Shop Update

If you were lucky enough to be in my shop a few Saturdays ago when my pipes froze and my bathroom exploded, you might have been even luckier to be one of the ones running to the back to offer help… at which point you would have learned that shop walls hide some horrific messes. For months the space outside the bathroom has served as my recycling pile area (imagine lots of boxes), furniture waiting to be painted area, tool storage area, photography area, boxes of bags area, my family’s kitchen, and my closet.

On my list of a million things to do this week, tidying this area was important.

There were three pieces of furniture to paint and add to the shop: my mother’s table, a clock which was donated to the store, and the base of one of the hutches – the top of which is in use housing the needles, it is on top of a dresser rather than its base because the dresser offers better storage for …more needles.

The base is now beside the checkout counter to gives me some extra storage for bags (Adrienneūüėā) and shop operations stuff. Now called my little blue sideboard, it is my favourite piece in the shop. (Still needs to be hinged, clearly..)

ck was donated by some new friends, and I'm not sure how much if its story they would want to share. I think it's safe to say the clock was deeply appreciated by its original owner, but for complicated reasons it hasn't seen love (or the light of day) for years. It is the hope that the clock will find a new life in the shop. I think it already has.

My mother’s table has been in my sunroom for a few years serving as my workshop table. With its leaf it seats six, but Not comfortably. Without the leaf it transforms into an adorable pedestal table, and that is how I’ll use it. It was going to be painted white, and the first coat went on white – in fact the base already had its second coat when I decided to go at it with the blue paint, and I love it. Blue round table it is. We’ll use the round table near the entrance to the shop for a few purposes. I’ve noticed people need more space to put wool down and look at colours, compare, or match. This will be our table for that.

There has been some organisation accomplished this week, but still a lot to go. I’ll be moving on to plan B for the main shelving unit, so please be patient while I make the arrangements. There is no one more eager to see the shelves in place than me.

As for wool…

I’ve been busy coordinating the workshop schedule, and hope to post an updated list to the blog later this weekend. Upcoming classes include: beginner knitting, knit lace making, sock knitting, (hopefully knit fiddlehead mittens), crochet amigurumi cacti, crochet amigurumi mice, needle felt sculpture: chickadees, needle felt sculpture: valentine heart garland, needle felt sculpture: Easter eggs with simple embroidery embellishment.

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orkshops in planning include yoga for stitchers and knitting with an energy healer. (I'm really intrigued by these two!)

Thank you, everyone, for your patience as everything falls into place.

Shooting Stars crochet pattern


IMG_6314I recently revealed the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever made. This dissected unicorn made for Colleen and her daughter has been getting a lot of love over Facebook and I’ve had countless requests for the pattern.

The unicorn can be stuffed with all his parts and buttoned closed. Inside a unicorn we find rainbows and shooting stars, a big rainbow heart and perfectly pink lungs, sparkling intestine and a gumdrop stomach, kidneys the colour of the sea and a liver that sparkles (because unicorns only drink champagne). His bum is filled with rainbow poop.

I wish I could write the whole pattern now, but there just isn’t the time. In the meantime I hope a little shooting star will keep you all believing.

IMG_6588 (2)


Follow the link below to a FREE pdf pattern for the unicorn’s shooting stars:


IMG_6662 (3)


Easter Eggs Crochet Pattern


These cute little Easter eggs are simple to make and fun for little ones’ fingers to fill and hide. This pattern makes an egg a little larger than a real chicken egg (size depends on your wool and hook size), and could be filled with anything your imagination can come up with. Little needle felted characters are an adorable addition – and someday I may find time to write an addendum to this pattern with instructions for those, but for now this egg pattern is an easy addition to Easter craft ideas, so I’m jotting it down to share with you all (even if Easter is over). ūüôā

I used Bernat Satin 3.5 oz worsted in ‘Star Dust’ and an F hook (3.75mm). Your yarn and hook size will determine you finished product size. You’ll need a darning needle, stitch marker, and a pair of scissors.IMG_4009

Crochet Egg Pattern:

Begin with a magic circle of six.

