Friday, June 01, 2012


It is June 1st, so it is time to reveal the May vessel!

I conceived of the idea for May early in the month but just never got around to doing the vessel until just the other day.

When felting with a flat pattern, which is how I make my vessels, you have to be very careful about how you work the edges. If you rub too hard, too quickly, you can end up with something that looks like Saturn, with a rim around the center instead of a smooth, round form. I thought that I would take this idea and push it a little.

Here is the beginning. I started by laying out what would be the bottom and adding a piece of bubble wrap into which I had cut a circle. This was laid down and a rim of fleece was added to make what would hopefully be a ruffle. The flat pattern was then put down and more fleece added.

Then more layers of bubble wrap and more fleece. You can see that there are quite a few layers here!

I wet everything down and felted. And felted. And rubbed. And felted. And so on and so on and so on...... There were a few areas that burst their seams and required some patching. And more felting.

Here is the final vessel. I will be honest in saying that it was not quite what I was expecting. I was hoping that it would end up being taller and the ruffles a little more...well...ruffly!

I was hoping to get something reminiscent of a Spanish dancer and ended up with a sumo wrestler playing dress up.

I think that this is an idea that wants to be revisited in the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

and just cause "666" freaks me out....

I am posting number 667 right on it's heels.

As you may know, we moved in the fall. Fall was rough to say the least and I really didn't get a look at what was in the flower beds or in the yard. I did note that there was a bed out front with bush like things in it and a small bed in the back yard. And then I started to deal with the inside of the house and teaching for the first time and life in general and didn't give the outside a second thought.

Fast forward to spring and this is what the front bed looks like. Ick. Some nice hostas, a burning bush, false spirea, a couple of cute box woods, a hydrangea that has seen better days, along with a smattering of wood chips of some sort and exposed landscape cloth. The people that we bought the place from bought it 5 years ago and I am assuming that the people that they bought it from had a little landscaping done to give the house "curb appeal". And that was the end of doing anything (short of mowing) in the yard.

And the neglect shows. No curb appeal from this vantage point.

We need to have the drain tiles cleaned out and may of may not have to dig up this corner of the house so I am leaving this bed until we find out how much digging needs to be done.

In the back I was able to start digging some of the weeds out of the bed. I waited until I could get an idea of what was in there and other than the bush in the middle, nothing but weeds have appeared. Well, there was a brave showing from a tiny bit of creeping flox but not enough to have my heart singing. The soil in the bed is very depleted ( I only saw two worms) and we will get some manure to make it happier.

 We are going to lengthen it and make it a bit wider and plant things that need to be picked in a timely manner. Like lettuce and cherry tomatoes and spinach and maybe even a special place with lots of sand for carrots! And my herbs. Parsley, sage, thyme, basil, oregano, and tarragon. Rosemary will go into a pot as she can come inside for the winter.

And look! I have lilacs!

Journal April

After the failure of March, I am happy to say that April is finished, and even happier to say that I am pleased.

I was having a hard time being inspired after the disappointment of March, so I put out a call on Face Book which said "Waiting for inspiration........"  and one of my friends (thanks Mel) pointed me here.

And I found this.

My original inspiration. This was lifted from the internet but was uncredited so in the highly unlikely event that it is yours and you would like credit, let me know and I will do so.
April started out as a regular white vessel into which I cut irregular holes.
Freshly cut vessel
I felt that the cut edge was a little rough
sharp edges

 so I soaked it out and felted them a little more to soften them up a bit.

Poor soggy vessel
 After I had finished felting it, I rinsed it well and squeezed out the excess water but I was left with a floppy pile of felt.
Rung out but still floppy

So I decided that the best way to make it full and round again was to insert a balloon to give it some structure. I just happened to have a balloon hanging about because I also just happen to have an 8 year old who loves balloons!
the best way to puff up wet felt
When I first saw the picture that was the inspiration for April, I dropped it on my desktop and didn't look at it again. I had a vague memory of something in the center and something spherical. I had a small red vessel left over from a previous project and I thought that it would look lovely in the centre.


If you scroll back up to the funky fungus, you can see that there is no red, but there is something inside and something something somewhat spherical. 

I put the small red vessel inside and had fun stitching it in place.
close up of the internal ball
Now I need to get going on May! The month is half over and I have no idea what May will be!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I am sorry to have been so silent lately in terms of my Felted Vessel Project, but it turns out that March is an abject failure. Well, maybe I should be quite so harsh. I did learn a lot. Isn't that usually the way though.

If you remember (it was so long ago in time, but only a few posts) March was inspired by seeing street lights at night from an airplane. This necessitated finding streets upon which to set some lights.

Google maps came to the rescue. I started in Ottawa and "flew" towards Montreal ( the one place even I recognised from the air) and stopped when I found a particularly pleasing arrangement of streets. Just as I had no idea what towns I was flying over, I have no idea of the name of the particular town that I used. A print out and a couple of enlargements later, I had my streets. I had to do a bit of creative rearrangement to make a flat town fit on a curved surface, but through diligent application of scissors, managed to come up with a pleasing arrangement.

