As is the way with my life, I have had another change of plans.
My goal was to find hair for two more of the Mer family. My plan was to look for long locks at the fibre festival “For the love of Fibre”, in Spencerville and if that didn’t work out I would look at the Peterborough Weavers Guild fibre fest on the following weekend. We had also discovered that because of the Coronation Upper Canada Village would have free admission the same Saturday as the event in Spencerville (much closer to UCV than Ottawa.)
So part one of my plan was on May 6th to head to Spencerville. Then if I felt up to it, on to the Historical 1860s village at Upper Canada Village. I had a couple of friends who were working there last summer and have wanted to see it for quite a while. Let me show you how the first part of the plan went.
Last year “For the Love of Fibre” was the first post pandemic fiber festival that I got to attend. It was held in Johnstown, just a bit further south than this year. I am pretty sure I showed you that exciting.
May 6th arrived looking like it might be a sunny day with big puffy clouds to add to the photographic opportunities. We got up extra early to gather the couple of things we would need to bring. I had planned to bring Mrs Mer as well as her son Shark Boy to look for long locks for their hair. I discovered she was…. ummmm, busy canoodling (aggressive cuddling, enthusiastic hugging?) with her husband, so I just turned their project bag around and went to find her son. I picked up my camera and Shark Boy’s1q project bag and headed to the car.
It was a nice drive down. The trees are in the budding to early leaf stage and I was suspecting we might see the first trillium as we headed south. We got there early, arriving just before Ann. She took a picture of us getting Shark Boy settled and us ready for shopping (Glenn brought a book). You can see how excited Sharkboy looks! It must be the thought of getting his hair. I think he has decided on a Mohawk with long hair down his back, sort of an extra-long mullet. I think the Mohawk is to complement his front Dorsal fin.
1) Sharkboy standing in his project beg attached to Jan’s black walker with her husband (and the back of my Grey Kea Soul, I am sure you were expecting I possessed a black soul!).
There were 3 outside vendors, with the rest inside.
2) Stone Spindle Farm Booth; with alpaca yarn, fibre and hats. The vendor is hanging up suit cages full of low-grade alpaca to provide the birds as nesting material.
I was admiring some indigo-dyed alpaca but wanted to wait until I found out if there were any locks inside. (OH the not-buying remorse I felt later!!! I do know who bought it and that it will be well enjoyed.)
3) baskets are strewn artistically under a few trees with an E-Bike near the front with pannier baskets.
Did you notice the cool bike baskets, some have lids.
Inside we found a few of our guild members had booths! I did a fast wheel around the venue looking for long locks but to no avail. Sorry, Sharkboy! We will have to try plan 2, next weekend. Even with not having the long locks I was looking for there was a good selection of vendors having Yarn, fibre, baskets, bags, and fibre tools. I didn’t get every booth but here are some of the highlights.
4) A quick overview of part of the vendors.
5) digging for colours in balls of hand died Superwash Marino fibre.
6) More fibre from the Black Lamb booth.
7) Beautiful project bags and purses
8) Moose Hill Woodworks had lots of fibre tools, all beautifully made. (Yes, I got another spindle of a type I didn’t have.)
9) Odd new spindle, I was trying it with some of the new extremely soft Finn wool I also purchased. The back of the tag says Yellow Birch, 1.3oz/39g
10) Beaux Arbres booth had basketry
11) This booth had fibre samples you could feel (the bags of them are behind the table.)
12) This is the side table of the same booth with the fibre. Check out her fine ponies!
13) Fin roving is actually semi-worsted the vendor has her own mill!!! I have never felt such a soft Finn sheep.
Ann investigated further and found out it was from a lamb. I only bot 2oz I should have bout more! Ann also got some to make her trees with.
14) This was an ingenious support spindle case.
15) The booth the support spindle bag came from had more spindles and lots of rolags.
16) A couple of booths had yarn for weaving and knitting.
17) This Was Susan Allen’s Booth with weaving yarns, I think this was a Cotton or a Cottolin that Ann was looking at.
18-19) Janet’s Basketry
20) Janet’s booth, she is just finishing setup as the first customers arrive
I wandered into Janet Whittam’s booth, she has a combination of weaving and basketry, and she also has beautiful woven jackets and wraps.
21) Shark Boy standing in his project bag, attached to my walker.
Even though he didn’t have any luck finding hair I think Shark Boy enjoyed his outing. It was still a worthwhile shopping trip with new fibre and spindle.