Round 1: 2 sc in each = 12

IMG_3995 (1)

Round 2: sc, 2sctog inc, rep = 18

Round 3: 2 sc, 2sctog inc, rep = 24

Round 4: 3 sc, 2sctog inc, rep = 30

Rounds 5 – 8: sc in each = 30

Round 9: 3 sc, 2 sttog dec, rep = 24IMG_3997 (1)

Round 10: sc in each = 24

Round 11: sc in first six stitches, chain 19, connect with stitch 1 of 24 with a single crochet stich (beginning round 12.

Round 12: sc in each = 24 (when stitching into the 18 stitches of the chain, use the front loop only -flo- )

Round 13: 3 sc, 2 sttog dec, rep = 18

Round 14: sc in in each = 18

Round 15: 2 sc, 2 sttog dec, rep = 12

Round 16: sc in each = 12

Round 17: sc, 2 sttog dec, rep until youève got six stitches left in the round

Close using your darning needle to close the last six stitched, gently pulling it closed with each stitch. Bring the yarn through to the inside of your egg and secure with a hidden knot (or use a felting needle to secure the end).



A Felted Garden

A couple years ago I planted over 600 bulbs in the garden beds surrounding our house. They bloomed spectacularly last year and I’m anxiously hoping for a repeat this year.


In Finn’s garden ‘White Clouds’ tulips give way to ‘Blue Amiable’ then to giant purple alliums with Mother of Thyme blanketing the bed. Under my oak tree (a tree I often focus on when taking time to breathe and visualize during yoga) a rainbow of tulips circles the trunk in mixed varieties of blue, purple, pink, red, orange, apricot and yellow – some tall and slim, others short and full, with delicate lily flowering ones too.

A bold patch of tall orange tulips stand at a south-east corner of a bed that surrounds the house, with four different purple tulips varieties in groups near the doors. (My mother would be very disapproving of the number of purple flowers in my garden.) My favourite patch of tulips is a yellow/pink lily flowering sweetheart called ‘Elegant Lady’ that I have planted on the south side of our house near Oliver’s playset.

For years I’ve loved photographing my garden and playing around with macro lenses and light. I didn’t think I could find anything better to photograph – or blog about- until I discovered wool. Better yet: gardens and wool together. The complimentary colours and textures come together so well in every photo, each inspiring me to make something or plant something. It’s all beautiful to work with – whether it’s with my hands and needles or with a lens.

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I’m feeling somewhat determined to felt one of each of my tulips so that I’ll have a complete set forever. Tulips are a simple felting project, though creating¬†a thin, smooth petal takes time and a little patience. I wrap armature wire in wool for the stem, and blend shades of green wool for the leaves.

While I’m felting my tulips it will be fun to share my enthusiasm for tulip gardening and felting with others. There’s no reason to stop at tulips either. I hope to felt all kinds of flowers this year as they bloom in #amysgardentbay.¬†IMG_8638





My Hannah Bunny

img_4560This little bunny was built by eye, there are no stitch counts just rough numbers and rows. I know people really rely on patterns and stitch numbers, but I believe that in amigurumi being a stitch or two off doesn’t make that much of a difference. When shaping bodies you should feel free to make your shape as plump or thin as you want. If you understand increasing and decreasing in the round this should be easy.

I wasn’t thinking of writing this pattern while I was making it, so my notes are rough, and I didn’t take photos along the way, so please bear with this “pattern.”

My finished bunny is about 11 inches tall. This yarn is a sport/light weight and I used a D hook to help give you reference.

The head and body are made starting with a magic circle of eight.(I find starting with eight gives the shape a flat-round appearance, while when starting with six make a more true round shape.)

The body:

Magic circle 8

row1: 2sctog in each stitch 16img_4790

row2: sc, 2sctog

row2: 2 sc, 2sctog

row3: 3 sc, 2sctog

row4: 4 sc, 2sctog

row5: sc in each

row6: 5 sc, 2sctog

rows 7-18: sc in each

rows 19: 5 sc, 2st decerease

rows 20-23: sc in each

rows 23-34: slowly decrease every other row (starting every two rows, maybe three) to form the body -I didn’t count my stitches or follow the same decrease pattern – some decrease rows I only decreased every five or six stitches, and I wasn’t really following rows anymore – just stitch along to shape a body. My neck ends with about 14 stitches.

