This is the first of a planned series of blog posts related to our sustainability series given at our general meetings with the goal of building a guild wide conversation about this topic.
Part 1: Just what is sustainability anyway?
Dictionary.com definition is: ability to be sustained, supported, upheld or confirmed.
The Fashion for Good organization defines sustainable textiles as being made with these considerations.
Good materials, Good economy, Good energy, Good water and Good lives.
One way to look at sustainability in terms of our fibre arts is by considering the
The “R”s of Sustainability- Rethink, Research, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Rot.
Rethinking our process with an eye to the Rs.
Some questions to ask in this process include:
Refuse- Say no to processes, practices or consequences when the answer to your questions does not satisfy you and speak with your dollars.
Reduce – Buy thoughtfully to reduce negative impacts.
Reuse Choose ways to make durable art. Meet the challenge of reuse of your waste, creations that need a new life etc.
Repair – Darn, re-knit, needlefelt , stitch, glue, sand, etc.
Recycle – Consider the recycling life of your fibres. In our local area there is no textile recycling facility but many ways to donate what you can no longer use.
Rot- At the very end of its life, fibres and dyes need to be disposed of. Will it rot & break down in the environment thus making a new beginning? Or will it remain unchanged in the soil and water of the world for hundreds or thousands of years.
Corona – who?? It initially wasn’t a problem isolating. Creatives are always working by themselves. Studio time was used and lots of felt was made.
I have a wonderful supportive felting group here in Kelowna which belong to the Ponderosa Fibre Arts Guild. We had anticipated putting on our annual Winter sale in November but even with all the extra distancing measures we had in place it couldn't happen. All items are priced and packed away for a time when we are all able to gather and to show what we had been busy doing during 2020.
We had been meeting with physical distancing in place until December. I taught a “Felt Maker’s Series-an introduction to felt”.
It always gives me pleasure to see the look of awe and wonder on people's face when the wool “magically” comes together and something is formed. I guess this why a love the process so much. It is really awe and magic!
A few pointers I would give a new felter are
This last tip is to those who just don’t have the energy right now to create. My advice would be get things ready and just make a small vessel. What better way to combat this virus then to put our hands in warm soapy water.
Denise Oyelese www.cozyup.ca
Denise Oyelese resides in Kelowna, BC and is a card carrying member of Felt:Feutre since 2016 and has been actively felting for 6 years. The process of nuno applies to most items Denise makes with all fibres suspect and vintage silk saris being her weakness. Purchasing boxes of saris from India gives an immeasurable variety and rainbows of colours to work with. With the motto of “just give it a try!” and building on the instructional courses that Denise has taken with both national and international felters- Denise continues to make shawls, vessels and larger wall hangings that challenge the limits of felt.
I recently attended the online live broadcast of the Handweavers Guild of America Textiles & Tea interview with Peggy Wiedemann. A California artist, Peggy does coiling with pine needles and a variety of other materials.
For sometime I've been wanting to experiment with the combination of pine needle coiling and felt. Peggy's creation was an inspiration to finally put thought into action. I had a nuno-felted vase that I had made alongside a friend who was learning to nuno felt. This became the base.
The recent wind storm in the Okanagan provided more than an ample supply of needles in my backyard. A few You-tube videos later along with some waxed linen thread and I added a pine needle edge to my felted vase. I have a lot to learn but it felt good to finally bring this thought to fruition. "Out of sorts" seems to be an appropriate name for the piece given these extraordinary times.
This year I challenged myself to learn more about needle-felting realistic faces, through books and experiments. I started with the male hockey player, completing the head first and working towards the feet. The result was issues with proportion as well as a static body.
The female hockey player was next. The wire armature gave her the ability to move, solved the proportion issues, but completing the face was difficult. These pieces are about 4 inches tall.
The large Santa, approximately 9 inches tall, also has a wire armature. His face, and look has a bit of ‘old world’ charm. He is dressed in wet felted clothing and carries a fully jointed mini bear.
The last Santa (6 inches tall) is my favourite. His face has a cheeky smile that invites one to smile back. In hind sight, I wish that I had added a wire armature.
My journey, with realistic faces, has been interesting and will continue in 2021.
Buttons have been around for thousands of years and have been unearthed in many parts of Asia and all the way to Scotland and the Roman Empire. In Germany, where I learned the old craft of making Posamentenbuttons, they became popular as fasteners for clothing during the 13th century. Did you know that button maker was even a proper profession about 250 years ago?
I enjoy the craft, whenever I don’t feel like felting or working on other projects. My teacher in Germany, Helene Weinold, created the perfect instruction sheets for me to follow and branch out from the type of buttons I learned to make during her workshop a couple of years ago.
Check out her brand new website
Depending on the style of button, cotton, silk and even a thin wool yarn are perfect materials to use. For the tree buttons, hand dyed silk yarns with slight color variations are best. Recently, my friend and Guild member Denise passed on some lovely silk thread, remnants from one of Kirsti’s weaving projects. Some strands were too short, but others were perfect for making a large star button. Thank you Denise and Kirsti.
There is more to these lavender eye pillows than you might see at first glance. They were inspired by all the Ponderosa guild members who committed to working through their stash during Covid19. They are made from remnants of nuno felted fabric and fabric remnants from the linings designed by my sister. I loved the idea of creating close to zero waste from these scraps.
I loved filling them with lavender from my garden.
And for someone who values yoga practice, I love that these can be used during pranayama or savasana or simply when people need a bit of relaxation!
