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Soon to be leaves; purpose made prefelt

Soon to be leaves; purpose made prefelt

If you remember I started to work on a new cowl design for maybe teaching or maybe selling but at least one for myself. here the blog if you missed it or want to remind yourself. https://wp.me/p1WEqk-9Ha

Sorry to disappoint but it still isn’t finished. I did decide I wanted to put some autumn leaves on it so I made some prefelt to cut them out of. I started with green, I want it to be in the middle. I was thinking of having a little green showing at the edges might look nice.

then I added some reds orange and golden yellow. I did it in an odd pattern so I could cut out leaves that were not all one colour. The pictures are not great. No matter what I did they looked blurry. I think it’s too much light bouncing off the fibres it just can’t focus.

I flipped it over and laid out to “match” the other side. The green is thin so it wasn’t hard to see the colours through it.

Next, I got out my silk top and my silk hankies and put some on both sides to give it some shine. I tried to get pictures of it but it doesn’t show at all.

This is the finished piece. You can see the silk now.

There is only one more regular market day, this Saturday and then I get a break until the Christmas markets on Nov. 21 and 28. I plan to get the cowl done and to make some baskets to sell. So, fingers crossed, more to come.

 

Getting scissor happy with your felt

Getting scissor happy with your felt

Hi all!  Firstly, let me introduce myself.  My name is Helene Dooley and I would describe myself as a textile adventurer.  I am largely self taught but I have been fortunate enough to be in a position to undertake workshops with some very prominent felting tutors and masters.  I work under the name Feltzen.

This summer, the family took a cottage in the south west of Ireland – on the beautiful Valentia Island.  Kerry is famous for its scenery and we made the most of every precious day there.  One day involved a trip to Killarney’s National Park and I took this photo at the Torc Waterfall.  It became the main source of inspiration for this piece.

 

I also managed a trip to the Kerry Woollen Mills as I wanted to experiment with some of their fibres.  My main focus was on the Galway/New Zealand blend. They stock a vast array of colours and the best news is that they ship worldwide.

So, with inspiration and raw materials with a firm Kerry provenance I decided that I wanted to make a piece that would show off the fabulous colours of the wool.  As this is an experiment with the wool, I thought I would go into a little detail on what it feels like to work with along with the various steps I took to make the piece.  The joy of this technique is that each piece will be original as the end result is very much dependent on the colours used, where/how much you decide to sew into it and where you make the final cuts.  Also, of course, the type of wool you use.  I would tend towards a shorter fibre to minimise colour transmission between the layers but this is something you may be happy with.  The technique was taught to me by the very brilliant Marjolein Dallinga, a Dutch Fibre Artist now living in Canada.

For this experiment I worked on a flat surface but the technique could easily be used on a 3D surface.  Just be sure to make your resist big enough to accommodate your sewing as you will lose a fair bit of surface during the gathering and felting process.  To familiarise myself with the fibre, I made up my sample which comprised of two layers (10 grams each) on a 25cm square.  Shrinkage was around 30%.

I will briefly go through the making up of the prefelt.  I made a rectangle (43cm X 28cm)which comprised of 4 layers using 20 grams per layer.

Each layer was a different colour and I very roughly laid down three different tones of wine/pink on one of the layers.

Top layer which is a dark green was embellished with a viscose – just for the fun of it.

I wet this down.  The fibre was a bit of a sponge when it came to this stage – it took a lot of soapy water (nearly a litre).  Because it was a bit of a challenge to permeate the layers, I ended up focussing the water on the centre of the piece and then I popped the bubble wrap on top and pressed the water to the outermost area of the rectangle.    The prefelt formed quickly.  I then rolled it very lightly.  My aim was to end up with a fabric that was stable enough to hold together but would not withstand any rough treatment.  I then left it to drip dry (over the clothes horse) overnight.  Then came the fun!

It’s worth having a few things to hand before you start this technique:

  • Strong thread – preferably nylon – this is for a couple of reasons. You want something that will withstand a bit of rough treatment (when it comes to gathering the fabric).  Also you want to be able to remove the thread at the end of the process so you don’t want it to felt into the piece.
  • A long sharp needle – you are going to be working through layers of thick prefelt (example: if you lay down 4 layers you will be stitching through 8 layers with this technique.
  • Long pins – make sure that there is a large visible pin head on these as you won’t want to lose the pins in the work (hidden pins + felting by hand = agony).