I find I work a lot faster without a stitch marker or worrying too much about rows. I concentrate more on shaping the body the way I like for each individual project rather than trying too hard to be exact.
The head:img_4794

Magic circle 8

row1: 2sctog in each stitch 16
row2: sc, 2sctog

row2: 2 sc, 2sctog

row3: 3 sc, 2sctog

rows 4-10: sc in each

row11: 3 sc, 2st decrease

Now is a good time to place your safety eyes. Position them somewhere around row 7 eight stitches apart (the placement really is entirely up to your judgement.) I stitched the nose in after the head was finished using pink yarn and a darning needle criss crossed over six stitches between the eyes. I thread the ends into the form then gently felt the yarn in place to keep it secure.

row12: 2 sc, 2st decrease

row 13: 1 sc, 2st decrease

Stuff your head.

Close the rest using either a darning needle or slip stitches.

The ears, arms, and legs all begin with a magic circle of six.


Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12img_4789

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: 3 sc, 2sctog

rows 5-7: sc in each

row8: 3 sc, 2st decrease

rows 9-34: sc in each

(I think I decreased somewhere along the way to make them about 20 stitches around in the end.)

To finish the ears I cut a piece of pale pink felt to size and used a 42 gauge felting needle to gently felt it into place. This works beautifully with natural fibres. (Acrylic yarn might need some stitches.)

I didn’t take photos of the head before I attached the hat, so I can’t show you the attachment of the ears (but I should note that I stitched the hat on using a light thread, so the hat can be removed without damaging the bunny.

The ears are attached by using the leftover end to sew it together then in place. Pinch the ear to give it a fold, sew the fold together – then sew the ear to the head at the back side along row 2.


Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: 3 sc, 2sctog

rows 5-8: sc in each

(somewhere around now, stuff the hand using a small amount of batting.)

rows 9-13: decrease using one st decrease stitch

rows 13-20: sc in each

Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: 3 sc, 2sctog

row5: hdc in each (this gives your foot a bit of a flat appearance.)

row6: sc in each to two loops of row 5

rows 7-9 sc in each

row 10: 2 sc, 2 st decrease

rows 11-20: sc in each

Stuff the foot using a small amount of batting.

When decreasing the foot you can put all your decrease stitches one right after another then continue with sc for the rest of the row – this will define a toe and heel of the foot. OR you can distribute the decrease stitches evenly (3 sc, 2st decrease) for the row to create a round foot. Either works.. in the case of this Hannah bunny I distributed them evenly.


I used a bright white chunkier yarn and made a small ball:img_4787

Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: sc in each

row5: 2 sc, 2st decrease

row6: 1 sc, 2st decrease

row7: 2st decrease until closed, leave a long end for sewing it to the body.

TIP: when attaching, I always felt the area lightly with a super fine gauge felting needle. This secures the fibres and holds everything in place.

To make her Pussy Hat simply start with a chain big enough to fit your bunny’s head. Close it with a slip stitch careful not to twist it. Rows of HDC follow, each being closed with a slip stitch until you’ve reached your desired size. Close it with slip stitches across the top. Done. Attach it to your bunny’s head using thread and straight stitches to easily remove it if you want later on.

much ado about felting kits

Writing directions to something you do artistically is challenging. If I were to hand you a straight pipe cleaner and say, “shape this wire, wrap it in wool roving and turn it into a flying pig” can you? Many people can, but for those who can’t easily turn an image from their mind into something tangibly representative, they rely on directions. I consider needle felting to be a very simple craft, and I believe anyone can do it – even if you can’t easily turn a straight pipe cleaner into a pig-like shape.img_2846

When I create felting kits I want my instructions to be clear enough for someone who has never touched  felting needle or wool to understand, interpret, and be able to follow though to a completed project.

As I was learning to crochet I found the easiest patterns to follow were the ones with clear, colour photographs. I wouldn’t know how to write felting instructions without photographs..: swirl a swoop of wool roving into a mustache shape then whoop-dee-loop it into a crescent-like roll and add a twist of this colour and that colour then shape it into a bird and ta-da you’re done…. .

