Wheels on Fire Spin-In 2019

Winters can be long and cold here,  with the cool to really cold months greatly out numbering the warm to hot ones. To counter the general feeling of bone-chillingly cold and break the misery that winter brings the City of Ottawa organizes Winterlude to embrace winter sports and activities (which doesn’t include spinning, weaving or felting outside – luckily). But the weather often has its own plans for Winterlude, usually being brutally cold or unseasonably mild which closes the canal for skating and melts the snow sculptures.

denice crop


bernadette crop


Denise Knebel and Bernadette Quade, two of our local guild members came to the conclusion we needed a post-Christmas spinning break from winter as a way to bring together spinners from both sides of the Quebec and Ontario border.  In 2018 they put together the first Wheels on Fire.  They found a really beautiful location in Gatineau just across the Ottawa river at a converted  horse farm barn,  “la Ferme Moore”. (No really look at the pictures it was a stunning venue!)  they had lined up a few local venders  from both sides of the river so there were shopping opportunities and they even had Door Prizes!!!!  So from 10am to 4pm we blissfully enjoyed  the beautiful scenery, while shopping, chatting, spinning, sock knitting, and ceinture fléchée.


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2018 Wheels on Fire spin in at la Ferme Moore

Unfortunately the group running the facility folded later that year and we were not able to book the location again.

The event had proved  very popular so they began the search for another venue for 2019. They did not disappoint!  They found another spectacular log structure called the “Cabane” and described it as;

“The Cabane is a massive round-log construction that backs onto the Gatineau Park. Our room has lots of natural light and views of the park from nearly all the windows”.

The site had even better access for the mobility challenged with long ramps inside installeded along one side of the building.  There was the large room we occupied and 2 other rentable rooms available for future expansion (one had a spectacular fire place in it). They scheduled the event for Saturday, January 19, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Shots of venue and park

Ann McIlroy and I both consulted Google maps to get driving instruction and suggested driving times. Google maps lied to one of us. It told Ann it would take her 41 minutes from her home well south of Ottawa and told me I would take 40 minutes from the west end of Ottawa close to the high way. We stopped, picked up breakfast, toasted bagles with butter and cream cheese, resumed our trip heading across the river and into Quebec. We followed googles instructions up and across the snowy beauty of Gatineau park. There was a particularly nice view crossing the river with mist and blowing snow and another view looking up the valley along one side of the park. Unfortunately there was not a good spot to stop and take pictures at either location. I have been known to drive like a plane at as very low altitude ( but I wasn’t that day) and still got there as the venders were setting up.  I think Glenn-porter-of-stuff and I were the first participants there and payed our $5.00, getting our door prize tickets. I picked a spot by a window and snagged a second chair to work on. Another lady put a small folding wooden table next to us and I expected to see one of the electric spinning wheels emerge. Instead were the cutest little needle felted sculptures. We had a felting corner at the spin in!!!!

I got Glenn settled in with his book in the corner and I wondered off to do photos of each of the venders and gets some crowd and venue shots.  The venders this year were;  Elizabeth Watt, Joanne Howard, Isabelle Perdigal, Bernadette Quade, Lee Scott, Wendy Wellbond, Erin Krekowski,  Judy Kavanagh, Céline Paquette, Christine Gagné, and Luc and Nathalie and Céline Cléroux.



venders tables

When I returned I found Glenn had all the pieces I was working on out of my basket  and was showing them to the other spin in participants.  I hear my fox was well photographed.  I better get around to finishing his whiskers’ upgrade soon so he will be ready for his photo session.


shots of more participants

Bernadette had asked a local spinner to give a talk on spinning with local bast fibers, such as the stock of milkweed and the invasive dog strangling vine. Both make a spectacular fiber similar to nettle or linen. The colour variations available from different soil, mould and weather conditions were extremely intriguing. We are hoping to get Cole to submit an article for Ply magazine talking about his practical spinning experience and the equipment he is using to spin.


