With Christmas and New Years over, and the darkest and shortest day already four weeks ago, life is getting back to normal. It always feels really good when you can actually see the days starting to lengthen. There is still lots of cold to come, but at least the worst of the darkness is over.
Sale of discontinued items
We are having a fire sale on what remains of the 18 micron merino, 22 micron merino, and the Fibre Fusion prefelt. Prices have been drastically reduced and will be in place until everything is sold.
Workshops for 2011
I'm in the process of planning felting workshops for the coming year. Apart from scheduled "away" workshops, I frequently conduct small classes here in my studio. The All You Can Learn workshops are very much in demand, and not often advertised, so if you are interested just give us a call. These classes are limited to 3 or 4 people, so that many techniques can be covered.
Local Wools: more trials
I made three hats, all the same style, size and weight, 120g. The style is simple so I could evaluate each fleece without too many variables. The brim on each hat is embellished with the locks of the same fleece as the hat.
Any of these fleeces would be suitable for projects like a purse or bag, each with it's own character and surface. The Leicester felt is especially strong and tight, and I think would be great for slippers or bootees. Anyway, more playing to be done yet.
The red hat is Tunis. This is a springy fleece - the locks were about 3 to 4 inches long. This took quite a while to felt down. Patience was necessary, and that's sometimes a good thing because once I slow down and take my time I notice what is happening much more. So, turn on the radio, make some tea and just enjoy the process. I love the finished felt, it is springy but tight and flexible. When squished the hat just springs back into shape. The shrinkage was about 35%. The green/brown hat in the background is also made from Tunis.
The blue hat is Leicester from a purebred ram, bought locally. It had long and lustrous locks, just gorgeous, length of locks 6 to 8 inches. This felted quite quickly, and the resulting felt is very firm and strong. I really like it. The shrinkage was about 30% to 40%.
The brown hat is from a Corriedale/Leicester/Romney lamb. The locks were short, soft and crimpy, about 2 inches long. It felted the fastest of the three but the resulting fabric was tighter and stronger than I expected. The shrinkage was about 30%.
Rocky & Katy
Our dog family has changed recently.
Rocky, an 8 month old Border Collie pup, joined us at the beginning of December and has kept us busy since. What a character, full of beans and smart as a whip. I'd kind of forgotten what it's like to have a pup again. Oh boy, no way I can veg out on the couch these days, no matter what the weather. He was accepted very well by our two senior dogs, much to our relief. Russell especially likes to play, but being nearly 13 he lets Rocky know in no uncertain terms when he's had enough.
Katy, our old girl Border Collie who was nearly 15, died last week. She had multiple health problems the last few months. We miss her a lot. She has been with me since I had the sheep farm in B.C., and has been a wonderful companion in all the subsequent life changes. This photo was taken last fall, what a lovely picture to remember her by.
2011 Spring Newsletter
Spring is finally here, what a difference a couple of weeks makes. We had bitter winds and snow flurries right into the middle of the month. Now the grass is greening, the leopard frogs are croaking, the bullfrogs are booming, and the very first wildflowers of the spring, hepaticas, are blooming in the woods.
VF2 - Finn top: Available in three natural colours: white, mid grey, and black. This is lovely stuff, fast felting, and the felted fabric is firm and smooth.
Curly locks: Another great Leicester fleece from Grace Claire of Campbellford. The locks are approximately 20cm (8") long and very curly. Grace is a spinner and her fleeces are always superb, well skirted and with very little veggie matter. I plan to dye the locks in several colours and then they will go on the website. Leicester makes a very strong and lustrous felt - it dyes brilliantly, like mohair, and felts fast.
FMP19S - Superfine merino/silk prefelt yardage : We have temporarily taken the merino/silk prefelt off the website. There were problems with it shedding badly after felting and we can't continue to sell it as is. After discussions with the supplier we were informed that the mill that processed this particular batch had made a mistake and washed the wool in superwash chemicals. They have rectified the problem, but to be sure, I have ordered some samples and will be testing it before the product goes back onto the site.
February: a Nuno Scarf workshop in my studio
Sam with her layout
Leslie laying out her fibres
Vici laying out her fibres
Vici modelling my hairy hat and boa (Scottish Blackface sheep) - looks good on her too
The finished scarves
March: a Hat workshop in my studio
Here are three happy hatters modelling their creations. Two participants, Wendy in the middle and Libbie on the right were new to 3D felting. You wouldn't know it from the great job they did with Tunis and Blue Face Leicester wool, which was a bit challenging. Wendy raises Tunis sheep and is a spinner. Her fleeces are wonderful - she knows the importance of a clean fleece.
Sue on the left made her hat from merino - her wrap was made at one of last year's workshops. Later, Libbie added a few finishing touches using offcuts from the brim.