The hardest part, I find, is in taking the photos to show the project from beginning to end, and remaining¬†consistent while completing this over a matter of days or weeks. I don’t have solid “work days” to do any of this, it’s all done in bits and pieces around life and motherhood. So when I’m writing instructions and I have this problem:img_4303


Do you see it?

Light. It matters.

I have a whole series of photos of my flying pigs being made -which are what I write my instructions around. I try to take the photos around the same time of day in the same kind of light. I need daylight. I don’t know how to take good photos in artificial light, and I only know a bit about flash and that’s only for big areas, not close up sometimes macro photography of wool work. It doesn’t really matter which, so long as the photos are consistent. I’m picky about those kinds of details.

So, when I started the pig instructions I was working in bright sunlit light. Then the clouds rolled in and honestly in the last two weeks we’ve had all of three¬†(maybe) sunny days … seriously, I’m going to start to wither soon. That many days of overcast grey weather can depress the most vibrant of people. I shouldn’t complain, today was nice and bright – but, of course, I had no time to work on pig photos. If I wait until my husband gets home it’s dark, or the sun is so low it’s shining straight on my table in blinding beams. I feel like I’m constantly chasing the light. The heavy clouds lately have been getting me down.

I wanted to take the photos for the pig instructions against my cutting board to show measure – as that is the most common question when people start one of my projects, because I don’t mention size or weights in my instructions. ( I don’t include that information because it doesn’t matter – you can make your sculpture as big or small as you want with the wool I provide, which is always enough to make one or more.) The photos with the backdrop of measure should give you a clear enough indication of the size I’m working with – and I include the various sizes of pigs I’ve made to show the differences.¬†The problem with the blue backdrop of the cutting board is how it changes in the light. Wool also changes colour in the light, so in most of the photos the pig looks pinkish, but in some of them the pig looks a salmon colour, in others it’s very pale. In print the mis-matched images make my aesthetic brains cells explode.

None of the above photos are colour true enough in my mind Рthe salmon is close but too saturated, the pink is too pink. 

Once the instructions are written¬†and I’m happy with¬†it all,¬†the assembly of the kits is just like fillingimg_3504 loot bags but with better stuff -like for your friends. It’s just the writing of instructions that makes it feel like work. (That said, as fun as the kits are to assemble it is a very time consuming undertaking..)
In the case of the chickadee kit, it took about a dozen prints before the final copies were¬†printed, with many edits along the way – and apologies to early kit buyers for parts left out. (I completely forgot to add the part about felting the chickadee’s cheeks in the early versions, among other clarity problems..)

I’m almost there with the pig instructions, hoping to print the first distributable batch tomorrow and run from there. Kits will be available soon via email, facebook, instagram, locally I deliver, and they will be available at Pneumaticity downtown. Etsy distribution is just around the corner. *wink*

I am still working on some simpler kits, some just wool and needles, no instructions, some easy one card notes to follow, hoop kits (and workshops), PDF downloadable instructions, just wool combinations, and follow up chickadee, hummingbird, pig, and heart wool kits. Please bear with me as I find the time to pull this all together. It’s great fun, and I love the excitement around felting and fibre art, your support has made this all so rewarding.SMILE

Dragonfly Tales


The book pictured is A Dazzle of Dragonflies by Forrest Lee Mitchell and James L. Lasswell. It’s an enchanting view into the world of dragonflies from an imaginative perspective.

There’s a dragonfly commision coming up that means a lot to me. Each custom order has had it’s poignant effect, and I feel privileged with the confidence and whole heartedness people share their stories. The upcoming dragonfly will in part bring some healing to breast cancer patients, and I can’t help but feel my mother strongly, imagining her holding my little Finn wherever they are, as I bring this project together.

On September 30th 2012 my husband and I travelled the north western shore of Lake Superior visiting artist’s studios as part of the Crossing Borders Art Tour. While at Betsy Bowen’s studio in my favourite escape Grand Marais, I bought this little print of dragonflies which were an illustration for the book Hawk’s Ridge. At the time I didn’t know what I would do with the green darner dragonflies, but the drawing captured a piece of my heart so I knew immediately this would be special.