Now it’s time to play.  Using the pins, start by creating folds in your prefelt and work on this until you create folds.  My inspiration was the exposed tree roots (first photo) so I opted to have my folds radiating from the centre of the prefelt.

 

 

I then took each fold and tacked a running stitch through it.  To do this I started by knotting the thread unto itself (leave a tail and take your needle through the prefelt then back to the side facing you, tie the tail to the main body of the thread three or four times).  Doing this will secure your thread so that it stays put when you pull to create the gathers.  Then I ran a stitch through to the end of my fold, I gathered it up and tied it off (knotting the thread into the last stitch in the gather three or four times.  It needs to be robust and not fall out when you start the felting process.  Be sure to take out the pins as you go along.  Continue gathering until you are happy that you have the basic shape you want to achieve.

 

Now it’s time to start felting.  I used a pair of poly gloves for this part of the process.  I wet the piece in the usual manner (warm soapy water).  At this point I needed to be methodical in how I felted the folds so I marked my starting point with a peg and started working my way around the folds (rubbing each one a hundred times).  I did two rounds.  The folds felted to each other really fast.  I was able to turn the piece over and see that the underside of the piece had melded together so I was pretty confident that my cutting into the piece would not cause disintegration.  I finished felting and fulling the piece and left it to dry.

 

 

Then I cut into the folds.  I used a very sharp scissors and cut through the folds just a little at a time.  By doing this I controlled the colour that was visible.  First skim revealed the third colour, second skim brought up the second layer colour etc.

 

Other possibilities are to cut into the sides of the folds. Or perhaps change the shape of the flat sections.  In my case I reshaped the centre of the piece to make it stand above the rest of the cuts.  A bit like a tree trunk.

 

 

I decided against felting the cut edges as I didn’t want to disturb the cut lines.

Here is a close up of the effect.

The Galway/New Zealand mix was an interesting experiment.  I reckon I will use it again.  The sample felted into a sturdy fabric. I think it would work well for structural pieces slippers, bags, sculptures etc but not for clothing.  There’s quite an array of colours at the mill so I think I will soon be placing an order.  After all, you can never have enough fibre.

Happy felting!

The Eyes Have It – Part 2

The Eyes Have It – Part 2

A couple of months ago I did a blog about drawing eyes. I mentioned that someday I would like to rework  the eyes on a quilt I had made of my rescue dog, Koko. A Zoom class became available in September  from Lorraine Turner (https://calicohorses.com/) called “All About Eyes”. Lorraine sometimes uses Derwent Inktense pencil to make eyes for her animal quilts. I haven’t played much with my Inktense pencils so thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about them and maybe find a fix for Koko’s eyes on her quilt.

Here is a close up photo of the quilt I call Saint Koko. The original eyes were plain fabric with a small bead sewn on.

 

Using an actual photo of Koko’s eyes, I tried to enlarge it enough to match the exact placement of her eyes on the quilt. Lorraine suggested making numerous sets of eyes to practice using the Inktense pencils on. I used a light box to trace the basic shapes of her eyes from the photo onto some plain white fabric.

What a FUN exercise! I went with the last set of eyes I had made. I then fused some Wonder Under to them and cut them out and lightly fused them to the quilt.

Right now, I am trying to decide if I like them or not. They almost look too real for my whimsical little quilt, don’t they? They definitely change things up, I think! They give her a totally different expression. I think more work will need to be done before I am satisfied. Perhaps more Inktense pencil work or thread painting. And I still may do some additional work on her face and body to lighten it up. Progress is being made though! Lorraine will be teaching more about Inktense pencils in November. I’m looking forward to playing with them and learning more about them.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been doing some dyeing with Procion Dyes. Jane Dunnewold (https://janedunnewold.com/ ) has had some great Zoom lectures lately. She is an awesome instructor and person! I mixed up 12 of the pure colors to play with, scrunched up fat quarters and then rubber banded them before dropping them into the dye bath for 24 hours.

I have been wanting to play with dyeing my own silk/cotton fabric (Robert Kaufman PFD Radiance) that I use as the background for my tile quilts. Robert Kaufman quit manufacturing Radiance for a time and I was so sad as I love it’s sheen.  When I discovered he had the PFD available, I bought a whole bolt of it!

Aren’t these such beautiful colors!