shots from Cole’s talk

And there were again Fabulous Door Prizes!!!  I didn’t get shots of all of the winners but all looked like they were very pleased with their winnings. Ann who was sitting on the other side of me won a batt of mixed fiber and traded it with the vender for a feltable one. The Canadian Co-Operative Wool Growers in Carlton Place generously made a donation of a fleece to the door prizes. I will someday tell you all about this wonderful resource we have close to us but the highlights are that it was established in 1918 to collect, grade  and sell members’ wool on a co-operative basis.  It grades approximately 3 million pounds of raw wool a year and sells at the best price available. Much of its sales are going to China.


 door prizes and one of the winners

After door prizes had been dispersed  it was back to the socializing, spinning, felting, ceinture fléchée and of course more shopping.


More shots of the participants

4pm pack up came much too soon and there was defiantly enthusiasm for another Wheels on Fire for 2020! Much thanks to Bernadette and Denise for all their hard work finding and arranging for this really nice venue.  It is great to have something to look forward to in the extreme cold of January! Next break will be at the Chesterville Spin-in in February. I will hope to see all of you in Chesterville in February (weather permitting) and book ahead for a visit to Ottawa for next January and join us for Wheels on Fire Spin-in 2020.

(No wheels were actually burned or threaten in any way at the spin in!)  But one somnolent blacksmith / Fiber and equipment porter was spotted. Glenn has been seen napping at most of the local fiber events.  Watch for him at an event near you but poke him if he is snoring.

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Machine Stitching Japanese Edo Period UFO

I am still busy using stuff up and trying to do something with all the UFO’s (unfinished objects) lying around the studio. This piece was started in September 2017 for one of the Quarterly Challenges. You can see the post here on how I created the piece thus far.  Until I reread my post, I had forgotten what a pain this was when I was making it. I’m sure that’s why it got put away and left for dead.

Here’s the piece before I did anything too it. It’s OK, but I thought it might be improved with some free motion machine stitching. I worked on it in the mornings before work for 10-15 minutes at a time. I have the machine all set up and ready to go so I can sit down and start working for short time periods.

I decided to fill the inside shapes with dense stitching. I used a light lavender thread in Sulky 30 weight cotton. I wanted to have a contrast between the dark design and the thread but still be able to see the color of the silk underneath.

I completed all the stitching inside the design and it really helped the design to pop out from the felt. Then I added a couple of circles around the design. I used a bowl to mark around with a dressmakers pencil so I had a line to follow. The pencil just wiped away after stitching.

Then I cut the circle out around the outside stitched line. I even like the back side too.

Now I have to decide how to finish it and hang it. I have a 12″ x 12″ canvas that I could cover with fabric or paint and then attach the circle. The photo above shows a possible fabric choice. I only have a small piece of it so I would have to dye more. Perhaps slightly darker than this background? If I painted it, I considered making a partial stencil to decorate the corners of the square with a similar design. I guess I could try that and if it didn’t work, I could always cover it up with fabric. What do you think? How would you finish it? Hubby suggested using it as a hot mat but the silk on top wouldn’t hold up very well. Plus I have absolutely no pink in my house so it doesn’t exactly go with anything.

Updating my post to remind everyone that Terri Berry’s online concertina hat making class registration opens on February 7th. Go here for more information.

Posted in Finishing/Framing, free motion embroidery, Nuno Felting, Surface Design | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Dyeing some yarn

A year ago a friend who also owns a small fibre business asked me to dye her some Autumn-inspired rainbow yarn for her to knit with for her own client. I was happy to oblige, and very pleased with the end results. This is the picture of the leg warmers she made. Her name is The Crimson Rabbit on Ravelry and here is her profile.



Now, repeating a colourway when you have no written data on how you accomplished it the first time can be a bit tricky, but not impossible. If you’re used to the same dyes you sort of develop an eye to recognise them, and this is more or less what happened in this instance.