One year later was the first day of my life without Finn. When I started decorating his nursery earlier that year, these dragonflies were the first thing I put in the room.

The drawing has always made me smile. It’s musical, playful, and elegant just as dragonflies are. Just think about the¬†number of people who associate dragonflies with something magical or profound in their life, to me that¬†says these widely adored¬†insects do possess a connection to something mysterious and lovely.

Betsy Bowen’s green darner dragonflies


Also coming up is another infant elf hat using Dauntless Dragonfly from Expression Fibre Arts. Not only is this yarn stunning and soft, it’s named so appropriately, and is also the shades of my favourite Oliver baby blanket from Aunty Helen, Uncle Patric, and cousins Alex and Phoebe. It will be decorated in needlefelted dragonflies in a colour and number chosen by the buyer. I believe strongly in the ways we relate to symbols.

Some time ago I edited a photo I took of a dragonfly that Hannah rescued at Little Dog Lake one day when we were swimming with the dogs. It rested on her hand long enough for me to take a number of photos of it and it was beautiful. I won’t link the quote because I’m not sure the full text is really in context, at the time (when I was reading random leads to all things dragonfly) this particular quote sunk in deeply and still resonates.


‘Hannah’s dragonfly’ 2010

Felting Workshops

img_6567Below is a list of projects and dates, with the hope to accommodate everyone and all the great suggestions I’ve been given. More will be added to this list in upcoming posts, and I will create events both here and on Facebook for those who want to add them to calendars. There is one questionable workshop (Sunday, March 5th)- I have had many ideas given, and I just can’t decide. With your feedback I can fill that space, so send me your suggestions!

My little sunroom is ready and waiting to host some more felting workshops. The only downside to the sunroom is that it’s not set up to host big groups. For felting – especially beginners, it’s much better to sit at the table. At the table I can host 3 or 4 plus me comfortably.

the sunroom in summer
We can also move indoors and use our dining room table, which comfortably seats seven plus myself (unless you’re here at Thanksgiving when it seats 18 or so). It’s not the most private space but it is bright and inspiring for other reasons (and is where I work most.)

The sunroom has proven to be a somewhat magical space for felting workshops. Each time there seems to be a wave of weather whether storms, rainbows, sunsets, or snow falls at Christmas. It really is a beautiful space perfect for being creative – and I serve cookies (or whatever else Olive and I have baked). Yay!img_1755

I’ve reserved Sundays as felting workshop days, and also some Thursday evenings. Because I can host no more than four at a time (unless we use my dining room)  I’m offering a lot of dates to be as accommodating as possible. If you are interested in a felting workshop on another day, or for more people, please contact me – there are options.

To sign up for the workshops please contact me amy at olives and bananas dot com, or by messaging here, Facebook, or Instagram.


Sunday, January 29th   12:00 noon – 4:00pm

flyingpigpngFlying Pig

$90.00 including kit


It’s time to get these pigs flying! Join me in the sunroom for four hours of pig making. Your kit will include pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with. Step by step colour photographic instructions will teach you how to create your needle felted flying pig.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Thursday February 2nd   6pm – 9pmimg_2782

Felted Hearts for Valentine’s Day 


Make a garland, put them in gift basket, hand them out to friends. This limited needle felting kit includes heaps of four shades in pinks to reds of super soft merino top wool, felting pad, felting needles, leather finger protectors, and a heart shaped cookie cutter. Also included is some ribbon to string them together if you want to make a garland, with simple instructions, embroidery thread to inscribe x’s and o’s, and a needle to do the work.

You know, felting can be a great way to express your appreciation for someone by making them a sweet gift, ..or you can stab your heart out and get that out of your system. However you plan to spend the evening is fine with me.

Punch and heart shaped cookies will be served.

Sunday February 5th   12: noon – 4:00pm

Flying Pigflyingpigpng

$90.00 including kit


It’s time to get these pigs flying! Join me in the sunroom for four hours of pig making. Your kit will include pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with. Step by step colour photographic instructions will teach you how to create your needle felted flying pig.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Sunday February 12   12: noon – 4:00pm


$95.00 including kit

Bringing back the birds! For those who couldn’t make it to a workshop before Christmas, the chickadees are back.