Next I will cut each fat quarter into 4 equal pieces. One will be left alone, the other three will be overdyed using a complimentary color, an analogous color to the right, and then an analogous color to the left. I may use a different fabric manipulation prior to their second dye bath or I may just scrunch them up the same way. They almost look oversaturated to me already, so I’m really curious how the second batch will look. Dyeing is a lot of work!  But what fun!

Thanks for reading! Happy creating!

Tesi Vaara

 

 

 

 

2020 Weather is suspicious! I have a Hypothesis!! lets test it!!!

2020 Weather is suspicious! I have a Hypothesis!! lets test it!!!

In the summer of 2020, I went into full fleece washing mode. I set up a skirting table, got the RV hand washing machine ready to spin out most of the water and set up the fleece drying racks in front of the garage. You have already seen some of the results. Over the next couple of months, I began to notice an unsettling trend of wetness occurring speciously in conjunction with putting washed fleece on the drying racks. Very Suspicious!!! how can this be a coincidence having happened so many times this summer? I think the weather may be out to wet me! (or maybe it’s just after my fleece)

My hypothesis: 2020 weather is sentient. (And is offended by drying fleece)

Equipment necessary for this experiment:

  • One Icelandic fleece,
  • Many strainer buckets,
  • Three soaking big buckets,
  • A small amount of soap (sunlight dish soap – not detergent),
  • One RV hand spin washer (like a very big salad spinner)
  • Three umbrellas on standby

Test of the hypothesis: Take exquisite Icelandic fleeces that had been put aside to wash later and wash now. (Also this first fleece may be perfect for Mrs. Mer’s Hair.) Watch for a reaction from local weather.

1 Part of Icelandic fleece waiting in the strainer bucket

I divided the first fleece into six small amounts in the fleece washing strainer baskets. Washed out and filled the three fleece washing buckets. Started the soap soak on the first three fleece strainer baskets and got them to the rinse stage. No sign of rain.

 

Today, a bit overcast with tiny patches of sun, I went out to check on the rinsing. Looked clean, felt clean, OK on to draining, spin-drying then laying the wool out on the drying racks to finish drying.

2-3  Fleece placed on the dryer rack

And it started to drizzle, so I pulled out the umbrella and continued spin-drying as well starting the next three into their soap soak.

 4 next half of fleece in soap and soak stages of washing

Drizzle stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Filled one drying rack and pulled out the second.

And it started to drizzle again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulled out the second umbrella, looked at the overhanging and which way the rain would fall. Drat. Need a bigger umbrella, well if I move the spinner over to the skirting table and put the bucket over it

6 two umbrellas up and… it has stopped raining again.

Got all of the first fleece washed and onto two of my three drying racks, and pulled out the third rack (all from Ikea). I did a quick division of the second darker fleece and got the first part of it soaking in soapy water. With a bit of wrangling, I got the three drying rack set up and under the umbrella. As I went to check the soaking fleece and give it a sloosh and it started to Rain! Heavily raining….. I quickly through the fleeces into the strainer buckets and got everything under the tarp end of the dog yard. well now the weather is just laughing at me and I am soaked too.

7-8 wet, very wet

I came in to complain about the unfair and possible vindictiveness of weather to Ann. (Ann is very patent with me.)  I sat down at the computer, ready to type and the sun came out…..

 9 Sun coming out on my Tie basil plants in a broken pot, I will be trying to overwinter.

I waited a bit then went and laid out the fleeces again to dry…..maybe dry.

.

 

 

   10-13 all the wetness was worth it, look at that fleece!!

14 The first part of the second Icelandic fleece is trying to dry.

Any bets on where it will rain today? Don’t take that bet…..

 

 

 

15 it rains again

 

 

 

Conclusion; 2020 Weather is sentient and it is offended by fleece drying.

 

 

 

 

Post Scrips:

The Icelandic fleeces are now well washed, extra rinsed and finally dry. I have washed two more fine fleeces, which I got last year from the Wool Growers Co-op originally from Alberta, again with many extra rinses in the “Drying” stage. They were a lovely dark chocolate colour until I washed them and discovered they were a nice shade of grey (the wash water did remain a very dark brown).

