The BULB Ottawa Tulip Festival Craft Show

Looking for a fun Saturday event this weekend? Look no further than the fantastic Tulip Festival’s Craft Show, The BULB, taking place in Ottawa May 11th 2013 at City Hall.

With a focus on Canadian handmade goods, you’re bound to see something unique and original. Here’s a sampling of what you can find:

Amazing macarons by Hearty Bakery

Artisan Chocolates by Koko Chocolates

View this post on Instagram

Unique #fiber #jewelry by @morgannathewhite

A post shared by Meagan Hanes (@mhanes) on

Unique Fiber Jewelry by Morganna the White

View this post on Instagram

Woven #copper artwork by @saywardjohnson

A post shared by Meagan Hanes (@mhanes) on

Woven Copper Artwork by Sayward Johnson

Unique style pieces by Twiss and Weber

It’s FREE to attend, so check it out this weekend and go home with a super-special Mother’s Day gift, and maybe a small thing for yourself too 😉

For more information visit The BULB Ottawa website

Quilt Show at the RA Center

We visited the Quilt Show which took place in Ottawa earlier in the month.

I took a plethora of pictures as I always do. Here’s a link to the gallery where you can see them all. I’ve selected the ones I liked the most to show you below!

IMG 5432

A gorgeous black and white quilt with gold highlights. Circles aren’t easy to sew! The amount of precision in this quilt is mind-boggling.

IMG 5377

An adorable wall hanging, a small project one could complete in a few days, even by hand.

IMG 5365

The stained glass look is really amazing when done in fabrics! I’m a big fan. Noted for future inspiration! The quilt lines are simple and enhance the presentation of the subject matter.

IMG 5384

Again, complex shapes are difficult in sewing, so my hat goes off to the creator of this quilt, as well as the amazingly talented quilter! The abstractness is also quite appealing, as is the photographic-like framing.

A New Old Tool

Oh how I love old tools! They’re built to last, unlike today’s disposable items. Many times they are in varying conditions of repair, commonly neglected or in need of fixes here and there…

But sometimes you encounter a beauty. A tool that is gorgeous and well maintained, painstakingly loved and cared for over the years.

IMG 5439

I found one. Rather, I think it found me. I walked into a pawn shop for the first time in my life and there she was, looking back at me.

A Janome Model 131, made in Japan. I’m still looking up more information about this model, seems the internet doesn’t hold a lot of knowledge about it… not much of a surprise there! Old tools and new technology don’t normally mix… until I get my hands on them, that is.

IMG 5435

Relish in the amazingly intricate detail on the metal pieces and painting. This piece is meant to be kept around for a long time! Of course I could make that judgment based on its weight alone – it’s probably a good 20-30lbs.

IMG 5441

But the real reason I love her is because of this – she’s completely hand powered. Sure it will take some skill, sewing with one hand while powering it with the other, but it’s nothing a spinner can’t conquer! What a great compromise between the delicate approach of hand sewing/quilting and the efficiency of machine sewing/quilting. And y’all know how much I love a human powered device!

I’m very interested to do some stitch tests and see what kind of stitch it can produce… after I figure out how to get her threaded up, of course!

Spinning Milkweed Fluff

Milkweed Pod Process

Milkweeds. Who would have thought that they would be any good to me as a fiber artist? I have this habit of finding plants and searching online to see what I can make of the plant. You’d be amazed how far you can get with a simple Google search. My search term of choice was “spinning milkweed” and I was met with some interesting results:

  1. Yes it can be spun.
  2. No it’s not strong enough to be spun on its own.
  3. More commonly it was used for stuffing pillows and blankets, as milkweed is more insulating than goose down.

What a pleasant surprise! Actually I learned much more about the plant and its uses, its edibility, etc. Milkweed is the #1 plant that Monarch butterflies eat. Sure enough I found a caterpillar underneath one of the leaves!

So I harvested a bunch, cracked open the green shell (there’s a seam on the back that peels right into the core), pulled out the fluffy bits, de-seeded them (saving the seeds to toss back out on my next walk), fluffed the fluff off of the inner core (it’s like a spongy wafer), and set it out to dry on an old window screen.