This kit includes a cinnamon stick perch, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and all the wool you need to complete a chickadee, with a little extra for decorating with. Step by step photographic instructions are included to guide you through the process. Foam work surface, three felting needles, and leather finger protectors are also in this kit to provide you with everything you need to complete this project.img_3507

Join me in the sunroom to create these cute little birds together. I’ll explain felting techniques and different tools, wool, and fibre. This project takes time, so you may not finish your complete bird in four hours, but you’ll be well enough on your way with the confidence to finish on your own.

Sweet tweets, I mean treats, with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Sunday February 19   12: noon – 4:00pm

flyingpigpngFlying Pig

$90.00 including kit

Join me in the sunroom for four hours of pig making. Your kit will include pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Thursday, February 23rd   6:00pm – 9:30pm

flyingpigpngA Flying Pig Evening  

for those who couldn’t attend Sunday workshops

$90.00 including kit

Join me in the sunroom as the sun goes down to make your own needle felted flying pig.

Your kit includes pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Sunday February 26   12: noon – 4:00pm

Felt your Pet img_1559

$95.00 including personalized kit

Bring a photo of your pet, and we will work together to create a cute felted version of your fur baby.

You’ll receive a foam work surface, img_6786three pack felting needle set, and leather finger protectors. The wool will be based around your pet (prearranged) and I’ll include the appropriate beads for eyes and noses, thread for whiskers, and anything other identifying fibre features.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to create imitations of pets, and teach various felting techniques using different needles and tools.


Dachshund cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Sunday March 5   12: noon – 4:00pm

??? felted sculpture of child’s art? felted hoop? felted skunk? help me out…more pigs? Birds?

Sunday March 19   12: noon – 4:00pm

Robin with Nest of Blue Eggs

$95.00 including kit

Admittedly this kit is still in development, but hopefully by setting a deadline I’ll get the job done. Hah! This kit includes the foam work surface, three felting needles, leather finger protectors, wool to complete one or more birds, a nest, a few small blue eggs, beads for eyes, needle and thread, step by step colour photographic instructions and the directions for hanging them as a mobile.

Bird and egg cookies with hold and cold beverages will be served.

Thursday, March 23rd   6:00pm  -9:00pm  


Needle Felted Boa Constrictor Swallowing an Elephantimg_0417-2

This project is dear to my heart. One of favourite books is Le Petit Prince which begins with a allegory of a child’s drawing of a constrictor swallowing an elephant which is misinterpreted by the adults as a hat. This kit will include the wool to make an elephant and to make a boa constrictor to swallow it, foam work surface, three felting needles, leather finger protectors, eyes for both your boa constrictor and elephant, pip cleaners to frame the elephant’s body, and embroidery floss for the elephants tail.

Join me in the sunroom as the sun goes down to create this special project. I’ll guide you through the steps I use, and the needles, tools, and techniques involved.

img_0372-6This kit will not be sold separately – 1. it’s not my image or original idea 2. mostly number one but also it would be complicated to write as instructions, but I think could be more easily explained in person.

I suspect this may be a two part workshop. The elephant is relatively easy to make, but takes time. The boa constrictor “hat” takes a lot more time and is a little more complicated. (I don’t like to use the word complicated in reference to needle felting because felting is technically simple…, it just takes – imagination.) Mostly you just need a lot of time and patience to make the boa constrictor.

I’ve reserved the following date as an extension of this class for those who want some further instruction to help complete their project: Sunday March 26 (if needed)   12: noon – 4:00pm

Elephant cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.

Our house is hard to hide in Thunder Bay. We live across from a popular park and one of the best views of the Sleeping Giant. When we bought this house I realised I lost anonymity – not that I think anyone has ever really had it, especially online; I think if someone wants to find you or dig for information it’s fairly simple to do so – but as an avid tweeter I thought to myself, well damn, if I tweet a photo of the sunrise from a window view it will be obvious where I live. In a place like Thunder Bay does it really matter? We all pretty much know each other anyway. I’ve got nothing to hide. (Though I daydream daily about living in a place in the middle of nowhere with water right outside my door. Someday.)