Through trial and error, I decided that the best way to mark out my town was to lay "lights" along the streets, and some how mark them.
preparation of pattern pieces
Enter the tiny hole punch (1/8th of and inch) and dressmakers chalk.

Patterns, chalk, and holes

Next came the punching. Hundreds of little holes. To punch effectively, I put a dowel into the vice, the vessel onto the dowel, and with my trusty hammer, beat the thing into submission.
Punching holes like nobody's business

After a while, the center of the dowel would be so chewed up as to not actually work as an effective brace against which to punch, so I also had to saw the end off the dowel several times.  Actually, this was a job that I pawned off on my wonderful husband.
A pooped punch pole

I was left with a bunch of small felt plugs. Every 5 or 6 holes, I would have to stop pounding and dig the plugs out of my punch. I ended up buying a couple of more punches, which turned out to be a good thing because I damaged my first punch a short while later.
Doughnut holes

and the doughnut

Next, I started to stitch the beads in. This in itself was a trial. I had finished the punching the night before I, my mother, and my friend Sarah were scheduled to leave for a Fibre Arts Retreat in Nova Scotia. The drive was about 5 hours and I felt safe that between going and coming home, I would have enough time to stitch my vessel. Not to mention that there would be time to stitch when I was not spinning, eating, etc.

I was right. I had plenty of time to stitch. I thought that I might not have enough beads so before we left, I ran to the store and found some more gold beads. What I didn't figure was that the beads were a slightly different gold. Not much of a difference, but enough of a difference that I couldn't use them.
If I had been at home, I could have taken the beads out of my trial piece, or run back to the store to see if I could find the right gold colour. As it was, I ripped the beads out and started to stitch with the new beads. I managed to get most of the stitching finished on the drive home (thanks Mamoo for driving!)

Finished....or is it?
Beads all in, and all of the same colour, it was done, but all of the manipulation that it gone through had left it somewhat.....floppy.  No worries, I thought. I'll pop a balloon into it and give it a quick felt to firm it up a bit.

Smart eh?

Not so much. It seems that there were a few places where I had punched the holes a little too closely and with the further manipulation the holes actually ended up acting like perforations in paper.

They tore a bit.

And created holes.

@#&^%$% holes!

As you can see in the "finished?" picture, there was still snow on the ground. It was actually just a couple of days into April when this happened and I have to say that with everything else that has been happening in my life, it acted as a bit of a gumption trap. It took me a couple of weeks to decide how to proceed.

First was to decide to start on April without having satisfactorily finished March.
Second was to decided on April.
Third was to accept that I will be redoing all this work and using my hard earned knowledge of what not to do, hopefully end up with a successful piece.

But give me a couple of months to get up the gumption to punch all those holes again!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Weaving Books

Hey All You Weavers Out There.....

I was wondering if you would let me in on your favourite weaving books. I am teaching weaving at NBCCD next year and have a few dollars that I can spend on books.

So if you can gave me a suggestion and tell me what you like about it, I would be grateful!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fibre Arts RETREAT

Courtesy of my mother, I have pictures of the most recent retreat that we attended. The Fibre Arts Retreat happens in Nova Scotia at the end of March/beginning of April. It is for anyone interested in Fibre Arts of any sort. My buddy Sarah found out about the FAR somewhere and said "Let's go!" Never one to give up an opportunity to spin with fellow Fibre Enthusiasts,  I replied "When do we leave?"
With Piggy as out faithful co-pilot
Mamoo behind the wheel,
Sarah as the relaxing beauty in the back seat,
and me.....well, just being me

Off we set!

This will be the third time that I have been and it just keeps getting bigger and better! The first year we were in one half of the "ballroom". There was a wedding in the other half (the dividing doors were closed) and so we were rather entertained.
Last year we had taken over the rest of the ballroom because there as so much more interest.
This year, about half of the spinners ended up in the foyer between the ballroom and a smaller conference room.

I was a little miffed at first, but I quickly came to accept our move as A Good Thing. We had comfy chairs. We were closer to the bathroom and the refueling station. And on Saturday night when everyone else was kicked out of the big room at 10 pm so that they could lock everything up, we were told that we could just lock the door behind us. Some of us had gone for a quick dip in the pool and a quick soak in the hot tub (heaven!) and so we had a late night pajama party.

Inside the big room were the rest of the spinners, quilters, hookers, weavers (table looms only) felters (needle only), tatters, and this one lady who had a display and was giving a demo on bobbin lace making. Amazing!

Here are out fearless organizers! A huge thank you goes out to Sharon and Richard!

Next years retreat takes place April 5,6,7, 2013! If anyone out there is interested, let me know and I will put you in touch with Sharon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blanket Weaving Workshop 2013

Just to let you all know that I am once again teaching a blanket weaving workshop as part of edventures. This year it is July 9-13. The hours are 9-12 and 1-4, although I have been known to stay a little later if someone needs to catch up a little bit. This is a perfect workshop for beginners or someone who is a little rusty.

