Thursday, 26 April 2018

Felting Workshop

Yesterday, Jen1, Barb, Jeanette and I attended a felting workshop at the Artisans Centre in Peterborough. The class was lead by Christianna Ferguson, a fibre artist from Lakefield.

Our goal was to create a felted purse similar to this:

Christianna provided us with the 'resist' which was the pattern for our felted bag, bubble wrap, tulle, a pool noodle, soap, water, the fine merino rovings, and a squirt bottle.

First we selected the main colour of our bag, then on the towel covered by the bubblewrap with the bubbles up, we began pulling fibres from the rovings and laying them horizontally until the resist was completely covered with a bit of overlap on the edges,

we covered it in tulle and wet it with the soapy water. The tulle just holds everything in place while the piece is wetted.

After carefully peeling the tulle away, we then we flipped the resist and wet fibres over and did the same thing on the other side. We repeated that whole process again, this time laying the fibres vertically, then a third time laying them horizontally again, making sure the edges were folded over.

The next step was to lay the resist for the flap down about 3cm from the top and lay the fibres as on the rest of the bag for a total of 3 layers without flipping the bag over this time. Then we selected pieces of silk to lay on top of our felting, making sure the silk didn't overlap. Then I put some pieces of roving over the edges of the silk to delineate the different areas - like sashing on a quilt.

After doing that on one side, I flipped it over and added the silk squares to the other side.
Next came the felting process. We put a sheet of thin plastic over the bag, soaped and wet our hands and rubbed the bag through the plastic for about 20 minutes on each side. This process began the felting which anchored the silk to the fibres below.

Once that was done we rolled our projects in bubble wrap and our towel and rolled it, first one way, then another. This process began the fulling which would shrink our projects down about 20% in each direction.
No silk on the inside of the flap
We then cut the top of our bag creating the opening and releasing the resist inside. At this point, the felting was completed and the fulling would begin.

We then cut small holes in the two tabs and rubbed the areas around them in order to create an opening for the leather strap which we would put on after everything was dry.

We then rolled the bag upon itself in every direction, continuing to full it until it was pretty close to the bag Christianne had as a sample for us to see.
Ready to take home
We got through most of the steps by going overtime by about 45 minutes.
Jeanette, Barb with her and Jen's bag, and me
Jen's cool bag. She used sequinned silk for a bit of 'bling'
Back at home, I soaked my bag in vinegar and water to remove all the soap that was used in the process, then rinsed with water to remove the vinegar. I tossed it in the washer to spin a lot of the water out of it. I then shaped it and have left it to dry. That will probably take a couple of days. After which I'll attach the strap with the rivets Christianne provided us. Then I'll cut a buttonhole to fit the coordinating button that Barb gave me and I'll be finished.

Tomorrow Barb, Jeanette and I are meeting at Kim's stitchery shop to select our threads for the online Hardanger project the four of us (including Jen1) will be working on.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Birthday Birding

It's another beautiful day, today on my birthday, so Skip and I headed out to do some birding at Thickson's Woods.

There were lots of birds under the trees along the Waterfront Trail.

I first spotted this white-throated sparrow. I didn't see the white throat right away but did note the yellow just above its beak. Next time I had a good look, I noticed the white throat.

American robin
I confirmed this guy's identity with my Peterson iPhone birding app. I played the bird call on the app and it matched the song sparrow's call.
The brown creepers love these trees with the rough bark. There must be lots of insects under the flaky bits.
There were also lots of hermit thrushes.
Other species spotted but not photographed were starlings, a fox sparrow, American crow, American goldfinches, red-winged blackbirds, a red-breasted nuthatch, and a golden-crowned kinglet. Thanks to the Peterson app, I easily IDd the kinglet with its striking deep yellow patch on the top of its head indicating a female.

We've only had 3 days of nice weather since we returned from TX 10 days ago. The birds seem very happy it's nice out, too. There are lots and lots of bugs/midges for them now. I am looking forward to seeing the trilliums bloom.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

First Birding This Year in The Great White North

It has finally warmed up here. The snow is almost all gone. I went down to Thickson's Woods this afternoon to see what I could see.

I didn't expect to see much other than chickadees and cardinals, but was very pleasantly surprised.
Male house finch

Tree Swallow

Standing in the middle of an open area, I saw a deer walking towards me. It didn't seem to mind that I was there at all. Then another one!
Shortly thereafter a man with a spade in his hand walked down the same path. I asked him about the deer. He said there were two fawns last year that stayed in the protected area and figured these were the same two a year older.
Deer tracks
I kept my distance as I didn't want any ticks jumping on me. I was glad I had long pants, socks, and shoes on. Lyme disease be damned!
Brown-headed cowbird
Male goldfinch

A bunch of goldfinches in a far-off tree.
I then went into the woods on the south side of the Waterfront Trail. There, I saw a yellow-rumped warbler and chickadees.
I walked eastwards and spotted a couple of brown creepers.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Dark-eyed junco - slate-coloured

Fox Sparrow

It was a lovely couple of hours down there, practically on the shores of Lake Ontario. I thought it would be significantly cooler than up the road at home but with the sun shining it was great.