I love our home. We are fortunate to have it, it’s bright and the view is awesome, and the space is enough for kids, gardens, and dogs. We love the indoor/outdoor lifestyle we have here, and the proximity to all things downtown and and fun. It’s not all wonderful though; There’s been a great personal debate inside me since buying it that has wondered: did we do the right thing? It was a significant portion of my inheritance that allowed us to be in the position to buy it. The upkeep is expensive, and we’ve had so many ridiculous problems – which happens with old homes, but still, it can stop anytime now.  Lately though, I’m beginning to think now that there is more purpose to this house than I first thought. Maybe this space buys me a little room for this business, and the opportunity to make it happen.

Some days when the sun is shining just so and the radio is playing choir music two rooms away, when the beams hit the floor in the just that pattern…, I could swear I was standing in the house I grew up in. It’s always made me wonder about the topography of this house compared to my family home. They’re both on hill overlooking water with the sun rising over a hill in the distance shining in one window through the house and out an opposite window. Often the sun is rising through the front and the moon is still beaming through the back. How light hits a house and other things are big things sometimes, and are important to take notice of.

There is a little bit of my family’s history here, important history. Finn is here. Some friends and acquaintances have memories here, and a highly respected Thunder Bay family holds their history here. Dr. Ballantyne is still present because I talk to him regularly: apologizing for the inflatable ball pit pool in his mahogany study, and asking what he thinks of the impatiens and roses we’ve planted. He hasn’t answered me yet but a guest left a message in the log after the Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s Christmas House Tour in 2014 saying that they they knew the Ballantyne’s and that they would be happy with what we’ve done with the house, and that’s good enough for me. For now. Dr. Ballantyne built this house a family home, and it still feels that way, even standing so tall the rooms are all cozy. I hope he knows how much I appreciate the love for family I feel here, and how I’m certain he built the windows around the sunbeams.

Why Pigs?

img_7476I’m not sure how to explain this without making my mother sound like a crazy person, so I hope I tell this story in a way she would approve. She was always my best editor; an art history professor by day, she was also an effective, eloquent writer, widely published, an architectural historian, and respected researcher.¬†She was my best teacher.

I miss her. She died in May of 2013 when breast cancer became more than her body could fight.

I think she would really love what I’m doing here; not just the fibre art creations but the process and how I’m combining my skills and interests in literature, horticulture, writing, photography, and fibre to make it happen. Her influence¬†is everywhere – art and art history, her eye for perspective, her books, her prints, her pigs…

Her pigs, you say? Yes, her pigs.

This isn’t a story about a collection of pigs or a hidden closet of pig paraphernalia, it’s really a story about just one pig and a few others. It began one¬†Christmas when I was old enough to know that Santa was really my mom; that year my father gave my mother some money and said, “go buy yourself a sweater.” as her Christmas gift. (Which makes him sound sort of terrible, but to all of our surprise every year he came out of nowhere with some extravagant gift for her – img_3063usually a hard to get editon of some art book she really wanted. He did the same every birthday and mother’s day too.) That year she took the sweater money and came home with this pig.

I’m not sure where she got it, and it has no inscription but she was thrilled with her pig and my father was completely confused. I don’t believe he was truly mad, but he was certainly unimpressed. A sweater was a practical gift and he saw no practical use for this pig. I don’t think he ever really understood that her pleasure came not just from the pig, but his reaction to the pig.¬†When she knew she was dying she brought my sister and I together to divide her belongings. The process went smoother than in a lot of families I know, I think because my sister and I are such completely opposite people that we were drawn to completely different things. This pig was one of the first things my mother gave me.

Also in her funny collection of folk art were some quirky flying creatures – a frog and a cow ¬†who hung in her kitchen for many years. (I’ll come back to cows soon – with a felting project, my mother, and Joe Fafard.)¬†A flying pig would seem like an appropriate fit, but she didn’t have one of those. I know that my felted flying pigs would make her smile.