    16 the drying racks

Unfortunately, I have two more large fleeces to wash before the snow arrives!!!! One is the large ram I got at the same time I got the Shropshire and the second is a fleece I just bought from Beth. It is a long black Shetland who was ether hiding from the shearer in the straw or was rolling in it. I have never seen so much vegi-matter embedded in a fleece! As bad as it looks there was only one sheep self-felted section. the rest, if I can get the straw out, will be fabulous. After pulling burrs, straw does not look as daunting!

17-20 Beth’s Black fleece of straw, the top section of the strainer bucket is self felted.

I still need a solution to the continual extra rinse step I don’t think the fleeces really require.  I have bought strapping and ½ inch welded wire fencing to make drying racks I can hang under the tarped area of the side yard. I will get over to Dollerama (what a great source of fibre and felting related equipment) and buy a couple of clear table cloth covers and some extra strong laundry clips to block the wind and rain along the dog fence. Maybe I had better not tempt the weather too much or it may escalate its intensity, we did have a tornado go through Ottawa two years ago! But that may have been to thwart someone else’s fleece drying endeavours.

 

 

 

 

Slow progress and a workshop

Slow progress and a workshop

I am writing this Sunday evening. My plan was to work on my cowl this afternoon. But after lunch, I just didn’t have any energy to do it, so after an incredibly busy week of baking, I decided on a nap instead. So at this point, I have nothing to show you about that.

I have booked a little hall for a workshop though. I had a request for a cat cave class. I am not sure I will get enough people to join as we have a short timeline. I have to have 4 people to run the class( 6  is the maximum) and I need them by Oct 9 so we can order the wool and get it here on time. her is the spiel Jan did for me for the class. the one I wrote up was boring. For those who don’t know where I hale from it is just outside Ottawa Ontario Canada. I included that info with all the shared posts on Facebook. it is a personal pet peeve of mine when people don’t post where it is for non-locals. Do you have any idea how many Perths and Cornwalls there are around the world? I have gotten all excited, only to find something is in Perth Australia or Cornwall, California USA?

Cat Cave Workshop

Do you have a present for that hard to shop for Cat on your Christmas list? Have you tried all the toys but are still being snubbed? I may have a solution for you! Have you considered making the perfect cat cave for your perfect cat? Whether you have a big or small cat if they like curling up and sleeping in cozy spaces then a cat cave may be your solution.
There will be a group order of wool (Finn) and consultation in creating your resist. Sign up quickly we have limited space so we can be socially distanced while we are felting together. Properly Fitting masks are required, and we will have our hands in warm soapy water!!

Wool: Finn (Pre-workshop group order) 1-4 KG depending on size and thickness of cat cave shapee.

When: Nov 7-8th 2020

Where: Pierces Corners Hall (Near North Gower, I will supply directions)

Cost: $100 plus costs of wool and a portion of shipping and duties

 

Suitable for enthusiastic beginners and people that have felted before.

Sign up soon and do not disappoint your cat, no one wants an unhappy cat Christmas morning.

To sign up or if you have any questions, please email me shepherdessann@gmail.com

I added some pictures of course

Shark-Boy! part 1

Shark-Boy! part 1

I started this post a few weeks ago but wanted to tell you about the Flax study group first. so while the Flax is off at the spa having hydrotherapy treatments lets look back a bit.

I hope you haven’t become bored in my fishy endeavors this summer. (I am looking forward to starting a less wet oriented project once I have this one in hand)

I have decided the Mer’s need a son. However, I want to have him more strongly on the shark side of the family, hammerhead shark to be specific. So back to my notes to adjust the armature sizes from the original measurements suggested by Sarra in her you tube felt along Mermaid.  I reduced the proportions for the body and then considered the extended length of the hammerhead shark body.

 1   14 gauge aluminum wire armature.

   2 Using a second piece of wire to Stabilizing the arms and third for the body.

For this Mer I went with a much more fishy lower body, basing it on the hammerhead shark.  I again did a thorough search of images to find reference shots. Referring back to the diagrams,  photos, and a bit of research I found out there is a difference in fin alinement between adolescent and adult hammerhead sharks.  I extended the body armature, adding fins in appropriate places for a youthful shark.

  3-4 adding a fishy long shark body

I have tried various starting points while felting the Mer’s, this time I started with the head and worked down.

  5-9 Starting at the top and working down

I added wool, by rapping and adding layers of wool, continuing down the body to the first pair of (Pectoral) fins. I secured fiber to the lower back then worked out and back building up the fins and upper part of the shark body.