Oops! Heh heh heh. (How embarassing!)

Well darn it all! I just had another look at my 'finished' Friendship piece and I realized I hadn't stitched the sunflowers!

So here it is again.
Semi-close-up of the Rhodes heart and sunflowers.
Back it goes on the pile for finishing.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Little Sheep Virtue

I stitched this Little House Needleworks' Little Sheep Virtues piece in only a couple of sessions.
I substituted DMC 814 for the heart and equation. The lilac colour originally charted was not to my liking. I also did a Rhodes heart instead of a cross-stitched one.
It's about 10cm x 10cm. I'm not sure how I'll finish it. Maybe a flatfold finish or possibly a little pillow. For now, it will go on the pile of stitched pieces.

At my embroidery guild on Tuesday night, we learned a woven technique and worked on a little stitched piece - a woven vase with leaves and flowers. We were given a square of fabric and a card with all the necessary threads.
We first learned how to stitch the vase, using the weaving technique, then a chain stitch for the top of the vase. Dianna showed us Barbara Kershaw's favourite technique for this which really is the reverse way most of us have learned.

We then learned how to do the curled leaf and finally, the flower. It is basically the same technique as the leaf, but just rolled up and tacked down. If any of the fabric shows from underneath, just do a big French or colonial knot in the centre. That's what I did.

The time went quickly and we went away with the knowledge of how to finish this project at home.

This was Andra's. She had a slightly different colour palette than I did.

Jeanette added hers to our two for a photo.
I missed the March meeting but was given the kit so I could do the stitching on paper project - a bookmark. 

I took some closeups of a finished one so I could replicate it at home.
One of our members added lace on each side and felt on the back.
I'm happy to be back with my creative community. Some of us are planning to go to the Frolic on April 28. The Gathering was moved to May 5 from last weekend because of the ice storm. I have juggled my schedule so I can now attend.

Also, a few of us from the embroidery guild are going to do a cyber stitching class as a stitch along. It's a three-piece Hardanger project. We can sign up on May 1.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Home - And Not A Minute Too Soon

Skip is fanatical about tracking the weather. He has 11 weather apps on his iPhone. I used to mock him until we got stuck driving through an ice storm a few years back when we decided to throw caution to the wind. I now completely defer to his judgement.

We arbitrarily picked April 10 as a departure date from SPI with a tentative home arrival date of April 15. We packed up the car and got going to Buffalo TX on the 10th. We had superb driving conditions all the way.

On the Weather Channel, a terrible ice storm was being forecast for the weekend, so we decided to drive an extra hour or two from our normal pace to get home on Friday - just to be safe.

We made it to Jonesboro AR on night #2 and stayed at a sketchy Econolodge due to an error on my part. I have apps for every hotel chain and accumulate points for free nights and just booked the wrong Choice Hotel. It turned out OK as the motel was within walking distance of a Cracker Barrel. By 'motel', I mean you drive up to the door of your room. It was a bit noisy but I was so pooped that I slept like the dead. I don't think Skip slept as well as I did but regardless, we got up bright and early the next morning and headed for Fort Wayne IN.

The original plan was to spend the night at my sister's in the Sarnia area before doing the last 4 hours on the road before home. But from Fort Wayne, we could certainly make it home in one day.

We had excellent driving conditions the whole way. No bad weather. No major traffic tie-ups. No car malfunctions. As we neared the ramp for the 407, we were fortunate to get off the 401 without a slow-down as we could see cars stopped farther down the road.
The 401 below us as we head eastward on the 407. We most certainly did NOT miss traffic like this on our holiday.
We made it home by 4:30 and just got the car unloaded before the rain started coming down. It had been 14C in Sarnia after we crossed from the US and the temperature had plummeted to 4C by the time we got home.

Here was our 3200km route:

Back in Whitby, it rained for a while. Then when the temperature dropped below freezing, freezing ice pellets started. They lasted for about 1.5 days, covering everything in what looked like newly fallen snow.
Saturday night
Freezing ice pellets covered the driveway and sidewalk Saturday night 
Then it snowed for a few hours, then it rained for a day. I didn't leave the house until yesterday (Monday) when I went out to help Skip clear our driveway and sidewalks. The slushy snow was really heavy. Thank goodness, Skip was able to get the snowblower to move the stuff. It was still hard work, but so much easier than if we'd had to shovel.

It was windy overnight and a bit drizzly this morning but our driveway and sidewalks are still clear. Am I ever glad we got out there yesterday and cleared things off. Several people in our neighbourhood didn't even bother to clear the 10cm of accumulation away.
This morning. Our hard work yesterday paid off. There was only a light dusting of snow overnight. 
We are all unpacked and laundry is done. Our regular activities have resumed. Our wonderful holiday in south Texas is but a delicious memory.

We were so fortunate to have been able to experience the beginning of the migration and are following several of our birding friends on Facebook who are still down there. In the meantime, we're reconnecting with our friends and loved ones here at home and already planning things we might want to do down south next year.  Two things we didn't do were visiting the new Sea Turtle Rescue place and doing a Segway tour of the island. It's always nice to have something to look forward to.