I loved that it is a jump on some items for our November artisan sale, but unfortunately, the sale had to be cancelled due to Covid
The eye pillows are , though, still available for sale!
In August, the Guild held a dyeing and spinning workshop for newer spinners to experience dyeing with different plying techniques. There were 6 participants, along with leaders Jody Atkinson and Lyndsay Topham.
Day 1 – at Jody's menagerie, we admired the lambs (now sheep), alpaca's, dogs and chickens! It was a lovely warm day, ideal for dyeing outside. We used 3 methods – stovetop in a pot, slow oven in a roaster, and steaming. Falkland (merino blend) was the wool used.
Day 2 – In the RCA. We divided the wool sliver into 7 portions. 6 x 15gms for samples, balance for a project of choice. We started spinning following the guide in 'Unbraided' - a new book in our Guild Library. The samples were: 2 ply traditional, 3 ply traditional, 2 ply fractional, 3 ply fractional, centre pull ball, and chain ply.
Fractional is splitting the sliver into 2, then spinning 1 portion in one length, the 2nd bobbin fleece is split into 4, then spun one length after the other so the colour is distributed in a different way to traditional, then plied. With 3 ply fractional, it's a 3 way split – 1 trad. Bobbin , 2nd bobbin fleece is split into 4, 3rd bobbin fleece is split into 6 -8., then plied.
Centre pull is split into 2 pieces, spun 1 piece after the other on one bobbin, wound on a ballwinder, then plied using the centre end plus the outside end together.
Day 3 – Was at the regular spinning Thursday so we could all admire the knitted samples and the different in the colour applications.
Three verbs a felter uses when describing the mechanics of hand stitching.
With the pandemic still in effect, I had been following a friend in Vernon who was taking an online workshop and posting some wonderful images on Facebook of some hand stitching she was learning. I quickly realized this was something I had to do too. Artist and Instructor Julie Booth, based in Vienna, VA, USA was my ticket. Julie is a very organized and efficient teacher who had her step by step introduction to her workshops well setup. I registered for two 3 hour Zoom lessons, the first one was titled: "Intro to Boro-Style Stitching: Running Stitch/Sashiko Style Patterns" and the second was "Hand Stitching Primer."
While the first one started in the afternoon in Virginia, I sat myself down at 10am here on the West Coast to learn from her. The second class started at 10am on the East Coast so I needed to be well-fortified with coffee at the 7am start, yikes!
Both classes proved to be a wonderful creative distraction from the daily pandemic routine of juggling two adults working from home plus the daughter who can't go see her friends like most summers. Learning these new techniques is quite inspiring and I look forward to applying my new skills in my current artistic endeavours.
With gratitude and respect for our growing fiber community here in Kelowna I want to thank the Ponderosa Spinners, Weavers, and Fibre Arts Guild for offering the scholarship and accepting my submission.
Deb and Jody were inspired by an article that was in Spin Off years and years ago. The lady had made 2 sheep tea cozies. Great inspiration to have a play date!
So Deb and Jody went on an adventure...
They started by creating an ‘envelope’ with wet felting and then they made the head and attached the ‘fleece’ one lock at a time….all with needle felting.
Great fun was had!!!
In the depths of social isolation and daily bad news, a bright spot for me was participating in a Stash Busting Weave Along led by Tien Chiu and Janet Dawson
Over 4 weeks of guidance, more than 3000 participants across North America and beyond experimented with our stash threads. My personal goal was to use colours out of my usual range, including different thread sizes and fibres. And of course, to free some stash that has been languishing in my bins waiting to be woven into something beautiful.
Tien, a specialist in colour in hand weaving, provided a fun digital tool to determine how stash colours worked together in the draft chosen for the weave along. Colour is an endless learning experience and there were lots of tips and information.
Janet, an experienced weaving instructor, had much to offer to improve how I do things. You are never too old to learn new tricks.
After testing strength, stretch, washability & abrasion resistance, doing calculations for required amounts then checking colour groups and values of the colours, I chose a warp of cotton, cottolin and silk in sizes from 2/20 silk to 3/2 cotton. Colours were neutrals, gold and orange.
Sampling for sett and colour was critical for this project as was washing the sample.
My final choice was bright red cotton weft, which gave the lustrous gold cotton and orange silk a chance to shine. For a little continuity in the fringe, I added a red thread to each twisted group. This was woven on our guild Jane loom in an 8 harness rosepath structure.
This was a fun project and I’m very happy with the resulting scarf.
warpandweave.com - Tien Chiu
weavingwithjanetdawson.com - Janet Dawson
How wonderful to have our first in person Guild meeting since February! With our “annual” June pot-luck tradition upon us, the loosening of the COVID-19 restrictions, and a backyard big enough to accommodate physical distancing, our Ponderosa Guild decided to meet in person at the end of June.
Over the several months of the “stay home, stay safe” mandate, our members were very busy - the “show and tell” can only be described as awesome. Many members were working through their considerable stash. Others used the time to learn new skills. Some supported local businesses by purchasing “mystery project bags”. One member connected the past and present by incorporating the somewhat lost art of darning into a picture which included a photo of her mom with her SIX sisters! Each of our fibre arts were represented – spinning with wheels and drop spindles, knitting, crocheting, weaving, dying of yarn and painted scarves, wet felting, and needle felted animals.
While it is has been a trying time, there has also been a peacefulness in some ways. Being able to sink into our fibre art gave solace and shape to our time. It reminded us of the importance of art and culture to sustain and feed us.
We know many of our members weren’t able to join us so we know that our planned “in person” September meeting will also be awesome as we get together again!