 10-11 Pectoral fins

Now on to the first Dorsal fin. I created a flat rectangle and felted the center line which will become the front edge of large fin.

 12-13 Dorsal Fin.

The fin armature was rapped with the white wool then the fin cover was added and felted in.

  14 -19 the Dorsal fin and blocking out the shark body

When working It is good to take pictures, not just to have a record of what you have done but also to get a different perspective on your work.  (It’s like holding a painting up to a mirror to help your brain see it more clearly) He is still looking a bit too skinny, he needs a bit of weight training. I am sure I can do something about that.

Yes it rained again. another extra rinse for the fleece. I am still dry under here, so let’s keep having fun!

   20 more rain, shark-boy starts weight training

I started to play around with the transition section and adding a bit more width to the body of the shark parts.

  21-23 transition between Boy and Fish ( i have to make the transition look integrated not like a shark is eating someone feet first)

  24 checking both photos and diagrams

Now to add the Caudal fin, which has a subterminal notch! And yes it rained again.

25 this is a cool tool, it unscrews by turning the nob. be careful not to get one that requires a screwdriver  to undo it from below (it can be painful if you slip)

Pause in the rain, time for a Tomato brake!

   26-28  Haratige, Low acid yellow pair, Sweet i millions

Yes I am still trying to wash and dry fleece so yes it rained again. I guess it needs more rinsing? OK, back to work!

 29-31

Time to add the two Pelvic fins,

  32-33 shape both fins at the same time before adding them

It was still raining but not leaking in the covered dog area which is now my studio, Shark boy is keeping an eye on the weather while I make his fins.

34 will it ever stop with the intermittent rain?

  35 before adding the pelvic fins I need to add the Anal fin, but first checking the location on the diagrams and photos.

    36-37 make 2 so they will be balanced

Adding the pelvic fins between the pectoral and anal fin. As you can see, shark boy did not inherit the vestigial knees found in the rest of the Mer family.

 38-39

Its time to pack up for the day. Tomorrow is the day to restock on Ann’s Tarts and get her impute in how this project is  going.

40 OK more rain.. time to pack up. tomorrow is Butter tart day!! (Saturday)

  41-43 Ann had her New poncho to show me! It looks grate!

The decision on shark boy was to keep working on the intersection between shark and boy. That will be next week but for now its time for butter tarts!!

Where has all the time gone?

Where has all the time gone?

I do not know where time has gone. I remember having time but it seems very elusive at the moment. Most of my time is taken up with preparing things for our farmer’s market. Thursday is cookies and Friday with my husband doing as much as me, are all the fresh baked goods like butter tarts and buttermilk tarts. lemon curd for tarts too and bread. all this is fine but now I am spending the rest of the week making meat pies. Tourtiere and Chicken. selling out as fast as I can make them. Don’t get me wrong, this is all good it just doesn’t leave much time for felting.

To that end, I have only a couple of pictures of my current felt cowl project I was telling you about here: felted cowl part 1

This is making the template. I drew around the finished paper one and then sized it up.

And this is the silk wrapped around it. Is anyone surprised I picked purple?  You can see the line across on the other side. I forgot to take a picture of the other side. I took me forever and many tried to get the silk around it. I was just not wrapping my head around how to do it. Looking at it here I would make the template larger top to bottom and tape it across the middle, around, then around back and across the middle again. I think I was trying to do it like the paper one which has the joined area on the diagonal and the back part strait. This is much easier. I will put in some basting stitches to replace the tape and I can move onto the laying out of fibres. At this rate, it will be a Christmas present to myself.

By the time I got to this point, I was ready to say this will be a one-off experiment because I am not struggling like this for everyone I make. But now seeing it in a picture after several days of throwing evil looks at it on the other table I think it won’t be so hard the second time.

How would you set up for this type of scarf?

 

 

Flax Study Group 2020 –Seed removal PART 2

Flax Study Group 2020 –Seed removal PART 2

When we last left off, we had just started rolling the seed heads Cole had removed with his bladed implement and the rakes when Henry returned from his quest. He had gone off to seek grated screens  so we could sieve out the chaff and sand and leave less wast with the seed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

51-53 the sieving begins, There were a lot of screen options and it took a moment to work out the right order.