April: an Andrea Graham workshop in my studio:
"Channels and Spores, 3D Resist Techniques"
Four of us had a wonderful day with Andrea, expanding our knowledge of 3D resists. She is an excellent teacher and her knowledge of felting and attention to detail are inspiring. We all learned a lot, it was very enjoyable. Thanks Andrea.
Below are some samples of our work.
Carol and Andrea discussing resist placement
Ausma and Suzanne working on their samples
Dogs and Gardens
Here is our veggy garden - a blank slate so far this year. The boards on the right are salvaged from an old barn just across the road. The plan is to make the garden into raised beds. We are also planning a chicken house. All this to be done before mid June, along with all the other stuff to be done around the place.
Update on Rocky, our new border collie. Now almost a year old, he is maturing rapidly and although nothing is safe from those chewing jaws we "think" there is some improvement. He has changed from being built like a little tank to being a leggy adolescent. I take him for herding classes at a local farm almost every week, and that helps him to burn off some of that energy and to use his brain. This was his second time with sheep.
A backyard fence became an essential as Rocky, being a pup and super curious, would follow his nose and get into the woods where there are wild turkeys, deer, skunks, raccoons, etc. Cost kept us postponing the decision until the day a fisher about 1.2m (4 feet) long ambled past the house.
Well, fishers, for those unfamiliar with them, are a large member of the weasel family. They look cute but are pretty fierce creatures and would make short work of a dog. So the fence was well worth it in peace of mind for us, and safety for the dogs.
Just a short newsletter this time, mostly to do with changes to the web site and our product lines.
A year ago we began changing our product lines with the aim of continuing to offer quality wool, but at more reasonable prices. That change is now complete. We will be focusing mainly on Fine and Superfine merino top, merino prefelt, silk chiffon, and dyed silk top. We've also cleaned up the web site to make it easier on the eyes and easier to find things.
I did go to some events, but I don't always think to put them on the web site!
Product additions and changes
FMP19L - Superfine Lightweight Prefelt, 100g per metre (our FMP19 medium weight prefelt is 140g per meter). I bought this 30 metre bolt by mistake, so when it's gone I won't be ordering any more. This merino prefelt, when felted, is soft with nice drape - ideal for scarves and lightweight wraps. Black only.
FMP19S - Superfine Prefelt Blend, 80% merino, 20% silk, 100g per metre. This is the improved version - last year we had problems with the original blend. It turned out that the manufacturer had washed the prefelt in a superwash chemical, which of course made felting the product next to impossible. The new product is truly gorgeous. It has a soft and silky hand, and felts easily into a light and drapey fabric. Available for now in black or natural white.
WTW2H - Teeswater/Wensleydale hand dyed top. We have a limited amount of this beautiful fibre, hand dyed by me in various combinations of red, green, blue, and gold. The staple length of this lustrous fibre is 20-25cm (8-10"). It spins up well and is a fast felter too - ideal for cobweb felts.
FWBB - Ball Brauser price increase. I have a small supply of these water sprinklers at the old price of $18 each. When these are gone the price will increase to $20 each, as our cost has gone up. Still, I believe we have the lowest price in North America even with the increase.
I have three workshops planned for the end of October here in my studio, near Campbellford. These are: nuno felted scarves, felted hats, and frilly scarves. If interested please contact me sooner rather than later, as I already have names on the list and space is limited.
August: Hastings Founders Week
I was invited to give a presentation "Felt, the history and mystery". This was a 1.5 hour presentation with illustrations and discussions of ancient felt textiles and contemporary examples. It is always a very satisfying thing to be able to explain to people just what felt is, and to share with them the possibilities and beauty of this medium.
There were two other presenters also: Alice Olsen Williams, from the Curve Lake First Nation, whose subject was "Quilts as the Language of my Culture", and Master Weaver Dorothy Caldwell, "Moving into New Terrain”. I sat spellbound listening to these two very accomplished and interesting women, explaining their passion and showing the wonderful examples of their textiles.
August: Festival of Textiles
This event was held at the Lang Pioneer Village and Museum, in Keene, Ontario, to celebrate the Museum's acquisition of a Jacquard Loom.
Originally, the Festival of Textiles was intended to be a one time event, but it was such a success that there are plans to have it yearly. The location was really lovely, a large mill pond with the original mill still in good condition, lots of heritage buildings to look through. Even a cottage garden with vegetables and dye plants, next door to a small field with sheep and goats.
Vendors were sheltered under a large tent, and we were kept entertained both days by two old timers playing a banjo and a guitar. This young boy really wanted the hat, but his father said, "No!".
Rod built our garden beds and a chicken house. We have two endangered breeds, Chantecleer and Buckeyes, both of which were bred to withstand cold winters. They are proving to be vigorous and healthy birds who are fabulous foragers.
The vegetable garden was a success. We found it so much easier to manage beds than garden rows. It was a very hot summer and most things did really well, except for peas and broad beans. I keep trying but have to admit this climate doesn't suit those cool crops.