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Happy New Year to one and all.
The holiday season is winding down and our thoughts are turning to the coming year - planning, anticipating, and looking forward to all the fibre events coming up in Ontario.
2005 saw our business continue to grow. My interest in felting with fine fibres and fabrics takes up a lot of my free time. And in the fall I attended a wonderful workshop in New York State given by Chad Alice Hagen - learning resist dyeing on felt, and the creation of felt hats.
We've expanded our sales lines to include more felting equipment and fibres, new and unusual blends, and some lovely local fleeces. You'll notice, too, that we have many more pictures on our web site. Our aim is to have pictures for all our products, and we'll be adding them over the coming weeks.
Our fibre shipment arrived safely from Treetops Colour Harmonies, in Australia. Treetops is well known for high quality silks and merino, having wonderful unique colours. Initially, we'll be selling Treetops new "Nuance" 18 micron merino in fifteen colours - fabulous for both spinning and felting. Also, a selection of bombyx and tussah Harmonies and silk laps.
My latest challenge is felting superfine merino inside silk laps from Treetops, making fabulous (well I think so) lustrous and drapey scarves and wraps. Fibre blending is something else I'm usually thinking about and experimenting with. Look for some really interesting new blends in the spring!
On a more personal note, our dear old border collie, Mirk, recently went to the big sheep flock in the sky. He was nearly 15. I bought him as a pup when I had a sheep farm in northern B.C. He was a good working dog and taught me a lot - patience and respect for the sheep, and not to take myself so seriously. He made the change to town dog/couch potato with more enthusiam than I expected, and we'll miss him. We still have his little wife Katy who is ten. She has been very depressed since Mirk died, but is cheering up now that we have Russell, a rescue Karelian Bear Dog from the Humane Society. He comes with the bonus of great spinnable undercoat and a really comical personality.
Katy, Mirk, & Russell
We have recently received Gotland fleeces and combed top.
Gotland is a Swedish breed known for its long soft silky fleece, which is equally good for spinning and wet felting. It has become known as "Lord of the Rings" fleece, because the capes in the movies were woven from Gotland fleece. The rich colouring of the natural fleece and the silky hand were apparently just what they were looking for!
We are offering carded spinning/felting batts and combed top. The staple is long, 12-15cm (5-6"), which when spun, then knitted or woven, makes a drapey lustrous fabric. The fleece is in various shades of grey - Gotland sheep apparently don't "do" white. We got a very good deal on the top, which is from England, so we are passing on the savings.
I've been experimenting with both preparations: The batts, spun woolen, resulted in a soft but sturdy yarn with some lustre. The top was spun worsted and the yarn is smooth, silky and very lustrous.
Then I played with felting: I tried three preparations. Norwegian lamb/Gotland blended 50/50 into a batt, Gotland in a batt, and the Gotland top. The results were interesting.
- The blend with Norwegian lamb felted a bit faster than the Gotland alone, and was a bit tighter and smoother.
- The Gotland batt felted quite quickly, and the felt is a bit softer and slightly hairy.
- The Gotland top was a surprise, it felted faster than the other two preparations - the finish is smooth, tight and lustrous. I don't know why this should be. I would have thought the carded batt with all it's relatively different fibres lengths would have felted faster. Maybe it's the difference in individual sheep. I'd be interested to hear other peoples ideas about this.
We've just received another shipment from Treetops, in Australia. New colours in the merino nuance series are:
- Tangelo, a vibrant gold/orange
- Wildfire, a clear bright red
- Sesame, a gorgeous soft cafe au lait
Also, we have more silk laps in various colours and sizes. These are proving to be very popular. The laps are different sizes ranging from 60g, for a good size scarf, to 250g, for large items such as shawls and wall hangings.
Felting with silk laps, with fine merino sandwiched between the silk layers, results in a lustrous, soft, uniquely textured fabric. Perfect for scarves, shawls, and fabric for sewing projects
In preparation for the current season we've been adding to our inventory of fabulous colours and blends. We've also added more pictures to our web site to help you choose the perfect colours for your projects.
New products this month include:
- Corriedale dyed top from Ashland Bay
- 18 micron natural white Merino, also from Ashland Bay
- Blue Faced Leicester top
- Wensleydale top
Eleven new Nuance Merino colours are on their way from Treetops in Australia. The first shipment has just cleared customs in Vancouver and will be on our web site very soon. The unique texture and colouring of this dyed top is making it very popular with spinners and felters alike.
As you can see we've changed the look of our web site to make it easier for you to locate products. We've eliminated duplicate entries - each product is now located in only one place.
We now carry all 32 colours of Treetops' Nuance Merino top.
And from Fibre Fusion, also in Australia, we now carry their prefelt sheets. These sheets use the dyes developed by Treetops for their Nuance Merino and are perfect for your felting projects.
We'll be adding more information about this new product very soon - pictures too.
The seminar year is wrapping up. We thoroughly enjoyed the various venues and give a big Thank You to all the hard working volunteers who make these events run so smoothly.
Felting is becoming popular and a lot of people showed interest in the felting section of our booth. This year we've been increasing our product line to include more felting items.
We are really happy to offer the new felting fabric (also known as prefelt, or half felt) from Fibre Fusion in Australia. This comes in large sheets of lightly needled merino and is a real time saver, eliminating a lot of tedious layout time and some of the hard work. Use as is, layer it, cut it, use it for inlays - it's a very versatile product. We currently carry eleven colours and will be ordering some more colours fairly soon.
Check out our Gallery to see some articles made with prefelt.
At the OHS Central Region Seminar last week, Laurie Goldiuk of The Black Lamb, in Port Hope Ontario, couldn't resist this fun star beret made with prefelts. (Pattern from Chad Alice Hagen's book Fabulous Felt Hats. Permission obtained from Chad to display this hat.)
Well known teacher, weaver and spinner, Wendy Bateman, caught sight of this little prefelt hat and had to have it for an upcoming wedding. Livened up with a brooch this is a dressy little hat and very easy to make.