 

 

 

54-55 The seed fell further than the chaff, the sand fell further than the seed. It was a brilliant idea!

 

 

56-58 Cole tried the rolling method without the pillowcase and then added the squished bits to the sieves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

59-60 The fine sieve got  rid of a lot of the sand

 

61-67 The sieves removed a lot of chaff and sand! What a brilliant idea!

 

 

 

68 Some of the chaff had tiny stones that would not fit through the sieve.

 

 

 

 

  69 We labeled the bags as sieved and unsaved.

70-71 we had a couple of cow supervisors checking our work. We continued to keep an eye on the cleaners in case they went for the bags with chaff and seeds (with a team effort I am sure they would have carried the bags away!!)

 

72-75 Henry moved the flax back to the wagon, we pulled a few bundles for Bernadette to try field retting.  The rest of the flax will be off to the trough to rett. We made sure to take all the bags of seed and chaff with us. (Those cleaners look vary through)

We called it a day and headed home via a couple more stops.

One was at Ann’s to pick up butter tarts and cookies we had pre ordered and see the bulging box of wool bomb from World of Wool!!

 76 best not to open it we will never get it back in the box.

77 Surprise!! You have lambs!! In August!

 

 

 

78 Turkeys!!(Ann’s lawn ornaments stair at you then all talk at once!)

 

 

79 some of her Boys, look at those lovely colour coats!!!! (i hope they get a trim before there off to where ever boy lambs go so you don’t have august lambs.)

 

A last word on the flax

While I get back to felting, Henry and Cathy Louise will give the flax a spa day, two or three submerged in the trough. I am unsure of the name of this particular spa treatment. It dose not seem to be covered in my hydrotherapy notes from school, since we never submerged patents in hydrotherapy using a layer of cinder-blocks to keep them under. Where would you get therapeutic cinder-blocks?

Have fun and happy felting, i will let you know when the flax has emerged from the “spa” and is ready for some heavy tapotement!

 

The wool arrives , part 2 , the delivery

The wool arrives , part 2 , the delivery

The wool had to be delivered. I didn’t take my things out first because I thought everyone would want to see mine too. We met at Jans as she is in the middle. See its not that much wool. There is room for lots more in my car.

Before we started Judy brought some interesting wool for Jan to use as witch hair. It is  Scottish Mule. It is a cross between a Sottish Black Face and a Bluefaced Leicester.

The first box had my Finish batts

Jans core wool, shetland prefelt and Fawn Corriedale roving. Can you believe it? Jan took so many pictures and non of her own pile. Here’s a shot of the prefelt.

and then unexpectedly my sample packs were at the very bottom.

They are Bambino and Glitzy sample packs. I will keep one of each and sell the rest.

Then it was time for box 2 We got a few things out of the top

But then it was time to up-end it.

It was fun sorting who had what.

I got some wool called tweed it is South American wool and viscose. I got pink and grey I liked the look of it. I think it would make a nice hat. It was compressed down so I opened it to have a better look. Oh look, there is Jans core wool behind.

Isn’t it cool looking?

Then it started to get windy so we had to get the tent down.

And then it was time for me to head home before it decided to start Raining too.

You can see Jan added a trumpet Vine to my box. It is continuing to add roots in a bucket under the apple tree.

That was our adventure in wool buying, I hope you enjoyed it.

 

 

Flax Study Group 2020 –Seed removal Part 1 (from the stocks)

Flax Study Group 2020 –Seed removal Part 1 (from the stocks)

This is the part I missed last year, so was particularly interested in photographing and participating this year.

When we last left off we had had a very hot dry summer, the flax had matured more quickly than anticipated and we harvested early. We considered a second planting but there were a number of health issues in the group this summer so we decided against it. The flax was picked, bundled and stacked along the fence. Once dry, it would be moved inside to await the decapitation. We decided on a date Aug 29th when most of us could attend.

Well, that was the plan, between harvest and getting dry enough to put in the barn there was a distinct change in the weather. All the rain we would have liked earlier arrived now that we had harvested. Thus, the flax took longer to dry than expected and it looks to have started to do a bit of field retting.

1-2 the dried flax

3 3 Aug 29th, 2020 everything is wet but it’s not raining at the moment.

The day arrived for our torture of the Flax and it was overcast and looked like rain. We gathered in the coverall barn while the cows nibbled the stocks of the picked cornfield.

