We would like you to meet one of our sponsors and a friend of mine Maureen Harding of Dreamspin fibres. We met a few years ago at a fiber conference and became friends. We live far enough apart that we only get together a few times a year but we always have a great time felting and trying new things. She doesn’t mention it here but she has a sale on select fibers at the moment.
Q-4 Three types of fibre you can’t live without?
Merino, silks, silk fabric but other fibres depending on the project
Q-3 Have you always been a felter?
I’ve been felting for 15 years, before that I was spinning and knitting.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
Pool noodle and plastic window screening. (and ball brause)
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
I have to say felting. But also enjoy spinning and knitting
What is your business?
We sell wools, prefelts, fabrics for nuno felting, a few felting tools, mostly for felters.
Why and when did you start selling fiber?
It was an outgrowth of my interest in sheep and wools. Initially I raised sheep, learned to spin, learned to felt, and started buying other fibres wholesale for my own purposes. After a while I started selling fibres at fibreart venues and would make up articles to show what can be done with the fibres. People started asking me if I would teach them how, and this led to doing workshops in felting.
What kind of items do you sell?
As well as fibres for felters, I also sell felted articles such as nuno scarves, felted hats, and felted bags at various shows throughout the year.
What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
We pride ourselves on our fast service, orders are made out the same or the next day. We offer free shipping on orders over $100 in North America. And we are always happy to offer assistance and advice over the phone, or email.
In November I decided I needed to order some more wool. No big surprise there! The bigger the order the more you save on shipping. I decided I would offer to order some wool for other members of my weavers and spinners guild. I was thinking maybe 20-25 pounds and I would make up the rest to get us to the 44 pound shipping rate. Well did I ever underestimate the response. I ended up with 168 pounds of wool to order.
The boxes came before Christmas no problem. then 2 came after Christmas. Customs decided to have a look in these. This is what one of the boxes looked like:
All the wool inside was fine. then it was on to sorting all the wool. the min order was 1 pound so first I sorted all the one pound bags. I borrowed my hubbies bread cooling racks to organise everything.
Then I had to separate orders. It’s a good thing we have a good scale.
It took the better part of a day to get it all sorted, Ross helped with sorting and then went off and made dinner while I finished. The next day my son and I checked and boxed all the orders so I could take them to the guild and deliver them. The nice thing about doing this was I got to see so many different wools. I got to feel yak and angora, fake and real cashmere and see many of the wonderful colours and the multicoloured wools the World of Wool has to offer. World of Wool was very nice and shipping was fast especially when I made the order so close to Christmas.
I must say that I couldn’t have done this so easily if it hadn’t been for the assistance of Jean. I can set up an excel file and make it sort things alphabetically but that’s it. She was a wiz with the spread sheet. She made it add things up at this way and that and separate out things and make my life a whole lot easier. I already have people asking If I will do it a gain later in the year. I think Jean and I should ask for a commission next time. :O)
I dye most of my own wool. The problem is that I tend to felt my roving a bit when I am rinsing. That means I have to recard it. I had some not very pretty pink that I got bought cheap because it was a little felted. I recarded it with some other colours.
This is the wool combination I will put through the carder. the carder is big. There isn’t that much wool only about 150 grams, so I only use part of the carder.
This is the first run through.
After I take it off the drum I split the batt and flipped each section to run them through again.
This is the second time through and the final ball of wool.
This is all the wool I did.
There are a couple more blended wools in there too. Now I have to make them into something.
I posted a while ago asking for everyone’s favourite online wool and fibre suppliers with the intention of doing a price comparison. I wanted to see which stores would be the cheapest depending on where in the world you lived and how the prices compared to other countries. (More precisely, US, UK, AUS and Canada as that is where the 4 of us are from).
Well, it took a few days to go through the most popular sites. I had to find 5 items that they all sold, make adjustments for different weights to make sure the comparisons were fair, then convert into different currencies. My original intention was to produce a chart comparing the cost of items from each online store so it was easy to see which was the cheapest depending where you were ordering from. Once I started looking into it though, it seemed a little unfair, I never had the intention of singling out stores for their high prices, I just wanted to find the cheapest.
I can’t say I was completely surprised by the results, but I did think the suppliers would have had more competetive prices for people buying from their own country. Not so. Once all the prices were added up and the currencies converted, there was one online supplier who was cheapest by far, no matter where in the world you live . World of Wool. What was surprising however, was that even when the price of shipping for 500g of fibres was added on, they were still the cheapest. And not by a small amount. The next cheapest online store cost 1.7 times as much, and that’s without shipping.
The biggest surprise was just how expensive some sites are. As well as the 4 main sites, I took a look at all of those suggested. Most of the sites I looked at were charging anything from 6 to 35 times the World of Wool retail price for some common items, such as Silk waste, dyed Bamboo top, Nylon top and even Silk noil. It really put into perspective the prices which small businesses charge, which can seem a little pricey at times. But when you consider that it is often just one person working from home, not having the wholesale buying power of large businesses and often doing every aspect of the job themselves, from degumming silk waste or hand painting dye onto fibres, to taking orders, picking and packing, and then going out to the post office, it suddenly looks like a bargain.
This isn’t how I expected the research to go, but it does tie in nicely with our recent posts about supporting our community of small or local wool and fibre producers and suppliers. Three sites that I looked at particularly deserve a mention: Gemini Fibres in Canada, Sara’s Texture Crafts and Norwegian Wool in the UK. Gemini Fibres and Sara’s Texture Crafts were the only 2 other suppliers who had a very large range of products (which also goes to reducing our costs as there’s only 1 lot of shipping to pay) and they have reasonable prices too. Norwegian Wool mainly focus on Norwegian wool and yarn and short fibre Merino. Their site is really interesting as you can choose where you are purchasing from to see the prices in GBP, €uros or US$, and their prices are also cheaper for C1 and C1/Pels than I have seen on other sites.
