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.

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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 

$80.00

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

Chchickadeepng4ickadees

$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  

$90.00

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.

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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.

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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.

New Blog, First Post

img_1570This is it, the beginning of a new adventure. About a year ago, when Olives and Bananas first came to my mind I didn’t really know where it would go or what it would be, I just wanted to find a way to share needle felting and fibre art with others. After making gifts for friends for a couple years I began entertaining requests for custom orders, from there the development of needle felting kits came about as more and more people requested supplies and instruction, and together it grew into this little made by me business that I’m really enjoying.

I realize communication is an area I need to improve, thus the creation of this blog. One of my many goals for 2017 is to maintain this with weekly updates, a newsletter perhaps, so that those following know where I am on projects – especially the creation of needle felting kits, what is available, and what is coming up. I also want to relay better information about workshops, which I plan to host regularly on Sundays in my sweet little detached sunroom (which is an inspiring room to create in!).

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year the turn of the calendar is feeling like turning a corner. It’s been a difficult few years for my family. Loss and grief weighed on us after losing my mother then our son Finn in 2013. Then the emotional highs and lows of bringing a rainbow baby into this world – followed by my husband’s job loss, and the changes that made to our lives. We struggled for a while, but it’s turning around. Finally some better employment options are arising for R, and I’ve found both healing and challenging work in this business venture. I feel like we’re finally headed toward some better days.

Olives and Bananas is more than felting, more than crochet, fibre art, and creating from wool. It’s also challenges me in photography, marketing, and business planning. The math is done in collaboration with by my husband, my accountant and calculator, as all the supplies, duties, exchange rates, and prices whether wholesale or retail is quite complicated. Completing and posting my price lists are a high priority on my to do list right now. My hope is that 2017 is the beginning of a solid business plan in action, even if it takes a few years to get there.

My main priority now is still my sweet Oliver, my wild little rainbow toddler. He’ll grow up too fast, just like his big sister Hannah has, so I’m savouring my time with him while he’s little. Wool will always be waiting, but he’s happening right now. So, please bare with me as I sneak in small moments each day to work on Olives and Bananas, while enjoying him.

I’m excited about what’s ahead. Posts I’m drafting include more information about needle felting kits, what goes in them, how I account for supplies and costs, future kits and where I stand in their development, as well as information about “just wool” kits, downloadable instructions, felting supplies, and retail wool.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for all the support this past year. Now let’s see what happens next….