I was still feeling pretty good so we decided to head on to UCV, maybe it would cheer up Shark Boy! There is a mill, the blacksmith shop, the weaving house (with spinning) and the dressmaker’s house. We packed up the car and headed a bit further south and east arriving at a very busy Upper Canada village parking lot. We found a good parking spot in the mostly empty handicapped section (I was very glad for that parking permit by the time we made it back to the car!)
22) Shark Boy checks out the special parking for Mer-people (and those with walkers) as we arrive at UCV.
Unfortunately, that change of plans thing I mentioned at the beginning happened Tuesday morning and is preventing me from telling you about the rest of my visit. As soon as I can I will tell you all about the fun we had visiting the village, and a bit of its background.
23) The entrance buildings of Upper Canada village.
Finally, the big day was here! It is time to take Mr. Mer shopping for Hair! I had persuaded him to wait to broaden his choices by looking at the Fiber Festival Twist in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec. That would be a bit over an hour’s dive east of home. I had a few bags to put purchases in (optimism!), the camera, something to drink, Mr. Mer in his project bag and a good audiobook to start the trip off (today’s driving was accompanied by “A Lady’s Guide to Fortune hunting” by Sophie Irwin).
1) Mr. Mer is napping in his project bag before the big drive. I promise I will get him a bigger project bag!
Ah, summer, the other season of road maintenance in Canada. Oh well, at least the scenery is lovely, driving through the rock cuttings along highway 50. To see all the geology from the comfort of your car, (ok there were a few potholes and truck ruts to distract from the view). You get glimpses of the Ottawa River as it heads south then into the hills and more rock trees and farmland. Turn at the town that makes me think of pineapples (it’s a French word that has nothing to do with pineapples) and go north over a stream, past the cows and eventually into the town of Saint-André-Avellin. A couple more turns and you are at the arena complex wondering where they put the handicapped parking (no I do not actually have the special parking for my e-“specially” great spelling ability). I stopped to ask a man in a sheep hat with horns, I bet he will know! Oh, it’s right here? And don’t run over the line of people waiting to get in. What a close parking spot to the line, amazing! I got out, organized and was already in line, we were ready to go.
2) in line at Twist, handicapped parking is adjacent to the line, now that is close parking!
There are a few changes since the last Twist festival (2 years ago), there has been construction on the building and a covid clinic has taken over what used to be the classrooms. There were, as in previous years, tents outside for Emerging Artists and the Food court.
3) the first outside tent
Inside there are two halls, the arena and the gym and locker room spaces which they are using for classrooms this year. My plan of attack was to cruise through the larger hall first, looking for long locks (the Olive sparrow and a couple more booths might have some) but taking a quick photo of the Black Lamb’s mill ends on the way by. Continuing on to the small hall where the booth for Fibercraft might also have long locks. We were in agreement and had a plan of attack!! With Mr. Mer leaning over the back support of my walker, the line started to move and we were off! We breezed through the emerging artist’s tent (I will look more carefully later) and took a fast sweep through the main hall looking for the elusive long fibre locks.
4) Inside the Arena (lots of knitting yarn but looking for those elusive locks) 5) Half of the Black Lamb’s booth. They have mill-end fibre.
Pausing briefly, I took a quick shot of the pile of mill ends at the black lamb’s booth. I am fascinated by the hugeness of the pile as the weekend starts and the speed it dwindles as the weekend progresses. I will be back shortly and do a bit of shopping there myself. I hope that some of the other guild members will post the after pictures from Sunday! Finding only a few booths with any fibre, none of it as long as I was hoping, we turned our vehicle to the small arena to do a quick fly-through there.
6) AH ha! We found some locks, not as long as he wanted but a good colour.
We headed past booths with knitting yarn towards the Fibercarft booth, which was looking like our last hope for anyone with long 12-inch or longer locks for Mr. Mer’s hair. I hope he will not be too unhappy if he winds up with a military haircut if long wavy locks are unattainable.
7) Success!! We bought a bundle of green and a bundle of orange-red for his daughter or wife’s hair.
These were the only extra-long locks we were able to find this year at Twist. There may have been some in the back of a booth I did not see, but we were pretty thorough in our such (Next year there will be lots I’m sure since a short bald Mer-fish was asking for them!). The green locks look a bit bright but there is the option to over-die or it may be ok as an accent with the locks from Bernadette. He will show you his loot in a bit. We met a relative of his while we were in the Fibercraft booth. She was also inspired by Sara’s “Mermaid-felt-along” at the beginning of the pandemic. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljS4YRmz9w&t=1992s) this was a great way to keep us sane and busy during our time isolating. I am not sure if Sara realizes what she has inspired!