I am also doing a week long workshop on Overshot Weaving. This one runs July 30- August 3. We will be doing name drafts on a computer and then weaving our designs. Name drafts are when you take a name, word, or phrase and by giving the letters a numeric value of 1-4, use the numbers to create a pattern. Sounds complicated, but is not. I think that it is one of the most fun things that you can do on a loom!

For more information on Edventures, just click HERE!

Sunday, April 08, 2012


Last year when I went to visit my sister and her new baby I happily booked myself a flight, and since I am not the most seasoned traveler, and since there was only one direct flight a day between our two cities, and because that one flight departed at 6:30 a.m., which meant getting up at 4:00 a.m., I found myself Very Disappointed when the airline said that there were some problems with the weather and that none of the luggage and some of the passengers would have to be left behind. It so turned out that I ended up being one of those passengers. Very Disappointed Indeed.

However, it came with a small compensation. I got a guarented window seat on the next flight that they put me on and I also got a $200 travel voucher. Good for 1 year. Anywhere Air Canada traveled.

Which puts me to March of this year.

But first we have to go back to November.

My friend Rachel has family just outside of Ottawa and frequiently flies home. Which puts her on the list of people who get e-mails about specials that the airline is having. And last Novemebr she found a deal that was too hard to resist. Flights one way to Ottawa were $79. And seeing as she likes me and knows that I have a nephew in the Ottawa area (not to mention a sister and brother-in-law that I am quite fond of) she let me in on the deal and the special "code" that you needed to know.

So I booked my flight. The same 6:30 a.m. flight. But this time there were no delays. Well there was the small delay when my sister and I were on either side of a divider waiting for the other one to show up, but I don't really count that. I had a great time and was amazed at how much my nephew had grown, and was charmed by him once again. I also enjoyed hanging out with my sister and brother-in-law too.

It came time for me to fly home. Once again a direct flight but this one was in the early evening.  Just as the sun was setting. And we were flying into the dark.

I had a window seat, and although I had a book that I was quite interested in, I spent most of the next 30 minutes with my face pressed to the window looking down and out. I was quite intrigued by the patterns on the ground. More specifically the patterns of the street lights. The dark with that spark of light. We have all been on residential streets and have seen street lights and most of the time I am sure that we were happy that they were there. We have all looked at maps of our neighbourhood.

This was the first time that I had seen the two melded together.  I was intrigued. And inspired.

When I got home I had an idea of how I was going to translate this vision into a felt vessel. Cut holes in a black vessel, stitch in beads, and add a light.

So I made a small black vessel and started cutting holes.

With scissors.


But it worked, so I continued clipping until I had enough holes to give myself an idea whether or not it would work. I stitched in the beads and liked the preliminary results.

But there had to be a better way.

After thinking for a bit about ways to punch holes into fabric, I realized that you can get punches for inserting grommets. Off to the store went I and found a punch that looked like it would work with my chosen beads. I put a stick in a vice and the upper end inside the vessel to have a hard surface against which to hammer and punched a line of straight, even holes.

Small punch tool
Now I could continue onto the final piece.

I am still stitching beads into the holes but should be done in the next couple of days.

Check back soon for the continuing story of March!

Saturday, April 07, 2012



The shortest month in terms of days and yet it is the month that somehow seems the longest to many people.

The excitement of Christmas and New Year are long past and although the days are getting longer, there is still more dark night than sunlight, and there is that cold to deal with.

There seem to be many fire celebrations that have been historically celebrated in the month of February.
St Bridget's day, Candlemas, Imbloc, and Groundhog Day. All seem to have something to do with the return of the sun. Which is a big ball of fire.

So I decided that February would be about fire.

Prototype of fire.

 The prototype was not exactly what I would call successful. It was rather blob like and not as defined as I thought that "fire" should be. But I learned from my mistake. As often happens, I learned what not to do.

I didn't like the black on the bottom so I removed it. I stitched the vessel that was soft felted in a shibori technique and then felted some more.

Stitched vessel
 I then undid the stitches and using a small stick pushed the sides out to resemble the traditional flame.

Here is a detail of the texture created by felting while stitched. I see a whole world of possibilities opening up!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Journey

I have decided to make 12 felt vessels in the year 2012. One each month. They shall be named after the months of the year and I will complete each vessel within that month (give or take a few days).  They will all start out with the same template and each will be inspired by something about that month. It might be something that happened to me or something about that month that stands out.

Sounds easy enough. And so far it has been. Sort of.

January was simple. One day, I looked out the kitchen window at our new view of the back yard and was intrigued by the juxtaposition of the white snow, the blue sky, and the starkness of the bush that currently resides in the yard.

January, as I mentioned, was simple.  No new techniques. No need for any extraordinary measures. I made my template and set to work. First try and I had almost exactly what I envisioned. The bush was a little lighter than I had wanted, but after seeing the snow blow around a few days later, I felt that it captured January perfectly.
By the way..... I know it's March. I know that I am starting this documentation a wee bit tardy. The photo above was even taken in March, though the vessel itself was created in January, along with the idea to do a felt journal. But better late than never!