You can see the yarn starts out a very light yellow and progresses to a slightly more orange-toned one. I mixed some dyes up, eyeballing the colours and dipping a corner of kitchen roll tissue in the liquid to determine when I was happy with the mixture. I did the same for each colour. I was lucky I recognised the yellow-brown dye at the end or I’d be in a lot of trouble to reproduce that particular one.


This is what the skeins look after they’d been steam-set and dry. I think it looks quite similar from the original one, don’t you? Winding these two skeins back to functioning yarn took me (I kid you not) around two hours. I had divided and tied up each section previously by weight, and boy it’s a lot more work to put it all back together…

Now, since I know my post is a little late (sorry about that) and a bit on the thin side, allow me to share a couple of images of the park near me when the cold arrived. Our friends over in North America will no doubt think this type of cold is cute, but I sure felt it in my bones…



Finally, another exciting commission: a raven! I was asked to make this and it had to specifically be a raven, not a crow. Not sure exactly how to tell the difference between the two, I did some internet research and, a few documentaries and image searches later, I think I’m a bona fide corvid geek now…


What exciting stuff have you been up to in the fibre world? Share away, I’d love to hear it.


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Vessels Update

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the coiled vessels we were making at the well-being centre, and last week I posted about the textured felt vessel I’d started. I finished them both on Monday so can give an update. This is one of the sides of the coiled vessel:

You can see from the gap in the pencil roving where the edge of the circular resist was. There’s a similar gap on the other side:

Fulling the pot caused migration/fuzziness. It’s dulled the silk threads quite a bit, so I’ll probably shave it when it’s fully dry.

This isn’t the best photo, but I held the vessel up to a lightbulb:

The Textured felt vessel still isn’t dry. It’s so thick I think it’ll take a few more days yet. Here’s a photo of it with the balloon still in it:

I couldn’t get really good photos of it, it was too bright near the window and the back was in lots of shadow, but here it is without the balloon:

Here’s the bottom:

Here are a couple of photos of the side of it.

Fulling the vessel meant that some of the looser locks felted in more, there was also more fuzziness/migration like on the coiled vessel:

I put this vessel around the lightbulb too, I like how this one looks.

If it looks any different once it’s fully dry, I’ll post an update.

Posted in Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Silk Yarn Dying

This week I decided to do some yarn dyeing. I bought some ends of cones someone brought in to the guild. They are perfect for me as I don’t need large amounts of any yarn.

I couldn’t find my niddy noddy so I just wrapped the silk around a plastic box of curls. This is the largest cone I got. There was only one so I guess that’s why no on else wanted it. It is quite fine and it is a single yarn. I liked it because has little nubby bits. The other cones I got were almost empty.


I did 3 kinds of silk or at least I hoping the other two were silk. More on that farther down.

You can see  the other tow yarns in this close up; there is one with slubs and one that is super shiny and has little loops.

I planned to use MX or fiber reactive dye for these. I wanted to do them with more than one colour so I soaked them in a soda ash bath. I was surprised at how dirty they were.

Next I made up small amounts of dye and dipped the yarn into them.

I made sure they were wall soaked in the dye then squeezing the excess out with a gloved hand. Then they are places on some plastic wrap them up.

They need to sit a couple of hours before rinsing. Two of the ones with purple on them took a lot more rinsing, one of the silk noil and one of the shiny ones.  Not sure why.

This is the silk noil. The grey areas were turquoise. I am assuming it is grey because of the original colour of the yarn. You can also see it got some twist energy back and has little twists now. this is the one from the first picture. The other two were very white.

This is the one with the slubs. I was not sure this was all silk. I think that one of the ply’s is not silk. It must be a cellulose fiber but it did not take the dye quite the same. The fluffy slubs are definitely paler.

This is the last one.  I really like the lavender that happened because I forgot to wipe the purple off my gloves before squeezing the excess dye out the  turquoise part.

Last night with the help of guild friends I put them all into center pull balls.

All in all a very satisfying dye session. I am sure they will look very nice on some felt. I may use some of the silk noil to ply with something else. I am not sure  I will have to see.


