Last spring Rod's mom died, she was nearly 103. She had been living with us for some years. Rod and I had been looking after her, and our activities were pretty limited as someone always had to be home. So, we are able to go out and about, and to go on trips and outings again. I think this had an effect on my decision to take a break from my usual busy-ish felting activites, as I needed time to let inspiration and ideas build up again. Here's Rod's mom at ages 3, 13, and 103 - she was born a few weeks after the Titanic sank.
Last October, I went to visit my family in England for a few weeks. One of my sisters lives in Sandbach, Cheshire, which is really lovely ancient market town with lots of black and white buildings, and some massive ninth century Saxon stones crosses in the old Market Square. It is a short journey to North Wales from Sandbach, so we had a day trip to Llangollen and visited the amazing aquaduct there that in my years living in England I had never got around to seeing. I fell in love with the narrow boats. Next trip, I hope to be able rent one for a few days - such a relaxing thing I imagine.
Playing with English Leicester & Finnwool fibres
I bought more English Leicester fleeces than I can use, so I'm offering a few batts for sale. The batts are a bright lustrous white. This fleece makes a strong and durable felt suitable for outerwear, hats, bags, slippers etc. It felts easily, but don't expect to get a 40% shrinkage.
I made a little hat to see how the fibre behaves. I made a 16 by 16 sample first, which I was unable to shrink down more than 25%. There may well be felters with more stamina and strength than me who could get more shrinkage, but I think 25% is good for this fibre. It results in a very strong fabric. The English Leicester hat is the white one in the picture, around the edge are B.F.L. lamb locks.
Then I wanted to compare how the English Leicester felts, with Finnwool, the brown hat in the picture. Although the E.L. felted easily for a longwool, the Finnwool felted faster. There isn't much difference in the overall strength of the felt. I like them both. The E.L. hat weighs 100g, and the Finn weighs 85g. The other difference is that the E.L. is in batt form, and the Finnwool is combed top.
Well, we had a very long hot summer, and a gorgeous fall that lasted until just a couple of days ago. Finally the snow and cold has arrived, but everything is ready for winter - wood cut and stacked in the woodshed, tractor and tools put away in the sheds, the garden prepared for next spring, and the snow blower made ready for the blizzards.
It wasn't much of a garden this year - way too dry and hot. We couldn't keep up with the watering and we didn't get much in the way of veggies at all. Added to that, what little did survive was eaten by deer, shrews, chipmunks, rabbits, or attacked by stem borers (squash) and blight (tomatoes). We've never had such a problem with wild life and can only guess that the poor little blighters couldn't get enough to eat in the woods.
Playing with hats
I've been busy felting hats and scarves for Christmas sales, and have sent them to my outlets. So now I can relax - or not!!
I found some lovely Blue Faced Leicester dyed locks hiding in a box in the storeroom when I was doing some sorting. So I dyed more and have made some great little winter hats. The base is prefelt, one layer of our 22 micron merino prefelt, with the locks laid on top. The band covers the ears - super warm and comfy.
Recently, we've had several enquiries from customers asking if we are downsizing or going out of business. Far from it. We've spent the past few months clearing out old inventory and making plans for new products and a new web site format. So nope - definitely not folding!
We decided to add some 18.5 micron merino top to our product line. However, this won't be available until the New Year. Rod will put colours on the website as soon as we have more details.
In the summer we put the FMP19S merino/silk prefelt on sale, because the colours were a bit garish and didn't sell well. This has made room for nicer colours, which will be on the website soon. This merino/silk blend is a lovely prefelt. It's has a very luxurious feel, is soft and drapey, felts fast and easily, and is suitable for scarves, wraps, and light clothing.