4 4 the cows were only mildly interested at this point

While I waited for the flax to be moved from one barn to the coverall, I admired the corn protection devices. There were a number of beech balls with eyes bobbing away and a cool black kite that went up and down in the breeze. It was fascinating, I think I need one for my garden if it works on chipmunks I might get a few strawberries!!

 

5-6 garden guards

Gord used his pickup to transport the harvest. Even with the stocks being shorter this year, there is a lot of flax! I had nice white new tarps in the car and we spread them out to place the flax on as we slowly worked our way through the pile.

7 7 flax arrival

There was a bucket of seed heads that had fallen off in the other barn which were also collected and brought to the coverall.

88 floor sweepings from storage

We had a number of experiments with seed extraction devices this year.  Last year the pillowcase and rolling pin method was most effective. This year we had that, a fish thwapper and a blank for a baseball bat to crush the seed pods releasing the seeds. We had a funnel to try a different form of winnowing and  Cole had brought a nasty implement with blades. He also re-tried the double rack used also like a hackle that had been suggested but had not been effective last year. This year the rakes were secured together with elastic and Velcro.

The funnel was interesting, it was used to swirl the crushed seed pods and chaff. We expected the seed to fall to the bottom and the chaff to migrate towards the top. While we could see a bit of this happening, we suspected that the seed this year is not as heavy or large as last year’s, so it is not as effective as we had hoped. This may work out very well next year so we will try it again.

9-12 the funnel separator

1313 this years seed are small and light (not just in colour)

The next implement was the fish thwapper.  Its basically like a rolling pin without the handles for hitting fish with. The unsuspecting flax was stuffed headfirst into the pillowcase (a small amount worked better than a large amount). When the flax was well incased in the pillowcase we brought out our weapons of choice, with either the thwapper, bat blank or rolling pins we rolled or beat the now blinded and unsuspecting flax till it was decapitated.

 14-19 rolling and hitting method

All this violence left us with the decapitated stocks, crushed seed heads and a few very tiny light cloured seeds. Most of us were using this method. You can check out Gord’s roller, which is a blank to make a baseball bat!

 20 21 more rolling

2222 Gord was flax-covid-coordinated with his mask matching his pillowcase!

The tarp at the back of the picture has the flax that has not been decapitated yet. The near tarp with the pile closest to the front of the picture is the fibre we had worked on.

2323 making progress

We are still under halfway there but already had a large number of flax stocks, chaff and hopefully some tiny seeds in amongst the chaff.

24 24 Chaff and seed collection

As I said earlier Cole brought a homemade implement to torture the flax with, it had blades set at an angle and he was drawing the flax through. It was working to separate the seed heads but it was taking some of the stock ends with it. It was also vary sharp and a bit scary (even for me).

25-28 blade implement

Next, he tried the two mettle tine racks Velcroed and elasticed together. This had not been effective last year but I had not been there with my handy elastic and Velcro tie downs!

29 29 This method seemed to be less harmful to both the flax and Cole.

30-32 the two rake method

Seedhead removal was very quick compared to the pillowcase method. There was still some stalk damage but not as much as the blades.  if you had to do a full field of flax this would be appealing.

Partway through the morning, I noticed the clean-up crew that Cathy Louise had on call.  One was working the aria under the wheelbarrow and another pair were covering the area where Gord had backed up to unload his pick-up.

 

 33-36 Barn cleaners

We continued working while keeping an eye on the clean-up crew in case they got over-enthusiastic and went for the flax.

37-38 chaff and seed

You can see bits of seeds in with the chaff. There will be a lot of work for the winnowing basket but with the seed so light and small, it too may disappear in the breeze

39 39 We have about 1/3 -ish left to decapitate.

40 40 The finished pile is growing too!

41-44 rolling thwapping and raking continued

4545 We can see a bit of seed

4646 artsy shot

Through the day, we had herd intermittent rain on the roof but this was getting to be waves of heavy downpours. Looking out the cow end of the coverall we could see the rain pelting down.

4747 More Rain!!!

4848 We finally reached the end of the pile!!

All that was left to do was crush the seed heads Cole had been separating. For that, we used the shovel to add the seed head to the pillowcases. Now back to rolling and thumping

4950 49-50

Just as we started the rolling  Henry returned from his quest. I think we should leave that for next week! you will have to wait to see what a brilliant idea he had!

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