Knitting and modeling a shawl

After a big hiatus, my knitting mojo finally woke up, and it was craving complicated stuff, not just the customary stocking stitch pattern.
I’ve a soft spot for lace shawls, particularly those by British pattern creator Boo Knits (find her by searching on Ravelry). Bev also allows knitters to sell finished shawls, as long as they credit her as the pattern author – very useful for a fibre business owner like myself.

I set out to knit a shawl named Out of Darkness. The lace pattern is beautiful, yet simple enough to not drive me mad (as long as I pay very close attention to the instructions and count my stitches frequently).

Lace looks very underwhelming when you’re knitting it. The stitches don’t look defined or “pop,” it’s as if you’ve gone through a lot of trouble for not much.


Once you block it, however, the magic happens.


Isn’t the transformation amazing? The pointy bits look on point (pun intended), the beads suddenly make sense and this is now a thing of beauty, luxurious even.

This was intended as the show stopper in my new online shop, so I went out of my way to create decent photos.


Finally, I also gathered up courage to take some “lifestyle photos,” as they say. I even managed a straight face…


You know how that classical novel ends with, “reader, I married him?” Well, my story ends with, “reader, I ended up selling this beauty before I finished setting up my shop!” Ah, well.

So here it is, my adventures in lace knitting. What have you created with your hands lately?

Posted in Beading, Guest Writer, Inspiration, Knitting, natural wools | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Inflicting Fibre Arts on Unsuspecting Relatives; Part 2 the Photos.

Inflicting Fibre Arts on Unsuspecting Relatives; Part 2 the Photos.  

Continued  from:


We had a busy enjoyable visit with Glenn’s Parents, his brother Grant, Grants’ Wife Marg and one of their daughters, Jennifer. I had brought fibre arts with me to continue their indoctrination to Fibre Arts! I lured them in with Wellington fibre on the spinning wheel and colourful top spun on the DIY Turkish drop spindles. Then furthered the temptation by showing Jennifer (who would show her sister Fiona) the addiction that is portable Kumihimo on a Card stalk disk!


The final fibre arts supplies I had brought with me were for picture felting. We were going to check out the back yard and gardens to make a 5×7 sized piece to commemorate our visiting. Unfortunately we had too much fun visiting including with Bob and his wife Judy (Bob is another one of Glenn’s many brothers). I didn’t realize we were going to run out of time but I did the inspirational photography for the felt pictures.


When we realize our time was up Jennifer and I had a chat reviewing;

  1. Blocking out the composition with permanent markers.
  2. How to lay down layers of colours in thin layers like a water colour painting.
  3. How to mix colours exact to the photo reference like acrylic painting.
  4. (And to keep your fingers away from the pointy end)


She had just enough room in her suitcase for 2 pieces of felt and a selection of needles. The rest of her suit cases space was stuffed with Canadian Delicacies such as Ketchup potato chips and exotic chocolate bars not available in the USA. (Poor Americans don’t have Butter tarts, salt and vinegar chips, or real sweet tarts!!! As soon as the rest of the Americans realized their loss they will all immigrate to Canada! Just don’t mention the amount of snow we also have.)


I know my felting friends missed out on all the grate chatting and visiting but maybe you would be interested in some inspirational shots from my Mother in law’s garden. This year it was particularly impressive. We even had a parade of wild life some of which I am sorry that I missed (the extra-large raccoon and the extra cute rabbit). I hope you enjoy them as much as we did while we were there.  Some small part of one of the shots I hope will inspire you in your wet, dry or even damp (well what else could we call wet and dry felting used together?)  felting of the future.

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The Plants of My Mother-in-Lawes Gardern 2019


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Some of the Wild Life in Mary’s Garden

I think it would be a good addition to your fiber arts tool kit to include a note/sketch book to capture ideas before you get distracted by the next great idea and an easily portable digital camera with the most megapixels you can afford. Going for high megapixels allows you to zoom in after you have taken the shot. Using the camera to frame and capture the world around you can make you see your surroundings in a different way.  A back yard that has become “just the backyard” can be transformed by the camera and some interesting lighting into a Garden, an adventure or serious inspiration for your future artistic works.

I want to chat more about photos as reference and inspiration in the near future but I hope these will send you off to grab your camera and explore your surroundings.

Posted in Inspiration, Sketch Book, Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

Bits and Bobs.

I got my dryer balls and my soap done and it is now up at the museum store. the dryer balls have information on how to use them on the back and the tag explains them as well.

A few weeks ago a friend at the guild was selling off left over yarn he bought to do a project that was now finished. I bought these. They are all singles form Brigs and Little. Some are solid and some are heathered.

I decided to use the yellow to make the design on a dark purple hat. I had to partially felt the hat before wrapping the yarn around it. it would have been to difficult to do it sooner.

I am quite happy with how it turned out. the sides dip a bit but I think it looks ok anyway.

Posted in Design, Felted Hats, resists, Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Sampling Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Recently, I got an order from Sulky for more machine threads and a product that I have wanted to test out for a while.

It’s called Sticky Fabri-Solvy. I have used the Fabri-Solvy for machine lace and liked it. But this one has a sticky surface, so you can press it down on a piece of fabric or felt and it sticks. Or you can stick smaller bits of fabric or felt down to it and then stitch. You can also run it through the printer to print a design on it and then use the printed design for your stitching guidelines. I haven’t tried that yet but I’m planning on testing that out as well to see how that works.

Here is a piece of the Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It has a backing paper which you pull off to reveal the sticky surface. I did a small square about 6″ x 6″ for my sample. I cut two pieces the same size.

I then cut up some old printed felt in small bits and place it over the surface. The felt sticks down and holds fairly well.

I kept adding felt in a variety of colors filling up the blank spaces. You could certainly leave blank spaces if you wanted the result to be more open and lacey.

Once I had all the felt laid out, I then put the other piece of Sticky Fabri-Solvy on top with the sticky side down. I should have left a bit more room around the edges but it ended up working out OK although the edge pieces tended to bulge out and want to jump off before being stitched.

I then used four of my new thread colors to free motion machine stitch over the sandwich. I didn’t use a hoop and it seemed to work just fine. You have to be careful that the edges don’t get sucked down into your machine though. I used a meandering stitch to give an organic feel. I didn’t want any straight lines.

And here is is with all of the stitching done. You need to catch all of the pieces of felt with your stitching to prevent the pieces from falling apart once you dissolve the water soluble fabric.

Then you just stick the whole thing in some warm water, let it soak for a bit and the Sticky Fabri-Solvy dissolves and disappears. If you don’t wash it all out, you can use it to help hold the shape in different positions. It acts like a stiffener. I washed mine mostly all away so there is no residual stiffness. I plan on trying this technique with some sheer fabric pieces too.

Have you tried a new product lately? We’d love to hear your results. Show us over on the forum. 


Posted in Experiments, Free Motion Stitching, Stitching | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

My Grandma’s Lace

Hi all of you amazing felting and fiber Creatives! My name is Tesi Vaara and I do not work with felt but I really enjoy following this blog and seeing your work and your processes! Ruth Lane asked me to blog about some recent machine lace work I have done, so here goes! I met Ruth in Feb 2017 when we both began a journey with Gail Harker in LaConner, WA. USA. We spent two plus years taking Gail’s Level 3 Art and Design course together. I really admire Ruth’s art work and her journey to express herself through her work.

My maternal grandmother was always working on some type of project. She was a weaver who also did pillow lace and tatting and other fiber work. She had her own “tribe” back in her day that would get together every week. The women in her group were an important part of her life. They were a pretty tight group. When I was young, I would take her hankies that had tatting around the edges around to all our neighbors and sell them for next to nothing.

I recently took a Machine Stitch class from Gail Harker. One of the techniques we learned was to make lace using our sewing machines on wash away stabilizer. I was playing with some designs in my sketchbook and remembered that I had a box of my grandma’s lace pieces stored away. I’d never really studied her work before. I had watched her create her work, but she never taught me how to do any of it. I’m not sure that she had the patience for teaching a young child to do such fine work.

It was interesting to study her patterns and figure out if I could mimic them on my sewing machine. I felt a deep connection to her as I studied her work. I have a greater appreciation of her skills now. I don’t know if her patterns were her own design or if she followed someone else’s design.

This first piece is part of a table runner. Back then the threads she used all seemed to be white or off white.

The second photo is my interpretation of her work.

Her second piece is also from a table runner. This is some of her pillow lace work. My grandfather made many of the tools and devices my grandmother used for her work. Lucky her to be married to such an ingenious man! He made several different size pillows that she worked her lace on and I think he even made some of her bobbins. They had beads and trinkets hanging off them. I can still hear them clinking together as she worked. I have fond memories of watching her work on her pillow lace. I had strict orders to never touch anything but sometimes I just had to fondle her bobbins when she wasn’t looking and take a closer look!

The following is my version of her pillow lace work. My first passion is creating art quilts and I had envisioned placing this piece on a fabric background and adding machine stitch in the open areas to mimic the woven look of her piece.

Then the vision of this piece becoming part of a garden gate popped into my head. I had to quickly sketch that idea out for future use. I can make lace flowers, lace leaves, lace stems, lace pebbles!! My very own rabbit hole…

I’m pretty sure my love of lace came from my grandmother. I had designed and crocheted a shawl for an assignment in my Creative Clothing class to create a statement piece to be worn around your neck. A few months after I made the shawl I came across the box filled with my grandma’s work and found a pink shawl wrapped in tissue paper. It was pretty delicate after all these years but I was so amazed at how similar the two were! In 2018 I participated in an exhibit at the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum called “Making It My Own”. It was a great honor to be able to exhibit my work next to hers at the museum.

Create passionately and without fear!

Thanks for letting me share. Tesi Vaara

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Update needed on my Name tag Part 2 (a 3-part process).

Part 2 the Lanyard

For this falls’ guild sale and exhibition hands-on area, one of my suggestions was a cardstock marudai. Since then I have been sampling colours, and varying thicknesses of cotton yarn.

9-2.jpgPrototype marudai with garden Rabbit holder.

I started with the “embroidery” cotton from the local Dollerama. Since you can’t pull it apart it’s not really embroidery thread but it is cotton! The cotton comes in packs of dark solid colours, pastels and variegated colours. I have a fondness for blue so I pulled those colours for my lanyard. I had a mid-tone and light blue as well as variegated.

10“100% Cotton, each skein is 7.3m/23.9ft.”

The marudai should be printed out on a heavy cardstock. I made a template in publisher then saved it in PDF and Jpeg.


the 4 version of the English edition

You will also require;

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

Good options are

  • tiny elastics and a
  • mid-side Bulldog clip


Tiny hair elastics and Bull dog clips were available at the Dollar Tree and Dollarama


With help from the guild I made a French side. Originally it was to be on opposite sides from the English one but my printer would not pull the paper in consistently so I was getting miss-registration I couldn’t correct, So it looks like there will be French and English versions separately. (Sorry!!)


Set up:

Depending on how you set up the colours and position them you will get different patterns. (I have not yet tried all the variables) gather all the 7 strands together and Tie a knot (leave extra length after the knot if you want to have a fringe). Ether 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, space your strands into the 7 other slots. Wind your strands up so they’re 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. I’m sure you have heard how complicated weaving can be! without trepidation keep reading!

Step 1) From the empty slot count clockwise 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.

So that wasn’t too bad for instructions. Even if you have the type of dyslexia that gets left and right confused and thinking clock wise and anticlockwise dose not help, it will still work as long as you keep going the same direction for the length of the band. I look forward to seeing what you do with your cordage. Trim for hats or ties to keep the hats on, lanyards for scissor cases?

Some of the patterns I have tried so far;

I tried 1 colour /6 of another colour


I tried 2 of one colour / 5 of a second colour


I tried 3 of one colour / 4 of a second colour

I tried 1 colour / 2 of one colour / 4 of a second colour

I also tried a pattern called Fenestrations (it’s a fancy way to say windows) but I did it backwards (it’s probably the dyslexia) Fenestration requires multiple threads or using a thread of a larger diameter for most of the yarn and the last one being significantly smaller (3 or 4 threads to 1 worked well for me with the embroidery cotton) It is supposed to look like windows if it’s done right. Mine was inverted so the window stuck out instead of in!


You can see how the dark blue is multi strand (3 or 4 strands) while the light blue is only one strand.

One of the weavers (Janet Whittam) brought in a bag of scraps and thrums (the leftovers from a woven warp which are lengths or bits or yarn) thrums can be cut up and carded into fiber to make interesting pops of colour. Or you can do as I did and take a long time untangling the mess it had become and use them for further experimentation with the cardstock moridis. (I’m sorry I didn’t take a before sorting picture it really was a mess)

24 the mostly untangled thrums

I have 5 colour samples on the go plus a few others I have been puttering on in various baskets around the house. I have found they are easy to keep in an extra-large Sandwich Ziploc bag so you can easily bring them with you. I don’t find I get as many people asking what I am doing they may be miss identifying what I’m up to as corking instead of Japanese braiding.


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. So interruptions won’t destroy your progress! i have defiantly found the equivalent to a drop spindle for weaving!

Cordage can be used as pull tabs for zippers, fobs for key rings, trim on garments or accessories, and ties and laces. It is highly portable. ( I keep mine in individual extra-large sandwich Ziploc bags. I used it last night chatting with Glenn at Al’s Diner before dinner arrived. ) they are also extremely cheap to make so you can have more than one! (OK i do have a lot more than one spinning wheel or one loom and a lot more than one felting project on the go!)


Check back, Part 3 will be the needle felting of the picture and the name. Now what will I do? I suppose I should stick with Jan since I can mostly spell that correctly!

Posted in Uncategorized, Weaving | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Todays task is dryer balls

I got a call form one of my outlets that they are out of felted soap and dryer balls so todays job is dryer balls.

First I make middles out of old or failed felt experiments. They might as well help make some money.

Next is wrapping them in some wool and popping them into the cut off leg of some pantyhose.

I do 3 white and one with coloured stripes per set.

The coloured ball doesn’t nothing different but looks more attractive when they are bagged for sale.

Next is a trip through the washer and dryer.

When they come out you have to peal them out of the nylons.

Once they are all peeled its back into the nylons to go through the washer and dryer again to get rid of the fuzzies.

I will bag them and put a simple topper on them. Sorry no picture as I haven’t got that far yet.

Next is the soap. I get really clean hands.


Posted in natural wools, Repurpose, Tutorials, Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , | 16 Comments