curling club

 Image 1

A strange request

Image 2 Cangames 2019

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

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Images 2-9 of cangames slide show

 

As you may recall from a previous post (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2018/05/23/spinning-at-can-games/) I have done these activities in the middle of several gaming conventions for many years. There has always been curiosity about what I was doing, culminating in a request of “can you run that as a game?”

 

Aha! A Challenge!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Ok let me try to write that up as an RPG

“Live action RPG Spin the Golden Fleece

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

 

Spin the Golden Fleece.

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

 

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

Images 10-12

 

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

Images 13-14

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Images 15-23

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

 

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

Images 24-25

Images 26-30

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

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

 

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Image 31 Glenn won a tournament.

 

 

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

Live action RPG Spin the Golden Fleece

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

 

Spin the Golden Fleece.

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

 

The adventure instructions:

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

How to assemble the spindle;

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

 

Part 2 spin the Golden top or Roving

 

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

 

Method; Park and Draft

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

25exp

 

Plying

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

Double ended ball method.

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

Exp 25

 

Making a skein

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

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

 

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

 

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

Exp 25

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Image 33

 

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