I suppose, for me, the flying pig represents an impossibility (an adorable impossibility). Everything about my life feels like an impossibility now, but I’m still living it; I just can’t believe I breathe without my son. It’s sad living without my mother, but losing your parents is meant to be an inevitability in life; it’s supposed to happen in that order. Life without Finn is blanketed in a different kind of grief. Something feels wrong every minute of every day, something is missing – that panic feeling you feel when you wonder where your child is, a little pit in my gut that never goes away. I can wish that my parents were here to meet Oliver and to admire Hannah, and imagine it happily, but when I wish and imagine Finn here it hurts and I see ghosts in places he should be.

When I was first learning to felt a flying pig was one of the first things I thought of, though I didn’t actually create one until last year. My first self written crochet amigurumi pattern however was a flying pig (someday I’ll translate that to a readable pattern, but for now even I don’t understand what I wrote). I do believe a part of my imagination lives in an impossible place now – thankfully it comes out in the form of ridiculously cute felted sculptures and tiny crocheted creatures.

Hi, my name is Joe. (and the teeny tiny pig)

As I write the instructions for the flying pig needle felting kits I was joined by a few more of my mother’s pigs. Well, these guys were my find and first love, which I brought home from Australia one summer to live¬†with my mother. I sent her a text from Australia the day I found Joe with his photo and that lovey eyed emoji to which she responded the same. I can still hear her silly giggle in my memory. Joe and the teeny tiny pig were found at a garden centre in Wentworth Falls, NSW (a little west of Sydney in the mountains) and carried home with care.¬†(Which, by the way, Australian garden centres aren’t much different than Canadian garden centres except the seasons are backward and perennials and annuals are all mixed up. It’s pretty fun actually – like being in Wonderland… or ¬†uh, Oz..) ¬†My late mother-in-law did not understand the attraction to the pigs, but I do recall the faintest glimmer of a smile when she looked at Joe. Pigs, who doesn’t love them?flyingpigpng

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings.”
Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll

garden blogger to wool blogger

For years I kept a garden blog. It was something I worked hard on but never took too seriously, purposely. The point was to document my gardens and horticultural interests, and somehow keep a record of my adventures in gardening. I did, and it’s wonderful, and I hope to someday get back to writing it all down. It would be a shame to not have a record of how my garden has developed at our new house.., which we’ve now been in three and a half years, long enough for a lot of gardening to have happened. It’s just that so much else has happened that I don’t know where to begin, or catch my breath sometimes, so writing it just hasn’t happened.

I purposely left my garden blog stopped where it is. I like that photo of Adam holding the bees a lot. We were in the Roots to Harvest¬†backyard beekeeper course, and those downtown bees were fueling up around the Cornwall garden site, and charming us all. I was pregnant with Oliver at the time, and it was the last time I felt truly consumed by gardening. (Well, other than the autumn of 2015 when I planted over 600 bulbs in my garden.) I’ve worked on our beds since, but it’s going to be a while before they’ll make sense to anyone but me. In the meantime I’m using my #amysgardentbay hashtag on Instagram photos to track the little garden moments.img_2667

My horticultural adventures understandably appear in my fibre art work, whether needle felting or crochet I’m always inspired by my garden. The colours of the wool look like a garden to me, and throughout the seasons I felt and hook what I’m growing (or eating).

As with photographing my garden, I find immense enjoyment and forever changing challenges in the photography of crafting. It intrigues me not just personally but also technologically, and from a marketing perspective. My photography browsing is now often spent admiring how creators capture their work.

I love the combination of my garden and my wool. The textures of nature matched with the colours makes for endless hours of creative heartwork. When my friend Sheri was teaching me to crochet she described how her addiction isn’t just to the making of things but to the feeling of the yarn in her hands – the “buttery softness” as she says. This is so true – to many from my understanding, the healing in #craftastherapy is found most in the texture, the softness, and comfort of wool. It’s not that different than the power of garden therapy, the texture of the soil, plants, and scents. I have to say my house never smelled better than the day I unpacked a shipment of merino wool in my sunny dining room – in a way is smelled like there was a herd of sheep in the house, ..but nicely washed sheep.

even my winter garden inspires

My hope is that this blog will¬†become as personally valuable a record of the evolution of Olives and Bananas, as my garden blog is to the evolution of “amy’s garden” and when I compare to the records I’ve blogged, drawn, and scribbled about my garden over the years, I see so much of the process is the same. Keeping a journal of the journey.