I know it isn’t always easy to work out if we are getting a good deal, especially buying from overseas and in different currencies (World of Wool have all their prices listed in US dollars aswell as GBP), but there are a few things we can do to save ourselves money. Consider the weights of the fibres we’re buying as well as the price, $2.99 might not seem a huge amount of money to pay for a fibre, but if it’s only for half an ounce, that actually works out at $21 for 100g or $23.92 for 4 ounces. 100g or 4 ounces might seem like a huge amount of fibre, but the fewer times you have to replenish stocks, the less you have to pay in postage. Buying between friends can cut the costs down and if there are a few of you, you could get discounts for larger quantities.
If anyone is interested I simplified a couple of the charts that I made for the price comparisons and included a chart of prices for some popular felting fibres and conversions into AU$, CA$, US$ and €uros.
I got the bird houses stung and ready to hang. The big round one ended up with a very big hole. I am not sure how I managed to stretch it so much. I think it will be better as a bird feeder or just a decoration. The purple and orange one ended up with its hole to big and to low down so I made it into a bird feeder for my Mother in Law.
I Hung it up near the other bird feeders and despite the wind there was a chickadee in it before I could get back in the door. You have to love chickadees, they are so brave and curios. I will have to make some more like that on purpose.
Here they are all hanging up for their picture.
Those are my sons helping hands. The wind saw what we where doing and kept blowing the houses around.
We got a new way of taking visa recently. It’s called square https://squareup.com/ca?gclid=CNP5zKDWmLYCFe5AMgodClkAQw and it works with your smart phone. It’s not very big and I am afraid of loosing it so I put it in a mint tin. Well that is really ugly, no matter how practical. Time to make a pouch for it.
I decided to do a simple sewn pouch so I know it would be the right size when I was done.
I did as second one in green. We have two squares, one for me and one for my husband. Sometimes we are both selling in different places on the same day.
This one was made form a bigger pouch I wasn’t using.
The boots looked pretty good when done but I wasn’t happy. I kept putting of finishing them and so I sat down and had a good look at them to see what I didn’t like. Well, the way the resist is made just didn’t work. I ended up with the extra to account for your calf in the front not the back. So when you put them on you end up with a big fold in the back of the ankle.
Also because you make the tongue first and then wrap it around the front of the resist it gets felted in at an angle and that doesn’t change as you felt so when you pull the tongue up along the front of your leg you get a big fold that would be uncomfortable. Her boots look fine and I haven’t seen any questions or complaints on the class blog so maybe if you don’t have big calves you don’t have this problem.
I decided to make another pair. I cut the resist at the ankle and turned it around. I also added a little more in the depth of the foot. I think I would rather trim it than only just have the fit.
I have finished the initial felting. Now they just need some more time and elbow grease to finish them. Theses ones are in a natural brown Finn wool.
This week I feel like the worlds slowest felter. I managed to get the two tongues for my boots made and that it. They look huge when you start but when your done they are the right sized. The final shrinking does take some work but these are boots so they need to be sturdy.
One of the reasons I haven’t had time is the lambs. This little guy is called Mr Boots. He is one of a set of quadruplets. He was the first born and got cold while his 3 sisters were born. He was 4 pounds when he was born and looked like a lamb shaped chicken wing, all skin and bone and no substance. He ended up in the house in a dog cage in my living room. It’s a good thing I am not house proud. He is filling out and has a really good set of lungs.
These are his 3 sisters under the heat lamp staying warm. They are doing well and no longer need the lamp.
We are heading in to some warmer weather this week so things should be a little easier all round. I hope that I have more to show you about boots in my next post.
Last time I told you about organising one section of my room and clearing off the table. My next area is the sewing area. It’s coming along. It started like this:
There is also a bunch of stuff on the floor under and around it that you can’t see in the picture. I have made progress but the shelves to the bookcase have disappeared so it’s hard to fill them up. I did switch the old singer that needs a part for a newer one. I haven’t tried it but it may need a cleaning. I still have the pfaff I can use. I want to set it up for free motion embroidery. It is a work in progress
As part of trying to do some fiber art everyday I have been working on converting a hat to a purse, well, 3 hats actually. The hats started out looking like this:
I cut the holy part off and did this:
This should add some interest with great texture.
Here is one that has the texture done. The colour on the left one is more what it looks like I think it’s called Laurel.
I had planed to get the lining in before posting but that didn’t happen. I will show you when I get it done. It will also get a zipper too. I haven’t decided if it should be a clutch or I should find some sort of strap for it. What do you think?
Lastly I have started my on-line boot class. It took me a while to convince You Tube to let me see the videos and then my Internet went out for a week. So all I managed to do was my sample and get my pattern drawn out. The sample of gray Finn wool shrank a little more than 50%.
There was a lot of measuring and some math to get the pattern the correct size for the shrinkage. This is what it looks like at the moment.
My mom came for a visit so I couldn’t lay out the boots today. I decided I want to make a leave motif on the boots when they are done so I cut out leaf shapes in white and black. the booths are gray. I stretched a couple with some vintage “artisanal silk”. I am told it’s not real silk but its pretty. I don’t know if I like it. I was thinking of sewing some veins on with my machine to see how that looks. I have some dissolvable interfacing I thought if I put the leaves on that I should be able to stitch them.
So I haven’t been able to actually do some fiber art every day but I have been thinking about it everyday and getting to play most days.