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Busyness and Books

Busyness and Books

As it often happens in Ottawa, the transition out of winter into spring can be quite sudden. Some years when it’s quick, we get to experience the river’s quick rise and many homes discover they unexpectedly have indoor swimming pools.

Ottawa geologically was at the bottom of an inland sea, it got up and suddenly left long before I arrived in Ottawa. Its departure left patches of Leda clay (an unstable marine clay) and locally 3 raised beaches where the waterline sat for a while before exiting the Ottawa valley leaving us a river that occasionally wishes to try to reclaim its distant glory of being a sea. I am 1 raised beach above the present flooding area for the Ottawa River and am slightly uphill from the creek down by the transitway, which is moving to a deeper but closer canal so the new train can go in. I understand the train will be wonderful but It seems to have a fear of heights since it is incapable of climbing much of a slope. I hope they asked the train’s thoughts on winter since we have a lot of that as well as a few too steep for the train slopes.

Some years we are lucky and have a slow spring, no flooding and we get to enjoy the tulips. That was this year! I suspect summer got annoyed having to wait and we have now been enjoying August in May with +30c and heavy humidity.  This is providing the plants with a bit of a panic! “Oh no, I am missing my display time! Quick, Flower!!”  It’s a bit confusing at the moment in the front and back garden.

We got word the garden centres would be deemed essential services and be open with restricted numbers and access. I was able to get most of what I was looking for. I have been frantically doing and overdoing the potting out, removing and replanting stray catnip and some of the self-seeded lettuce (have you ever considered Lettuce as a ground cover?)

As I think I told you when the Raccoons were being evicted, we need to replace the roof as well as working on fixing the garage.  Then we found out that the chimneys (I am lucky and have 2!) need to be unbricked then rebuilt. The face of the brick has been falling off and it is in very rough shape. That needs to be done before the new roof. It also explains the mysterious pieces of brick that I find in the garden and on my patio…. I was reasonably sure it was not the birds dropping them on their way to build a nest. On further consideration, that might not be a bad nesting material, good against cats, raccoons, and other birds. They would get a reduced price on nest insurance but would need a strong tree. It would be quite cozy lined with some wool. (I would say my musings are due to sunstroke but it’s cloudy and looks like we are about to get an impressive and windy rainstorm.)

1-2 the newly rebuilt front chimney and the about to be rebuilt back chimney.

3-4 the portable forest, herb and Vegi garden  &  the extra catnip on the old bench

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5-10 the confusion of spring and early summer flowers all trying to get your attention

  11-12 the Japanese lilac is particularly impressive this year!

I wish I could share the aroma coming from my Japanese lilac and the adjacent thicker sweet scent of the flowering Honeysuckle vine. I was going to get a new hummingbird feeder for beneath the vine but with stores closed, I have missed the setup time so I hope the hummingbirds are enjoying the honeysuckle this year. While I was sitting on my (sorry Miaka’s) swinging garden bench, the perfume from the Lilac drifted over in waves on the gusting wind. I wanted to sit there longer but still have a lot to do today. More work on the Guild Library database and the year-end report as well as a blog post to write, but after taking pictures of clematis, bachelor buttons (the fancy ones) and trying to get a shot of the lilac as its flower-filled branches bounced in the wind. I still have raspberry’s to relocate or rehome, topping up the soil, some pruning of the back hedge and the grapevine (I saw more grapes starting than I have ever seen!! But the raccoon doesn’t share, it likely following the example of the chipmunk that eats all my strawberries!)

13-14 Grapes and Strawberries!

So it’s been very busy but not a lot of felting since Mother’s Day. (Ah I have finally got to the felting!)

15 Two of my felting books I wanted to tell you a bit more about

Although I have not found a book solely focused on wire armatures I have found a number of books that have small sections, to a brief mention of how they use armature wire. Recently I have picked up a couple more books that discuss armatures. The most recent was “Adorable Felted Animals: 30 Easy & Incredibly Lifelike Needle Felted Pals” by Gakken Handmade Series. This was originally a Japanese book translated into English in 2015.  80 pages, softcover, I was able to pick up a second-hand copy labelled as a knitting book. There is no knitting but 30 small scale animals to make.

It starts with posed pictures of the finished animal projects giving the name of the maker, the page numbers for the instructions and the size. The size of the pieces are interesting to note, with the largest just over 6 inches long but most are half that or smaller. This means they are excellent travel projects or you can just absorb the techniques and work on a bigger scale. There is a short section on the method used to create the golden retriever with lots of photos. This includes a layering technique for creating the fur look outer coat. The rest of the book is instructions for each figure. They have templates at the finished size to check your felted piece against as well as any special instructions such as a pattern for laying in the fur coat if needed or markings to add. The wire used varies from the full body to just the forelegs or tail.

I suspect a beginner who has never felted could be a bit hesitant to dive in, but if you have done a bit of needle felting and are comfortable with how the needle moved the fibre this may give you some ideas to take the information and use it for your own projects.

If you are interested in creating realistic fur you may want to look at “Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats from Wool” by Hinali.  96 pages, softcover with dust jacket. The author has more in-depth step-by-step instructions on each part of the creation of the cats. Although this book looks like one that an intermediate felter would choose, a newer felter would likely still be able to get a lot from this book because of the excellent photo instructions.

There is information on how to trim the fur to make it even more life-like. (Yes scissors and fibre can be used together much to the horror of the spinner in me!) There are both full and partial armatures used with good descriptions.  The suggestion of using yarn tightly wrapped over the armature to give the fibre something to stick to is interesting too (more experiments to come!). There are excellent examples of naturalistic shading to create a more life-like coat.

16 three more of my felting books I will tell you about

I have bought 3 more books dealing at least partly with armatures

  • Making Needle-Felted Animals: Over 20 Wild, Domestic and Imaginary Creatures by Steffi Stern,  127 pages softcover. this book has a couple of projects which use armatures.  It has a good beginner section of tools and some basic techniques before the project instructions. Pipe cleaners are used in one example as an armature which I would switch to one of the finer aluminum wires to reduce sensitivity to humidity. Scrap wool wrapped in yarn and used as an example for a possible core to felt over. the use of glue over bird’s feet is also shown.
  • A Masterclass in Needle Felting Dogs: Methods and techniques to take your needle felting to the next level by Cindy-Lou Thompson, 128 pages, softcover. (This one I liked immensely for all the extra tools and  techniques she suggests) She shows her starting armatures and thoroughly depicts how the four dogs were made. Many of the techniques I had not run into before.  Make your own Taxidermy like eyes, the uses of added colour; pastels, markers, paint, using mog-pog and clay. This is one I would suggest checking out if it crosses your path!
  • Next Level Felting: Professional needle-felting techniques to take your felted wool creations to the next level by Nancy Wesley. 90 pages, softcover. There is limited use of armatures, but good examples of blending fibres for a more naturalistic looking skin colour. she shows techniques to create a sharp edge when changing skin colours as well as subtle transitions. She has included many felting Tips scattered through the book.  If you have the opportunity to look at this book in person, check out the anatomical detail in her humped back whale.

and I have one I am waiting to order, so I will update you on it shortly.

  • The Natural World of Needle Felting: Learn How to Make More than 20 Adorable Animals by Fi Oberon. 144 pages, hardcover. More details to come on this one, but the preview bits I can see on have multiple mentions of wire armature so I am quite hopeful and excited.

Have you found books about needle felting that have information on wire armatures that have helped you? Please point me in their direction if you have! If you are interested I can show you the Felted picture books I have collected over the past few years in another post.