Milkweed Fluff

Here are the fluff bits all dried out. They are luxurious and silky both in look and touch. Sadly the root end of each fluff bit is a bit on the picky side, if you had the dedication you could snip them all out though. Considering the amount of work that goes into making actual silk though it’s probably easier to snip these ends! And boy is it ever light and warm. Lighter and warmer than angora I would say. But not as soft overall due to the picky bits.

Spinning Dog Hair and Milkweed

Here I am spinning up some milkweed and Lee fur. The milkweed is just too slippy and short to spin on its own. From what I’ve read online not even plying it gives it enough strength. So I mixed it with a pile of Lee fur and spun it up, and will add this to the pile of yarn which will become a hat for the pup.

Dog Milkweed Yarn

Here’s the final dog and milkweed yarn. Surprisingly I got a decent amount – something like 15 meters of a medium weight yarn. The milkweed stretched things out for sure.

Yarn Closeup

And a closeup to show you the variation of white milkweed and medium brown dog fiber. And little burr seeds of course. There’s no way I’m spending time picking stuff out of yarn that will become a dog hat, and combing Lee to get rid of the seeds was the reason I ended up with all the fluff in the first place. Such is the life of a natural fiber spinner I guess, with fiber comes cellulose.

I compared this to my other snippets of 100% dog fur. It’s a bit hard to describe their similarities and differences. Both were soft, the milkweed one was more luxurious like a rich sauce compared to mustard but then the picky bits were a bit tangy and sharp.

The next steps for experimentation include spinning it up with some white Shetland and dyeing it with my protein dyes. Since milkweed is a plant the fiber is a cellulose one, it will not be dyed with my protein dyes, unlike wool (and other animal fibers) which is a protein fiber. So the result will be a fantastically dyed yarn with white silky streaks peppered throughout it. I also want to try felting with the milkweed, whether it’s actively felting things together or sandwiching the milkweed between two layers of wool felt, or even using it as a component in a felted figurine.

Oh Milkweed. I have a feeling I will end up cultivating lots of you in my future. That will be cool though, it will treat the farm visitors to a Monarch show!

Spinning Dog Fur

Lees Undercoat

Anyone who owns a dog or cat can attest to the above picture – the results of a simple combing session add up quickly. This is Lee’s undercoat. It’s very much warm and soft, in fact it’s quite like Angora fiber. I’d say it’s certainly skin soft (as in you could wear this next to your skin without irritation). Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to use this?

Lees Yarn

Guess what! There is a way! The spinner in me noticed it very quickly. I could not resist pulling out my wheel and giving this a spin – no processing or cleaning or combing, just raw off the brush. The result – a medium strength woolen yarn, only about 5 meters or so but I estimate Lee has more undercoat left on him, possibly enough to get up to 10 meters. From an animal who is not a fiber animal primarily, what a nice surprise!

Lee with his Yarn

Here’s Lee posing with his wool-wound yarn. Yes that is the color of my living room. I love it!

I will be using this yarn to make Lee a little hat. I wanted it to have a certain amount of color in the yarn though to differentiate it from Lee himself, so I dyed it with some Queen Anne’s Lace dyestock. We have tons of wild dye plants growing on the farm so I applied my knowledge learned last year and dyed Lee’s yarn. Now it is a weird sickly browny gold thing (Queen Anne’s Lace makes a greeny yellow color) but I kinda like it. It will certainly look different from Lee!

More Swap Stamps

Stamp Swap 2

Here is the second set of stamps I carved for the stamp swap I participated in. This person’s theme was tattoo flash. Ideas that went through my mind included a I love Mom tattoo, the traditional anchor tattoo, and even a koi fish. The idea of a pin up girl was right in there of course. I really like how the rose turned out, you can see the closed-up center portion very clearly, though truth be said I am proud of all of these stamps. I think my pin up girl started looking a bit like Counselor Troi from Star Trek TNG but hey that’s life!

Best of all, Canada Post delivered these stamps in under 18 hours, from dropping it off here in Alfred to being signed for in Toronto. That certainly made up for the $8 tracking number I chose to put on it!