8) Mr. Mer met another Mer from a different branch of the family. (from the same Sara Felt along!)
We said goodbye to his cousin, I didn’t get her name so we referred to her as Ms. Coral Mer. With his shopping now done, we can relax and see what else is on offer.
Around the next corner, we spotted some familiar looking felt. This is Richard Hanna, he is an excellent sculptural felter and sometimes member of the local guild. It has been inspiring watching him work on some of his large pieces during meetings (the Narnian Lion head and Marilyn Monroe head were both very memorable). He has made some interesting green men and tree people more recently. He was quite busy so we didn’t have much time to chat. It was great to see him again, I hope he will have the time to come back to the guild and attend socials.
9) Richard Hanna’s booth at Twist
We stopped to have a quick chat with another guild member, weaver and basket maker Janet Whittam.
10) Janet Whittam’s booth
I took one of Janet’s basketry workshops years ago. To begin we went for a walk down country lanes near her home, collecting wild grapevines and other interesting vegetation. This salvaged material was used with various cane to make a basket. It was so much fun. Janet mentioned while we were chatting and I was admiring the new baskets, that working with the antler as she wove the basket was quite challenging. The final effect was definitely worth the extra work!
11) needle storage
In one booth I saw this lovely little pottery needle holder. What an elegant way to store needles!
12) These mice were so cute but I have no idea what they cost, I could not find a price and the vendor seemed very busy so I didn’t ask.
13) This is a prin to skene winder.
The Prin to Skene winder was incredibly cool and I would love to have bought it, I don’t know where I would put it but it turned easily and was just so cool! That is a giant bag of superwash merino mill ends, it’s sitting beside ($10.00 per LB). This means we’re back in the arena at the Black Lamb’s booth. Here are a few more shots to drool at. I got the last of the BFL (Blue Faced Lester)/silk which is fun to spin and it will also felt!
14) A few of the specialty blends at the Black Lamb booth
15) Mostly superwash merino but other blends of fibre too
16) a few of the Felting supply’s at the Olive Sparrow
We wandered back to the Olive Sparrow and perused silk in fish-appropriate colours then l checked out pieces of felt backing for pictures in so many colours. I spotted the painting in Wool book and one of the two recent Landscape paintings in wool books was also there. I found some extra-large leather finger cots by the cash so added that to my order too. (It’s hard to find thumbs that fit unless you sew your own.)
17) A Majacraft dealer booth
There was a booth selling Majacraft products, (they make spinning wheels that are very posh). I did not realize they also made fibre prep tools. I spotted blending Hackles, mini-combs, a tiny blending board and regular-sized drum carders.
18) A booth of mixed weaving equipment and weaving yarn
Mr. Mer was particularly excited about this Jane loom by Louet, I think the lack of treadles was appealing since Mer-persons would have a challenge to operate them with their tail fins. I did not point out that looms are usually made of wood so tend to float and would be hard to operate in an aquatic environment. In addition, getting wet would not be good for the loom.
19) This booth is Fibres of life
Fibres of life had cat caves, mice, balls in felt as well as felt backgrounds, really nice backpacks and bags as well as examples of the heavy commercial felt used in storage baskets (you can see them under the cat caves and holding the mice and balls). There were also mysterious giant balls of felted roving that looked like balls of snakes.
20) It was good to see such interest in spinning from a range of ages
21) this year the majority of the booths did seem to be more knitting oriented.
22-23) One of the outside tents was filled by the rare breeds conservancy group.
Rare Breeds Conservancy group brought four sheep, a mother and son and two twins, I think the twins were Shropshires. There was interest in the mom’s pretty fleece too!
24) Sheep dog demonstrations
We stopped to watch the sheepdog demo. One of the sheep had figured out it was bigger than the dog and was being stubborn.
With all the fibre I had purchased (as well as Mr. Mer’s shopping), it was time to drop things off in the car. We headed back through the food tent, I was very tempted by the “Hamburger de Bison 1/4lb”, available “avec Sanglier Effiloche” if you wanted for a bit more money. (I had it without the extras last time and it was delicious!)