Posted in Design, Dyeing, Silk, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

New Hand Stitch Project

I have been trying to “use stuff up” instead of creating new backgrounds or more felt. I have a bunch of pieces of fabric and felt that need to be used for something. So I am working on doing that this year. I decided that I wanted to have a hand stitch project going all the time so that I have that to work on when I have a moment or two. One of the pieces of fabric that has been hanging around is a deconstructed screen printed fabric that Louise created. We had decided to use grey dye when screening. That was a mistake! It was pretty ugly. Louise gifted me the fabric and it’s been sitting in my studio for months. So it is the new background for my hand stitch project. I added another piece of fabric behind as it was lightweight cotton.

I forgot to take a photo of the fabric before it was painted. It looked like trees to me (everything looks like trees to me) so I painted in the white areas with watercolors. This is what I had at the moment when I was painting. I might have chosen a different medium but it worked fine. And it will mainly get covered. The fabric looks better already!

Next I started adding feather stitch with a multi colored pearl cotton that I dyed myself ages ago, another good “use stuff up” option. You can enlarge the photo to see the stitching better.

I was originally thinking they would be fall trees but I have decided on a variety of green. I have started to add dark green on the right hand side. I am planning on piling all the stitching on top of each other so it will be a while before I finish this project. All of the trees will be multiple layers of feather stitch. It’s good to have something I can pick up easily and do a few minutes of stitching to get in my daily dose of fiber. Do you have a hand stitch project ready to go? It’s a great way to do a little fiber art on the go. I just put everything in a plastic bag with my needles and a pair of embroidery scissors and I’m ready to go.

Posted in Stitching, Surface Design | 17 Comments

Workshop Dreaming…….

I have been felting since August 2016, which seems a long time ago, but then doesn’t at all when I say ‘I have been felting for two and a half years’.

I became addicted to wool after attending my very first workshop.  There were just the four of us plus the tutor and we all piled into her small but perfectly formed studio.  There was colour everywhere, it was wonderful.  She had huge plastic boxes full of all kinds of wools.  My absolute favourite was the wools hanging from a broom shank on the wall, cascading down like a beautiful vibrant waterfall, her colour palette.  It was a fabulous day, fun, creative and calming.  It pretty much took off  like a rocket from there!

I began to crave the idea of running my own workshop a while ago.  I had attended another felting workshop or two in the meantime, and I began to see the parts I enjoyed and the parts I didn’t.  This spurred me on to want to give the kind of workshop I would want to go on.

I knew it wouldn’t land in my lap so I decided to get off my backside and make it happen.  I wasn’t on FB at that point, I had evaded it as the internet ate too much of my time already, so advertising was going to have to be done.  I did it the old fashioned way and put my own flyer together, and walked around the towns asking kind shopkeepers if I could display them.  At least this way I was attracting local people.   I had already sourced a wonderful venue.  The queries started coming in, I was thrilled! In the beginning I even tried to fit in with everyone regarding a date! I am accommodating if nothing else!

Whilst I was doing this a newly opened tea room approached me and asked if I would host a workshop at their place, which I did of course.  This was my first one and I only had three ladies which was perfect on two levels, the tea room was small, and I had never taught before, and I had never even spoke to an audience before!!!! So this was a perfect introduction for me, albeit nerve wracking at first!

The tea room workshop went like a dream, and I have since done three more workshops at a different venue to the tea room, one only a week ago, and I am fully booked for February and March.  The last workshop we seemed to laugh the whole day and the creativity was superb, it was fabulous, I so love doing them.  I meet some lovely ladies, some of whom I now class as friends.  The nerves have gone.  I also have three ladies coming back for another class, so I must be doing something right!!

Anyway enough with the chat, I will now add all my photos of the four workshops for you to look at, as I know how we all like photos!  Here is my FB link too.


Oh and one day, I will have that cascading waterfall of colour on my studio wall!


























I hope you have enjoyed seeing what I have been up to lately, and maybe it will spur you on to attend a workshop too.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments