The Eyes Have It!

The Eyes Have It!


This is Koko. We rescued each other years ago. She was my buddy for about 7 years. She was almost 16 when I had to put her down. I was so sad for a long time. She’s been gone about a year now and I still miss her every day. I use her photo quite a bit in my art work. I loved her eyes and ears and her companionship! She was pretty young in this photo and did not like to have her picture taken!

I made this small quilt of Koko back in 2015. It definitely didn’t do any justice to her beautiful expressive eyes in this quilt and I’ve always wanted to repair that. I just didn’t have any experience in facial features so I kept putting it off.  I want to change the value of her fur, too.

This winter I decided I needed to take some drawing classes so I could someday fix the eyes in this piece. The internet has so many wonderful classes available. I joined up with Matt who teaches via The Virtual Instructor. and took his class, Portrait Drawing the Smart Way. Wow! Did I learn a lot! The course was very interesting as we just used a graphite pencil and white charcoal pencil on grey toned paper. I learned a lot about value and shading and I also learned that smoother paper works much better when using graphite pencils. I still have much to learn!

Here are some of my attempts at facial features…definitely need more practice!

I am also learning from an internet site called Willowing Arts with Tamara Laporte. I joined her Life Book 2020 course. I was really attracted to how Tamara paints eyes on her lovely whimsical drawings.

This is my eye work from some of her lessons.

Another instructor on Life Book 2020 was Effy Wild. I did her lesson using Koko’s face.

This was a collage I made of Koko while I was taking Gail Harker’s Level 3 Art and Design course. Easy eyes for this one!

So I think I’m about ready to try my hand at repairing her eyes on the small quilt I made of her so many years ago. I may try fabric eyes or I may try painting onto fabric which I would then fuse onto the quilt. If I get it done by my next blog, I’ll post it for you to see.

I don’t know about all of you, but I am very grateful to be able to lose myself in creativity during these crazy times we are living through right now.

Stay safe!

Tesi Vaara

The Great Needle Quest!

The Great Needle Quest!

Staying at home but shopping afar; International acquisitions.

One of the items I had wanted to pick up at the Peterborough fibre festival in the beginning of March were more needles. I was running low after the felted landscape workshop and I have three sheep workshops after we all get back together (hopefully without getting sick!). I had been online looking at needle options.

So I must stay at home and shop from afar.  Not quite as much fun as shopping in person.

I first looked at Amazon since I had had luck there before and noticed their needle prices were rising drastically but found one seller who described their needles as 3 sizes (20 of each) with a tube to hold them and a single needle handle. 3 unspecified gauges but obviously from the photos they were triangular needles. Well the price was not too bad so it was worth a try. The other one I ordered was a double pack of needles; 7 spirals and 7 stars. It too had gone up in price but I found the cheapest option and ordered them as well.


The 60 needles and holder arrived within a couple weeks.  However, they were not quite what I was expecting. I seem to have 3 different shaft lengths of the same gauge of triangular needle. Not quite what I was hoping for but still useable.


The second purchase arrived a bit slower but was exactly the same as the cheaper ones I had bought before. There is a pack of 7 spirals and 7 stars.  Both seem to be around gauge 40. Since I actually felt more by feel with the needles (the resistance as the needle enters the wool).  The gauge isn’t as important when I am working but it is helpful to know when I am shopping.

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Ann had pointed out a source out of China that, even with shipping, was not horribly painful. It wasn’t quite as helpful that it kept shifting from Canadian dollars to US dollars so it wasn’t a sudden price increase but a poor exchange rate that I was looking at.


From the research I had previously done on industrial needles I had read snide comments about the quality of the needles from India by some of the Chinese industrial felting companies and similar comments from some of the Indian industrial felting companies about the needles from China. Since I still am waiting for a response from the German company I can’t buy from them. While digging through one of the German companies web sites I spotted a note about new “coating” for their needles.  It was to reduce breakage in the industrial machines and I am curious to see if they would have better flexibility for hand needle felters too. I would have expected experimentation in tempering but some mysterious coating sound intriguing but that will be a later needle quest if I can ever get a price list and shipping info from Groz-Beckert.


When Ann mentioned she wanted to buy Crown needles out of China this gave me the opportunity to try to acquire larger quantities of the standard needles.  I wanted a length that could go into the fake clover tool needle holders I had found. Therefore, 3 inch would be preferred. Ann wanted needles but not quite as many as I was wanting so we decided to get some together.  I would order and she would get some of what I purchased.  Shopping! It’s always fun, but more fun with friend’s!!!


She had been searching online as well and was really wanting to try out crown needles (gauge 40).  Crowns have less barbs but they are all very close to the tip. They are useful to hand needle felters as well as the industrial felters. Their working depth (the amount you have to push the needle into the fibre to engage the barbs and move the fibre) is very short. This means you don’t have to attack the felting violently, thrusting your needle into its bloodless carcass… sorry, got distracted for a moment.  Maybe I’m hungry. Shallower depth of penetration has the hope of reducing strain on the joints and muscle attachment sites. Especially the medial and lateral epicondyles which should reduce irritation from epicondylitis. Secondly, at this gauge there will be less surface distortion (pockmarks like an orange skin). Looking today there are more sizes available in the crown format; 40G, 42G, 43G, 46G. The manufacturer is a Chinese company and describes the Crown felting needle as “for mohair”.


The second set of needles I ordered were just regular triangles. “400pcs/lot, 36G M333 triangular felting needles, 15*18*36*3 M333, coarse felting needle, merino wool fibre roving needle, 36 gauge”. These are good workhorse needles, great for getting core wool into shape quickly or aggressively moving fibre.


The shipping was a bit painful but overall the price was not too bad. I went with the Chinese manufacturer since I could not get a reply about prices from the Groz-brecket out of Germany. The shipping was to be through DHL. I also put in an order for more needle holders, a different type of needle holder, a drive band for my treadle sewing machine, a new awl and a veggie slicing holder (it looked like it had potential not for the veggies but for keeping needles and fingers well separated when working). Other than the two types of needles they were all coming form different sellers.  Most were postal except for the mysterious three letter delivery company who were shipping the needles.



So I was unsure what was arriving when I received an all too unhelpful sticky note Thursday afternoon from UPS on the outside of my screen door left in the rain. I have been good and stayed at home so I was actually about 8 feet from the door, there was no knocking that I heard (I was not listening to Rammstein either). It very helpfully told me to go on line and pay cod charges. They had a very helpful non-human assistant who tried to answer questions but wasn’t able to tell what I was asking. My spelling isn’t that bad is it? oh and UPS says it has sent all its phone operators away due to the virus (which is good for the employees) and hangs up on me. Not helpful at all. I finally did figure out the pay online thing and went back to the tracking part of the site to see when my package would arrive.     Ah, now it’s on hold.    May be I should not have paid online and it would have arrived? I waited all day Friday checking the status…. Hold… No it’s still on hold, yep still on hold, hummm. I wonder where it is being held? (Kanata?)  It didn’t arrive over the weekend and I started watching again Monday. At least Monday I could play Runescapes’ new skill, archeology, while I waited as it continued to say Hold.  Strangely, it was there by the time Glenn got home from work. (His superior parcel skills, being a postal employee, likely helped). I went back and checked yet again on the tracking and yes it said it was delivered. Still with no knock on the door.



So now the great mystery of which parcel was this? Ah, I bet it’s the one with the needles from the DHL shipping company. Unfortunately there had been a spelling error by the time it reached me and was delivered by UPS.


(Annoyed rant you can skip this part and just go on to the next bit) I have avoided UPS after having them charge duty on second hand books which did not actually require duty. This happened on a number of undutyable items so I have avoided the greedy company since. Yes yet again did they charge extra for doing the job they had already been paid to accomplish. I don’t mind paying the 8.08 GST but I object to an extra $10.00. because their letters are now spelt UPS. I would still like to get a box of either star or twisted 38’s. I will see it they have a slower non-3 lettered delivery service. Maybe a 4 letter one like Mail? (end of rant: you can resume reading normally now)


So let’s see what has arrived in the mysterious black plastic package! It’s heavy and doesn’t rattle. It’s too small for the needle holders, too big for the drive band, too heavy for anything but the 2 boxes of needles!! (I know, I palpate packages and am no fun at Christmas!)

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Opening it…..  there is another plastic protective layer! Well done! the suspense is going to kill me!! (but I have cleaning wipes so that won’t be a literal statement)

1819 18-19

Off with the next layer!!! Yes there are plastic boxes with, oh no, more (blue) tape. I could have been worse and been red tape.

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Ok tape, be gone! And I figured out the tab on the end, got it open and… oh wrapped in paper, that’s good; nice and secure.



Carefully opening the paper and yes, there are needles!!!




Success I am an international needle acquisitioner!

Now is there any hope that the Woolgrowers Co-Op is considered an essential service? I had better check their web site.  I only have 2 fleeces to wash as soon as it warms up a bit more. Then I could stick my hands in warm soapy water but I will remember not to agitate!

Stitching sample

Stitching sample

I wanted to try stitching some mountains into a felted background. I did a search online for embroidered mountains but they were either very stylized or very detailed large pieces.  Neither is what I wanted. I always want to do or use something that is not available.  I decided I would find my own way. Part of it was I am working small so you can’t really do to much detail. I picked one of the basic sky and grass picture blanks I made to give it a go.

I forgot to take a picture before starting. I thought I had pictures of the blank but I can’t find it. I found a group shot of the others so this must have been one I did another time.  this gives you an idea of what I did.

The one I am using is about 4 inches long and 3 inches high.

I had a nice dark grey in my embroidery box so I gave it a try. I used 3 strands. I used up what was on the little card and then grab the little skein I thought it was the same colour. It wasn’t, it’s good but this one is more greenish and the first more blueish and darker.

I’m sorry about the change in exposure but it was just the change in the light in the time it took me to stitch the second mountain. I like the way the stitches going in different directions give it a rugged mountain look.

I tried 2 more colours. I think I like the two middle colours best.

I decided to add some of the lightest colour to the first two mountains to see if it worked as highlights.

I think I like it better without light stitches. It looks better on the second mountain where there was less contrast. I think there is enough variation with the stitches and the way the light hits them.

Then I thought the mountains are pretty straight across the bottom so I wanted to hide the bases. Trees were next to try. I thought just some inverted V type stitches would look like trees.

That sort of worked. They look better in person than in the pictures. I used 2 threads instead of the 3 I used for the mountains. I thought they should have less weight. It is hard to make small stitches in felt. The stitches seem to get smaller as you pull through. I think it’s because the felt is thicker and more flexible than the regular cloth they use in embroidery. I think if I add more stuff to the foreground the trees might be better. I may add some lighter and darker stitches.

So that’s my WIP at the moment. I have been cleaning my studio too and found the chairs I put in there so I could sit comfortably. They had become tables and storage units somehow. I hope you are all doing well in your isolation and using it as an excuse to felt or stitch or spin or whatever takes your fancy.




Ponderosa Pine Bark Applique

Ponderosa Pine Bark Applique

If you have been following my posts for any length of time, you will know that I am a lover of trees, leaves, bark and anything forest related. For my Level 3 Stitch course, I have been working on a variety of types of applique. So I wanted to try a combination of felt and applique to create a bark piece.

Specifically, Ponderosa pine bark. We have many of these trees on and around our property and I love taking photos of the bark as well as collecting the pieces of bark that this type of tree sheds on a regular basis. The pieces always remind me of puzzle shapes. Lyndsay wrote recently about creating bark and I was inspired by her piece. But I wanted to include applique in my bark. So it was time to try a sample or two.

I laid out black wool as the base. Then I added a cut up strips of felt that were in my box of samples from some of my online classes. I decided to use a variety of thicknesses and colors of felt to see the differences when felted. I then added a brown/tan felt over the top. I just used what I had on hand. I did make a smaller sample later to use for sampling stitch ideas.

Here’s the piece after felting. The variety of thicknesses in the underlying felt pieces actually helped make the piece seem more natural. The variety of colors also worked well.

This photo shows you what the real bark pieces look like. I laid them out on the wool for inspiration. I have a big bag of these bark pieces. It was tempting to either glue or stitch them in place. That would still be applique, right? 😉

One of my original thoughts was to use complementary fabrics or sheers in orange and blue to create a more colorful effect. I tried a variety of these ideas but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. This idea would have worked better if I had included orange and blue in the felt base. So other samples may be forthcoming.

This is my small stitch sample. I used every square inch of it to try out different ideas. You can see that I tried machine stitching down the orange/blue samples but I didn’t like the “pillow” looking result. I tried some raised chain band to hold down the fabric but that didn’t actually hold the sheer fabric well. The fabric kept fraying under the stitches and pulling loose. I then tried some brown and neutral colored silk fabrics using different hand stitches. The assignment was to be a combination of machine and hand stitching. The machine stitching was done between the thicker felt strips in a dark brown. I decided that the final hand stitching would be small straight stitches and a few French knots.

I forgot to take a photo after I completed the machine stitching. This photo shows how it looked after fusing down the pieces of silk. I used a powdered fusible just to get the silk to hold in place. Then on to the hand stitching. I ended up using wool lace weight thread. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any that was dark enough for the darker value needed. So I used a heavier wool yarn for the darkest value.

Here’s the finished piece. Next time, I think I will try nuno felting the silk in place. I’m not sure it will look as “peeling” as the laid on silk does though.  But that’s what further experiments are for, right?


2020 Second Quarter Challenge

2020 Second Quarter Challenge

We think it likely that many people associate handmade felted, knitted or woven items with providing warmth in the darker months, so the ‘Personal Items’ challenge for this quarter is to make something that you could use in sunny weather.

It can be as simple or as complicated as you choose but most importantly it’s a challenge so perhaps try new colours or designs or something just a little different from your usual style.

Don’t take this too seriously though – it’s meant to be fun!

The first thing we all do at this time of year is to try to find our sunglasses so that we can read outside in the garden or on holiday.

This Kindle and these sunglasses could do with handmade cases to protect them and make them pretty and a textile bookmark would be very useful for the paperback.

kindle, book, sunglasses

Hmmm,  how about a lightweight sleeveless top or a delicate shoulder wrap and of course a sunhat is essential.

Annie said she wanted a new sunhat – one that would make a statement – so I made her one.  I don’t think it’s quite what she had in mind though.

Annie's statement sunhat

It would be good to have a pretty tote bag for all those things too wouldn’t it?  A bag could be made from scratch or a simple jute bag could be purchased then embellished with textile panels or hand embroidery.

In January 2013 I embellished a plain jute tote bag with fabric scraps from an old skirt and a bit of rough machining.  The bag is still in use – it’s a bit grubby now but still pretty.

Jute bag

So whatever your skill level please enjoy this challenge and post your photos on the forum for us all to enjoy!


Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

One of the advantages of being in a local Guild is definitely the people. We are very lucky to have quite a few who have taken the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners (OHS) Master Weaver or Master Spinner programs. It’s a multi-year, very challenging course. If you’re curious, an overview of the spinning program can be found here: .  The master weavers description is outlined here

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

1 1 Cindy O’Gorman our teacher

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

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

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

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

88 My combing options.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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


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



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

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


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



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

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


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

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



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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A little Social Spinning.

A little Social Spinning.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope everyone is keeping well during this stressful time.

Extra Online Classes Now Available!

Extra Online Classes Now Available!

Galina Titova of Deep Felt Textile Art emailed me recently. She felt that since so many people were being socially isolated by the world pandemic, that it would be a good time to offer her Fantasy Felt Fish online class again. I thought this was a great idea and I also contacted Teri Berry to see if she would like to offer both her Felted Concertina Hat and Felted Bag online classes too. So if you’re looking for something creative to do in these trying times, we have some felting classes available.

Felting Fantasy Fish

Learn to make felted fantasy fish with Galina Titova in this three week online class. Each week you will learn to create a different fish and move from a simple design up to a more advanced design and different surface design techniques. Every week Galina will provide more examples of fish with the same elements used in different ways to create various effects. Click here for more information and to register for the class. Class start date will be April 8, 2020. The class is limited to 20 students per session and is filling quickly. Galina is planning on offering another session 3-4 weeks after this class has finished. Students will be chosen on a first come, first served basis.

The April 8th class is now full. Galina will be offering another class in the near future.  If you would like to be notified of the next open registration, please fill out the contact us form here with the name of the class in the comments section.

Felted Concertina Hat

Learn to make felt concertina hats with Teri Berry in a four week online class. This course will guide you through choosing a hat block, to creating the correct size resist for your head and the basics of concertina hat construction. You will also learn how to add embellishments, shaping and how to progress to making more complex hats. Click here for more information and to register for the class. Class start date will be April 16, 2020.

Felted Bags

Learn all about felt bag construction in this five week online class with Teri Berry. Starting with an animal themed smaller case, building on each lesson to create a medium sized bag and finally learning to make a backpack with adjustable straps, multiple internal compartments and internal pockets. This course will certainly develop your felting skills. Click here for information and to register for the class. Class start date will be April 16, 2020.

Wet Felting for Beginners

And if you’re new to wet felting, here’s the perfect course for you. This class is for total beginners who have not done any wet felting before. Learn the basics of wet felting, adding embellishments, calculating shrinkage rates for correct sizing, as well as how wool is processed and tips for other felting methods. Click here for information and to register for the class. You can start this course at any time.

And now because you have read all the way to the bottom of the post, Galina is kindly giving away one spot in her upcoming Felting Fantasy Fish class.

Give Away!

All you need to do is comment below and the drawing for a free class will be on April 1st. You will be notified by email if you win. For those of you that are planning on taking the class, go ahead and register and if you win the free class slot, your money will be refunded.

From all of us at The Felting and Fiber Studio, we wish you good health and please stay safe!

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Hello. Let me start by hoping you and your loved ones are all of sound health.

In light of recent events, last week my husband and I decided to self-isolate. Not too hard a task for two humans whose favourite activity is staying in their respective studios and create, but once it became a Rule I Must Follow in my brain, I knew I needed a project to stay busy and not rebel.

Before I tell you what that project is, allow me to share a new acquisition – I got a serger!


Meet Bert. Bert came to me pre-loved on eBay, from a lady that didn’t have much time to craft anymore. Judging by the state of his insides (lint everywhere!), you could tell he was indeed much loved.
I haven’t played around with Bert yet but I’m sure he’ll make a great companion to Marge, my sewing machine.

Now, to the project.
I’ve been down a historical costuming rabbit hole for the past few weeks (because, reasons) and decided to make myself a late Victorian waistcoat. This all may have gotten worse after I bought a magnificent pair of trousers with a very 1910s style, and felt my ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a vest, and later a jacket.

Who knew the internet had sewing websites just for this type of historical thing?


You’ll see on top right corner that the pattern I bought allows me to choose from 4 different styles. I went for the one shown in yellow. Don’t make me confess how many tailoring videos I’ve since watched on YouTube to learn how to create a proper lapel…

Fearing things might start going slightly dystopian, before I self-isolated I managed to run to one of my local fabric shops and buy the appropriate materials for this.


I got this beautiful 100% wool tweed for the exterior and a beautiful silky paisley for the lining. The latter is polyester, something I’m not very keen on, so I vowed to find something made of natural fabric for next time.
Both materials have been pre-washed but not yet pressed.

Now, before I get to play with the pretty stuff, I need a mock-up. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this is when you test the shape and size of your pattern by first sewing with inexpensive fabric – this is often called a muslin.

Mock-ups save you the heartbreak of finding out the pattern doesn’t fit you somewhere after you’ve cut into the expensive fabric. They are also a great opportunity for you to get to know the construction steps of your project, and train the techniques first. My waistcoat pattern reportedly comes from an original 1890s pattern so you can be sure I’m testing it first!

Good thing I did, too…


My mannequin isn’t completely true to my size but I can already tell there are some adjustments I’ll need to make to the bust line, plus there are a couple of instructions I’m not sure I’ll be following to a T (I am a rebel, after all).
I also managed to find out the pattern has some mistakes, such as telling me to use 4 pieces of something they only tell me to cut 2 of.

The keen-eyed among you might notice I’ve pinned the pieces together on the outside. This is so I can make easy adjustments and transfer them to my final pattern once sewn.

Unfortunately this is where my experiment is at the moment, so I don’t have any more to share with you. However, if you’re intrigued by this piece of clothing – have I mentioned this will have some real historic-style boning for structure? – I’ll happily share my progress in my next post.

Until then, stay safe and I hope you have plenty to keep you pleasantly occupied.

So much time.  So much to do!

So much time.  So much to do!

So much time.  So much to do!

Almost all the exciting things I was going to tell you about today were cancelled. The first was the Drive to Peterborough for the first big fibre festival of the year. Last year, due to unpleasant weather in Ottawa, we seemed to be the only ones from there to make it. Not only does the Peterborough Weavers and Spinners guild put on a good sized fibre festival they also get Spring before we do! So it’s nice to see it may arrive in our area in a couple weeks more.

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1-14  From last year at the Peterborough Fibre festival,  a good mix of fibre, yarn, supplies and finished goods.

We also missed the yearly Demo at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show. In the last 2 years, I have felted at the demo, making the polar bear face and then a cardinal. This year it was cancelled but it is better to be safe than sick.

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15-27  The Farm show demo 2019. this is a demo for excellent questions, talking to hemp growers, and trappers with fur. I am going to miss the sheep shaped car air freshener that one booth was giving away!

Well this stay home/work from home idea may not be all bad (as long as we do not get sick!) So far I have read (yes books with words not available in an audible form), watched felting videos I had not yet watched, also videos on restructuring a Victorian style coat, making a pair of combinations (historical fancy underwear), making an 1887 corset and a video on pad stitching. I also am going through and sorting some of the project boxes I have around the house.

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28-30   This was hiding in a box between the dining room and the living room. I wondered where that had got. Originally it was going to be a 5×7 but quickly turned into an 8×10 as I grew more interested In the branch. I should keep looking and find its frame.

Best of all I found one of my missing pairs of old glasses that are just the right focal depth to read, type and felt easily!!! (Oh, maybe not being able to see the keys was better, I think I need to dust the keyboard more often)

3131  Hmm, maybe it’s time to clean up my desk too.

I have been spending a bit more time in the kitchen making interesting Dinners since Glenn is still working. In addition, I have a Grocery run for my mom. Last week was milk, which is a bit heavy for me. So the trundle box, that has been sitting abandoned in the kitchen had to be emptied so I can put her groceries in it.  When I emptied the trundle box I found my missing Other pictures for the landscape workshop!!! I have to remember to unpack and put things away!

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32-34    These are frames I picked up second hand at Value village. The larger one is a memory box, it has a fold down glass front. The second is a shadow box so it has a deeper space between the glass and the artwork. Both are lined with linen fabric so the felt has been pinned to the backing fabric.

Well, now I will have a bit more time since the Guild is closed and I haven’t been working on the guild library projects. Who knows, if I keep puttering on the house I may find that place where I keep putting things so they will be safe!!! (So safe I cannot find them again!)I have done a bit of online shopping some of which will be shared with Ann when it eventually arrives.  I even have felting projects I want to get started before the fleece washing season is back upon us. I hope you are all healthy and since we are instructed to stick our hands in soapy water frequently, at least the wet felters should have a great chance of avoiding the flu! Maybe I will have to wet felt a few backgrounds to needle felt over later. Have lots of fun and use up lots of soap!


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