25) Exotic lunch options
We stopped to have a chat with a lovely lady who had driven up from the states with some friends to attend. She had enjoyed the scenery of the drive from the 1000 island bridge through the southeast of Ontario and then into Quebec. She mentioned she enjoyed our weather (the heat wave the states and parts of Canada were having, had broken in eastern Ontario after a heavy rain storm last week. It was either that or the weather feels cooler when posted in Celsius?) She is presently a knitter but said she is a future felter who is just waiting until she retires to start felting. I hope she will be inspired to jump in and try both wet and dry felting sooner.
The ladies at the ticket table were very helpful in making sure I got safely back to the car (which was much appreciated). Mr. Mer and I must have been looking very tired and I was going quite a bit slower than when I arrived. We got the shopping in, but I said I just wanted to rest for a few minutes, in hopes that I was up to another trip around the venue and take a few more photos to let the guild know what was there. Mr. Mer seemed very pleased with his shopping so he got comfy in the passenger seat as I had a short rest. We had another Guild member stop by, say hi and linger for a chat. It was a very restful chat and I was ready to take one more round of the shopping options.
26) Having a chat with Mr. Mer, who has retired to the car to recover from his shopping trip.
27) He checked out Mr. Mer. (Safety first- always wear your seat belt), Fish fatigue from shopping!!
I left Mr. Mer to nap in the car with the shopping and headed back in for one last lap around the booths. The crowds had thinned and I was able to get into most of the booths with the walker. I found a bit of fibre but was wanting to save a bit of money for a treat after the shopping. There was a booth “the Campaign for Wool, Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales” which seemed to have literature but it was still too busy to ask questions.
28) I admired the Baskets from Big Blue Moma’s booth but didn’t get one.
The baskets were in the first booth just inside the first tent. It was a great strategy. You could buy your basket then fill it with purchases or after buying everything inside you were wanting, buy a big enough basket to hide it in for taking your new hoard into the house! Many would make excellent presents for a family cat but only if you didn’t fill it all the way up with fibre.
29) I stopped to admire the Kromski wheel
I did finally get into the booth with a Kromski spinning wheel, I cannot afford one of their ornate wheels but I now have a Kromski drop spindle! I took it for a spin when I got home with a bit of the BFL/Silk blend I had also purchased.
30) Kromski makes a drops spindle, which is more in my price range!
The tag says it’s an 85gr spindle, so reasonably heavy but It still spun quite fine yarn. At 32.00+ Tax, it was also the least expensive spindle I saw and now I can say I have a Kromski brand yarn maker! (Ok, technically it’s not a spinning wheel just a drop spindle but it is wheel-shaped and it does spin!)
Some of us have a post Twist tradition of heading to a small restaurant at the far end of town. We discovered it was there quite a few years ago. I had checked online, to make sure it was still there and that the comfy-duck-club-sandwich was still on the menu. (YES!) Therefore, I had carefully saved enough money to get 2 orders of the drool-worthy sandwich. Unfortunately, I arrived to an empty parking lot and new hours, I found out that the restaurant is having trouble getting servers for the evening. We will have to make another trip of just over an hour or wait until next year to get the comfy duck!!
31) La Toquade restaurant, with Club Sandwich au confit de canard (comfy duck served on apricot Raisin and sunflower bread, garnished with bacon, onions, green apples celery and mayonnaise, with a side of your choice of French fries or salad.)(this explains why the duck is so comfy)
I was too tired to go back to Twist and shop till my pockets were empty but my car was full. Instead, I put on my audiobook and headed home. It was a bit slower traffic due to the roadwork, but the book makes the time pass quickly. Now all that is left is to show you the results of our hunting expedition.
Mr. Mer seemed quite pleased with himself. He had a lovely time, enjoying women (and some men) admiring his 12-pack abs and his fine butt. He had acquired the only long locks we could find, for both himself and ether Mrs. Mer or Teen Mer, as well as picking up a little friend.
32) Mr. Mer shows off his shopping
33) My loot!
I was looking for felt bases for pictures but got distracted by the soft fluffy BFL/silk blend (the large bag of white) and the blue batt looked so oceanic (yet dry) I could not talk myself out of buying it too. I was pleased by the leather thumb covers (finger cots), they are good for protecting fingers if you get momentarily distracted while felting.
I hope you also have access to a local Fiberfest with shopping, workshops and fabulous food. It was a fun day and productive hunting. I hope all the attention Mr. Mer got doesn’t go to his head or I will have to find more hair!
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.
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!)
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)
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.
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!